What I Want You to Know is a series of reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the unique issues each of us face. If you would like to submit a story to this series, click here. Today’s guest post is by Heather Holter.

For as long as I can remember I always wanted to be a mom; I never cared about what job I would have, where I would live, or anything else, as long as I would get the privilege of becoming a mom. I really felt like it was the only thing I was ever called to be.
I got married at age 20 to my best friend who I met when I was 17. I spent the next five years working in manufacturing and having a lot of fun with my husband but something was still missing. I knew exactly what it was. I felt unfulfilled without children.
At age 25 I found out I was expecting my first child. I was extremely excited to see my dream fulfilled. My beautiful son was born when I was 26. In the next six years I went on to have four more lovely children including twins. Life was very busy but I knew I had found my purpose so I was thrilled with life. I fully immersed myself, heart and soul, into nothing else but raising, nurturing and loving my gorgeous babies. They had become my whole world, the meaning of my existence.
The year my twins were born, my oldest son went to school and I was okay. The following year my oldest daughter went to school, and I was okay. Two years later my youngest son went to school and I was okay. The next three years I fully enjoyed spending all my days with my twins. We talked, played, enjoyed meals together, and ran errands. It was great, but it was always in the back of my mind that soon they would also go to school and I did not know how I would deal with that. I absolutely dreaded that day. That day has come and passed and I am surely not okay!

What on earth is wrong with me? After twelve years of focusing on my kids, aren’t I supposed to be enjoying this time, getting organized, having fun, socializing, relaxing, working on my hobbies, and just getting back to me? I am not! I stay home alone all day while the kids are at school. I nap, clean, write, and read, but without the kids here I just don’t feel like me. I spent twelve whole years focusing on others and putting myself very last, which looking back, feels like a mistake. I should have focused on myself more, socialized more, and spent more time doing things I wanted to do just for me. For some reason I didn’t. I felt like I was doing the right thing, focusing fully on my family and forgetting about taking care of me. I now see the error of my ways, as well-intentioned as they may have been.
I have completely forgotten the person I was pre-child and I am having a seriously hard time finding her. How do I do that when i cannot remember who she is? I am lonely and uncomfortable in the silence when my kids are gone. When my kids went to school a part of me went with them, that part of me is gone and she isn’t ever coming back. I am deeply saddened by this revelation. I miss the kid noise, having littles depending on me, asking me for things, and playing nonsense things with them. I miss being constantly needed for something. I can never go back to that. That time is history. I now need to start a new chapter of my life but it is oh, so, very hard.

I just want things the way they were. I want to be the mom I used to be when I was surrounded by kids 24/7. She is gone and it is time to say good bye to that mom and welcome a new one. Yes, my kids come home, and yes they still need me, but in very different ways. Everyone is more grown up and independent so I am not the one meeting basic needs any longer. I am now taxi, cook, tutor and counselor.

This has been and still is a huge adjustment for me. It is going to be hard work, but I will find who it is I am yearning to become, and to find fulfillment in something the way having my babies around me fulfilled me. The question is when it will happen. I hope that day arrives soon, because I need to feel whole again, when all I feel is broken.