Detail of a woman hands writing in notebook and boy playing on the background. Home office concept.

Mommas Maintaining Grit?

Throw-up had literally been everywhere.  All week.  As had it’s counterpart that also comes along with what would later be diagnosed as rotavirus in my son.

I had multiple meetings scheduled both with current and desired clients.  I had blocked off time to prepare for the next week that involved three different training sessions.   Each required the preparation and roll out of new material. I just couldn’t wing these.

And because of said throw-up coming often at night, I hadn’t slept.  Neither had my husband, and he had multiple priorities at work to attend to as well.

I canceled all but a couple of meetings.  Some were rescheduled, some were covered by someone else on my team, and the ones I made were possible because my husband and I swapped out or my in-laws were available for a couple of hours to help.

In between his (my son’s, not my husband’s) trips to the bathroom, I laid with him, laptop in hand and tried to crank out the work that needed to get done, while rubbing his head.  By figuring the logistics out on that, I have officially deemed myself as the master of multi-tasking.

But I really didn’t feel like a master at anything. I felt pulled in multiple directions.  When my in-laws called as I was finishing up a meeting and said “He wants you.”  I dropped everything and went to pick him up.  When we got home, the throwing up that I thought had stopped had returned.  He had just wanted to puke in the comfort of his own home.  I set the computer down and took a nap with him.  And then later, we made a trip to the emergency room for fluids because his blood work showed that dehydration had thrown everything out of whack.

During this time research, that I had seen before, showed up again on my radar.   Taken from a Business Insider article, titled “Parents of Successful Kids have these 12 Things in Common”.  Number eight reads: “The moms work outside the home”:

 

According to research out of Harvard Business School, there are significant benefits for children growing up with mothers who work outside the home.

The study found daughters of working mothers went to school longer, were more likely to have a job in a supervisory role, and earned more money —23% more compared to their peers who were raised by stay-at-home mothers.

The sons of working mothers also tended to pitch in more on household chores and childcare, the study found — they spent seven-and-a-half more hours a week on childcare and 25 more minutes on housework.

‘Role modeling is a way of signaling what’s appropriate in terms of how you behave, what you do, the activities you engage in, and what you believe,’ the study’s lead author, Harvard Business School professor Kathleen L. McGinn, told Business Insider.

‘There are very few things, that we know of, that have such a clear effect on gender inequality as being raised by a working mother,’ she told Working Knowledge.

 

Hmm, I thought.  He had definitely seen his daddy role model that it’s not just mommy’s job to clean up the throw up.   But as I looked at the same article, number seven on the list was “the (parents) are less stressed.”  Does being less stressed trump – was there some methodology and importance to the order of this list- me working outside the home when it comes to my children’s success in life? If multiple priorities raise my stress level, should I choose just one- my kids?  Will this lead them to success? Or is success what matters?  These research findings point to nothing related to happiness and joy.

As I contemplate this idea a few weeks later, I’m solely focused on work, because I’m alone in a hotel room.  And when I’m alone, I catch up on reading while I work out in in hotel fitness rooms.   While reading Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, (I had about zero grit in reading this book considering I started reading it in 2016) I quickly scan through the author’s quiz on grit- which is a measure of passion and perseverance- and, as the author shows through research, more important that talent in success. I realize by this quiz, I’m short on some grit.

The author says just after the scoring for the quiz. “Keep in mind that your score is a reflection of how you see yourself right now. How gritty you are at this point in your life might be different from how gritty you were when you were younger. And if you take the Grit Scale later again, you might get a different score.”

Yeah, I thought. I’ll take this quiz in about 16 years when both my kids are off at college because I’ve made them so “successful” because I’ve worked “outside the home” while simultaneously raising them, doing my best to keep them alive while basically being able to focus on nothing with passion and perseverance because something like the rotavirus is always lurking.

But passion and perseverance does come in raising children.  And it does come in work- even if there are bouts of intensity in hotel rooms, followed by periods of idleness because of other demands.

One author, who wrote on the same research findings about what parents of successful children do says, “There is no such thing as a complete list.”  He points to grit saying,  “like virtually every other trendy article on this subject, they recommend teaching ‘grit,’ defined as the ‘tendency to sustain interest in and effort toward very long-term goals.’ While that’s virtuous in a vacuum, I think we’re going to find as a society that the way we teach grit omits something serious: the ability to maintain motivation while simultaneously, continuously reevaluating your goals.”

Sometimes goals are as short term as making it through a nap with your kid without throw-up ending up on either one of you.  And sometimes it’s about getting an article done about such a topic.

But overall, as we approach mother’s day as a time to celebrate all the mom’s in this world, motherhood is a lesson in grit, whether you work outside the home or not.

Give yourself some credit moms (and I’ll try to do the same for myself), realizing that there is a time and season for everything, and it is up to you to choose what is best for you and your family right now.   Grit or not, don’t let anyone tell you that it is not okay to shift focus for the sake of what is important when it is important.   That will teach your kids to be successful because they have been taught through your “modeling” to know what is important and adjust accordingly.

 

Mary Ila Ward

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