Can I tell you a secret?

I didn’t always want to be a mom.

Now, I know what you’re thinking—how can a woman with four kids confess this?

Well, it’s true.

I didn’t always want to be a mom. I didn’t always want to be a wife either. I’ve always been incredibly independent and had big dreams of running the world. Those dreams didn’t include a family of my own.

But, then it happened.

Love. The fairytale, once in a lifetime love. The type of love where you know your soul has found its home. You know that kind of love that makes you forget everything and everyone before it? Yes, that love.

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Right as I was finishing college and finally coming into my own, I met the one who was meant for me. I was head over heels and a goner. We went from meeting to engaged in the span of four months. It was quite possibly the most impulsive and solid thing I have ever done in my life.

And suddenly all those big dreams changed.

Not only was I becoming a wife, but I knew I was going to become a mother. My future husband was the kind of man who needed and deserved to be a dad. I was planning my walk down the aisle and imagining walking with the stroller all at the same time.

Shortly before our second anniversary we found out we were expecting our first child, and I knew then that all I wanted to be was a mom. Sure, I wouldn’t be running board meetings or handling press for high-profile clients, but I would be the master of the calendar and the keeper of the Cheerios and that would be more than enough for me.

Fast forward more than a decade and four kids total, and I am living the life I never dreamed of.

No, my friends, you did not read that wrong. I am living the life I never dreamed of because it is better than anything I ever could have dreamed.

My husband–he’s pretty rad and I love him as much as I breathe–but those four pieces of my heart walking around this world are my reason for being. They are my why and my purpose.

I am so lucky to be their mom.

Beyond lucky, really.

The days are long (some longer than others) and the years fly by much too quickly. Parenting is insanely bittersweet, but it is by far the most rewarding job I’ve ever been blessed to have. The little arms reaching for me and the hugs and kisses and “I love yous” beat any paycheck or accolade I could ever receive.

I spent years in the classroom learning, but my kids are the most important teachers I’ll ever have.

They make me want to be a better person. They push me to be the best version of myself. They show me time and again what true, unconditional love looks like.

They are kind and empathetic. Their laughter fills my soul. Their bond with each other and how they conduct themselves in this world let me know I did at least four things right in this life.

On the hardest days, they make it all worthwhile.

When talking about meeting and marrying my husband I joke that the day we met I was like the Grinch–my heart grew three sizes that day. I never knew how much love a heart could hold before him, and I didn’t realize how that could grow until I held each of my babies.

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You know what they say about the best-laid plans, right?

It’s true.

I thank God each and every day when I open my eyes that it is true.

So, I didn’t rule the corporate world. I’ve never made the high-dollar salary I once dreamed of. I’m not making deals and taking names. But, I am OK with that because I got something better.

I got the life I never dreamed of.

I am so thankful for that.

I am raising my greatest adventures.

And I am just so darn lucky to be their mom.

Originally published on the author’s blog

Marisa McLeod

Marisa McLeod lives in Waterville, Ohio with her husband, four kids, and two dogs. She is a Golden Girls, Disney, and organizational junkie. She can usually be found sipping coffee (or wine), watching terrible reality television, or Pinterest-dreaming her next adventure. You can keep up with her on her blog https://howmanymonkeysjumpinonthebed.com, Facebook @howmanymonkeysarejumping, or on Instagram @risasue040582.