Motherhood is not what I expected. Not more difficult, just a different kind of difficult. When I was pregnant, and pictured being a mom, I saw a totally different version of myself than I am today. I saw myself with a husband who would help me, a partner who had the same parenting and life goals as me. I expected that I would be working part time once I had a kid. When I was holding my little baby, I dreamt of focusing most of my energy and time on teaching her new things, and little or no time at work. And then, life changed, I became a single mom, and my dreams changed too. And that’s okay; it’s wonderful actually. Parts of myself I that I had forgotten or given up on came to the surface. I have such different goals for myself, my career, and for my little family. And, as I start to work towards those goals, it is really easy to feel like my dreams for motherhood are slipping away. It’s so easy to feel like those goals I had for myself as a mom are dying . I often feel judged, even though I’m pretty sure that the only person judging me, is my own mind. I didn’t grow up seeing single moms or moms working full-time. I grew up surrounded by homeschoolers and people who quit their jobs to stay home with their kids. I know that isn’t my dream for myself, and that is okay. But, I’ve also never seen anything else. When my life started to be so starkly different than what I had seen, it became really difficult not to judge myself. I’m not at home with my daughter most days; I’m at work. I’m not the one teaching her to tie her shoes, or how to say the alphabet, or how to count. And, as I look into advancing my career and making life better for my little family, I realize that it’ll probably always be this way. I’ll probably always have to work full-time. I think I’ll always want to work full-time. And, that is so different than I expected. I need to learn to be okay with that. Because, what I need and what my little family needs, is different than what I had expected. What I want is different than what I had expected. It’s easy to judge myself and feel like I’m not teaching my daughter much. Often, I think she’s not learning from me because I am not teaching her in the way that I expected to. But, I am teaching her. She sees me working hard for us. She hears me talking about going to school and about my goals and dreams for myself and for us. I’m teaching her to work hard and go after her goals. She hears me constantly saying that I love her and that she is important me and that is helping to shape her into a healthy person. She sees me making decisions to better my life and hers, and from that, I know she will learn how to make choices to better herself and those around her. She sees me surrounding myself with loving supportive healthy relationships and valuing those people in my life. She sees me get frustrated. She sees me calm myself when I’m feeling anxious. I hear her telling her self and others to take a deep breath and to give themselves a moment when they are struggling to remain calm. And, I’m proud that she has learned that from me. She sees me there with her, not leaving when it’s hard, not judging when she is having a meltdown, and staying with her through it. She hears my apologies when I do lose my cool and say something I shouldn’t have. That is teaching her too. I’m learning from this as well. I’m learning to be a more compassionate, strong, supportive, and patient person. All by being a different Mom than I ever expected to be.