I’d Rather Blog Than Be The Proverbs 31 Wife

Image via Broadsheet

Last time I attempted a haiku, a very nice person over on Twitter politely informed me that those were not haikus. I tried to defend myself after having my husband count the syllables, just to make sure I wasn’t hallucinating, but the very nice person on Twitter said that the problem was that a linked poem like that is a renga. That rang a dim bell in the archived “Poetry” part of my brain, and I felt both sheepish and annoyed, because most bloggers on the internet probably don’t even know what a syllable is, much less how to count them and form syllabic poetry. Then I remembered that when I was in the throes of Junior Poet I actually started unconsciously speaking in iambic pentameter, and correcting someone on their poetic form would have been an act of mercy, not an act of superiority. So I forgave him. And, here, a proper haiku for you, Theodore Roosevelt, oh poetic master of Twitter:

Nasty colds, spring break

precious ASUS, neglected

I miss my blog peeps.

But for real. I miss blogging so much.

Here’s the thing: when I started this blog, it was because I had two kids and was eight months pregnant with a third, in a city where I had failed to make very many friends, and I had no life and was totally pathetic and miserable. I was turning to Twilight and Harry Potter for friendship substitutes. After my third reading of Twilight, which is a spectacularly awful series with characters who aren’t even particularly interesting or believable, I realized that I needed help. So I dove head-first into the internets and never looked back.

Now I have four kids, in a town where I have lots of friends and lots of commitments, and instead of being thrilled I am constantly wishing that everyone would go away so I could blog. I miss blogging every day. I miss reading everyone’s blogs. I miss Dwija and Jen and Melanie and Hallie and Kassie and Rebecca and Grace because I actually consider them good friends and feel bereft when my life gets in the way of reading about their lives. (Oh, and I’m not a total psycho who replaced fictional friendships with fictional characters with fictional friendships with real people; these are all people who are actually my friends, as internet-friends go. Like, would we recognize each other in a supermarket? Probably not. Do we exchange emails and comment on each others’ facebook lives? Totally. I’m not insane! Or, I dunno. Not delusional, anyway.)

Then there’s the fact that I’m completely ADD and having four kids and the requisite mountain of never-ending work that goes along with those kids renders me totally incapable of follow-through.

I was always totally incapable of follow-through, though, if we’re being honest. Now it’s just been multiplied exponentially. This morning I said to myself, “self, make breakfast, work out, put Lincoln down for a nap, clean up the breakfast dishes, and write a blog post. And do nothing else until those things are done.” In between all those things I managed to fold some laundry, run over to my neighbor’s house, download My Fitness Pal (quadruple ugh), change three diapers, google the weather, send a bunch of text messages, loudly lament the fact that I still haven’t had a solid two-hour block of time to sit down and write a post about the awesome Homerathon, and run out the door as my husband was leaving for work to snog him good right in the driveway.

Then there’s working out. Working out is cramping my freaking style. Don’t get me wrong, I really, truly love working out. I love the energy it gives me, the stress it releases, and the delicious endorphins. And my neighbor let me borrow this awesome set of DVD’s that have left me consistently sore for five solid weeks, which makes me so happy. I like being sore. It makes me feel less like a frumpy overweight housewyf. But since working out has moved up to Priority One in my daily schedule, it now occupies the morning nap time that used to be set aside for blogging. Not. Cool.

What is the point of this meandering post? I’m not sure. I just wanted to write something but I only have a 45 minute time window, so I didn’t want to start something I’d have to think about and polish and edit, because then I would just be frustrated and still post-less. Anyone have a nanny I can borrow for free? Because that would be excellent.

In Lenten news, the last two weeks have been a spectacular failure as far as the lights-out thing has gone. Various reasons abound for this, all boiling down to this one: there are not enough hours in the day to get everything done, and I am completely compulsive and unable to just stop working until I feel somewhat satisfied with the day’s work. This is a problem. My real, true goal this Lent was to concentrate on my prayer life. The lights-out thing was basically a means to that end. As the lights have stayed on, the time to pray has drifted further and further into the recesses of the night until it’s finally landed somewhere in the middle of my first REM cycle.

So I find myself here, three weeks from Easter, doing the same thing I do every Lent at about this time: redoubling my sacrifice. Recommitting myself to finishing Lent with a bang. Or at least not a whimper. Or at least not a pathetic whimper.

Guess what I did start reading again, though? The Bible. After I converted, I sort of abandoned the Bible for a while in my eagerness to soak up all the new shiny Catholic stuff. But I returned to it. I’ve learned two important things: first, the NAB really is an abysmal translation. Poets, these translators were not. It is clunky and kind of ugly. We need a new translation. I vote for Stanley Lombardo to do it, but more on that when I write that Homerathon post. Second: I am still not even close to being the Proverbs 31 wife. Not. Even. Close.

Let’s just look at this for a second. First, I don’t even know what flax is or where to get wool, and my one sewing adventure was one of the most catastrophic attempts at domesticity in my married life. So much so that the dress I got 2/3 of the way through is packed away with pins still stuck through it, probably destined to rot for perpetuity. I do totally secure provisions from afar, but that’s because afar is the location of the nearest Trader Joe’s. Also, does Amazon count as “afar?” I definitely never ever rise while it’s still night, if I can help it. Mostly the Ogre takes the night shifts with the baby. I only get up when the kids are clambering all over me or when Lincoln’s diaper is on the verge of a meltdown. And my whole goal in life right now is to dim my lamp at night, not to keep it undimmed. As far as laughing at the days to come, well…let’s be serious for a minute. The days to come almost definitely contain an apocalypse of some sort. Whether it’s zombies, North Korea, or some mutation of the Spanish Flu, we’re all doomed, and I don’t think that’s terribly funny. It does, however, make for excellent fiction and television.

Seriously, who is this lady? Doesn’t she get tired? Is her secret that those fields she bought are full of coffee beans? Does she eat the beans right out of the ground? I bet you anything she’s either totally mastered NFP or is maybe not using licit methods of family planning, because ain’t no way this lady is having a baby every two years. Otherwise it would say, “she stops every hour and a half to nurse the suckling babe and change the toddler’s diapers, and in the first trimester and the third she only leaves the couch to vomit.” And it doesn’t say that.

I know I should aspire to be like this woman. I want to aspire to be like this woman, sort of. Except I read this and think, “she doesn’t sound like a whole lot of fun. When does she read to her kids? When does she go out with the girls and have martinis? For crap’s sake, when does she blog?” Which tells me that I am probably not as close to the path of virtue as I would like to be. And that I should definitely work on that whole prayer life thing. With the addendum of, “Dear God, please help me figure out how to manage my time so that I can be an ideal good good enough wife and still have time to blog.” What can I say? I aim high.

Last thing: there is a fascinating ongoing discussion in the combox of my NFP Sucks post that you guys should read. I keep planning on turning some of the comments and responses into a post, because they are amazing, but my children keep expecting to be fed and cleaned and played with. What is with that?

PS: Please forgive any and all typos, and the fact that if I spent 20 minutes tightening this post up it would probably be an actually good post whose title makes sense all the way through and not just at the end. I don’t even have time to read it over before I publish it, though. Leave all grammar corrections in the combox. Thanks guys!


  • A Catholic Brother

    Good evening. I am not entirely sure how I was directed to this page (I must have clicked a friend’s Facebook link and gotten here inadvertently), but I found your post quite intriguing for a few reasons. As the only man who may comment on this message, I think that I can offer a unique perspective. I would message you privately, but I am not sure how to do that, and I think the response is probably useful to other readers.

    Your situation seems illustrative of the typical modern dilemma that afflicts many young married couples and young wives in particular, something I have seen in the lives of friends and acquaintances throughout the ‘wholesome’ world (both Catholic and Protestant). On the one hand, there is a desire for the truly Christian life and particularly for a healthy, loving family life. There is, however, at the same time, a lack of direction and stability in family life. A thousand pretenses are suggested for why this situation is acceptable — yet there is a deep realization that this is inherently a personal flaw rather than a result of circumstance. Lack of follow-through. Lack of organization. Lack of clarity and direction in the practical aspects of life. A failure to accomplish one’s goals in a systematic fashion. An abhorrence of self-discipline. A complacency in this perpetual disorder that pervades the spirit of the entire family — at least of the adult couple (if none of the children are old enough to experience it deeply yet). And rather than a resolution to correct the error, there is an escape to other interests — even to entirely frivolous and aimless matters — that prevents any hope of recovery until someone presents the depth of the problem to those who suffer beneath it (whether a priest, a friend or perhaps a perfect stranger). I do not propose to suggest which of these circumstances may apply in your case — beyond the ones you state explicitly in your post — but I encourage you to consider whether these problems may indeed play a substantial role in your daily life.

    These symptoms are generally indicative of a much larger problem — a deep-rooted selfishness and lack of true sacrifice for God, family and neighbor. Far from the examples we see in the lives of our parents and grandparents — the example of tireless dedication for the good of one’s family, especially of one’s children — we see a constant search for personal comfort, manifested by dissipation and aimless activity that serves as a distraction from the deep-seated self-love and addiction to pleasure that cripples our entire generation. It is true that we are all a product of our times in one way or another and that it is impossible to separate our experiences in this life from the modern world in which we actually live. Nonetheless, this fact is not a pretext for us to abandon the ideals of virtue and self-sacrifice that are essential to a holy life — even to a happy life.

    I do not say any of this to condemn you or anyone else. I simply wish to suggest that you (and anyone else who may find himself in the circumstances I have described) find a good, holy priest who truly understands what it means to live a spiritual life who can direct you in the duties of your state and provide you with the means of sanctification. (Of course, the sacraments are efficacious for sanctification by their very nature, but we only receive as much grace as we are disposed to receive according to our own dispositions.) Admittedly, it is a difficult task to find such a priest in this world, but it is not impossible. For the most part, you are safe with any priest who offers the traditional form of the Roman rite. If you take my words to heart, I would recommend looking there before anywhere else.

    To conclude, I will tell you sincerely that the happiest young couples I have met are the ones who actually do sacrifice for their spouses and children. This word “sacrifice” has true meaning in their lives. It is not a by-word that is thrown around without any reference to its actual import. The couples who forego what they enjoy — whether that is their time on the Internet or going out to nice restaurants or buying fancy material possessions — to put their time and money toward what really matters (their children and their family’s future) are by far the happiest of all. Of course, another central facet of these relationships is that they are founded upon the natural and divine structure of the roles between husband and wife as expounded by St. Paul in his epistle to the Ephesians. For one who clearly appreciates beauty and poetry, I am sure you will find inspiration in this beautiful Proverb: “He that rejecteth instruction [disciplinam], despiseth his own soul: but he that yieldeth to reproof possesseth understanding.”

    • kara

      Wow. You are new here. You don’t know Calah. And you clearly didn’t spend any time clicking around trying to get to know her before you went all judge and jury. Here’s the deal: she does sacrifice for her family. A lot. All the time. That ache she writes about so humorously and self-deprecatingly about? That’s just part of her sacrifice. I’m guessing you’re single and you’ve identified yourself as male, so know this: until you have your own kids, you can have no idea what it is like to have kids. As a guy, you will never know what its like to be pregnant (hint: it sucks). So. Maybe before you go giving laughably naïve spiritual advice, next time realize realize the circumstance is out of your ken, cut a tired young mother some slack, and suppress the inner Pharisee.

  • http://northerncffamily.blogspot.com Allison H.

    Found this from someone on FB, read here a while, really like you, so we’re friends now, right? Anyway, I’m in your corner as well. Have a great day!

  • Barbara

    I’m gonna be a bit pedantic, but the whole 5,7,5 syllable thing is not what makes a haiku. Syllables in Japanese are different than English, and really what matters is content. A haiku gives you a precise verbal snapshot of a natural scene with an implied emotional undertone, for example

    Low hanging clouds
    A moss covered rock waits
    For more moss

    It’s kind of the same thinking behind imagism. I’m not ani-formalism or anything, but teachers focus way too much on that 5,7,5 thing, it’s a pet peeve.

  • http://www.thewinedarksea.com/ Melanie B

    Aw, I miss having you read and comment on my blog too. And I am totally with you on the prayer about finding the time to be a good wife and mother and still blog too. I think we do need that balance. I need to blog.

    I did rather like Kimberly Hahn’s take on Proverbs 31 in her book Graced and Gifted. She pointed out the equivalents in modern life to the Biblical era accomplishments. For example, it really helped me to realize that sorting through hand-me-downs and doing laundry and folding clothes is my equivalent. Hey, I’m all over that.

  • http://tablereading.wordpress.com The Table Reader

    “The NAB really is an abysmal translation. Poets, these translators were not. It is clunky and kind of ugly. We need a new translation.” Thank you!! My personal theory is that the USCCB just desperately wanted to get money off of a copyrighted translation, but since all of the *good* ways to translate things had already been taken, the only way to avoid plagiarism was to use clunky, ugly ones. Really, I’d be happy with the Grail Psalter for Mass (it’s already used for the Liturgy of the Hours, for crying out loud), and the RSV. But there goes the copyright money… (And don’t get me started on the footnotes. argh.)

    • Skittle

      Wait, I’m pretty sure the US already does use the Grail Psalter for Mass, just like all the other English-speaking countries. What makes you think the US uses the NAB for the Psalms in Mass?

  • Anna

    “Is her secret that those fields she bought are full of coffee beans?” Well, if that is her secret, then this post has totally inspired me to want to be exactly like the Proverbs 31 woman if that deal comes with my very own coffee bean fields.

  • http://timeflieswhenyourehavingbabies.blogspot.com/ Ana Hahn

    For me blogging has become like a big party and when I can’t get to it I am missing out on lots of booz and embarrassing dancing with really cool people that I like a lot. At least that’s what it’s become in the mind of someone whose most exciting weekly activity has become the mall play place. Boo for working out and yay for blogging!!

  • Patricia Yandell

    I think the Proverbs lady had staff…to run all these projects….she just had the ideas. Just don’t show this chapter of Proverbs to the husbands. As to Bible translations, have you tried the Christian Community Bible ~ Catholic Pastoral edition. The notes are really good and it comes in many handy sizes.

  • Cordelia

    It’s always great to get new post from you, Calah…proof-read or not!

    I was brought up Evangelical Protestant (really, borderline scary-Fundamentalist), a milieu wherein the Proverbial lady fully takes the place of Our Lady. For what it’s worth, most people there seemed to agree that this passage is not describing a young woman in her child-bearing years, but the accomplishments of a mature woman at the “peak of her career,” so to speak. Wait another twenty or thirty years before you put your own list up against hers… (And I concur with the previous commenter who noted that it’s not meant as a to-do list anyway!)

  • Karen

    1. Ms. Proverbs had servants. Lots of them. She was a Bronze Age CEO, not a suburban mom with no help.

    2. I’m a Presbyterian, but my late mother-in-law was Catholic, and she always recommended the old Duay-Rheims translation. I recall it being a little archaic, but since my preferred translation is the King James, that wasn’t too much hardship. My current church uses the NIV, which I hate almost as much as the simplifications like the Living Bible et alia. I post only as a suggestion from a Catholic family member.