I was talking with a friend recently. One who is a great mama. Her babies are healthy and clothed and fed and loved. And lovely. She is married and totally in love. And this mama was talking about staying home. About how she doesn’t love it. Not at all. About how she never has. It’s been a constant struggle. But how she feels like she’s sort of stuck in it. 
And I remembered. I remembered feeling that after number one. And then, after number two. And then again, after number three. 
I remember that I always questioned if I was supposed to feel so conflicted if indeed, I was making the right choice. I wondered if I was doing my babes a disservice by being home with them if I wasn’t absolutely truly, madly, deeply in love with the situation. 
But everyone told me I was supposed to love it. Everyone would say, you’re so lucky or it’s such a luxury. And deep down, I would resent those statements. I know that doesn’t make sense. And some moms will think, “ummmm really?” But it didn’t feel that way to me when I was missing making an income, being social and “using my brain” at work {and yes, I know very much that SAHMs use their brains}. It didn’t feel that way when I was exhausted at the end of every day. It didn’t feel that way when every moment, I held in anxiety that I wasn’t the very type of mother they needed me to be. 
And then, cancer happened in my life. And now, after cancer, I find myself pretty content with staying home. Maybe it’s because of a perspective shift. Or maybe it’s because I believe that the right very flexible arrangement will come my way when it’s time. Maybe because I realized through treatment that I have no desire to spend even 25 hrs a week in an office at this stage. At their stages. And yes, I realize, what a “luxury” it is to have that option. 
Also, after having a life changing diagnosis… A period of time with my life, flashing before my eyes… I determined that the times I’ve felt happiest as a mom — where I’ve felt the most secure with myself — is decisions made have been for me, for my kids, for our family. Not because it was the popular thing. Or the easiest thing. Or because of someone else’s opinion. I was being the mom I wanted to be. The mom that I believed my kids needed me to be. The mom that I needed me to be. 
Let me assure you of one thing that I know for certain: life is too damn short, mama. It’s too short to mom someone else’s way. To make everyone else miserable while making your existence completely invisible. To take your feelings out of the equation. Just because you think it’s what sounds best for your kids.
It is hard. Motherhood is. If you dispute that, 100%, well, then we will just have to agree to disagree. Because I believe it is hard. But motherhood is also beautiful. Messy. Full of joy. Hilarious. Comforting. Challenging. Life-affirming. Spiritual. Loud. Monotonous. Infuriating. Freaking incredible. And a lifestyle and humanstyle I am so amazed I get to live. 
But it’s full of choices. Choices on birthing. Feeding. Diapering. Sleeping. Pacifying. Swaddling. Circumcisions. And that is just in the first week of the parenting gig. Then you have discipline. Screen time. Chores. Responsibility. Religion. Sex discussions. Sports. Activities. Driving. Drinking. School or no school. Organic or conventional. Staying home or not. One kid or five. 
Sheesh. Just thinking about it all makes my head spin. 
And then, thinking of what everyone else thinks about it all. Jeeeeeezaloo. That’s. Exhausting. 
So let’s try to not. Let’s try to not hafta consider what everyone else thinks of what they think our parenting choices look like from a distance. Let’s try to start. To start being the moms we want to be for our own family. Making the decisions that we make with our spouses because of our vision for our life together. The decisions we make based on the personalities and strengths of each child we have. And recognizing that the things, sometimes, that make mama or daddy happy or content, are what make our children great. And make them “our people.”  Little extensions of us. Children, I believe, are sent to us to make our lives better… more spontaneous… more whimsical… more fragile. Not broken… or scary… or like watching the sand slip through an hourglass… hopeful for the next day and then the next but never feeling unstuck.
So hear this, mama who feels like she’s stuck at home. Mama who feels like she’s getting pressure to wean her two year old. Mama who feels like the co-sleeping she loves so much has to be a secret. Mama who feels like the Hostess Powdered donuts she gives her two-year-old every morning must never be seen. Mama who wants her kid to have screen time every day so she has sanity. Mama who wants to pop a beer every day at her desk before she goes home to her kiddos. Mama who wants her twelve-year-old to mow the lawn and clean the house. Mama who wants to give her daughter a talk about abstinence or the pill. Mama who feels like there’s pressure for your child to look a certain way. Mama who wants to teach your kiddo about Jesus. Mama who wants to talk to your kids about Love being Love. Mama who feels like she can’t wait for high school to end. Mama who feels like she will crumble when it does. Mama who feels like she is alone. Mama who has become a grandma. And is trying to navigate motherhood, in a whole new way. 
To all the mamas… Any and all of you questioning yourselves as mothers because you are playing the game of comparing your ways to others’… To my dear, sweet mama friend who is feeling stuck. And unhappy. You can mom your own way. Got it? You can mom your way. You can. And slowly, once you get the hang of it, you will start to feel free. Content. And proud of the mother you are. Because you will stop judging yourself by the mother you aren’t. You will start loving mothering. You will find the joy. And you will stop feeling stuck. 
You can mom your own way. And maybe, you ought to start, today. 

Ashli Brehm

Ashli Brehm = Thirtysomething. Nebraska gal. Life blogger. Husker fan. Creative writer. Phi Mu sister. Breast cancer survivor. Boymom. Premie carrier. Happy wife. Gilmore Girls fanatic. Amos Lee listener. Coffee & La Croix drinker. Sarcasm user. Jesus follower. Slipper wearer. Funlover. Candle smeller. Yoga doer. Pinterest failer. Anne Lamott reader. Tribe member. Goodness believer. Life enthusiast. Follow me at http://babyonthebrehm.com/