Photo: Caitlyn Viviano

I used to love being busy! I would consistently overschedule myself starting as a young teen. From the moment I opened my eyes to the minute I crawled into bed I was working, going to school, volunteering, socializing, or a combination of all of the above. My “to-do” lists were long and my energy was high.

Then I left my job to be a stay at home mom and my life took a sharp turn. My first child never slept, had colic, and needed to be held or bounced around the clock. My days blurred into nights and there was no end in sight. For two years I was stuck in a thick fog that I couldn’t seem to crawl out of. This was not the picture-perfect stay at home mom gig I had always dreamed of. I was constantly busy but never felt productive, and lacked confidence in my ability as a new mom. My mind was constantly busy with worry and postpartum anxiety crept in to steal my joy. I was barely treading water. Then my daughter was diagnosed with Autism two months after her 2nd birthday and all our constant struggles started to make sense. It wasn’t supposed to be this hard 24/7.

I felt robbed of that “new motherhood bliss” I kept hearing and reading about. It was a pain that ran deep and infiltrated every aspect of my life. My marriage was strained, I didn’t want to leave the house, my career was nonexistent because there was no extra money for childcare, and every ounce of energy I had went to helping Chloe. Then I was blessed with my son Daniel, and he healed me in ways I never knew possible. He ate, he slept, he smiled and happily babbled. I felt like I could breathe again and feel joy the second time around. He taught me I was stronger than I knew, and autism wouldn’t break me but rather shape me. Chloe began to make great progress thanks to early intervention and an amazing team of teachers and therapists. I am eternally grateful for the help and resources we received. We wouldn’t be where we are today without them.

Fast forward and I now have three children. My son Levi was born last year and completed our family of five. He brings so much laughter and happiness to our lives and keeps us on our toes. Our house is always messy. If you walked in the front door on any given weekday you would see toys, puzzles, and legos scattered everywhere with a few dog toys mixed in. There would be laughter, singing, running, and a whole lot of chaos. We are home 90% of the time. Some days seem very mundane and I long for those productive workdays I once had. I am still always busy, but never seem to accomplish much either. Some days being productive means doing three loads of laundry, pumping, washing dishes, and doing an art project with the kids. While other days I can’t seem to come up for air or even brush my hair.

When my anxiety is high I decided to get down on the floor and play with my kids and remember how important this work at home truly is. The mess can wait. Making memories and snuggling them when I can comes first.

One day my “busy” will change again I will look back longingly on this chapter and give anything to go back in time. That’s the funny thing about motherhood, our kids keep us eternally busy, and exhausted yet so many of us feel invisible, lacking purpose and unappreciated. The world tells us we must do it all and exude bliss. Yet at the end of the day, it’s healthy to express our feelings, whatever they may be at that moment. We are human. We shouldn’t feel ashamed if we don’t feel positive emotions daily.

Our feelings are valid and should be heard. Raising tiny humans is hard! It’s okay to be a stay-at-home mom and miss the busyness and productivity of the workforce. It’s okay to be a working mom and miss the quiet morning snuggles and afternoons at the park. It’s okay to want more just as it’s fine to want less busyness. No one can tell you how to feel on this rollercoaster that is motherhood. Seasons change, children grow up, and our feelings evolve with the times. Ultimately finding others who understand the array of feelings many moms and caretakers go through made all the difference. It helped me feel less alone in this simply complicated life of ours.