On a slow night in the labor and delivery department where I worked as a nurse, I asked a veteran nurse how she juggled working with kids over the years.
Between sleep deprivation and constant illnesses running rampant through my house, I had been lamenting about how hard it was to work with young kids at home. “Would I ever feel like I wasn’t pulled in 20 million directions?” I asked her.
I expected her to give me some kind of comforting advice about working getting “easier” as my kids grew. Instead, she told me something that struck me: she had actually become a stay-at-home mom when her children were older, instead of younger. She did it because they needed her more in their tween and early teen years.
In my haze of early motherhood exhaustion, her words wormed their way into my brain, as I recognized she was telling me something incredibly important. A light bulb went on when I realized, Oh yeah, motherhood is about more than the baby and toddler phase!
We put a lot of emphasis on the baby and toddler phases as the pinnacle of our motherhood experience. And as time-consuming and intensive as those early years are, they are not the end-all of motherhood. As I have slowly and painfully crawled out of the baby and toddler years myself, I’m realizing more than ever just how right that nurse was.
My children may be older, but they need me now more than ever.
For so long, I had been focused on making it through the early years of motherhood at home with my kids. I had this vision that my physical presence would never be more necessary than through the ages of 0-5. I thought that if I could just make it through until they were older, things like my work, ambitions, and goals would fall firmly into place, like that last satisfying piece of a puzzle. But I was wrong.
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