Strong As A Mother
By Sarah Collins
“We live in a culture where motherhood is most often discussed in the context of raising children and not in the experience of the mother.”
– You & I, As Mothers by Laura Prepon
I stumbled upon this quote about a year ago when I was drowning in my own motherhood. In 2018, I gave birth to my son, Henry. Ten months later, I found out I was pregnant with twins. Even though I had quit my job to give the stay-at-home mom thing a whirl, I was not prepared for a future where I would be a mom of three kids all under two years old. The twins, Grace and Ruby, were born exactly 18 months after their brother (well, 18 months and one day for Ruby because she made her appearance after midnight).
While reading Laura’s words, the kids were two and a half years and one year old. It was chaotic and I was searching for a way to feel like I had some power and control as a mother. I was also searching for my identity because becoming a mom had totally shifted how I saw myself. At this time I was staying at home with my trio of children and running a career coaching business where I help clients focus on using their Gallup CliftonStrengths. Through research, we know that every single human has natural, innate talent. The CliftonStrengths assessment helps identify that talent and by investing in yourself you can shape those talents into strengths. By leaning into your strengths you can become more engaged at work, lead a team more effectively, and generally have less stress. As you can imagine, most people take the CliftonStrengths assessment at work for professional development.
Up until this time I had kept my two worlds separate. Most of my life was spent at home changing diapers, fishing small objects from little mouths, and trying to convince my children that broccoli was delicious. Two days a week, however, I put on real clothes and talked to grown ups about their careers and businesses. Reading Laura’s words hit me like a brick wall. What would happen if moms spent time learning how to use their strengths in their motherhood? How could we create space to show up as our best selves for our partners, our children, and, maybe most importantly, ourselves? Could we thrive as mothers?
I decided to figure it out and started facilitating Strong As A Mother coaching groups where mothers learn about their CliftonStrengths and how to use those strengths in that role.
The last year of learning about, discussing, and linking strengths to motherhood came with some interesting discoveries. Many moms rely so heavily on certain strengths that they don’t even realize they’re doing it. One mom in my coaching group had high Strategic as a strength, but at first she couldn’t see how she was using it as a mom. After discussing her strengths with her husband, it was clear she was constantly spotting relevant patterns and issues, then adjusting accordingly. By using CliftonStrengths, mothers can start to learn where they are showing up as superheroes and areas where they might need to lean on their partners, family, or community. When mothers spend time intentionally focusing on strengths, they can reprioritize, delegate, or simply let go of some of the tasks, burdens, and challenges of motherhood. Mothers can actually feel empowered in their role.
Looking at your CliftonStrengths takes time and attention. It’s likely your strengths will show up differently in your motherhood than they do in other areas of your life.
Some of my own strengths easily transition from work to home, like Positivity. I naturally wake all of my children up with a smile and a hope that this new day will come with joy, playfulness, and fewer tantrums than yesterday.
Other strengths proved harder to find, like WOO (Winning Others Over). Most people with this strength love meeting new people and being social. I literally grew my children in my body so they do not fill my WOO bucket. After some reflection, I realized the pandemic of 2020 combined with having three toddlers wreaked havoc on my social life and prohibited me from utilizing my WOO, thus leaving me feeling a bit depressed and lacking my normal energy. I discussed this with my partner and, working together, we created time in our schedule so weekly I can meet up with friends and then come home as a happier, more relaxed version of myself.
If you are a mom I encourage you to consider who you are as a human and what your innate strengths are. Utilizing the Gallup CliftonStrengths assessment will give you an insight into those strengths. While most of the research and literature regarding Strengths revolves around professional development, we can use this insight to reflect about who we are as mothers and then determine what we need (and who we need) to show up as our best selves. A lot depends on you, mama. Good thing you are strong as a mother.
Interested in learning more?
Look into these books:
StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath
Strengths Based Leadership by Tom Rath
Strengths Based Parenting: Developing Your Children’s Innate Talents by Mary Reckmeyer, PhD with Jennifer Robison
Play to Their Strengths by Analyn and Brandon Miller
You and I, As Mothers by Laura Prepon
Motherwhelmed by Beth Berry
Mothers of the Village by C.J. Schneider
Follow Sarah’s mothering and coaching adventures on Instagram at SarahCoachCollins.
Interested in joining a Strong As A Mother coaching group? A new group will be launching in October. Be sure to check collinscareercoaching.com for registration details.