Far too many of us base our value as mothers on what other people think.
Case in point: Last week, the internet blew up.
It blew up after this little article was published by The Washington Post summarizing a study from the Journal of Marriage and Family on children’s behavioral, emotional, and academic outcomes in relation to the amount of time spent with their mothers. The study said that increased time didn’t correlate to better outcomes.
In short, time didn’t really make a difference.
As soon as this article hit social media, working moms everywhere shouted “hurray!” and the working-mom blogosphere exploded.
And I’d be dishonest if I didn’t admit that, when I first saw the headline, my heart didn’t do a little happy dance. “I knew it! My kids are fine!”
And then I read through the article, and towards the end is a woman who gave up so much to be home with her kids. And now she wonders if she did right by them, or if it made any difference at all.
The tone was so saddening, I just wanted to find her and give her a hug and say, “Of course your sacrifice was worth it. You’ve been raising your kids in exactly the way you were supposed to.”
The whole thing got me to thinking. We put so much stake into things like this. We hold fast to any external validation that we are doing it well. We feel it confirms our value in however we choose to mother.
Why can’t we just walk through our motherhood journey in confidence that we are doing it well, whatever that looks like for our family?
Because it’s easier said than done, that’s why. We feel so much external pressure that we try to combat it with external validation.
Here was my favorite little nugget from the article. And it had nothing to do with the actual research results:
“Mothers clearly do not easily live up to the expectations of intensive mothering…attempts to do so are exhausting and stressful for them.”
If that’s not truth, I don’t know what is.
In a few months I’m sure another study will come out debunking this one. And then another one will come out with yet different results. You know why that is?
Because there’s not just one motherhood model that works. We’re unique, our kids are unique, and our families are unique.
Don’t look to research or other moms or society’s approval for the way you’re choosing to parent. Just look at your kids.
That’s the only thing in this equation that matters, anyway.