I stared at the picture in astonishment: the image of a 23-year-old me. Back when I was fit, tan, and had time for perfect hair and makeup. There I was, completely carefree on a girl’s trip. With no schedule, few plans, and even fewer worries.
And as I sat there—covered in spit-up, and breastfeeding for what felt like the 100th time that day—I couldn’t believe that was ever actually me. It was like I didn’t recognize myself at all. That girl, where did she go?
Well, I knew the answer. She came here: to this house, to these kids. The life that used to be my own, now belonged to them.
They say that when a baby is born, so is a mother. Since I was a little girl, I’ve wondered what being a mommy would be like. And truly, motherhood has brought me the most indescribable joy I’ve ever felt.
But being born into motherhood also means taking on an endless list of responsibilities. And that naive, pre-baby girl really had no idea what she was signing up for.
After my first child was born, the sheer volume of all of the extra tasks was simply overwhelming to me. The new normal of endless messes, housework, and a huge mental to-do list was just A LOT.
So, we looked at our finances. And it “just made sense” for me to stop working. At that moment, this seemed like the perfect solution. After all, wouldn’t having a stay-at-home mom be the best thing for baby?
But what I didn’t understand by quitting my job, was that I gave up the last thing I had that was just for me.
It often feels like I’ve become the world’s most boring person, like nothing about me is interesting at all anymore. When friends ask, “What’s new with you?” my answers revolve around what’s new with my kids. Because, well, there’s never anything new with me anymore.
And, I’m so very bored. My busy mind finds itself quite understimulated by the picking up of toys, snack serving, and all the other mundane motherhood chores. I’ll catch myself wildly scrolling my phone when I should be participating in their make-believe game. Then, I feel guilty for not cherishing the sweet moment more. But honestly? Playing princess doesn’t exactly challenge me mentally. So I reach for something that does. And I’ll find myself thinking, How did I get here? I can’t believe this is my life.
Though I know this won’t be forever, some days it sure feels like it will. And on those days, I’ll find myself spiraling straight into a pity party: full-on lamenting the loss of my freedom, interests, and sense of self-worth. Grieving all that I’ve given up to take on the title of Mom.
After sitting in this sorrow for a bit, I do my best to take control of these toxic thoughts. Because yes, this is hard. Having to give up so much of what made me unique to make space for motherhood has in many ways been soul-crushing.
But you know what? I did spend my whole life waiting to be here. Years and years waiting and wishing for this: for my family, my little girl and baby boy. Dreaming of the day I would be called “Mommy.”
As they grow, they’ll get easier. And one day, probably sooner than I realize, they won’t need me as much. Then, there will be a few more hours in the day for me. But right now, I am their whole world. So I guess—just for a few years—they’ll have to be my whole world too.
I may have never expected to “just” be Mommy, but how very privileged I am to be their Mommy.
So, what do I do with all these mixed emotions? I talk about them, probably way too much. I’m open and honest about how much I love and cherish my children. But also, how very hard it is. How long, lonely, and unfulfilling some days feel. How much of me and my life has been sacrificed because it was the best thing for them.
Sometimes I’m met with compassion. Other times, judgment. But I’ve found that honesty is the only way to deal with the heavy emotional toll that is modern motherhood.
As I cooked dinner tonight, I listened to the sweet sounds of my children playing together. The 4-year-old chased the 1-year-old, both laughing and living completely for the moment. Knowing they are safe, unconditionally loved, and wanted more than they could ever imagine.
I pause a moment, just to watch them. And with the most complete joy I’ve ever felt, I marvel at my beautiful girl and precious boy. And it feels like my heart may just burst with happiness.
I find myself thinking, How did I get here? I can’t believe this is my life. I cannot believe these precious children are mine.
So “just” being their Mommy right now . . . will have to be more than enough.