Shop the fall collection ➔

Next autumn, all three of my babies will be in school—all day, every day. Mindless people ask, “What will you do with all of your time?” I could say laundry, dishes, grocery shopping, going for a run, yoga, walking the dog, checking emails, making phone calls, paying bills, meeting friends for coffee, writing, breathing, peeing, pooping, sitting, standing—and all without being interrupted.

I could say just that. And I may even do just that.

But right now, I’m thinking that might not be enough.

RELATED: Why I Still Stay Home

There’s a part of me—the part that existed before I bore three humans from my womb—that wants to work outside the home. I want to contribute to society beyond rearing decent humans. (Not that there’s anything wrong with being a stay-at-home parent. I’ve done it for eight years. I get you!)

In my past life (my life before motherhood), I was a social worker. I provided health care, housing, and resources to chronically ill, homeless people deserving of basic human rights and so much more.

I may have left social work, but social injustices never left the world we live in. Underneath my fulfilled mother-heart, there’s a yearning. As my children spend more time with teachers at school than at home with me, my hunger to work grows. I want to help repair a world that each day seems more and more irreparable.

RELATED: I’m Better as a Working Mom

Altruism aside, I’m also thinking about my 50-year-old self. When my kids don their caps and gowns and empty nest sets in, I’m not sure I’ll even remember who I was before my kids swooped in and redefined my identity.

If I don’t start reclaiming myself soon, I think I may be lost forever.

Three of my dearest friends never stopped working when they entered motherhood, and I’ve started casually interviewing them. I ask them what it’s like to be a mom and work outside the home. I admire their convictions about being working moms. They seem to know what they want. They seem to know what they need.

All of them went back to work after maternity leave. They stayed in touch with their pre-parental selves. I didn’t. I dove off the working world plank and landed face first in a sea of motherhood.

RELATED: Dear Stay-at-Home Moms, Your Work Doesn’t Go Unnoticed

When I observe my working mom friends they appear to flaunt their mom/professional identity with precision and confidence. But when I look in the mirror, I see a disheveled and exhausted mom. Her dull eyes stare back at me.

Where is her fire? Where is her spark?

It’s hiding underneath fear.

It’s taboo to admit regret. But I regret not staying partially in the working world. If I had, I don’t think I’d be so terrified to re-immerse myself into that world.

Author Jack Canfield says, “Everything you want is on the other side of fear.” I believe him. I know because before becoming a mother, I was scared. I felt unsure and nervous about starting a new identity as a mother. And yet, I did it. I’m doing it. I mother three people every day.

Facing my fears lead me to motherhood, and facing my fears today will lead me to work outside the home. But that doesn’t mean I stop being a mom. I will navigate this new challenge like all past challenges—with messy and emotional determination—and an immense amount of love for my family and myself.

Previously published on Babble

Molly England

Molly England perpetually attempts to simplify her life. She aspires to be a decent mother, wife, daughter, and friend. Meanwhile, she processes the daily chaos and beauty by jotting down her thoughts. Molly’s writing is featured on The Washington Post, HuffPost, Scary Mommy, Salon, Pregnancy & Newborn Magazine, Sammiches & Psych Meds, and more.

Sometimes I Feel Like a Monster, Not a Mother

In: Motherhood
Woman banging fist on door frame

Whenever someone asks if I plan on a third child, I always give a safe answer: I can’t imagine going through all that again! If it’s someone in the education field I go with a different version: If we stick with two, we can pay for college! If I’ve had a few drinks and the person has a sense of humor: Only if you’ll pay for a divorce lawyer! All of those answers are kernels of the truth, but none of them are the real reason  I diligently pop my birth control pill every night at 9 p.m., which is the...

Keep Reading

God Gave Grandmas and Grandpas Time

In: Grown Children, Motherhood
Grandma with granddaughter pointing outside

My daughter, Becca, was laughing as I answered her call. “Mom, we were at the park and Brady just walked up to a man he thought sure was Dad and called him Grandpa.” My first question was if the man looked at all like my husband.  She said, “He had a blue shirt on that looked like one Dad wears, but when Brady looked up at him, he had a baseball cap on and Dad doesn’t wear those. And he had tall crew socks on, and Dad definitely doesn’t wear those.” Then I asked what the man said to Brady,...

Keep Reading

Faith is a Verb, So We Go to Church

In: Faith, Motherhood
Woman and teen daughter in church pew

Every Sunday morning we rush out the door bribing, coaxing, and threatening our kids to just “Get into the van!” Luckily, we live remotely rural so we don’t have neighbors to witness our often un-Christlike eye rolls and harsh sighs as we buckle each other up. We’ve always lived within a five-minute drive to a chapel, and yet we are usually there not two minutes before the service starts. Once sitting in our seats, we’re on high alert for noise control and sibling altercations for the next hour of what is supposed to be a peaceful, sacred, spirit-filled service. Which...

Keep Reading

3 Simple Ways to Be a More Confident Mother

In: Faith, Motherhood
Mother and young child smiling outside

Do you ever ask yourself why you can’t be more like that mom or why can’t your kids be like those kids? The comparison trap is an easy one to fall into if we aren’t careful. At the click of our fingers, we see Pinterest-worthy motherhood in every category. From the mom with the black-belt kids to the mom with Marie Kondo organizing skills—it’s easy to look at their lives and feel like we’ve fallen short. Even worse, is when we start to strive to become something we aren’t or prod our kids to become something they aren’t.  Comparison makes...

Keep Reading

I’ll Find Her Again One Day

In: Living, Motherhood
Mother holding baby at night

It happened again. Took 15 months this time. But I found myself in the same spot I said I’d never be in. Lost, drowning, on the brink of a mental breakdown—however you want to put it. I was gone in motherhood. With the diapers piling up around me, I was getting mad at my husband for nothing, screaming at my oldest son, crying along with the babies, and in a fog. RELATED: To the Woman Who’s Lost Herself in Motherhood I couldn’t do anything—literally—I couldn’t even pee without hearing a demand. When my children were quiet, my house billowed with...

Keep Reading

I Know What It’s Like To Have a Difficult Child

In: Child, Motherhood
Little girl kneeling on deck, color photo

One Sunday morning during church, I was standing around bouncing my fussy premature baby around the cry room. This room is special—a place for nursing moms and moms with young kids to watch the live sermon on a monitor. I wasn’t alone, two other moms sat on the couches, and we were all chatting. A beautiful but tired mom sat with her little girl snuggled in her arms, gazing at the lights.  “She’s so chill. She’s like this all the time, much easier than my other son.”  I looked over at her with big eyes and a laugh, “I’m jealous!...

Keep Reading

One Day You’ll Outgrow Being My Little Boy—But Not Today

In: Kids, Motherhood, Tween
Mother and two sons back-to-school picture, color photo

One day you will come home after your first day of a new school year and not wish to share a single thing. Not today. Today, you got into the car and talked non-stop about every second of your day. I was delighted!  One day you will not have countless first-day forms for me to sign and return the next day. Not today. I signed my name at least four times. I was happy to grant permission for you to play sports, learn algebra, and do whatever else I gave my permission for.  One day you will not allow me...

Keep Reading

Senior Year Is Overwhelming For Moms Too

In: Grown Children, Motherhood
High school graduate kissing mother on cheek

We are mothers. We do ALL the things. We are varsity-level, starting lineup, go-to DOERS. We are in the business of getting it done. And we know that our fine-honed, behind-the-scenes skill of doing makes the wheels turn smoothly in our families.   We are the getting-it-done glue.  High fives all around. So, here comes this season of launching. Your child is now a high school senior. Guess what? As moms, we want to jump right in with our number one mom-tool . . . doing. I want to do the research. I want to do the planning. I want to...

Keep Reading

To the Mom In the Trenches: Make Room For Yourself

In: Living, Motherhood
Mother and daughter on beach black and white photo

“I need to make room for myself,” I think quietly as I shove toys aside with my foot and toss the dog-hair-covered blankets onto the couch behind me. This endless carousel of shuffling clutter weighs on me, but I try not to dwell on that fact right now. Clearing a space for a quick strength class between Zoom calls requires almost as much effort as the class itself. Plastic play food and melodic baby toys lay strewn about the room (the whole house, really). Scattered LEGOs and Hot Wheels wait to attack unsuspecting bare feet at any moment. To say...

Keep Reading

His First Haircut Was the Start of Letting Go

In: Child, Motherhood, Tween
Toddler smiling and holding popsicle, color photo

My son has the most beautiful curls. I remember when his hair started growing as a baby and a little ringlet appeared. My momma heart was bursting with excitement. Yes, I will admit something as superficial as a curl made me squeal.  The kid just has adorable hair—and where does this wondrous flow come from? He didn’t inherit it from me, and his dad doesn’t have a curl to boot either. In a way, it’s become my youngest’s trademark.  The day came for his first haircut, and then his second one. I remember watching his curls fall to the ground...

Keep Reading