I was raised by one of those superhero moms. You know the type—the ones who had the clothing you went to school in washed the next day, always had supper ready on time, arrived early to both drop you off and pick you up, made the beds each day without a single wrinkle, and packed the perfectly balanced lunchbox. I am very grateful for the example my mother set for me as both a working woman and a diligent housewife.
When I got married and we decided I would be a stay-at-home housewife, I set the same standards for my household that my mother had in ours. I mean, why couldn’t I have the same perfect household as her without children and not working? Besides, tidiness and organization almost seemed to come naturally to me.
About a year and a half into our marriage, my husband and I began a new chapter in our lives with our first pregnancy. Before I became pregnant, I already made a commitment to myself and my husband that I would not let my housework fall apart simply because we had children. I was going to keep my same high standards no matter what.
A few weeks into pregnancy, morning sickness and nausea overcame me. At first, I could push through, but within a week I found myself curled up on the couch for hours—either asleep or wishing I was. Sickness seemed to never end, but the few times I would feel relief, my body would give way to sleep. I gave up working out, cancelled babysitting jobs, and watched laundry pile up. Most days I would pull myself from the couch cushions before supper to attempt meal prep, but some days I gave up after gagging over the smells of the kitchen. I tried to keep the living room curtains closed because the sunlight revealed a layer of wood chips, dog hair, and dust covering our dark floors I didn’t want to see.
One afternoon I fell asleep on the couch and woke up three hours later not feeling rested but ashamed. I hated seeing how pregnancy had debunked all my routines and tattered my tidiness. Though my husband never seemed bothered, I cried and apologized daily for the messy floors and my excess sleep. I knew I needed rest, but the amount I was getting overwhelmed me. I wanted to force myself into my old routines, but my body wouldn’t allow it. My husband would try to pick up the slack, but that only made me more sad and frustrated.
Tired and exhausted momma, can you relate to what I experienced? First time pregnant wife, do you know the struggle of perfectionism and tiredness? It doesn’t need to stay this way. I want to offer you true change and hope from the Bible that I had to work through in those early months of pregnancy as a housewife.
Starting with the Heart—Putting Off Self-Sufficiency
The only way to bring about true change is to start with your heart. Your heart is where everything comes from—thoughts, emotions, fears, and joys, which all lead to our outward actions. There’s no point in modifying our behavior if our hearts are still filled with sin; otherwise, our hearts will simply continue to produce the same bad fruit elsewhere in our lives. So let’s start with the heart of the issue.
In my shame of the chores not getting done, I was unwilling to admit or accept my need for help. I didn’t want others to come alongside and help me, and I didn’t want to take any advice from others. This attitude came from my heart desire to be self-sufficient. I wanted to have the ability to do everything myself, without ever admitting defeat or lack of ability. I wanted to be perfect in my housework and duties without the help of others. I wanted to be self-sufficient.
This isn’t a foreign concept. Read the creation story in Genesis, and the account of the first sin. Why did Eve listen to the serpent and take the bite of the fruit she knew was forbidden? What made the snake’s argument so appealing to her? “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:4b-5 ESV, emphasis mine).
Eve recognized that the fruit could make her like God. She wanted to be like God, so she took of the fruit and ate it. I committed a similar sin when I desired to be self-sufficient—I wanted to be like God, without need and completely independent. In my pride, I wanted to be like God, and I thought that I could push through my weakness and in this way be like him.
Here is the reality we need to face when we desire to be self-sufficient: That’s not our purpose. We were created to bring glory to God (Isaiah 43:7), but by refusing to admit our need we do not bring him that glory. Instead, we are trying to bring glory to ourselves. Look at me! Look at what I can do all by myself with no one’s help! Look how sufficient I am all on my own! We want others to praise us for how strong and able we are.
That doesn’t happen when we admit our weakness. When we recognize our inability and admit we cannot do it on our own, and instead accept the help we need from God, it is then he is glorified in us. Consider Paul:
“So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 ESV
Friend, it’s time we set aside our desire to be self-sufficient and became content with our weaknesses. Stop striving for the impossible goal of self-sufficiency and trust in the One who is. Learn how to bring glory to God in your weakness.
In the context of pregnancy, instead of hating what it is doing to our bodies, let’s praise God for the amazing work he is doing! He is knitting a beautiful child in your womb. Instead of complaining, let’s bring glory to God in this weakness where his strength is brilliantly shining through.
Outward Change—Adjusting Habits and Expectations
Now that our hearts are adjusted, we can adjust our outward response. I had to learn not only to accept help from my husband and others, but also change my routine so that it could fit with my new limitations. For each person, this will probably look a little different. But below I’ll share a few of the changes I had to make in my lifestyle:
- Changing my workout from 60 minutes to 30 minutes, and lowering the intensity
- Sleeping in until 7:30 a.m. rather than 5:30 a.m.
- Getting to bed earlier
- Snacking throughout the day to help with morning sickness
- Changing some of my babysitting commitments
- Taking a break from writing as often
- Doing one load of laundry a day, or every other day (instead of two each day)
- Finding new meals that were appetizing, robust, healthy, and yet simple
- Scheduling a nap in the afternoon
- Cleaning one room a day rather than all rooms each day
- Asking my husband for help on especially difficult days
- Giving myself grace when the to-do list didn’t get finished
Making these simple changes helped me get back on track for keeping our house clean, staying up-to-date on laundry, and getting meals ready. There are still some days when all the tasks aren’t finished or finished perfectly, but on those days I ask for help from those God has placed in my life.
If you are feeling discouraged about being a pregnant housewife, go to God in prayer and ask for strength and wisdom. Find friends and family that can help you with the day-to-day tasks, and who can also help you figure out a better schedule. You don’t need to let everything fall apart, but you also don’t need to keep your house in perfect order. There is a “happy medium” we can find when we let go of our desire to be self-sufficient and seek to bring God glory rather than ourselves.