Since becoming a mother, I now experience joy, fear, isolation and pride more than I ever imagined I would.

Since my daughter came along I have cried harder than I thought possible, but I’ve also laughed more than I have in years. Motherhood has taught me that being gentle — or even fragile — is ok.

I was the strong one growing up. I felt I always had to have it all together since none of the adults in my life ever did. The volatile, unstable house I grew up in set me up for failure. I struggled to make friends and to do well in school. Luckily, I found strength within and was able to rise above the negative influences in my life. This made me a caregiver; sometimes my younger sisters were more like my daughters. I got so used to soldiering on, holding it all together for myself and my sisters, that it became very hard for me to open up, ask for help, or show vulnerability. I am learning day by day that accepting help when I need it actually demonstrates my strength much more then powering through everything alone.

The biggest impact motherhood has had on my life is my desire to be more present.

I have always been very driven. I am a tad OCD and lot type A and, to top it off, a people pleaser… a recipe for disaster. I am a full-time working mom, who travels, serves as the President of a Board of Directors along with a few other volunteer roles, coaches CrossFit part-time and teaches an online course for a local University. Time is my challenge. Trying to get it all done and be a great mom at the same time creates a stress that is sometimes suffocating.

Now, more and more, I enjoy just being. Just coloring or walking. Just sitting in the sun, reading to my daughter. Before now, I never knew how infectious a child’s laugh could be. I am learning to enjoy these fleeting moments while my daughter is little and looking to me to help her explore the world.

I believe that by putting my health as a priority and showing my daughter my strength and determination, I am doing her a huge service. Others see if differently.

All of the time, people tell me to slow down. They say: Don’t worry if the house is dirty! Do you really need to go to the gym? Don’t you miss your daughter when you travel so much? It is the tone and judgment in their voices that breaks me down – as if my drive will cause my daughter harm. Most of the times I am judged I am able to brush it off, but sometimes it cuts deep.

I do my best not to judge others as I feel I am judged. Motherhood has increased the compassion I feel for other people, other moms especially. This is a hard freaking role. I don’t think any other role can compare – not even being a dad.

What I want most for my daughter is the opportunity to reach her potential.

My daughter has a fire in her that is undeniable. I never want to see that dull – even if it drives me to drink a few glasses of red wine to survive the toddler years!

I will fight for my daughter and all other children to have equal opportunity in life no matter where they were born or to whom, no matter the color of their skin, their religion, their sexual orientation, or anything else. All children deserve love, a solid education, freedom to make choices, a safe place to lay their head and to be free from worry.

Katie Riggs
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Katie Riggs is a meeting planner, coach, athlete, volunteer, professor and traveler, but mom is the title she cherishes the most.