“It’s a tale as old as time. A girl gets pregnant or adopts, and suddenly, she’s at home with the kids. Forget whatever it was she did before, her life now revolves around the child. And to an extent, this is great. Kids need love and attention, but you know what else they need? Role models. And they need to see self-love, goals, and dreams being reached.
But when you’re knee-deep in diapers and covered in spit up, or running between school and soccer practices, dreams seem far off. Thinking about yourself is next to impossible, and when you’re just trying to get through the day, you understandably put your goals on the back burner. Here’s the thing, being a mom doesn’t mean you have to give up on your dreams. I’m not saying you can suddenly say, ‘I’m doing this dream,’ and it’s going to work. But, I am saying being a mom doesn’t stop you from trying. It may take a lot longer than it would without your kids, but it isn’t impossible. And I know because I did it myself.
When I got pregnant, I was halfway through graduate school. One of my dreams was to get a master’s degree, but I knew with a baby and a husband finishing his undergraduate degree, it was going to be pretty difficult to justify the expense and time of a graduate degree I may not ever use. I even had the thought pass through my mind that I could always go back to school once the kids grew up. But why should we moms have to push our dreams off until our kids are gone? We shouldn’t!
So, instead, I made a plan. I doubled up on classes in the summer while I was pregnant so I would only have one semester left once my little one was born. It wasn’t easy. I ended up having my daughter two weeks early and taking two finals while my husband sat in the car with our five-day-old so I could nurse her in between tests. Then, once the fall semester started, my husband went to school from eight to three and I went to school from four to nine. He would walk in, I’d hand him our daughter, and then I’d walk out so I could drive to school. It was hard, but I graduated (though, maybe not with quite the grades I was hoping for) and got my dream. The above picture is us failing to take a graduation pic of us all!
Then, my second baby came. And along with a new baby, a new dream was born. I wanted to write a book. I’m a huge reader, and I love to write, so that was my dream. I didn’t think it’d be possible. I had two under three and also worked from home. Again, I thought about pushing it off. But, I didn’t want to. I wanted to reach my dreams, as all of us do. So, I stayed up late at night, sometimes until midnight or one o’clock, and I met my goal. I published my first book in July and my second in December. But it took three years in the making. Without kids, it probably would’ve been a six-month process for me, let’s be honest.
I think as humans, it’s natural to want to progress. We want to have goals and dreams we reach, and as a mom, even when we want progress, it’s so much harder. It’s made even more difficult because of the societal expectations of women and moms today. Society believes we get married, have babies, raise the kids, and support our husband through his dreams (often branded as ‘family dreams’) and then if we have enough spare time, we can do things for ourselves.
It’s time to break that. Not everyone gets married. Not everyone has a husband. Some people are single moms (like my own, who I’ve watched persevere and reach dreams we would’ve once thought were impossible). Some moms stay at home. Some moms work. But we have one thing in common: We are a group of determined, amazing individuals with so many talents. Moms can reach their dreams just like everyone else.
Many of us may be hesitant to try and reach goals and dreams because, let’s face it, as moms, we need help. It’s very unlikely we will be able to reach a goal by ourselves because we have kids relying on us. Believe me, that tripped me up too. But the more I looked at it, the more I realized everyone needs help with their dreams. No one reaches a dream without the help of others. Sometimes help comes in the form of a business mentor, or in the form of childcare.
I reached my first dream of graduating with a master’s degree thanks to my husband who shared childcare with me, an amazing professor who knew what I was going through and was willing to fight for approving my dissertation, and my own perseverance. I reached my second dream with the help of friends who had written and published novels, amazing friends who helped me promote each book, and my own gumption.
I am not unique. There is nothing about me that is special or different. I am just a regular mom who decided I was going to reach my dreams. And you know what? My kids have watched it. My daughter has made adorable comments about seeing me happy because I reached my dream (shown in the cute tweet below). Your kids want to see how amazing you are. They want to see you, they need to see you, reach your goals and dreams.
I know it is not easy. Believe me, it’s probably going to be a lot harder now than if you didn’t have kids or if you waited until the kids were grown. But, I’m begging you, please do not put off your happiness and progression because you’re a mother. It may not come quickly, easily, or effortlessly, but that doesn’t mean it can’t come at all.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Jess Carpenter. You can follow her journey on Instagram, TikTok, and on her website. You can visit Jess’ author page here and buy her new book here. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
Read more from Jess here:
‘I’m just tired. I don’t need someone to fix it, or tell me it gets better, or that these days are short. I know.’: Young mom candidly shares exhaustion, guilt she feels because of it
‘I preach body positivity and talk about embracing flaws, but the second I look at myself, all that goes out the window.’: Mom shares journey accepting and loving her body
‘I was heartbroken. I’d cry in my sleep only to be shaken awake. It was one of the hardest things I’ve gone through.’: Mom shares what she wishes she knew before pregnancy with rainbow baby
‘I’ve had their adorable sticky hands grabbing at me for 12 hours. I just want to sit in a dark room so I can think.’: Introvert mom urges there’s ‘nothing wrong’ with how you recharge
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