As children, we are made to believe we have no limitations. As mothers, we are haunted by our potential. Not the potential we tell ourselves we have, but our TRUE potential, which is much more of a lived life than we are living. I have these thoughts often, but succeed at pushing them from my mind. I tell myself I am doing better than most people I know. I tell myself I am doing good at what matters, being a mother. I try to tell myself that’s all I need to be doing in this season of my life with two young kids at home. But is it really enough? If it’s not, is it fair to our kids to pursue other things that will demand time and energy away from them? I say absolutely.

After having my first baby, I struggled with my identity, a lot. We all do, whether we like to admit it or not. I felt like changing diapers in under 10 seconds was all I was good at. It felt like getting him to sleep more than two hours was my biggest accomplishment. I know that most of us don’t like to admit this, even to ourselves, but it isn’t enough. We need more to be fulfilled, and that’s okay. That fulfillment can come in many forms such as: going back to school and chasing the career we always dreamed of, or getting involved in a cause we are passionate about.

So here we are, now as young adults smothering all of those things we promised ourselves we would be, with thoughts that this is how it is supposed to be, has to be, and is. We don’t really try like we should in our relationships because it’s never going to be like the kind of passion we had when we were younger and childless, where we loved and lived with such intensity and nothing else mattered. We tell ourselves it’s okay to just swallow that, and all we can do is accept it.

We don’t see our friends as often as we should because we have too many obligations. We are too tired to make the effort to meet up with them and be reminded of the life that used to be, and no longer is. When we do drag ourselves out, we are sad to talk about all the unforgettable memories and moments we had. When we leave to go back to our reality, we are still thinking about it. Slowly, the feeling starts to grow dim and finally vanish, and then we drift back into our ordinary way of living.

Most people don’t think about change when their lives are good, when they know they should feel lucky because there are people with devastating circumstances and experiences we could never imagine. Why change anything and risk messing things up? Leave it like it is, and settle, while telling yourself you’re not settling. Some of us think how the hell did I end up like this? Where my days seem to pass in an instant and there is no passion, or nothing worth remembering.

After I had my kids, life was unrecognizable. Nobody could have prepared me for the mix of emotions motherhood would bring to the surface. Nobody warned me I would feel so angry, or feel such shock at my life. Now that they are older, I have overcome all that and realized I am more than just a mommy. I am still a woman. But, I still struggle with guilt and figuring out what it is that makes me happy. They are getting older now, and I want to take the time to focus on myself.

Instead of burying the feelings that feel so wrong and shameful, you should turn them inside out and examine each and every one. You can be more than just a dad, or a mom, or a husband. So what you don’t have that degree So what you don’t have a job and stay at home with your kids all day. So what you’ve hit a rough spot and found yourself back at your parents. You are not the only one, even when you are feeling lonely, and separated from everyone else around you.

We are all human, and that’s all we can be. We can control the words that come out of our mouth (some of us), but we can’t control the thoughts that originate in our minds and start to materialize. All those feelings leap out and strike us with content, bleakness, heartache, joy, dissatisfaction, and every other human emotion that is rooted and innate to being human.

So stop telling yourself how to feel, how you should feel. Work on your relationships and make them better, make it what it used to be even if it’s only every now and then. Dream with him what it could be like when the kids grow up and it’s just you again. Stop searching for that person that is going to make everything right and let them come to you. You are strong enough to be alone. In the moments you think that someone can make it right, know that just you can too, and be sure they are what you want and are worthy of you.

You can chase something you have always dreamed about, but have always felt too selfish to explore.

There’s no resolution to these feelings of insignificance. We just need to let them come to the surface and figure out what we can do to have more gratification and bliss come to our minds. It’s something different for everyone, and its many things for most. What is it for you?

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Stephanie Portell

Stephanie Portell is the mother of two little boys and works full time in the medical field. She also writes any chance she gets. She primarily focuses on the humor aspect of parenting and keeping sane when her kids purposely try to make her insane. In addition to working full time and writing, she is also working on her degree in psychology and hopes to complete a novel one day.

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