You know when you first meet someone and you have to go through all the small talk, all the insignificant chats about insignificant things, before you get to really know someone? Let’s just cut out that part, shall we? We’ll just start out as best friends and, as my BFF, here’s what you should know.

I never planned on having children. Never ever ever. I even affectionately refer to myself as “the mom who never wanted the job.” Being a mother wasn’t something I was interested in, or even thought I could do, but life had other plans. Sometimes birth control doesn’t work and you find yourself staring at two pink lines, hyperventilating as you cry to your sister on the phone. That evening, my husband, Luke, and I talked it over and decided if the universe thought we could handle being parents, then we’d be the best parents we could be.

So now I’m “Mom” to Lily, 6, and Levi, 5. They were born 355 days apart because when the universe messes with my plans, it does so with gusto. The four of us currently live in Beaverton, where I’m a stay-at-home mom, author, freelance writer and professional snack maker.

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I’m really glad I have all of you to talk to in this space because this year my youngest starts kindergarten, which means I’m going to have a lot more time on my hands. For the first time in six years I’ll be all alone in my apartment on a regular basis and, to be honest, I’m not sure how that’s going to work. I started off on this motherhood journey as someone who never planned on hearing the pitter-patter of little feet, but now I’ve grown quite accustomed to it. And not just the pitter-patter, but the stomping and screaming and laughing and hugging and mess making. It’s a bizarre thing to think about: What will life look like when a stay-at-home mom is staying home by herself while her children are off gallivanting across the playground? I’m hoping it means more time to write, more time to create, and maybe — just maybe — I’ll get around to cleaning my fridge. (I wouldn’t hold my breath on that last one.)

My family and I are also starting to save up for a house, which is no easy feat in the Portland metro area, so I’m excited to share with all of you how we do life and have adventures on a budget. I’m currently slogging my way through teaching my children how to be content, and even grateful, for what they have instead of sad they can’t have every toy they pass in the store. I’m hopeful that by the end of this year I’ll be able to pass along what worked for us to get that message across so you can start the conversation with your littles as well.

The other big idea I want to discuss with my children – though I still need to figure out how – is mental health. I’ve lived with depression and anxiety for most of my life and take daily medication to manage it. I want my children to be aware of the struggles many of us have every day and understand that their mom is not different or less than just because she lives with depression and anxiety. I hope by opening this line of communication early on they will feel comfortable accepting help in the future should they need it. I’m just not sure how to go about it right now so if you have any ideas, I’d love to hear them. You can find me on facebook as Toni Hammer, Writer, on Twitter as @realtonihammer, and Instagram as toni__hammer (with two underscores).

In the coming months, what I most want to do is let you know that you’re not alone in this motherhood journey. It doesn’t matter if you dreamed of having babies since you were a child yourself, or you, too, are a “mom who never wanted the job,” this mom life is both hard and hilarious for all of us. There are days when my children’s giggles bounce off the walls and nights where I cry because I have no idea what I’m doing. Now that we’re best friends, though, I hope the journey will be a little easier for both of us.

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