Superpowers of a Mother

Superpowers of a Mother

Not very long ago, I had ten minutes to make dinner for JJ (my second born), take a shower, and get him to practice. So what did I do? I strategized. I tossed some chicken on the grill. I knew I had five minutes before it needed to be flipped, so I hopped in the shower and washed all the necessary body parts (you know the ones, ladies), toweled off, and threw on my overalls. I brushed the tangles from my hair while I browned the other side of the chicken. I yelled for JJ to get in the car, sliced up the chicken, threw it in a container, and hopped in the car after him.  

Done and done. Wonder Woman has nothing on the superpowers of a working mom. And it’s worth mentioning that I do not envy her costume. It’s like a strapless bathing suit and faux leather boots. I want to see a woman in yoga pants and a beat-up sweatshirt fighting evil. Now that’s a story I can get behind. She could even do it in blinged-out Golden Goose shoes. 

Ready for an experiment? Put a mental checkmark beside any of these statements that are true for you:

  • I have nursed a baby or pumped breastmilk on a Zoom meeting.
  • I have put on a full face of makeup with a child attached to me.
  • I have answered work emails in the car rider line.
  • I have taken a Zoom meeting in my car while waiting on a kid to come out of practice or club.
  • I have gone to the bathroom with a child on my lap.
  • I have put on makeup on the way to an event, function, or meeting.
  • I have cooked a meal and also
    1. Gotten some part of my person dressed or
    2. Had a crying child hanging off one of my limbs or
    3. All of the above

If you answered yes to one or more of those questions, you are a superhero. You’ve got superpowers. You can accomplish multiple things at once—meaningful, important, must-do things. This is the intrinsic value of a working mom: she gets stuff done, no matter the cost. And not only does she get it done, but she gets it done well.

That’s only reinforced by McKinney’s “Strengthen the MomForce Survey” from April 2022, which says that 81 percent of moms say that being a mother has given them increased efficiency at work.

Moms, stop apologizing. You’re baddies!  

Here are just a few reasons why I want you to know your worth:  

  •  Moms have been scientifically shown to become smarter and more empathetic during pregnancy.
  • Parenting grows our emotional IQ, courage, efficiency/productivity, collaboration abilities, and compassion.
  • Women-led companies are more profitable.
  • The majority of employees want to work for women-led companies.  

Motherhood is essentially a master class for leadership, empathy, vision, and efficiency. Getting my kids out the door for school? That’s like being a hostage negotiator. Being in charge of another human is a monumental responsibility. It doesn’t ever stop. It’s an around-the-clock, forever-and-ever kind of commitment. It’s a commitment that changes you. Being a parent develops muscles (figurative and literal) that you didn’t even know you had.  

Yet, we doubt ourselves all the time, as mothers. Much of that tension is because we don’t have a realistic measure of what motherhood should look like in America. And, It doesn’t help that society continues to scrutinize us. But, listen to this bit of research.  

Adam Franssen is a biology professor at Longwood University. He teamed up with other researchers, like Craig Kinsley of the University of Richmond, to prove his theory that being a mother makes a woman smarter. His findings? “Mothers are better at problem solving, handling stress and at completing certain memory tasks.”

But it’s way more fascinating than that. Adam compares the brain of a pregnant woman to a car engine when it’s revving…hang with me, because this is a bit scientific, but it’s mind-blowing: 

“At the revving stage, a racecar’s engine is getting prepped for that race. It seems like there is a lot of evidence to suggest that is actually what’s happening in the mother’s brain during the period of pregnancy. There are changes happening to neurons. They are increasing in size or some neurons have been shown to not only grow but to potentially increase their capacity to produce protein in one part of the brain or perhaps increase their neuronal branches to make communications from one neuron to another neu- ron that it wasn’t talking with before—all in anticipation of the high workload of caring for a child”. 

There goes the argument that a mom’s superpowers are learned behaviors. But isn’t that incredible? It’s wild, right? Moms’ brains actually grow and increase in thinking capacity, even before our babies are born, because our bodies know the circus of newborn life…and toddler life…and tween life…and basically just how intense parenting is forever and ever and ever, amen. 

A mother’s brain maintains this heightened capacity throughout the remainder of her life. So when I said you’re now carrying superpowers, I meant it. You are an evolutionary wonder! 

And believe it or not, there’s more to us than our big, brilliant minds. Just a few of the scientific superpowers being a mom gives us are time management mastery, empathy (self-awareness, psychological safety), and problem-solving and innovation skills. 

There’s a saying usually attributed to Plato that “desperation is the mother of invention.” That truth drives a lot of the accomplishments of women at home and at work. We’re the end of the line. The goalie. The buck stops with us as the default. We know that, often, if we don’t do it, don’t fix it, don’t address it, don’t clean it—it won’t get done, right? I’m convinced that moms are the masters of innovation and invention. Not because we’re sitting around in a laboratory with our ideas and postulations, but because we’re desperate! 

In fact, over the years, women have invented some pretty cool gadgets. And every single one of them was born out of an acute need for a better way. You have to hear about some of these women18–it’s fascinating what we’re capable of. 

  • In 1893 Margaret Wilcox invented the car heater by creating a system to channel air over the engine and into the cab.
  • In 1899 Letitia Greer invented the one-handed syringe. Before her innovation, medical professionals were required to use two hands to give injections.
  • While translating some notes on the Analytical Engine for mathematics professor Charles Babbage, Ada Lovelace tripled the length of the original text with her own notes. She is credited with writing the very first computer algorithm in 1843.
  • Mary Anderson got a patent for her windshield wiping device in 1903. When she tried to sell her idea to a manufacturer, she was turned down because they said windshield wipers held no practical value.
  • And in the glorious year 1872, Josephine Cochran created a dishwasher that cleaned dishes using water pressure. Josephine, God love you. A woman invented the circular saw. The first aquarium. The globe, the locomotive chimney, the life raft, the fire escape, the ironing board, the retractable dog leash, the coffee filter, the foot pedal trash can, central heating, the disposable diaper (no surprise there), bullet-proof fiber, the home security system, caller ID, space station batteries, naturally colored cotton, stem cell isolation, and the space rocket propulsion system. 

One of my favorite female innovators is a woman named El Dorado Jones. First of all, what an incredible name. El Dorado Jones’s nickname was Iron Woman. She invented the airplane muffler in 1917. But the coolest thing about El Dorado is that she owned her own metalworking factory in the early 1900s, where she only employed women over the age of forty. El Dorado, you are my people. You are the only Jones I’d like to keep up with! 

Women, and especially working moms, we not only bring a new perspective, but we come with a roll-up-our-sleeves, there’s-gotta-be-a-solution mindset. And if there isn’t an existing solution, we’ll invent one.  

Mamas, I know you’re juggling a million things, you’re probably wondering if you’re the woman for the job. And, you might not feel like you’re ever nailing it. But, I hope you are empowered by this incredible evidence that backs up your worth. You are superheroes with superpowers. And, YOU are a good mom.

Excerpt adapted from “You Don’t Have To Carry It All: Ditch the Mom Guilt and Find a Better Way Forward” by Paula Faris.

Paula Faris is a mom of three and the founder of CARRY™ Media, which advocates for working moms through load-lessening content. Prior to founding CARRY™, she spent over two decades in broadcast journalism, anchoring Good Morning America weekends and co-hosting The View. Paula, her husband and their three children live in small town South Carolina.  

Who Are You Outside of Your Job?

Who Are You Outside of Your Job?

When you introduce yourself, what do you say? How do you answer that prolific little icebreaker, the one that often pops up during a job interview or at a meeting of semi-acquainted friends, “Tell us a little about yourself.”

I’ll go first. Here’s what I used to say:

“Hi, I’m Paula. I’m a journalist for ABC, where I anchor the weekend edition of GMA and serve as a co-host on The View.”

Occasionally, I might add that I’m a wife and a mother. That I grew up in the Midwest. That I’m a Christian. But I always, always led with my career.


My career wasn’t something I did. My career was who I was. My entire identity was completely enmeshed in my vocation—and at the time, I didn’t think anything of it. In my mind, being a good journalist and giving my all to my career was what it looked like to pursue my life’s calling. I was making the most of my natural-born talent, given to me by my Creator when he formed me in the womb. Wasn’t I?

Until God got my attention through a series of unfortunate events—that’s putting it lightly, it was a year of hell, really—I didn’t understand that perhaps being obsessed with my job, with advancing in my career, with leaning in, with making a name for myself, wasn’t the point.

So what exactly did it take for me to get there? Within seven months, I experienced a miscarriage, a concussion, a head-on car crash, and influenza that turned into pneumonia. I finally accepted that it was time to step off the fast track, and I finally left the anchor chair at GMA Weekend and departed the co-host seat at The View.

But when I did, I was utterly and completely lost.

Who was I outside of what I did?

As a Christian, I’ve heard the buzzwords “purpose” and “calling” tossed around my entire life. For the longest time, I thought calling and career were synonymous, because as great as we are at talking about callings, we are pretty terrible at communicating how to determine and pursue the all-important, ever-elusive calling.

Stepping back from the spotlight started me on my personal journey to discover my calling. I came to find that in this life, we all have two callings: a faith calling and a vocational calling.

Faith calling is our PURPOSE. It will never change. It’s why we’re on this earth. For me, it’s to love God and to love people. Notice, it has nothing to do with career.

While faith calling is who we are, vocational calling is what we do. It is sheerly the vehicle, the conduit by which we’ll love God and love people, by which we’ll fulfill our faith calling. Vocational calling can and WILL change throughout our lives. If we attach our identity and purpose to doing, to “what we do,” when that vocation inevitably shifts, we’ll have an identity crisis. I know. Because I had one.

I had to learn that living out our faith calling is the most important thing that we can do in this life—more important than our careers. But living a life of purpose requires you to know why you’re doing what you’re doing and who you are doing it for. It means never deviating from the why no matter what path you choose.

But how do you stay rooted in your faith calling when the world puts so much pressure on you to work the next hour, make the next dollar, go after the next big promotion? By remaining attached to who you are in God.

Jesus tells us in John 15:1, 4, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. . . . No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine.” This verse is not primarily about vocational calling. It applies to all of life. If we’re to bear fruit in the Christian life—whether at home, in our communities, or in our vocations—we have to remain fixed to Jesus, rooted in him. We have to be about the things he was about and moving in the ways he wants us to move. We have to draw all our wisdom, all our strength, all our sustenance from the true vine. We have to let God direct all our outcomes.

When it comes to our vocational calling, rooting into the vine might mean passing up career opportunities and slowing down to be more present to your family, friends, and community. It could mean taking the promotion, or changing career fields, or becoming a freelancer, or stepping away from your career to be a stay-at-home wife or husband so that you can express the love of God to various people in different ways.

No matter the branch of your vocational calling, though, if it’s not rooted in the true vine of faith calling, if it’s not supported and nourished by God’s life, it won’t bear fruit. And what does Jesus say about branches not rooted in the vine, branches not bearing fruit?

“He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch

that does bear fruit he prunes, so that it will be even more fruitful.”

John 15:2

Looking at my own career, I suppose I could say it had been fruitful in a certain sense. There were times I expressed my faith calling, my purpose through my career. I’d been open about my faith, had shared God’s love with people. But was my vocational calling completely rooted in my faith calling? Hardly. So God pruned away (using the Year of Hell, no less), ultimately calling me to take a step back and reevaluate my vocational options. As I did, as God revealed the ways I’d rooted my identity in the wrong things—my own career—he helped me correct my course. He helped me find new identity in him. He helped me see how I could use my vocational skills to spread a different message—a message of faith and purpose.

So what about you? Do you know who you are outside of your job?

Maybe you find yourself in a situation similar to mine. You’re a determined achiever, completely caught up in proving your worth by building a successful career.

Maybe the change in pace, the time off from work or the time spent working from home during the last few weeks has you realizing that you’ve invested too much of yourself pursuing a career instead of pursuing a calling. Maybe it’s revealed you’ve misplaced your significance in things that shift and shake in a crisis.

Or maybe you’ve suddenly found yourself without a job, wondering what’s next, and who you even are anymore, as so many have in the midst of these uncertain times.

I want to encourage you to look past your vocation for your worth, your identity. Your worth isn’t in your work. Your value isn’t in your vocation. Your calling isn’t in your career.

Now, more than ever, the world needs for people to be living out their faith callings. Living purposefully, showing God’s love to one another, whether that’s at work or from the confines of your home.  And you have something important to bring to that table.

You are the only you—an original. God created you with unique talents and interests, a combination that is unique to only you. You’re the only one who can use that unique combination of talents and interests to spread the love of God, a message of faith and purpose, to all those you encounter. And I can assure you, there are many who need to hear that message—from you—right now.

You are so much more than what you do. You are a child of God.


Paula Faris is a senior national correspondent at ABC News, host of the popular podcast Journeys of Faith with Paula Faris, and author of the new book Called Out. An Emmy Award-winning journalist, Paula previously was co-anchor of the Good Morning America weekend edition, as well as a co-host of The View. She lives in New York with her husband and children. 

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