Being a mother is the hardest job in the world. Being a mother to a special needs child adds just a little more of everything. More stress, more exhaustion, more second-guessing, and more expectations. I've been going through a rough patch lately in dealing with all of Junior's appointments, trying to keep up on his therapy routine at home, homeschooling, and keeping the house in order with food on the table. I'm tired and often weary, so I was very much looking forward to Elyse Fitzpatrick's new book Good News for Weary Women: Escaping the bondage of to-do lists, steps, and bad advice.
Every woman knows that there are certain societal pressures put on her from "them". (Who exactly "they" are, we may never know.) Things like: "you must prepare all your family's meals from scratch using only organic ingredients." Or: "You must always be perfectly groomed with make-up done and wearing attractive clothing to keep your husband's eye from wandering." Or: "Your house must always look like something from a Pottery Barn catalog, spotless and smelling like fresh linen." As a result, we feel like we must do it all, but quickly become disillusioned when we realize we can't do it all. So, what are we, women who can barely keep their heads above water in dealing with the tasks of life, to do?
This book was a breath of fresh air. Elyse basically says that these expectations do little more than make us feel worthless. They do not encourage us, and take our eyes away from what really matters. What God wants from us. The one good work God wants us from us is to believe in Him. Nowhere in the Bible does it say, "you're only a good Christian girl if you make all your cleaning supplies from scratch and wake up at 5am to make fresh bread before your family awakens."
The most important thing we can do for our children is to model a strong relationship with the Lord for them, and to make them feel safe and loved. Elyse argues that impossible expectations put us on edge, and keep us from fulfilling those most important things. (How many times have I told my kids I couldn't play because I had to clean, or yelled at them for making a mess on my clean floors? How can I model grace when I'm too busy focused on outward appearances?)
This book really encouraged me, and it made me feel better about some of the judgmental comments I've received in my parenting journey. (The most painful being, "If you had more faith and prayed better, Junior would have been healed.") It reminded me that the opinion that matters most is from God, and we remember what He said about Mary and Martha. Obviously, tasks need to be done, and the house does need to be cleaned, and food does need to be served, but sometimes the act of doing these tasks becomes more important than the outcome. (Such as, "I did all these things because I'm Supermom and I'm awesome.", not "I did all these things so I could show my family how much I love them.) The main point? Give yourself grace, and put more time into the relationships in your life than the to-do lists.
As a con, I think this book was a bit repetitive, and could have been a blog series instead of a book, but I did like the overall message, and have been telling my family and friends about it.
Bottom Line: 7.5*/10*
Thank you to Tyndale Publishers for a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.