I was barely a wife before I became a mom.
About six weeks after my husband and I got married, we found out we were pregnant with our first daughter. My husband was still in undergrad at the time, with plans to get a master's degree in counseling.
Kyla was born in November that year, and we celebrated our first anniversary in December. I worked full time until the sixth month of my pregnancy and did my best to ward off all the unwanted mothering advice I received in our little town (where the church my husband worked for was literally in a cornfield).
When we moved to my home state of Colorado a short time later and Jeff started graduate school, I found myself doing something I never expected: I became a working mom.
In order for my husband to follow his calling to earn a counseling degree and go to seminary, I had to be the breadwinner.
In many ways, I had been reeling since the moment I found out I was going to be a mom. I had wanted time to prepare for motherhood. I didn't ever get that, and nearly every morning for seven years when I got ready for work, I felt like a failure.
The message I received while growing up was that working mothers are selfish and don't love their children as much as moms who stay home. In spite of feeling the pressure of an unrealistic checklist, I loved Kyla (and since then her sister, Kaelyn) deeply and believed in my husband's calling.
Because I haven't lived up to my own expectations for motherhood, I've wasted too many breaths trying to convince others and myself that I'm a "good mom." At times, I've blamed God or my husband for our position in life, even though, deep down, I knew that wasn't the reason I felt so awful every morning.
Then, one day, I had an epiphany.
I started asking myself some questions: What if I stopped worrying about all the things I wasn't doing on a daily basis and instead parented out of what I was doing – the things I love, my own experiences and what God is doing in me? What if, because of working, I now have a set of skills I would never have had before? And what if I was now able to pass those skills along to my girls?
From that place, I started embracing motherhood with confidence. I acknowledged who God made me to be. I am a writer. I am a communicator. I am called to support my husband's calling and be a leader in God's church.
My girls are cared for, and my story is different from every other mom's. Some moms home-school. Some practice law. Some love doing daily art projects with their children. Other moms write books and speak at conferences.
There is room for all of us, and we need to come alongside each other. We are not only our roles: wife, mother, employee, stay-at-home parent. We are the fullness of who God made us to be. That's what I hope to show my girls.