Last week, I saw a post on Facebook from a friend that was trying to prove the worth of stay-at-home moms. Maybe you’ve seen it before? It adds up all the hours, all the diaper changes, meals cooked and cheerios vacuumed into a tidy number, a yearly salary (that happens to be way more than I have ever made).
The point of the post is this: stay-at-home moms are worth a lot and the work they do is taken for granted. I don’t disagree. In fact, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to find I had posted something similar a few years back. I get it. I get the the compulsion to find a way to reaffirm that what we do is valuable. I understand feeling like we are underappreciated. Being a mom is a lot of work and it can be thankless.
Here’s the thing I want you to know, from a mom who worked tirelessly to prove herself to the moms around her for way too long: proving your worth as a mom will never, never give you the fulfillment you so desperately seek. Putting yourself in competition with other moms won’t ever erase your insecurities, it will only tear apart your relationships with other moms.
For so long after I became a mom, I wasn’t secure in my choices. I was always looking for some nod of approval or some blog post confirming that I was making all the right choices when it came to raising my child.
No matter how much effort I put into proving my worth as a mom, I was always faced with some new insecurity or faced with a mom who was probably doing it better. All of the competition and comparison made me anxious and it robbed me of the joy that should have been a part of my mothering experience.
Eventually, I grew exhausted of the show. I tired of the arguments online about stay-at-home versus working mom, bottle versus breast, public school or home school and so I checked out. I stopped putting so much effort into proving that what I was doing was important and I simply started doing the work of being myself.
I started focusing on the needs of my children as I saw them each day. I let my own interests and gifts direct how I parent, instead of a blog post or Facebook thread. At the end of the day, I let my connection with my children and some healthy self-reflection become my benchmark for how I was doing as a mom, not the Instagram post of some other mom I had never met. I sought out the advice from people I trusted, from books written by experts instead of looking for approval from other moms.
And you know what? I started to experience a happiness as a mom that I hadn’t really felt before. My days felt easier, because I trusted myself to make good choices for my family without the need for approval for others.
My days became about the well-being of my family and stopped being a performance for the online masses.
So, whether you are a mom of your first tiny infant, you’re send your kids off to school for the first time or thinking about heading back to work, please hear me when I say — You don’t need to prove to me or anyone around you what you are worth. Let the moms around you be nothing more than friends, instead of competition. Snuggle up close to your child while you read to them before bed, look them in the eyes while you talk over dinner, see how they love you and let be enough. Trust me, it just might be the best parenting decision you ever made.