Did motherhood make you put your dreams on the back burner?

what did you give up to be a mom
What did you give up to be a mom?

We all gave something up. Maybe willingly. Maybe not so much.

Whether you are a stay-at-home mom, work full-time, work part-time, have a spouse, or do it all on your own, I am sure you have made many sacrifices to be a mom.

What did I give up? Like many women, I gave up a potentially high-earning career. When I was pregnant with my second daughter, I left my full-time copywriting job to be a freelancer. My husband and I did the math, and unless something drastically changed about our income, daycare for two kids would just about negate my salary.

I liked my job a lot, but not enough to feel like I was working to pay the daycare. And with the nature of my husband’s job, it would make our lives easier to have me at home, able to do more of the household stuff and be the one to generally manage the kids’ lives.

Plus I liked the idea of getting the best of both worlds – time with the kids and time to work. It seemed ideal. And it was pretty great while my kids were little.

I definitely gained a lot by leaving my job and working part-time as a freelancer. For sure. I’m so lucky that I do a type of work that lends itself to working part-time and from home. But I also left behind a lot of things that I simply can’t have as a freelancer. And I won’t lie. Sometimes I have regrets.

At work I was on a great career track and positioned to eventually lead the entire copywriting team, which I absolutely wanted to do. I also had a lot of great friends at my job and enjoyed the camaraderie. I loved the creative process of working with other writers and designers. And I got a lot of free career development in terms of classes and conferences. I’d come back to work after those events feeling refreshed and full of new ideas, which helped me stay interested and good at what I did.

It’s much harder as a freelancer to further my education. No one has a “professional development” budget for me anymore, that’s for sure! Yeah, I read stuff online and sign up for free webinars. But without *having* to show up or *having* to complete work, do I? No. Educating myself always falls to the bottom of the list. Just this past Friday I blew off a free online conference in favor of getting household things done.

And you know what? This is a problem. I can’t be stagnant. I have to learn more and stay motivated – and I need to make the commitment to do it. It hit me recently: I’ve got roughly 20 more years of work ahead of me.


I can’t keep doing what I’m doing and not change for the next 20 years. I won’t be successful. And I’ll be bored as hell.

Now that both of my kids are in school, I’ve started thinking more about what I can do in terms of my career to keep things fresh and interesting – and yes, make more money.

Recently I thought – what if I took my part-time freelance gig and developed it into a small copywriting agency? There are plenty of times when I have more work offers I can handle. It’s a great problem to have, but it kills me to turn away jobs. If I had a stable of experienced writers, I could dole out the work and never turn a client away again.

But OMG. How on earth would I do this? I have no idea how to run my own business. I don’t know the legalities involved or about contracts or any of that stuff!

And then I thought of American Public University. It sponsored BlogU, where I was a speaker this past summer. While I thought APU’s mission was pretty cool and I also thought it was awesome that so many moms took APU classes to get back into the workforce, I hadn’t thought much about APU and my own life.

I took a peek at the APU website and lo and behold – what does the university have but entrepreneurship classes! APU offers three options – a Bachelor degree, a Master’s degree, and a Graduate Learning Track.

I’m interested in either the Master’s degree or Learning Track and plan on talking to APU about which option makes sense for me. The Learning Track (which allows you to pursue a course of study without having to commit to the time and cost of a degree or certificate program) might be plenty for me.

I know I’m going to be getting more info about APU’s entrepreneurship education options and seriously start thinking about how I can create my own agency in the next few years. I am a planner and I like to have expert advice, and I think APU could help on both fronts.

I may have given up the fast-track at my old company, but with my kids now in school, there’s no reason I can’t have big dreams for my career once again.

What about you? What did you give up to be a mom? Would you like to go back to school? Would online education work for you?

photo credit: Kalexanderson via photopin cc/


Thank you to APU for sponsoring BlogU. This is a sponsored post, as I agreed to write about APU as a BlogU faculty member. I always give my honest opinion on my reviews – my name is Honest Mom, after all. See my disclosure policy here.

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16 Replies to “Did motherhood make you put your dreams on the back burner?”

  1. Oh, mother please, I’d rather do it myself! Ring around the collar……… Oh well, I wouldn’t have made it as a copywriter. What I gave up was my freedom. When I married, my father gave me to my husband, so I was a slave and it felt that way. Then our parents wanted grandchildren. I wasn’t ready, but my husband demanded it and I caved in. Now I have 2 children and am a slave to them. All for what? To please my parents, who wanted me to be an honest christian woman and my usband, who wanted me to make him a father?

    If I had it to do over again, I would not have gotten married and not had children.

    And I read somewhere that the planet is way overpopulated and that is what is causing global warming and I, by bringing 2 more people into this world, have contributed to the global warming.

  2. I’m probably going to cry if I write a reply to this, but meh, here goes.

    After seven years as a SAHM, I’m finally realizing that I gave up all my self-confidence. I loved my job/career as a Web editor and writer; I was GREAT at it. It was SO fulfilling to me. Yes, it was annoying at times, but I LOVED my job. It was a perfect match for both the company and me.

    I was confident in my abilities as a human being. Seven years of shaky child-rearing and half-assed homemaking has taken away every shred of self-confidence I had. Now my kids are in school, and I want to go back to work, but how am I supposed to re-enter the workforce with zero confidence?

    I don’t even know where to begin.

    1. Hi Dawn, I’m in a similar situation – I have been a SAHM to 3 kids for almost 8 years. Now, I need to go back to work for my own sanity. I’ve grown older and changed, and I want to continue to grow and experience life like I did when I was single. I want things for me, not just for the good of my family. The advice I give to you, I give to myself. Don’t worry about true self-confidence – like they say, fake it ’till you make it. Act like your confident, and you will grow to be. Also, failure is a big part of success – don’t be a perfectionist like us women generally are. Just fumble through, and learn, and you will grow. I wish you the best in your journey. Don’t ever give up.

  3. Now that both of my kids are in school full-time, I’m beginning to think about the possibilities for me. I didn’t mind leaving my job to be home with my kids, and I really loved those years when they were small. I don’t want to go back to the career I had, even though I was great at it, because the hours include weekend and evenings, and that doesn’t work for me now.

    I’m excited about the options available, and I love that there are universities like APU for people like me!

  4. I always feel so old fashioned when I say this, but motherhood was really one of my biggest dreams and I love it. Not that it’s been perfect, but it’s the one thing that I did that I knew I was really good at. The confidence I gained as a mom helped me branch out and start writing, which I adore.

    I’m so glad you started exploring other options. I have to say that sometimes I do regret that I found the passion for a job (writing) after the kids were here, but I also know that I wasn’t ready before. I needed them to help me get to my next step,!!

  5. I love how you included “willingly,” because you’re right–many people do have to give something up, but I didn’t see it that way since we had to try so hard and for so long to have kids. When we finally got to have them, I knew that was where I was supposed to be in life. Now I just try to do it all; I have managed to find part-time, professional work that allows me to be with my kids most of the day, and I’m still livin’ the dream of trying to make it as a writer. I guess what I gave up–and I’m being totally serious about this; it’s not meant to be a smartalec comment–is my ability to just SIT and RELAX. I used to be able to sit on the couch for an hour without thinking, What should I be doing right now? I can’t just be SITTING here–I have to be doing something AT ALL MOMENTS!! Haha. But seriously, that kind of relaxation can be good for a person, and I just don’t seem to have the ability to do it anymore. I hear many moms say the exact same thing, and when we discuss it, we seem to agree that if we do manage an hour or two of just…being…it doesn’t come without a healthy dose of guilt. We need to learn to relax, moms!

  6. I love this. For me, I felt like I gave up my whole world. I had a career as a copywriter & although I didn’t love my job, I loved having a career. My identity was very intertwined with that. My pregnancy came as a surprise, and I wasn’t prepared for it. I didn’t intend to leave my job. I went back part time and it was great, but then the company sold off my division, and I was out of work. What does one do when she finds herself jobless with a 9 month old baby? Both my husband & I commuted to the city, and that wasn’t going to work anymore so I figured I would stay home. It wasn’t a good move for me. BUT through all that struggle I found writing for pleasure again and that has been a blessing. (P.S. When you start up that agency – or you find yourself w/ more work than you can handle – you got a copywriter right here. Seriously.)

  7. I look at it as more of an exchange than giving up. I exchanged my career as an educator to become a SAHM. Both have their stresses and joys. My husband and I agreed this would be the best action for our family. Now in year four of being home with an almost four year old and a two year old, there are times that I feel like I could be contributing financially especially since I have a Masters degree. However, I often remind myself that there is no amount of money that could replace these years with my kids. I already have a plan in place for when they are school age and I look forward to that season when it comes. For now I am trying to enjoy every moment of their young lives. Thank for this post! It resonated with me!

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  9. I got very lucky. I was in a position where long term disability was looming over me like a dark colored cloud. I had been told I was no longer allowed to do the job I loved and would have to stay in an office where I was extremely unhappy. Our daughter was 1 at the time, so, since I was do miserable and would take home pretty close to my salary on LTD, LTD it was. So I found myself a stay at home mom with lots of skills and no prospects for work unless my disability status was to change, which was not happening.

    So, although I gave up my job, it was already gone. So in essence I gave up nothing and hot everything. Sweet deal.

  10. Thanks again for writing about such an important topic and saying it aloud: motherhood is about making sacrifices. I also give up my work for couple of years when I got pregnant for the first time and started working as a freelancer. But after the second pregnancy I just HAD to go back to my work, so I get back to teaching in primary school but only as a parti-time job, trying to reconcile it with mom’s duties 🙂 It was hard at the beginning, but I guess after few months it gave me extra power and strength. I wish you every success, take care!

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