The Real Housewives…Really? and “The Resolution for Women”

The Daytime Bible Study that I lead is reading “The Resolution for Women” by Priscilla Shirer. This week’s chapter is “My Integrity”. “It’s those undercover, low-key matters, the ones that cloak themselves in the guise of entertainment—those are the ones that hook us. They’re unobtrusive. Quiet. Too comfortable and familiar, really to be asked to leave. Just there. Justifiable.” This quote from the chapter made me research my writings and dust off this blog written 5/1/2011 but never published. Enjoy.

Housewife is defined as a married woman who manages her own household as her principal occupation. So will someone please explain how we can have the Real Housewives of Various Cities and only a few of these women are really housewives!

I guess I should say that I don’t care for reality television…primarily because it isn’t real. There are countless hours of footage shot and creatively edited to portray anything that will boost ratings and entice more viewers and sponsors.

Consider this, have you ever had a camera follow you around for 24 hours? Me neither. It can often be uncomfortable for me to take a picture or give an interview. Something about the presence of a camera can cause a shift in one’s behavior. Cause us to not be our true authentic selves.

The Real Housewives of…Orange County, Atlanta, New York, New Jersey, Washington D.C. and now Beverly Hills, I have watched them all. It started innocently enough with some channel surfing. My curiosity peaked and soon I began to watch regularly. I was astonished, appalled, embarrassed (both for them and for myself for watching), but gradually I was sucked in to the point that I even chatted with girlfriends about what was happening on whatever “Housewife” group currently airing. We would spend precious time discussing these women as if we knew them. We had taken the bait and been enticed by these “distraction agents”!

Upon closer inspection, I noticed several curious details about the women featured on the “Housewives” franchise. The fact is that few of them are housewives by definition because their households are not their principal occupation. The majority of the women enjoy lucrative careers outside the home and still others earn a living by simply being famous. Some of them are not even married, which would challenge the use of the word “wife”. And one of the women has even become famous apparently as a result of her very public, ongoing affair with a married man. Surely she cannot be considered a “Real Housewife”! The drama that surrounds their lives reaches outrageous proportions in each episode as the program travels to the various cities represented. Still we watch…and still I watched…and discussed and judged and watched. Then one evening after watching a “Reunion” show that was particularly mean-spirited and totally over the top, I began to notice that many of the women seemed to be sad. (subsequently several of the cast members have left the shows)

That was when I evaluated what I was doing. I had unintentionally joined the ranks of millions of pop culture viewers who find “sport” in other people’s lives. Kind of like when the Romans looked on during a chariot race or a coliseum filled with lions devouring Christians. Soon my heart began to hurt for a woman who for whatever reason had decided that, “15 minutes of fame” was more valuable than her life. I can’t imagine the world looking on as my family unravels due to marital difficulties, a failing business or a child on drugs. Seriously what would cause anyone to choose to share such invasive snippets of their lives with people who don’t care at all about the well-being of their family?

I prefer to share my personal trials with a handful of trusted friends whose loyalty is proven. We don’t always agree but we do provide one another with a safe environment to expose our hearts. Despite the safety net of genuine friendships my favorite person to cry out to in my times of trouble is my Savior, Jesus Christ. HE and only HE, has a way of holding my heart and restoring peace to my soul. So I began to pray for the women of “The Real Housewives…” I began to look at them as Real women, who need to know that there is a Real GOD, who loves them…Really!

“Good Deeds” and Reflections of a Real Single Mom

God’s timing is perfect…though sometimes curious.

Over the week-end I posted a hopefully encouraging blog dedicated exclusively to single mothers. Every word of it was true to my experience. A snapshot or sound bite of what it was like raising two daughters alone and without the benefit of child support.

Last night I went to see Tyler Perry’s latest film “Good Deeds”. Even though I had spoken to several people who had seen the movie, I was totally unprepared for what I saw. I believe it was his finest offering. I truly enjoy the message-filled antics of Madea, however “Good Deeds” is different. It grabbed my heart and reminded me of some of the most difficult times of my life. Without giving the whole story away, the movie resonated deep within me. It made me recall some of my lowest moments. It also made my heart smile at the unmatched joy of motherhood. There were some extremely hopeless situations that I had to navigate.  For whatever reason I rarely concentrate on those times.

My point is that doing the “single mom” thing is more than a notion. It can stretch you to the end of yourself. A daunting undertaking that will provide you with tears and laughter. Some of the highest days of your life and some lows that will make you believe that life couldn’t get any worse. Being a mother is the most important role a woman can play. Doing it alone is scary.

I’m writing to the single mom today to acknowledge that although we made it through, and ours is a quote unquote success story, the ending could have been very different. I personally know some women who worked hard and tried their best but their adult children are not doing so well. My only answer for how we survived is the power of God’s grace. He was gracious to us. Before you allow despair and depression flood your mind, before you give up, please know that the grace of God is sufficient for you in any situation. Call out to Him, He is as close as a single tear rolling down your cheek or the silent scream of your heart. Whatever else you do today, please call on Him, He is waiting for you.

I wept last night, both in the theater and on my way home. It was a good cry. A cry that was a reminder that your greatest challenge can produce your greatest joy. Last night through tears, I thanked God because we really did make it.

“…My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2Corinthians 12:9 NIV

Any Single Moms in the House?

Recently my oldest daughter celebrated a “milestone birthday”. She is the picture of every parent’s dream of success for their adult child. A loving wife, doting mother, competent business woman, school board member and a Women’s Ministry leader at her local church. She is a multitasking queen.

I have the privilege of watching her up close and personal from the comfort of her home. (Gotta love the “mother-in-law suite”) The life she has fashioned for her family is both inspiring and beautiful. My son-in-love is all about family. Together they have established certain standards for their family. They have dinner together every night barring a schedule conflict. The family dinner is the norm rather than an exception in their home. Their weekends and holidays are well planned events. Often those plans are simply playing a game together or just being in the same room while pursuing individual interests. Their family unit is traditional, strong, and loving.

Quite a different scenario from her childhood experience. Our family looked very different. My daughters are the product of my being a single mom. I was always juggling responsibilities. Doing the math and using creative options to accomplish goals. We were an impenetrable unit, doing life the best way I knew how. We were and still are “The Allen Girls”. There was an abundance of love coupled with some honest mistakes on my part. The good news is that we survived. I believed that I needed to fill the role of both mother and father, which by the way is an impossible task. So for all the single moms who are trying to do both jobs, stop it immediately! I’m here to tell you that when you accept the fact that your only role is to be the best mom that you can be, you will feel a weight lifted from your shoulders. God never intended for you to be both mother and father. His plan for the family looked more like the life my daughter is leading. However, nurturing the family unit with all the pieces in their proper place is still a challenge with it’s own set of problems. The truth is that raising children is a team sport. Attaining success in this arena must include Jesus as the captain. Single moms please know that God will give you all the grace you need to be an amazing mother.

I thank God for my parents and other extended family members who helped me out whenever necessary. My biggest area of gratitude belongs to my Heavenly Father. Somehow His hand was always present in my life even before I called out to Him from my bathtub on a day that I just wanted to quit. The grace of God sustained, encouraged and propelled me to a place of contentment in my vocation of single mom. My circumstances hadn’t changed, my perspective was different. I could depend on His grace to be my anchor. That single fact persuaded me to never give up.

So, to all the single moms in the house let me assure you that you can do this. As I reflect on how I put one through college and the other through cosmetology school, I have to just shake my head knowing that without God I wouldn’t be able to encourage you now. Our family unit wasn’t ideal but the God who makes “all things beautiful in their time” protected, provided for, and allowed us to have a good ending. He is not a respecter of persons. What He did for me and my family, He will do for you and yours. You only need to call on Him.
P.S. (the other daughter is a successful Hollywood hairstylist)

My daughters are my second greatest joy; my adorable GBs are my first. And my God, well He is above all things to me.

To all the single moms in the house, let me encourage you. You can do this!