Mother, Interrupted: Let all prepare to feel my mom-strength
by Debra Carpenter
Jan 31, 2014 | 466 views | 0 0 comments | 33 33 recommendations | email to a friend | print
As a stay-at-home mom, I miss out on some parts of the adult world that I used to enjoy — conversations with people over the age of 3, for example. It’s easy to forget that I am a valuable member of society when I routinely call using the bathroom “going to the potty.”

Some might disagree with me on this, but I believe that moms are still people, and they exist outside of supermarkets and PTO meetings. And even though I’m pretty good at changing diapers and making dinner, I would prefer someone compliment my creativity or uncanny ability to memorize lyrics and long numbers (but not names or birthdays). I think it would be fair to say that all parents like to be recognized as people and not just parents by other adults.

When I see my friends, it’s nice when they ask if I’ve taken up any new hobbies and not if I found a miracle cure for diaper rash.

I’ve been thinking. Usually, everyone walks away after I say that, so thanks for sticking around. I am a full-time student and I take all my classes online.

In my community healthcare and leadership management class, we were instructed to take a long personality test that would supposedly determine our strengths. While I was excited about learning what I’m really good at from someone who doesn’t know me, I had my doubts about the accuracy. Plus, I was a little upset that I had to spend $60 on the access code to even take the test.

The hard part of the test is that you have to answer every question honestly … even the ones you wish you had a different (read: “better”) answer for. Like, “Would you consider yourself the life of the party?” “Do people enjoy spending time with you?” And, “Are you the world’s best mom?” The last one was my own addition, but you get the point.

This was one of those tests where you get the score back immediately, which always makes me happy. As it turns out, this test was scary-accurate. It listed the five major strengths I have and gave examples of each and where it would come in handy.

I read each one and without realizing, I sat up a little straighter in my chair. And even though I was wearing a gigantic, ugly T-shirt, and my hair was a mess, and my daughter’s mouth was smeared with ketchup as she repeatedly tried to kiss my cheek, I felt powerful, valuable and confident. It’s nice to hear what you’re good at and have your strengths highlighted, even if it’s by an automated test.

We speak about 123,205,750 words in our lifetime. Whether those words are positive or negative is important.

In psychology, I learned about something called self-fulfilling prophecy. Self-fulfilling prophecy theories state that (1) You believe something, untrue or not — “I will fail this test.” (2) Your actions automatically reflect those beliefs — “I won't even bother studying, I already know I'll fail.” (3) The "prophecy" comes true. Because you believe it and give a negative thought power over your actions, you fail the test.

How does self-fulfilling prophecy relate to strengths? This is what I came up with: Instead of concentrating on our weaknesses and repeating the negative cycle, we can highlight our strengths and be proud of them. I choose to focus on what I’m good at. It also helps me to remember that even though my family comes first in my life and I answer to “Mama,” I am still a person, more specifically, a woman.

Being a mom and wife are my absolute favorite things in life, but they alone do not define who I am. I am good at things that don’t involve parenting or housekeeping. That empowers me.

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(Editor’s Note: Debra Carpenter writes “Mother, Interrupted” weekly, blogs for The Huffington Post and does a pretty good job of pretending to be a responsible adult in the meantime. Check her out online at MotherInterrupted.com and Facebook.com/MotherInterrupted.)