“Mom, we decided we don’t want you to work while we’re at school,” my daughter reported, little brother nodding in agreement.
“Oh really?” I asked. “Why not?”
“We like it when you’re home. We just want you to be at home all day, even when we’re not there.” Her words were matter of fact, their verdict not up for discussion.
Inside, I felt a wave of panic rise to the surface, growing into a tsunami that threatened to destroy my hopes and dreams and plans for how I will finally spend my time once they are both in school.
“Thanks for letting me know,” I told them, biting my tongue to hold back laughter or sarcasm or any other potentially hurtful response. “Being your mom is the most important job I’ll ever have.” And I meant it. Every word.
But it’s just as true that staying at home with my kids is the hardest choice I’ve ever made. I struggle with it every day. Hard.
Let me be clear: I love my children fiercely. My ability to stay home and make ends meet on a single income is a gift I don’t take for granted. It is a choice I would make again and again if presented the opportunity.
But it is also the most difficult work I’ve ever done.
Please don’t tell me how much I’m going to miss this season—how fast time goes and how I should enjoy it because before I know it they’ll be in college and how I’ll look back and wish they were still little and still needed me and all the other things I already know. Don’t make me feel guiltier than I already do for struggling.
I’m fully aware that these are supposed to be “the good ole days” and I’m missing them by wishing they would hurry up already.
I love my children deeply, yet I live in the tension between my selfish desires and legitimate dreams. My husband and I agree together that, at least for now, the best investment of the majority of my time is in caring for our kids.
And yet…yearning swells from the depths of my heart for greater purpose, for opportunity to impact the world outside these walls.
For the record, I have two of the sweetest cherubs of all time—they are funny and creative, energetic and entertaining, affectionate and independent. They are also little humans who test out boundaries and rebel against authority and lose control of their emotions frequently. (Kind of like me.) In short, they are beautifully unique, developmentally normal kids.
Brooklynn and Connley are my favorite little people on the planet. They teach me everyday about growth and curiosity, grace and unconditional love. They teach me about forgiveness and resilience, living generously and being brave, staying present and learning to play. They teach me that love is the willingness to put their needs above my agenda.
I know what you’re thinking, and I agree: my greatest contribution to the world is the way I raise my kids. You’re right. I whole-heartedly believe that what I’m doing—the mundane, day-to-day, menial tasks that make up most of my days—it matters for eternity. It is holy ground. There is no more important, more life-changing work that I could ever do for a paycheck.
This God-given passion for leadership, for inspiring others to affect change in their spheres of influence? There’s not a place for it while I’m walking my daughter home from school.
My love of writing, of using words to tell a story that brings hope to those who might otherwise feel alone and unseen? It’s impossible to create when my kids are clamoring for my attention.
The way I come to life when I’m teaching others, encouraging them to live a more whole-hearted life? It’s hard to do with a babe on my hip.
That desire to be seen, appreciated, valued for my talents and contributions? It’s non-existent in the world of legos, laundry, grocery shopping and naptime.
And yet. I know this season is about so much more than mothering. These years—full of the moments that make up the sweetest, hardest, longest-feeling days—they are training ground for my soul. If I’ll let it, my struggle will make me not only a better mom, but a better me. I might actually find that:
Leading others starts in the hidden places where I lead myself. This season just might be where I practice prioritizing people over productivity, encouraging others over executing tasks, and leading myself over leading a team.
Creativity doesn’t happen without making space and time for it to emerge. I’m slowly learning to order my days to make room for writing, letting go of my image of a beautiful office where I can spend my days poring over words, and instead curating nuggets of quiet space where creativity can flow.
And just maybe the kind of teaching I most long to do, the teaching that builds a person’s character, inspires their heart, releases their passion—maybe my kids become a captive audience to lessons that need to be worked out in real life before they’re shared in a larger classroom.
Perhaps this season may be more about my growth in humility than my breadth of impact. As much as I long to make a difference out in the big, exciting world beyond this sometimes suffocating house, I don’t want to miss the character training parenting offers.
And I’m not just talking about training my children’s character—I’m talking about my own.
I don’t want to minimize the struggle. It’s a battle every moment to believe these days aren’t wasted, to reframe my time at home as an opportunity to prepare these little hearts to change the world.
But in the midst of it all, I ache for my heart to grow in humility, patience, and joy, even when it’s hard. I don’t want to waste the gift.
If you’re a mom who feels like you’re losing your identity as a real human with desires and passion and gifts outside of diapers and playdates and Candyland, know that you are not alone. There’s nothing wrong with you for wanting more in this often tedious season.
You are a good mom, and you are doing holy, important work. (Even on the days when it feels like anything but.)
And the bottoms you’re wiping, the laundry you are folding, the behavior you’re disciplining? It is changing you. Maybe in ways you cannot see today, but you are different than you used to be.
And you are changing the world. One snuggle at a time.