I am an unplanned stay-at-home mom that resulted from daycare struggles and surprise twins during the pandemic. As a Type A personality, I like to do well. However, I felt unprepared to navigate stay-at-home mom life with four children under the age of four during my husband’s long shifts at the hospital.

My original life plan involved life as a working mom. I am a nurse by trade. Not contributing to our family’s income or serving others as a nurse felt wrong. I felt guilty.

Pinterest and Instagram were full of inspiration and ideas for stay-at-home moms. Except, I’m not a Pinterest mom. I’m an academic, nerdy mom. Cute arts and crafts are not my strengths.

But I felt I needed to follow the masses and be someone I was not.

I felt I should be crafty, for my kids’ sake. And I should devote the first few years of their little lives entirely to their upbringing.

My husband anxiously left me on his first day back at work after the twins. However, I navigated the day flawlessly. While I am not crafty, I am a nurse and understand how to prioritize everyone’s needs. I meticulously planned out the day. He came home to a clean house, dinner prepped, and no one in tears. 

RELATED: I Fear I’ve Lost Myself To Motherhood

This lasted for a while. The days turned into weeks, and I felt myself sinking into our family’s new rhythm. Except the farther I sank into our new rhythm, the more numb I felt.

And then my oldest, in all her wisdom, announced to me one day she never wanted to be a mommy. I asked her why. She responded that mommy changes all the poopy diapers, which are gross. And mommy also doesn’t get to leave the house by herself and go to work like daddy. She would like to be a doctor and an artist, not a mommy. 

It was the push I needed to question my example as a mother to my children.

As their parent, I checked all the boxes. My children were fed healthy, homemade meals every day. We spent at least an hour outside, if not more, most days. We limited screen time and jumped on the homemade bread craze. We made a sourdough starter and crafted delicious loaves of bread and pizza crusts with it. 

But I had lost my spark, and my daughter noticed.

The undertone of her comment was that daddy had fulfillment in his career. He loved being both a dad and a pharmacist. While I took care of all of her needs, I was running on autopilot.

I stopped giving 100 percent of myself to my children.

Instead, I took time and started writing. I explored alternative at-home careers for nurses. I learned how to build a simple yet functional website. And I started reading again. 

I also spoke up to my husband. In the chaos that was four kids under four, he thought we were doing great. I admitted my desire to be more than a mother. That I needed an outlet outside of motherhood. He gave me a hug and reminded me he was my partner. If I needed him to take on the kids so I could work on a project, he could do more.

So I took the leap and started a small business as a freelance writer. I now have something that is my own. 

RELATED: I Hardly Recognize Myself Sometimes

My oldest has taken an interest in my work and knows that mommy used to be a nurse and now is a nurse and a writer. She loves when I open up her own documents, and she gets to practice typing and “writing” too. 

While paradoxical, by not giving 100 percent to my children and taking time to pursue my own goals and interests outside of motherhood, I have become a more engaged and joyful mother.

There is a harmful stereotype in society that mothers are supposed to sacrifice their all for their children. That if you have young children, it is not your time to pursue goals, hopes, and dreams. I want to change this.

I want my children to see I can be a mother who loves them and cares for them, and I can also achieve my personal goals. 

Some days it feels as though I’m moving at a turtle’s pace toward my goals. But in the timeless fable of the tortoise and the hare, it is the slow and steady tortoise who wins the race. 

We deserve to bring the best version of ourselves to motherhood, and our children deserve the best versions of their mothers. So I’m challenging the mama martyr mindset, and instead, challenging all of us mamas to look within ourselves and work toward our passions—even if it means moving at a turtle’s pace.

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Genevieve Kane

I'm a busy mom of four kids, juggling the journey of motherhood with a side of graduate school. When I'm not changing diapers, navigating nap schedules, or working on school, you can find me practicing yoga or reflecting on my days as a mom through writing. I love a hot cup of coffee and seeking out mountain views on walks with our dog. Our family lives in beautiful Colorado, and we love to get outside and play in the mountains we call home.

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