The Bearded Iris

A Recalcitrant Wife and Mother Tells All

Are you a Mary or a Martha?

When I was pregnant for the first time, somebody gave me a beautifully hand printed copy of the following poem:

The Value of Values

Oh Mother! Oh Mother! Come shake out your cloths.
Empty the dustpan and chase off the moths.
Hang out the washing and make up the bed.
Sew on a button and butter the bread.
Where is that mother, whose house is so shocking?
She’s up in the nursery, blissfully rocking.
Dishes are waiting and bills are past due.
The shopping’s not done and there’s nothing to stew.
And out in the yard there’s a hullabaloo.
But I’m playing “Kanga” and this is my “Roo.”
The cleaning and scrubbing can wait until tomorrow.
But children grow up as I’ve learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down cobwebs and dust go to sleep.
I’m nursing my baby and babies don’t keep.

I thought it was a really sweet gift at the time.

Only, that little lyric really f#*ked my sh!t up.

Because three children and two incredibly hairy pets later, I feel guilty all the time that my house is “so shocking” AND that I never spend enough quality time with any of my babies.

And this has really been on my mind this week, as I’ve struggled with all the to-dos leading up to Valentine’s Day… the making, the baking, and the faking.  Kidding on that last one… just wanted to see if you were paying attention.

To make matters worse, a few days ago in my weekly Bible Study class we learned about the parable of Mary and Martha in the Gospel According to Luke (10:38). Do you know that one? Oh, it’s a humdinger. In a nutshell, Jesus goes to visit two sisters in Bethany named Mary and Martha. And while Martha is running herself ragged with all the housework, Mary is just kicking back with JC, listening to his tales and soaking up all his glory. Martha gets all pissy and basically says, “Hey Jesus. WTH? Would you please tell Ms. Lazy Bones there to get off her culo and help a sister out, yo?” And Jesus is all, “Chillax, Martha, dang. You are stressing out about all the wrong things, baby. Mary gets it. You should take a tip from your sister and check yourself before you wreck yourself.”

Well, more or less. Just go with it. Or better yet, go dust off your Bible and read the real version. It is only one paragraph. Go ahead… I’ll wait.

Isn’t that a great Bible story? I just love that one. Mainly because I am such a Martha, but I wish I were a Mary. And by Martha, I mean a frazzled nag with messed up priorities who wastes way too much precious time sweatin’ the small stuff. And by Mary, I mean a calm, cool, collected Earth Mama who is just oozing peace and harmony. How about you? Are you a Martha, or a Mary? Discuss amongst yourselves.

You know what else is so great about that one little paragraph of the New Testament? It clearly demonstrates Jesus’ “openness to and acceptance of women among his followers.” (NOAB, 4th edition, p. 1851) If Jesus didn’t think women were worthy of his discipleship, he wouldn’t have been sitting there teaching Martha how to be a better person. He would have been like, “Shut yer yap and bring me a camel pot pie, woman.” Something to ponder, your Holiness, the next time you are wondering WWJD with regards to female Deacons and Priests. Just sayin’.

Anyhooo, my point is, now the author of the poem above AND Jesus are telling me to prioritize my life differently. But you know what my Priest says? He says we can’t all be Marys or nothing would ever get done. And I say, AMEN to that.

So in summary, we all probably need to be a little of both. A little Martha so you and your family don’t starve to death or resort to hamper-diving for undies come Monday morning; and a little Mary so you can remember to slow down and enjoy the time you have with your loved ones. Because really, that’s why we’re here… to build the Kingdom on Earth, and the only way to do that is by loving each other. Of course it’s much easier to love each other with full bellies and clean undies, but whatever.

Also, if I may be so bold; easy for Mary. If Jesus were in my family room, I think I’d rather hang with him than fold the loin-cloths too. But since what I have in my house right now is a bunch of wild-eyed hooligans shouting “It’s MINE!” “NO, it’s MINE!” “GIVE IT TO ME, YOU LITTLE TURD.” “You’re a dum-dum. I’m telling!” … I think I’ll just duck into the other room and try to look busy. Yep… Martha wins by a nose. Sorry Mary. Better luck next time.

'Christ in the House of Mary and Martha' painted by Vincenzo Campi (circa 1536 - 1591)

Image credit:

© Copyright 2011, The Bearded Iris.

2 comments on “Are you a Mary or a Martha?

  1. Nora DePalma
    February 14, 2011

    I’m more of a Snooki.

  2. oneshabbychick
    February 14, 2011

    Love this post. Great mix of biblical goodness and snark 😉
    Just discovered your blog (where have I been?) and loving it! LOL all the time and I need some a dat!

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This entry was posted on February 13, 2011 by in Catholish, consumed by guilt and tagged , , .
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