“I don’t even know who I am anymore,” I said through tears as my infant twins screamed down the hall of our cramped apartment.
Just a few months earlier, I couldn’t imagine anything other than being their mother. I waited a long time to get pregnant with them, going to the office every day as a marketing and communications associate, doing seminary off and on, and spending whatever extra time I could find working on my own writing projects.
After they arrived, I gave all that up, believing that concentrated time with them in their early years was important. I was perfectly content to table my career and my writing prospects so I could be fully devoted at home because, after all, wasn’t it the most fulfilling thing I could do with my life?
A few months into motherhood, all of those expectations were met with real life. I didn’t necessarily want to get dressed and go to the office every day (that sounded overwhelming), but I did wonder if all of the expectations I had about staying at home really were going to come true.
I don’t think I am the only one. We tell soon-to-be mothers that the work is hard but rewarding. We tell them that it’s the best work they will ever do. We tell them that in the sacrifice they will find their true purpose.
But what if they don’t see or feel that? More women are now educated beyond high school and spend years building a career before they have children. There are unprecedented opportunities for advancement and adventure.
After all that, it can be hard for stay-at-home motherhood to live up to our hopes and dreams.
Part of the trouble may be expectations that are too high. We see beautiful quiet babies on commercials and sweet pumpkin-patch photos of our friends’ toddlers on Instagram. We picture ourselves with plenty of time and energy to clean the house and stay on top of the laundry and read to the baby. We have been told many times that motherhood is the most rewarding thing you can do with your life, and when reality doesn’t match up, we can grow disillusioned and frustrated.
On any given day, I do a lot of ordinary, mundane things. I drive carpool at the same time. I make the same lunch—for my kids and myself, because why not be efficient, right? I wash, fold, and put away clothes for four little boys. Sometimes they thank me for the near constant feeding, cleaning, and shuttling to and from activities, but most of the time they don’t…