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I wanted to be something great, so fate made me a mom

Somewhere along, I accidentally got the idea that motherhood is simply a bit of a holding season.

I wanted to be something great, so fate made me a mom

The familiarity of the lecture halls come back to me in a moment. The open laptops, the furious note-taking, the confidence of the professors contrasted with the insecurity of the first-year graduate students, all of us there with lofty goals for our future and remarkable enough histories to make us believe we could achieve them.


I remember how I could sometimes hear my own heartbeat when called on for an answer, so unsure of my ability to keep pace with the brilliant minds around me that I would dig deep for words I hardly knew the meaning of, throwing them into discussions and hoping my feigned confidence was working.

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And I remember the pushbacks, the debates, the moments of feeling embarrassingly out of my league and then eventually, the nods of approval—which were often all I could get, but they more than sufficed for a starstruck young woman hungry for acceptance. We were being trained in those lecture halls to contribute, to further knowledge, to accomplish something—to be great.

Being great, after all, seemed to be what drove us all there.

I heard the cries for ‘Mommy!’ around two in the morning, so loud and urgent that my feet were on the floor long before my mind was and I immediately stumbled over the laundry basket I told myself would be fine until morning, a frustrating lesson in procrastination I cannot seem to learn. I walked into my sobbing 4-year-old’s room, leaned over her bed and asked “Honey, are you okay? What do you need?”

“Mommy,” she said through tears. “You told me I could watch The Little Mermaid and you forgot!”

So this is what it has come to. Startled awake in the middle of the night by a 4-year-old to be scolded for forgetting to watch a movie.

“Sweet girl, we can watch it tomorrow. Go back to sleep.” And she did, with just a little bit of coaxing. Whatever dream that woke her up to remind her of her mother’s forgetfulness was already gone.

I crawled back into my own bed, still feeling the effects from the anxious seconds of her first yell and told my heart to slow back down and let me rest, but the dimly lit time on the clock across the room silently screamed at me. I knew the baby would be awake for a bottle in two hours, then shortly after that my morning would have to begin if I wanted to get any minutes of quiet before six little feet started running around.

The quick and foggy math in my head told me that my best hours of uninterrupted sleep were already behind me, and anxiety over the next day’s long to-do list settled in where sleep should have been. I started my mental list of pity: I have deadlines to meet, words to write, papers to grade.

I was trained to accomplish something, but I cannot accomplish much if I can’t sleep, and the kids are stealing my sleep, so it’s their fault I can’t accomplish anything. I was taught to contribute to the greater good, but I cannot even keep matching socks around here, and the kids go through a pair of socks three times a day, so it’s their fault I cannot contribute to anything beyond them. Yes, this is it. My life is no sleep and no socks.

This blaming went on—because my head needed to find a way for all the things I am falling short of in this season to be someone else’s fault—until I found my sleepy, frustrated conclusion: Motherhood wrecked who I thought I could be.

I am nine years from my time in those lecture halls. I am five years from my “I’m going to be a mom!” moment, three babies into the truth of it, and one lifelong diagnosis into the reality of it.

Time seems to continue to put numbers between me and those dreams of greatness, because it is impossible to think about being great when one 4-year-old talks so much you cannot get your own word in, and one 3-year-old cannot find his words at all so you cannot get your own worry out. There is always a nose to wipe, a diaper to change, a time-out to enforce, a night of sleep interrupted, and a stack of books I cannot stay awake long enough to get through, reminding me of who I used to be, on my nightstand.

The thought hangs around me often, tempting me to believe it’s true: I wanted to be something great, but now I am just a mom. There has to be more than just being a mom.

I cannot pinpoint when it happened, but somewhere along the highly motivated line of my life, I accidentally got the idea that motherhood is simply a bit of a holding season.

In the hardest moments, I began to see these years of raising little ones as more of a boot camp, a proving ground or placeholder; because ‘you can have it all, but not at the same time’ was my battle cry, and motherhood was the ‘not at the same time’ part. The laundry and the sleep deprivation, the tantrums, and the endless doctor’s appointments were all training me for what was next, for the great parts.

It wasn’t that I did not love motherhood, but outside of a few chopped, cropped and filtered squares, no one saw my motherhood.

Can someone be great if no one sees her?

The answer, I have learned, is wrapped up entirely in how I define greatness, in who I let define greatness.

I often wonder if all those hours in graduate school, all of those hard-fought grades and heavily revised papers are sitting wasted right now, collecting dust and growing rusty at the joints.

I am not really making a difference; I am mostly treading water, trying to keep my cool enough not to yell at toddlers and my wits enough not to be outsmarted by them. By 8:00 p.m., ‘great’ mostly looks like everyone in bed on time and no dishes left in the sink for the morning—a low bar I still fall short of.

But laying the foundation for the never-ending ‘to-do’ list, and the never conquered ‘undone’ list, there are four other people to love extravagantly and selflessly in my home, four people whose lives I get the chance to serve every day. And when I really think about it, hasn’t true greatness always been defined by the measure of extravagant and selfless love we give away—by how much of ourselves we give away?

Then that is the bar I must measure myself daily with.

I wanted to be something great. I wanted to teach and inspire, I wanted to liberate others and make a difference in the world with all that I worked so hard to learn myself.

And these three babies, they give me the chance to actually accomplish those goals every single day. I’m not practicing for greatness later on; I am living it right now.

I do not know what life will be like when my little ones are older, but I do know the work in front of me is not to wish away these years with visions of something different, something people see. If I’m honest, when I look at what is required of me today, I cannot help but feel the amazing grace of it all: I wanted to be something great, so God made me a mom.

This story was originally published on Coffee + Crumbs. Check out their book, The Magic of Motherhood, for more heartwarming essays about motherhood, love, and the good kind of heartache.

By its very nature, motherhood requires some lifestyle adjustments: Instead of staying up late with friends, you get up early for snuggles with your baby. Instead of spontaneous date nights with your honey, you take afternoon family strolls with your little love. Instead of running out of the house with just your keys and phone, you only leave with a fully loaded diaper bag.

For breastfeeding or pumping mamas, there is an additional layer of consideration around when, how and how much your baby will eat. Thankfully, when it comes to effective solutions for nursing or bottle-feeding your baby, Dr. Brown's puts the considerations of mamas and their babies first with products that help with every step of the process—from comfortably adjusting to nursing your newborn to introducing a bottle to efficiently pumping.

With countless hours spent breastfeeding, pumping and bottle-feeding, the editors at Motherly know the secret to success is having dependable supplies that can help you feed your baby in a way that matches lifestyle.

Here are 9 breastfeeding and pumping products to help you no matter what the day holds.

Customflow™ Double Electric Breast Pump

Dr. Brown's electric pump

For efficient, productive pumping sessions, a double electric breast pump will help you get the job done as quickly as possible. Quiet for nighttime pumping sessions and compact for bringing along to work, this double pump puts you in control with fully adjustable settings.

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Hands-Free Pumping Bra

Dr. Brown''s hands free pumping bra

Especially in the early days, feeding your baby can feel like a pretty consuming task. A hands-free pumping bra will help you reclaim some of your precious time while pumping—and all mamas will know just how valuable more time can be!

$29.99

Manual Breast Pump with SoftShape™ Silicone Shield

Dr. Brown's manual breast pump

If you live a life that sometimes takes you away from electrical outlets (that's most of us!), then you'll absolutely want a manual breast pump in your arsenal. With two pumping modes to promote efficient milk expression and a comfort-fitted shield, a manual pump is simply the most convenient pump to take along and use. Although it may not get as much glory as an electric pump, we really appreciate how quick and easy this manual pump is to use—and how liberating it is not to stress about finding a power supply.

$29.99

Nipple Shields and Sterilization Case

Dr. Brown's nipple shields

There is a bit of a learning curve to breastfeeding—for both mamas and babies. Thankfully, even if there are some physical challenges (like inverted nipples or a baby's tongue tie) or nursing doesn't click right away, silicone nipple shields can be a huge help. With a convenient carry case that can be sterilized in the microwave, you don't have to worry about germs or bacteria either. 🙌

$9.99

Silicone One-Piece Breast Pump

Dr. Brown's silicone pump

When you are feeding your baby on one breast, the other can still experience milk letdown—which means it's a golden opportunity to save some additional milk. With a silent, hands-free silicone pump, you can easily collect milk while nursing.

$14.99

Breast to Bottle Pump & Store Feeding Set

After a lifetime of nursing from the breast, introducing a bottle can be a bit of a strange experience for babies. Dr. Brown's Options+™ and slow flow bottle nipples were designed with this in mind to make the introduction to bottles smooth and pleasant for parents and babies. As a set that seamlessly works together from pumping to storing milk to bottle feeding, you don't have to stress about having everything you need to keep your baby fed and happy either.

$24.99

Washable Breast Pads

washable breast pads

Mamas' bodies are amazingly made to help breast milk flow when it's in demand—but occasionally also at other times. Especially as your supply is establishing or your breasts are fuller as the length between feeding sessions increase, it's helpful to use washable nursing pads to prevent breast milk from leaking through your bra.

$8.99

Breast Milk Storage Bags

Dr. Brown's milk storage bags

The essential for mamas who do any pumping, breast milk storage bags allow you to easily and safely seal expressed milk in the refrigerator or freezer. Dr. Brown's™ Breast Milk Storage Bags take it even further with extra thick walls that block out scents from other food items and feature an ultra secure lock to prevent leaking.

$7.99


Watch one mama's review of the new Dr. Brown's breastfeeding line here:

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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