We’re told every baby is different when they’re born. We’re told every child is their own original self as they grow up and they will all have different needs or wants, and that everyone is unique and special in their own way. But when we turn 18, we’re all expected to go to college. We’re all expected to know exactly what we want to do with our lives. We’re all told that in order to be successful, we need to have a great paying job. We’re forced into this box and most of the time, we’re not ready. Sometimes, our dreams and goals aren’t within the walls of this particular box.
I tried the whole college thing. Four times. In my last attempt I had a 4.0 cumulative GPA. I was rocking the whole college thing with two under 2-years-old at home. I loved everything about babies and pregnancy through birth. I thought it would be so fun to be an ultrasound tech or a nurse in labor and delivery. I craved being surrounded by all of it. Then I got pregnant with identical twins. I still soared through school, continuing my 4.0 GPA. Even after my twins were born and I took online classes to get through those first few months, I was still excelling.
But was I happy?
I felt this immense pressure on my shoulders to continue. Even when I had my four very young daughters at home, I still felt like I had to keep going to school. If we wanted to go on fun vacations, I had to do my part in providing that. If I wanted to dress them in trendy clothes, I had to help fund that. If I wanted to put them in any activities, I had to use a degree to find a high paying job to do so.
In the middle of my fourth semester, my father’s wife died, immediately followed by my cancer-stricken father less than two weeks later. They left behind a 2-year-old son and I gained custody of him. In the chaos of trying to figure out this new life, I failed all of my online classes. I completely forgot I was in school to be honest. I had five under 4 years old in my home now and school was at the back burner of my priority list. The school eventually wondered what the heck happened and reached out to me to help. But the only help I needed at this point in my life was someone to come do my dishes and hold a crying baby. I didn’t need extra days to complete my chemistry homework.
Society says: “You want to stay home and raise your kids? Psh, are you stuck in the 1950’s? Sorry, that is not the right decision. You are a woman and you are powerful! You need to climb the corporate ladder to be the most successful woman ever in the history of the world! You can’t waste your brain on being the Susie Homemaker! What is wrong with you? Go get a degree!”
But what if I don’t want to be a teacher or a nurse or a lawyer or any other type of career? What if I want to be a mom? What if I want to stay home with my babies until they leave my nest? What if I would like to consider a career when I’m 40? What if I never want a career? Am I wrong? Why is it so wrong to desire to nurture my children from the second they wake up until the second they go to bed? Why is ‘just being a mom’ so frowned upon?
In the midst of emailing professors back and forth, I realized that it was totally okay to “just be a mom.” It was okay to step away from the expectation of the world to focus on my family. I only wanted to be a mom. It doesn’t require a degree. But it does require the kind of dedication that college could never teach anyway. Moms have more parenting insight than a college lecture course could even begin to unravel. The knowledge I now have regarding pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding, toddlers, and mothering is worth more than a college degree to me.
At 27 years old, most of my friends finished their degrees years ago. They have pretty home décor, eat delicious Instagram-worthy meals every day, and wear fancy clothes. They go on these lavish vacations across the world and I “ooh and ahh” over their pictures every time. Their lives are so breathtakingly beautiful!
But, so is mine.
I have a house filled with laughter, toys, and love. I get to listen to that laughter every day and watch my kids’ imagination at work first-hand. I get hugs and “I love you’s” multiple times throughout the day that I’m able to reciprocate. I get to kiss the boo-boo’s and nurse my babies through sicknesses. I am their rock in this busy world and they get to have me there when they need me.
Most of my furniture is second-hand, but it’s sturdy and gets the job done. My meals are boring and bland to accommodate a toddler’s palate, but our bellies are full. I wear leggings almost every day with an oversized t-shirt because it’s the most comfortable thing to chase kids in. My kids’ wardrobe rotates between hand-me-downs, resale shop finds, Walmart, and occasionally Target. But they have everything they need.
I’ve learned that we all have a place in the world. Some of us need to be the doctors saving the lives, and some of us need to be raising the next generation who does so. We aren’t meant to fit into this one specific box. We all have dreams and goals and we are all doing what we are meant to do. I take comfort in knowing that this little tribe I get to raise will go out into the world one day to do amazing things, in their own ways.
So, it’s okay if you just want to be a mom. It’s okay that you want to forgo the college experience to raise your little tribe. It’s okay that you choose not to make an income because you would rather stay home for every moment. It’s okay that you let go of all expectations and do what is best for your family.
It’s okay. This is your life and your story. It isn’t supposed to be like anyone else’s.
I tip my hat to those moms who choose to continue to follow their careers while also having a family to manage. That is not an easy task and the amount of organization you have to balance is truly amazing. You handle it beautifully!
I send a virtual hug to those moms who want to stay home but financially cannot. Your children know how much you love them, and they are so lucky to have you guiding them through their lives.
I have a lot of respect for women who choose not to have children and pursue a lifetime building an amazing career. We need you out there, helping us fight to change our world.
As for me? I’m not sure what the future holds. Maybe once I’m done raising little humans I will pursue the college thing again. Maybe I’ll take classes to be a doula once my littles are older and I have time to focus on that. I don’t think I’ll ever truly get away from babies. Maybe I will always rock the stay at home mom life and eventually watch my own grandkids so my children can pursue opportunity.
All I know for sure is that this is what I’m meant to do in this moment, and I couldn’t be more grateful for it.
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Molly Schultz of Tried and True Mama. Subscribe to our free email newsletter, Living Better—your ultimate guide for actionable insights, evidence backed advice, and captivating personal stories, propelling you forward to living a more fulfilling life.
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