Q: At a recent family gathering, I felt overshadowed and inadequate around other women. I feel like a complete failure because my sisters and female cousins all have satisfying careers -- but I'm just a mom. How do I know I'm not wasting my life?
Jim: I've noticed that mothers often focus on their own shortcomings and minimize the role they play in their children's lives. I don't believe those perceptions are accurate, although I can certainly understand what drives them. On the surface, it's hard to see much glamour in fixing meal after meal or constantly picking up toys all over the house.
But I strongly agree with author Lisa-Jo Baker who calls mothers "modern day superheroes." Maybe their capes look a little tattered at the end of a long day of runny noses and laundry. Still, moms deserve to be acclaimed with superhero status.
That's because there is nothing ordinary about motherhood. Moms aren't simply changing sheets and diapers; they're molding character. That's captured in the famous verse by poet William Ross Wallace titled "The Hand that Rocks the Cradle is the Hand That Rules the World." Wallace's point is that beginning at birth, mom's influence has significant impact on what any person -- and especially the "great and powerful" -- will eventually become. Remember: every famous world-changer has had (and will have) a mother.
Sure, directing the course of a child's life is no easy task. On any given day, a lot of moms may feel like they are doing an inadequate job. But remember this: Motherhood isn't challenging because you're bad at it. It's challenging because -- like no other role in life -- it requires sacrificing your own wants and desires on behalf of others.
So, mothers, give yourself some grace. Laying down your life for your children takes more than "just a mom." It takes a true superhero.
Q: My wife keeps talking about how she wants "more intimacy" in our marriage. I'm definitely all for the physical part, but she says she means a lot more than that. I guess our relationship can improve; I'm just not a touchy-feely guy. So ... what am I supposed to do?
Dr. Greg Smalley, Vice President, Marriage & Family Formation: I'd suggest the concept will become clearer if you pronounce the word a different way. Instead of "intimacy," say it like this: "INTO ME, SEE."
Far too many marriages get sidetracked when each spouse focuses only on their own point of view. They disagree on what temperature the house should be. He wants to unwind at the end of the day in front of a screen; she craves interaction with another adult after a day with the kids. One's a saver; one's a spender. Before they know it, both husband and wife start wondering if they should have gotten married at all, or whether there's any hope for the relationship.
If that sounds like your marriage, a great way to turn things around is to remember that little phrase, "Into me, see." It's about learning to "see into" one another's hearts. That's what true intimacy is really all about -- understanding life from your mate's perspective.
So -- what are you supposed to do? Work on appreciating what makes your wife tick, and look for ways you can put her needs ahead of your own. And don't be afraid to take the first step. As you learn what makes your spouse feel loved and valued -- and act on that knowledge -- you'll fan the flame of your entire relationship.
Our organization has tons of resources, tools and tips to help you jump-start this process and move toward deeper intimacy in all areas. See FocusOnTheFamily.com/Marriage.
Jim Daly is a husband and father, an author, and president of Focus on the Family and host of the Focus on the Family radio program. Catch up with him at www.jimdalyblog.com or at www.facebook.com/DalyFocus.
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