Some time ago I read the following observation: “I think men struggle with upset women because men are by nature problem solvers. The simple fact is you can’t solve a woman’s worries. We are far too complex and guilt-driven creatures for that and we don’t expect a man to solve our problems. A couple of minutes listening and maybe a hug is probably all a woman ever needs.”
This set me to thinking.
There are numerous books out there on being a woman, accepting oneself warts and all, and I’m sure the list goes on. Many self-help books, some of which even I’ve found useful from time to time. One image has stood out in my mind over the years – an image created by the authors of ‘Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul’ – that of a 40-plus-y/0 woman who is at peace with herself and her circumstances being attractive (without necessarily being magazine-cover-perfect) precisely because she is at peace. That people around her desire to speak to her. In a way, even though I’m yet well below the 40-yo mark, I’ve held this image in my mind and strived for it. So what have I learned along the way?
The observation in the first paragraph above disturbs me somewhat. For several reasons:
- It implies that we aren’t problem solvers – whereas, by and large, we are. Our emotions just get involved (often with good reason), which means we take a circuitous route to the solution instead of a simple, clearcut one.
- I’m also not sure that we can hide behind words like ‘complex’ and ‘guilt-driven’ any longer. I know that I cannot. They are excuses, barriers we put up that say ‘no, don’t help us’ when, actually, help is required.
- Listening and a hug…. this superficialises the feelings and emotions of women.
Life is, oddly, more superficial than we realise. Don’t get me wrong. What we do is important, but it isn’t the be all and end all of our existence. Of more concern is HOW we do what we do. What I’m alluding to is the following conclusion of King Solomon in Ecclesiastes 2:11:
Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done
and what I had toiled to achieve,
everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind;
nothing was gained under the sun.
The work of a woman – particularly that of a mother (although yes, in many cases the father too) – is, I believe, the most important in the universe. We are far and above the ones given the responsibility of educating the next generation. And trust me, it’s not an easy ride. In fact, I’ve often reached the conclusion that motherhood is designed to drive a mother round the bend! I spotted the following quote, and it explains why, in a nutshell:
The truth is, of course, that what one regards as interruptions are precisely one’s life. C.S. Lewis
Interruptions! One of the most difficult parts of motherhood to come to terms with. Your time is no longer your own, and you could be called away from what you’re concentrating on at any given moment to attend to, or do, something completely different. Like I said, guaranteed to drive one around the bend – UNLESS one accepts that that is how it is. As Michael J. Fox said,
Acceptance doesn’t mean resignation; it means understanding that something is what it is and that there’s got to be a way through it.
And if you think there are a lot of quotes in this post, yes, there are. And they’re included because they’re literally rolling across my screen as I write this post and they’re relevant to the discussion.
Another observation that is pertinent is pax maternum, ergo pax familiarum (peace of mothers, therefore peace of families), or more colloquially (to the US South, from what I gather from friends there): “If mama ain’t happy ain’t nobody happy.” And I’ve noticed this to be true too. Being the emotional creatures we are, if we are not at peace, then our spikes and spines radiate out from us to those around us like the beam from a lighthouse, warning those closest to us to stay well away. Does that make for a peaceful family? I don’t think so.
So, in conclusion, what would I rather the observation be? To be honest, I’m not sure. I don’t think that this is something one can put into a pithy saying. That said, I’ll hold onto the concept of self-acceptance (through accepting that Jesus has already accepted me as His child, just as I am) and being at peace with oneself.