Both.

Ever since my oldest daughter started 4k, if you asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up she’d always say a “mom.” Of course this filled my heart with joy because what better compliment than that, right? For career day in kindergarten, she went with her baby strapped to her tummy and diaper bag slung over her shoulder.

A few months ago, she came home from school with a drawing of her with a dolphin and declared, “I’m going to be a dolphin trainer when I grow up!” Of course I thought this was great and a creative career choice. “I need to learn to jump off the diving board, you know, for when I am a dolphin trainer,” she’d said this past summer. She even received a dolphin trainer barbie as a gift. “You know that means you’ll have to move far away from mom and dad,” my husband said to her at one point. “I know, but you’ll come visit me,” she answered nonchalantly.

A few weeks ago for career night at Wednesday night church, she eagerly planned to wear a snorkel mask and bring a stuffed dolphin. But that evening as we prepared to leave, she became quiet and worry swept over her face. Something was wrong, I thought. Her voice quivered a bit as she spoke, “Mom?” “What’s the matter?” I asked. Her voice was soft and slow. “Well, I think I want to be a mom instead.”

In the split second before responding, a million thoughts raced through my head. Here is one of those defining moments in parenthood, I thought. One of those times where my answer is really important.

*****

I wanted to tell her that I wouldn’t trade the path I chose for anything, but you, my daughter, can choose your own path. It doesn’t have to be mine, and I’ll love you and support you through it all. It’s okay to want to have a career that you love and kids too. Or have kids and no career. Being a mom is a joy that cannot be explained, but it’s okay if you don’t want to be a mom when you grow up. It’s okay if you do.

To my children, I’ll always be mom first, before anything else. While, I am okay with that and I love being a mom, that’s not all that I am. And you, my child, if you choose to be a mother- that will not be all that you are either.

You are strong, smart, capable and confident. You can absolutely be “other things” without betraying your motherhood. Be a dolphin trainer, a scientist, a teacher, a doctor, a writer- please, chase after those dreams and fight for them. Those goals and dreams, that desire to “be” is what makes you, you. You don’t have to give up on your dreams you are running after in order to be a mom. You are not less of a mother if you have a career, and you aren’t more of a mom if you don’t.

If you decide to be a career mom, you are not alone if you are exhausting yourself trying to give both your work and your family one hundred percent. Here’s a little secret-whatever you are giving to each side- it’s enough. Let the rest of it just be. And breathe, mama.

And if you decide to be a stay-at-home-mom you are not the only one on a difficult day wondering, as you stand over the sink eating cold mac n’ cheese for lunch with your toddler begging for “uppy,” while hearing yet another sibling fight, how can I do this one more day? 

Mothering is in no way glamorous, career or no career aside. It’s marathon nursing sessions, a sink of dirty dishes, piles of laundry, in which you actually ponder if death-by-laundry is possible. It’s cold coffee, yoga pants, lunch packing and grocery store tantrums. It is holy work.

But it is also bedtime stories, sand castle building and Candyland playing. It’s singing littles to sleep, pillow fort making, sloppy kiss and gigantic hug giving. Its bouncy curls, homemade crafts, Christmas concerts, nature walks and piggy back rides. And a house full of laughter.

You see, becoming a mother adds a layer of richness to your life; it fills a part of your heart that you didn’t even know exisited. But it doesn’t take away from who you were before. That person still exists too. She may become lost in motherhood for a while, but she’s still there.

*****

I wanted to tell her all of this, but instead, I looked her in eyes with a smile on my face and said, ” My sweet girl, you don’t have to choose.” Her head perked up with a glimmer in her eyes and a slight smile crept across her face. “I can be both?” She asked. “Yes, you can be both!” I answered. With a sigh of relief and a huge grin on her face, “okay,” she said excitedly, “then I want to be both!”

Satisfied and joyful, off she went- the future dolphin trainer AND mom. And my heart is full. ❤️

xo, Becca

 

 

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The Sweet Spot

In tennis the sweet spot is the location on your racket if in which the ball is struck will result in the ball rebounding with greater velocity than if struck on any other part of the racket. In other words, it basically is the perfect hit.

***

At dinner every night we recently started asking the kids two questions. What was the best part about your day? and What was the worst part about your day? And let me tell you, my children love this. Seriously. One of my daughters has taken it upon herself to lead these questions every night, asking each person with unconstrained excitement. We all listen intently, laugh at the silly answers and talk about the sad ones. We reflect on how a timeout could have been prevented, why your sister made you feel sad, who was the Uno! champion, and how did you show kindness.

Last night as we were taking turns answering these questions, I looked around the table at my husband and each of my children. All three children were eating their food with no complaining, we were having real conversations as opposed to squabbles about how many bites to eat. No one spilled their milk. I didn’t have to cut the grapes in half. We were laughing at my toddler’s silly faces. I didn’t race to scarf down my food to tend to a crying or nursing baby.  It was just so…pleasant.

And in that moment I realized, I think we have [finally] entered the sweet spot.

In motherhood, the sweet spot is after the baby phase and before the teenage years. Right now my kids are almost 6, 4 and 2. Old enough to play nicely without mom refereeing every move. They all can use words to communicate, no more endless cries and super ninja tricks to decipher their needs. There are no other babies on the way so none of that pregnancy drama. We are no longer dictated by a nursing and multiple naps-a-day baby schedule. I can *sometimes* leave the house without my diaper bag and it not be a total disaster. My girls are actually helpful with small tasks and chores around the house. My former Velcro baby no longer cries while in Sunday school. My children sleep all. night. long. Need I say more?

We have not yet entered the “mom is not cool” phase, and my kids still prefer to hang out with me. I know this will not last forever. But of course, I will not complain if they “skip” this phase. Problems can be solved easily-which movie to watch, which dress should I wear, which snack should I eat? No mean girl or boyfriend-stealing drama. No curfew abusing or worry about friend choices and drivers licenses. Enough said!

We can spend hours playing at the park or a day at the zoo and my kids are so excited. I declare one night, it is a “two scoop” kind of ice cream night and my daughter shouts, “Best Day Ever!” Yup, I agree. These days. They are! My children right now are easy to please, they hang on my every word, and little simple joys are their biggest delight.

These are the days right now. The sweet spot days. The ones I am storing up for when I am old and wrinkly. The ones I will look back on with nostalgia.

I am in no way saying that I don’t have hard days in this season. Because, trust me, I do. Last week I had three sick kids, and let me tell you something-I was exhausted and totally over all of it. It’s just that now, the good days outnumber the bad days.

I am not foolish enough to believe these days will last forever. One day, I will have three teenagers at the same time. And I know from my mom friends with older kids, that will be no easy feat. I know motherhood will get harder again before I can blink, so until then, I am soaking up these sweet, sweet days.

We went to our first ever family movie a couple of weeks ago. All three children not only made it through the entire movie, they sat well, engaged in the experience of “going to the movies.” It was so glorious!

I used to imagine that one day, a day like that would come, when I wouldn’t be elbow deep in newborn blowouts or round the clock nursing. Back in the days when I looked forward to bedtime because that meant morning coffee would soon follow. When my husband and I used to divide and conquer kids, passing the baton in a relay race where we rarely had time or energy for an uninterrupted conversation.

And now, all of a sudden, here we are, the sweet spot, all together at the movies.

Little victories. Simple joys. These are the days. And they are so so sweet.

xo, Becca