A Wheelbarrow of Unmet Expectations

Carrie Schumacher | May 9, 2022

A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.

She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.
She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue.

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
Honor her for all that her hands have done,
and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

Proverbs 31:10, 25–26, 30–31

If ever a holiday sets us up for unmet expectations, it’s Mother’s Day.

In the idealized narrative, kids deliver breakfast to moms reclining in bed without a care in the world. By comparison, the reality of being an exhausted mom to littles, a woman experiencing infertility/pregnancy loss, or a son estranged from his mother, can leave us, at best, underwhelmed and, at worst, crushed by disappointment and shame.

One underwhelming Mother’s Day, my husband (bless his well-intentioned heart) had ten yards of mulch dumped on our driveway to beautify our yard for me. I spent the day filling wheelbarrows with mulch while wrangling four unwilling child labor participants. Can you relate?

At first glance, today’s passage sets a similarly unattainable standard. Somehow, the Proverbs 31 woman juggles the roles of wife, mother, professional, and philanthropist on minimal sleep while maintaining her appearance.

But diving deeper reveals how countercultural the Proverbs 31 woman really is. She’s independent (verse 16), purchasing and profiting in her own fields. She’s a teacher and leader (verse 26) in a community that would not have encouraged women’s education, much less deferred to their instruction.

Reframed this way, it’s less about being the woman who has and does it all and more about valuing ALL types of women. The ones who run households and the ones who run businesses. The ones who craft garments and the ones who till fields. The ones who marry respected men and the ones who earn the respect of men. The ones who mother their babies and the ones who mother their communities with compassion and care.

We don’t need to emulate every part of the Proverbs 31 woman. Instead, we can live confidently into who we are and how God has entrusted us. So on Mother’s Day—and every day—let’s recognize the uniquely beautiful ways God has wired us, and let’s celebrate whatever extravagant or underwhelming circumstance we’re invited into, one wheelbarrow of mulch at a time.

Next Steps

  • Read Proverbs 31:10–31. Choose one quality of the Proverbs 31 woman, and take one tangible step towards growing in this characteristic.
  • Look around your circle of friends. Who may have had a difficult Mother’s Day? Send a small gift or note of encouragement to let her know you see and care.
  • Reach out to someone in your life who has played a mothering/mentoring role and thank them for making a difference in your life. Feel free to use one of our Mother’s Day postcards or Unsung postcards.