I never thought it would happen. That one day I wouldn’t be changing diapers anymore or breastfeeding (although it was only six short months ago that we potty trained and two years ago that we stopped nursing), or mixing bottles. 

At one point, I had a three-year-old and a newborn in diapers. It felt like all I did all day was change them. Those diapers accumulated in piles around our house faster than I could throw them away—before someone needed to be changed again

At one point, I nursed on demand until my youngest was nearly one and a half. I had no bodily autonomy and often felt touched out and overstimulated (sometimes I still do.)

Related: Why some moms feel ‘touched out’—and how to fix it

And then, at some point, my oldest started going to elementary school and I started going back to school and working part-time with my youngest at home. 

And then, at some point, my youngest started pre-school and I started full-time school alongside part-time work. 

And now, here we are.  

I’m in school full-time (less than a year from graduation) and working part-time. Some days after school drop-off, the house is quiet—eerily so—and I wonder who this person sitting in silence even is. 

I know how tiresome it is when other moms tell you, “It’ll get better” or “You blink and they grow up” or “One day you’ll miss this” when you’re in the trenches of motherhood. Of teething and crying and feeding and changing. Of hauling multiple car seats and bags out the door. 

You wonder if you’re still even there underneath it all—that person whose thoughts are for a moment uninterrupted by screams or cries for “mom” may feel like a stranger at first.  

For so long, I’ve found myself in love…in love with life, in love with my husband (we met in 8th grade and were high school sweethearts), in love with all things artsy, creative and thrifty. And since I’ve been a mom, I’ve been madly in love with my babies, but also had a love/hate relationship with the motherhood role. Well, hate is a strong word—but the exhaustion, the nursing while sick, working while sick, parenting while sick, and feeling like my mind and body are completely useless because of the weariness (because no amount of coffee or sleep will ever bring me up to the same speed or energy levels as my children)—those aspects might warrant the word.  

I’ve laid awake many nights beside my husband, beside my babies, sometimes wondering where I am. In a solo run to the grocery store, windows down and blaring a favorite song—there I am for a second. On a rare weekend day or holiday break reading a new book—there I am. On an even more rare weekend away or coffee date with a friend discussing whatever, using a part of my brain reserved for adult conversation—there I am.  

Related: ‘Self-care’ is not enough to fix how much moms are burnt out

With a final expiration date on this student-working-mom life I’ve been living for the past three (almost four) years, I feel a new lease on life—or at least a new pace of life awaits after graduation where I will hopefully make the switch from mom, wife, full-time student and part-time worker to mom, wife and full-time worker. 

But honestly, I can’t imagine a future that doesn’t look like my present. It’s scary and exciting and terrifying. Imagining a different pace of life and a new way of working. I’ve worked full-time in offices for so long and part-time in various roles that finally securing a full-time remote position (hopefully) and a freedom of schedule that comes with kids getting older seems too wild to me. I never imagined.  

I’ve honestly found so much of my identity in being the newborn mom, toddler mom, and storytime-at-the-library mom, that this soon-to-be new season is a possibility I never imagined would exist. 

Related: To the working mom who’s also a stay-at-home mom: I see you

I mourn for the days of nursing a newborn and chasing a one-year-old around the house. But I also love seeing my kids’ personalities, likes, interests and characters emerge the older they get. And if I can be honest, maybe under the fear and inability to picture a season different from this one that I’ve lived, I am looking forward to getting to better know this woman who exists between the exhaustion, deadlines, finals, midterms, and many interrupted nights of sleep. This woman who’s been growing and evolving and changing alongside her kids. I bet you feel the same way, too. 

I know this season feels like it will never end, but I promise you that when you least expect it, you’ll find yourself in a new one. And some days you might feel lost, but you are still here.