Being a mom is a dream come true, but let’s be real: it can also mean putting a lot of your dreams on hold. My kids are 5 and 7 years old (which is weird, because it feels like they were born yesterday) and in that time, I’ve made many of the usual parenting sacrifices. Sleep, peeing alone, my sanity - these are all things I let go of years ago. I am Mom, and my kids NEED to ask me questions about lemurs while I’m in the shower. I get it, and I love them, so it’s cool - ask away.
As parents, we endure a relentless stream of unsolicited advice. I generally make an effort to NOT be the person who tells other people how to raise their kids or live their lives, but right now, I’m going to break my own rule and boss you around for a second. Stay with me here - it’s for your own good, I swear.
Moms, you need to chase your dreams.
That’s right - I want you to stop putting yourself at the bottom of your own list. Take stock of what brings you joy and sets your soul on fire and DO THAT THING. Do it as often as you can, mom guilt be damned.
Your dreams are important. Self-fulfillment is important. Your happiness is important, and you are allowed (even entitled) to source it from things other than motherhood. Putting your kids first doesn’t mean putting yourself last, and putting yourself SOMEWHERE on the list doesn’t make you a bad mom. This is the truth.
How many times have you heard a mother say she wants to go back to school, pursue her career or prioritize her well-being but then she doesn’t, because the thought alone makes her feel terribly guilty. “Maybe when the kids are older,” she might say. When there’s more money, better sleep or free time. And then she enrolls the kids in dance, swimming and soccer, takes them to every lesson, praises their artistic talents and encourages them to be whatever they want to be.
Moms are great at nurturing others, but sometimes, we need a push to nurture ourselves.
Don’t worry - we have an entire modern construct to blame. Society has made a lot of us believe that motherhood and personal growth are mutually exclusive but guess what? THEY ARE NOT. Deep down you know this (as long as it’s not applied to yourself, maybe). And it’s true! Think of that author/speaker/doctor/teacher you admire who is incredible at her job, or that woman who hits the gym five mornings a week because it makes her feel good. Is she a bad mom for spending time on herself? Nope, and you wouldn’t be, either, so get on that.
Even though there are days when your identity has been whittled down to milk producer, school-aged child chauffeur or human napkin, it’s critical that you remember this: becoming a mother doesn’t mean you cease to be anything other than “mom”. Even if your greatest dream was becoming a mother, I bet it wasn’t your only dream. Balance is healthy, and while we’ll never achieve the perfect life, we can aim somewhere in the general vicinity of balanced-ish. Balanced-ish is an accomplishment, in my opinion. Sometimes, it’s the best we can do.
Being a mother is nothing less than incredible. If all you ever do in life is successfully raise humans, you’ve done plenty. But none of us will ever be “just a mom”, even if a quick glance on paper tries to tell us it’s true. We are all so much more than that. Even when they’ve been pushed aside, you have dreams and goals that help make you who you are. I don’t care if you want to be a marathon runner, a crafter or a CEO - just do it. Later may never come, so if it matters to you, do it now.
These may seem like the rantings of someone who thinks she has it all figured out, but trust me, I know how wrong that is. I over-schedule and overextend myself on a weekly basis, and it’s not ideal. I work, I’m taking a post-grad course, I co-chair school council, I have an active social life and a marriage I care deeply about. It all takes time and energy, and I run out of both on the regular. But you know what? I know what I want and I go after it, and it makes me happy. And when I’m happy, my kids feel it. I like the example I’m setting for them, and I don’t think ambition is a bad quality.
So repeat after me, moms: you can be an amazing parent AND have an identity outside of motherhood. Consider this your permission slip to dream big, shout out your goals and chase them into the sunset. You deserve it and in the end, your happiness is the best reward.