As a mother of four children, there are days when it is really easy to lose myself in the messiness that is motherhood. From wiping spilled cheerios and milk off the table every single morning to dust-busting the stairs five times a day, being a mom is exhausting. Going over the ABC’s with my toddler competes with my 2nd and 4th graders attempt to recite their times tables at lunch. Listening to my middle schooler read an essay and checking for grammatical errors grabs my attention away from the pile of laundry collecting dust (and more dirty clothes) in the corner.

Somewhere between steam cleaning the carpet because of yet another kid-induced stain and watching “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood” for the thousandth time, I started to think that I was missing out on my purpose. That my life wasn’t going to actually start until my kids were grown and moved out of the house. I began answering my kids’ questions with short, abrasive answers just to get them off my back. How dare they ask for my help? Didn’t they know I was important and had important things to do? This mindset took over my thoughts more times than I care to admit and left me impaired, to say the least.

I became focused on what they were taking from me instead of what they were giving to me.

“The countless hours of homework help is a trap,” I said to myself. “If I do that then I’m not going to be able to do what I want to do with my life. There’s just not enough time for both.”

Granted, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with my life. I couldn’t even see past the present to think about the future. But that didn’t matter. My impairment, my distorted view, took every single ounce of joy out of me. This was self-sabotage at its finest.

Seeing my children as a distraction instead of the main attraction stole my time and patience. These little people were given to me as a gift. And a gift is supposed to add to one’s life. Gifts bring hours of fun and moments of grateful tears. When did I lose sight of this fact?

The very real and painfully ugly truth is that I got caught up in the comparison game. You see, I don’t work outside of the home. I took on the large task of homeschooling my children five years ago and this is what fills my days. Do I feel like a part of my soul is being left untended by making this commitment to my family? Sure. You might sneer in disgust at that acknowledgement but believe me, it’s a victory to even admit that to myself, let alone to someone else.

This is where things get a bit sticky because so many moms claim that they could never homeschool their kids. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, “I could never do what you do!”  There’s the familiar, “Don’t you get tired of being with your kids all day?” And my personal favorite is, “You must be supermom!”

While all of these phrases are intended as compliments and come from well-meaning women, I let them pile up on my shoulders as expectations that I had to live up to. I started looking around at all the other moms who don’t homeschool and let the idea of greener grass fester in my heart for a while. I got stuck in that comparison trap for a hot minute and it left me feeling pulled from all different directions. Trying to be the uncommon mom who does the impossible while never getting annoyed by my kids and saving the world at the same time became a lofty task.

Frankly, I don’t want that responsibility on my shoulders. We feel like there has to be more to the title of MOM in order to fully embrace the calling that is motherhood. We think to ourselves, “Are snotty noses, kitchen messes and sassy pre-teens really what being a mom is all about?”  I’m here to tell you that yes, it is. But, there is also SO much more.

I get to be a mom. I get to sing my toddler lullabies at night. I get to listen to my pre-teen’s complaints and questions as well as his thanks and laughs. I get to play dress up with my 7 year old. I get to play Pokemon for hours with my middle son. This shift in perspective from thinking that I was being cheated out of my purpose by my kids to realizing that my kids are a vital part of my purpose has been life-changing.

I am starting to see that life begins when we accept the season we are in right now. Not when my kids are grown and have lives of their own. NOW. When they need my attention for most of the day and my nights are full of catching up on Zzzzz’s that are never quite enough.

This homeschooling mom now recognizes the value in what she is doing and is learning to love it. Whatever kind of mom you are, embrace it. We only have one chance to get it right and if we get it wrong, are we really going to enjoy our freedom from them once they’re grown?

Harmony Vuycankiat

Harmony is a proud Air Force wife and blessed mother of 4 children. Her heart’s cry is to love without limits and live without regrets. She plans to use her criminal justice degree to tangibly help marginalized women and children all over the world. Writing, singing, and running are her methods of soul therapy and Starbucks coffee is her happy juice. The quote that she lives by is, “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left and could say ‘I’ve used everything you gave me.’ ” (Erma Bombeck)