Before I was a mother, I was a human being.

A human being with life experiences, passions, fears, talents, hobbies, goals, friends and aspirations that I cherished and tried to honor.

Even though I went through a variety of seasons of life . . . from school-age days, to working adult, to wife . . . those things always stayed with me. I stayed open to evolving, but never let go of who I inherently was.  

Then came motherhood.

And suddenly I found myself abandoning my commitment to remain true to me, and leaving any semblance of myself in the rear view mirror. 

I spent months unknowingly losing myself . . . eventually walking aimlessly around in a body and spirit that no longer felt were mine. I didn’t have the same joyful spirit I used to, a spirit that I wanted to badly to share with my kids. I didn’t have the same drive I used to, a drive that I wanted to use to influence my kids to have their own. I didn’t have the same happiness I used to, a happiness that my kids deserved to see.

All because I was trying to be what society says a “good mom” is—which is someone who always puts everyone’s needs before her own.

But in doing that, I wasn’t taking care of me, and I found myself falling apart . . . no longer having the energy or the spirit with which I wanted to parent my children.

When I hit my lowest low, it was a single notion that finally made me slam on the breaks and turn around and go get “me”.

And it was the realization that my ultimate dream for my kids is for them to grow up and be EVERYTHING that they are . . . no matter who they encounter, what outside influence tries to change them, or what path they choose. I want them to always SHINE.

I want them to evolve, but I don’t want them to change.

And if this is what I wanted for them . . . it was part of my parenting role to show them how to LIVE that.

So I set out on a mission to find the old me again. I looked different, I had more life experiences, I had been through some things . . .but there I was. The version of me that I was always meant to give to my kids.

The version of me that God saw when He looked at each of my children and the human beings He created them to be . . . and said, “That one, with those particular talents, character traits, strength, aspirations and flaws . . . she’s the best one to raise these kids.”

I want to be HER.

Not the me that was trying to do what everyone else says was saying I should do in order to give my children the best life. God wanted me to evolve, he didn’t want me to un-become everything He had made me to be.

The pressure of modern-day parenting is real. We are constantly trying to keep up with unrealistic standards that keep us from letting our motherly instincts lead the way.

And while motherhood will always come with sacrifice, our kids shouldn’t have to sacrifice the opportunity to see the best version of us. Not just the mom part, but the human part. 

They deserve all of us.

And so do we.

Brea Schmidt

​Brea Schmidt is a writer, photographer and mom advocate who aims to generate authentic conversation about motherhood and daily life on her blog, The Thinking Branch.  She also owns the Ohio-based family photography business Photography by Brea.  When she isn't writing, photographing or Mom-ing her three kids under the age of five, you can usually find her listening to country music or aggressively cheering for her favorite sports teams.