Why Amy Coney Barrett Need Not Be Every Women’s Role Model Success can mean different things, don't let the media influence your definition of success

Recently confirmed SCOTUS, Amy Coney Barrett is also supermom or so it seems.  Besides being a highly accomplished and successful career woman, she is also mother to 7 kids – aged 8 to 18.  What’s more 2 are adopted and one has Down’s Syndrome.

According to reports, Barrett will “make history as the first mother of school-aged children ever to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court.”

Wow, but the question on everyone’s mind is How does she do it all? What is the truth behind her effortless navigation of work-life balance?  Should she be every women’s role model?

Amy Coney Barrett and Her Carefully Curated Supermom Image
Amy Coney Barett, the career woman and supermom is a carefully crafted narrative that may not be all true

The Lucky Privileged Women

Amy Barrett seems to be one of the few fortunate women. She has an extremely supportive husband, Jesse who actually asks her every morning, ‘what he can do for her that day’, and then he actually finds ways to take things off her plate.

Well, having that kind of father around is sure to make mothering less stressful. But she is a minority, most working mothers have to tackle home and kids with very little help from their partners.

Additionally, she has her husband, Jesse’s aunt who through choice or compulsion has been around to help Barrett manage the house and care for the kids.

Well, money and privilege do allow you to outsource the nitty-gritty of mothering. Thus allowing busy Barrett to occasionally be room parent, carpool driver, and birthday party planner.  She paints a very rosy picture of domestic bliss where she has everything under control.

Of course, we will never know how the kids really feel about mom’s demanding job. Only time will tell, like in the case of Claudia Conway and her very public protest regarding her mother’s job.

Moreover, not everyone is as lucky as Barrett, to have at her disposal quite a few friends and ever available babysitters who compliantly accommodate her busy schedule.

Judging and Comparing Ourselves to Unrealistic Standards

One never knows what goes on in a home. Today, most media appearances are carefully crafted narratives that may not be all true. Yet, we fall for the portrayed images we see that feed upon our insecurities of being less than, not good enough. And this is the root of most of the stress in the world. Judging and comparing ourselves to unrealistic standards of accomplishment. 

Women need to realistically access their own situations not blindly aspire to be as successful as Barrett. When a woman believes that they need to do it all now, it usually leads to disastrous outcomes – both for the woman and the kids.

A lawyer acquaintance with small 2 kids, decided she wanted to do her Ph.D. just because another friend was at it Her ingrained sense of competition blinded her to her actual reality. That wanting to be as good as and even better than led to her destroying everyone who refused to be available help. Her husband finally got sick of her demands and moved out. Now her kids have to forget about being kids and be efficient minions – they were just 5 and 8. It was so sad watching her mess up her innocent children just because she felt entitled to follow her desire to raise her professional status.

No guesses with regards to her children’s mental health – both have issues, is putting it mildly.

Parental Separation and Developing Brain

Psychologist Erica Komisar has uncovered the irrefutable link between rising rates of childhood mental health issues and absent mothers, “What I was seeing was an increase in children being diagnosed with ADHD and an increase in aggression in children, particularly in little boys, and an increase in depression in little girls.”

And no guesses for the reason for this trend the absence of mothers in children’s lives on a daily basis was what I saw to be one of the triggers for these mental disorders.’

According to child psychologists, the separation of their mothers before the first year of life automatically raises a baby’s level of cortisol and other stress hormones.

Small kids need their parents’ presence and attunement in their lives. When this basic core, need is unmet, you have a dysregulated nervous system which means developmental issues like ADHD, hyperactivity, and a host of other problems.

As parents, we need to be aware we play an important role in our child’s growth. We are their first role models and heroes. But they need our consistent presence in their daily life for them to imbibe important life-lesson. Having a demanding career when they are young stymies the development embodied comfort in a growing child.

Acceptance of One’s Situation and Not Rushing to Do It All

Being a mother or father should take priority once the kids arrive. Not everyone has or will have a support system and financial power to outsource their parenting duties. As women and mothers, we need not get sucked into the false narrative that we can do it all. Our brains are not built to constantly multitask. We will end up burnt-out and stressed.  It’s okay to put a career on hold and give our kids the loving attention they need to thrive.

As Komisar elaborates, “We can do many, many things in life; we can even do everything in life,” she says. “We just can’t do it all at the same time.” Unless you are lucky like Amy Barett. Unfortunately, most of us are not.?

What Matters In The End

In the end, what really matters is doing a good job – whether it caring for your child, baking cookies, cleaning the toilet, being a CEO, or being a Supreme Court Judge. According to Bronnie Ware, author of the book The Top Five Regrets of the Dying, the two top regrets are:

1) I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me

Don’t let the media, your family, your friends dictate how you want to live your life. As long as you support yourself and your dreams and not hurting anyone, do what makes you happy. Be a dancer, a chef, an astronaut, or a farmer, whatever brings you happiness and contentment. Don’t be misled thinking you have to be rich, famous, and powerful to feel happy. That’s just a false narrative. Don’t believe the hype put out by the media. Being SCOTUS is just not everyone’s cup of tea.

2) I wish I hadn’t worked so hard

Let us be honest, no matter how good you are at your job, there could always be a better replacement. And when you retire after the farewell party you will be just a distant memory. Whereas, being a good parent ensures you live forever in your child’s memory.  According to Bonnie, the dying regretted missing their children’s milestones, those ordinary moments that are life-defining.

Remember, parenting is a one-way trajectory, you cannot time-travel back to your kids’ childhoods. There is no going back to undo the damage that stressed parenting unleashes. Be mindful of your choices and how they affect your near and dear ones. Don’t fall for the super-glossed versions of a person painted by the media. Stay true to the guidance of your inner voice.

Image Source: Wikipedia 

Further Reading:

Being There: Why Prioritizing Motherhood in the First Three Years Matters – Erica Komisar

How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlish

Time-in Parenting –  Otto Weininger

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