Mothergood Feature: Kaitlin Lochner
Tell us about your background and a little bit about who you are?
Hi! I’m Kate. I was born and raised in the Greater Detroit area, and it’s currently where I reside with my husband of 5 years and our three kids—Ella (4), Archie (3), and Everley (7 weeks). After being away for 8 years living in Southern California and the Pacific Northwest, it feels good to be home! I hopped on my very first plane ride when I went off to attend a small, private university in San Diego where I earned my Bachelors in Communications with an emphasis in Journalism. And even though I worked mostly in Marketing after college, I feel most proud of my Journalism background and often think about pursuing it again. Never did I think that I’d leave my long-desired career path for stay-at-home mom life, but here I am!
What do you find most fulfilling about motherhood? The most challenging?
I think the most fulfilling part of motherhood is seeing your kids interact with each other as they get older. My first 2 kids are 19 months apart and seeing them grow into little bffs has been such a joy. Every time they compliment each other, help each other or say they miss one another, my heart explodes. I also think it’s incredibly fulfilling to see our hard work “pay off” so-to-speak. We do work hard to teach our kids manners, to be respectful and kind and to have boundaries. And as the stay-at-home mom whose time is currently spent teaching those lessons, it’s rewarding to see them come to life.
The most challenging part for me is easily the lack of structure and constant need to adapt. As someone who struggles with chronic anxiety and depression, the not knowing where the day may take us can, at times, feel like an unbearable burden. I’ve tried various schedules and routines, but with 2 toddlers and a newborn, we’re just not yet at a place with a solid routine in place, but I’ve grown to appreciate this season. My oldest will be starting kindergarten in the fall, so I imagine we’ll be one step closer in finding consistently structured days with our new schedule.
What does motherhood look like for you right now? What do you love about where you are? What would you change?
Motherhood looks like total chaos right now! In the best sort of way, though. Our Everley is just 7 weeks old, so we’re still getting to know her. My oldest 2 are completely over the moon about her, so there’s still a lot of excitement around feeding her and tending to her anytime she fusses. My husband and I are just coming out of that having-a-newborn-in-the-house fog where we were running on extra coffee and easy meals, but we’re loving our new family dynamic. It’s like she was always here.
I love that every day is a blank canvas. While I do thrive on routine, I like having the freedom to decide what the day is going to look like. If I want to take my kids to a park downtown, or to the mall or to a local playhouse, I can.
I think I’ll look back and ultimately be happy that I chose to be home with my kids during their baby and toddler years, but one thing I would currently change is being unable to pursue a
passion of mine part-time, outside the home. Having my 9-5 job be taking care of the home, kids, grocery lists, cleaning, etc., can feel isolating and has left me questioning on more than one occasion if I’ll ever put the degree I worked hard for to use. For a time, when my oldest 2 were still babies and took naps, I pursued writing. And I loved it. But since I have much more responsibility in regards to my kids and family—another baby, pre-school, looking for kindergarten programs, occupying and entertaining my toddlers throughout the day, any sort of “me time” to pursue what I’d like has decreased dramatically.
How have you incorporated motherhood into your identity without losing your own individuality?
The question of how to incorporate motherhood into our identity without losing individuality is far more complicated than most of us would like to believe. I certainly don’t have it mastered yet, and as someone who is passionate about the topic, it’s a little frustrating. My husband and I got married almost right out of college and we had our first kid 9 months later. We lived in Southern California at the time, so we had high rent on top of student loans and starter incomes. After realizing there was no way we could afford the cost for full-time (infant) daycare, we had a very real conversation about how we were going to make family life work. Since my husband had the more lucrative career at the time, and it promised the most potential, we jointly decided I’d quit my job and be at home full-time. So I became the one who meal-planned, budgeted, etc., etc., etc. Understatedly, it was a difficult adjustment since I never in my life thought of being a mom much less a stay-at-home mom, but I seized the opportunity and looked at the time at home as a way to master things I wouldn’t otherwise have time to focus on. For example, I was once unbelievably bad in the kitchen. Now, I can cook and bake pretty damn well. This was also a time I focused on my writing.
Now that we live around a support system, we live a much more balanced life as well, which helps to keep my identity. My husband and I go out together, separately, on double dates and dates just the 2 of us. And since I’m around my childhood friends who knew me as Kaitlin without kids, it’s been easy to keep my identity back home in Detroit.
I will admit, it feels like there is a part of my identity missing since I’m not pursuing any professional endeavors at the moment. And I haven’t yet been able to discern if I actually feel like I’m missing something or if it’s the societal norms of a career-centered America being projected onto me. As a product of the 90s, a college degree meant almost everything. So it’s taken a little getting used to not putting my degree to work over the last almost 5 years. But again, I’m taking this time (when I can) to figure out where I want to fit into the workforce once my kids are of school-age. I’d love to do something with styling and fashion or writing and mental health care.
What advice would you give women who are considering/desiring motherhood?
A few things! 1) Don’t be too afraid of the hard parts and 2) think often about what you’d like your family to look like in 10, 15, 20 years.
I’m one of those people who likes to share the messy parts of motherhood. It’s when I found myself regularly referring to Google as a new mom that I realized it wasn’t typical of the generation above us to openly talk about the great challenges of motherhood. That affected me, and I think a lot of women my age who are new moms. I found reading other moms’ real life, unfiltered experiences online extremely helpful and comforting, so I try to do the same. It’s embracing and walking through the challenges that forms us into better moms, better humans. So I try not to shy away from sharing those experiences. It’s real life. And real life is pretty beautiful.
Thinking about what I’d like my family to look like in the future has been what’s kept me going. In all honesty, if I thought about my family in the short-term I don’t think I would have had 3 kids (since my pregnancies and postpartum recoveries are so difficult), but when I think about what I want my Thanksgiving dinner table to look like when I’m 45, I think about a lot of noise, people, laughter and love. Don’t get me wrong, I love the little ages, but it can be hard to keep things in perspective when you feel like all you’re doing is washing the same dishes 6 times a day. It’s in those moments that I’m comforted by thinking of the future.