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I’m not a very good mom. No really — I’m not. I forget homework projects for preschool, I set grilled cheese on fire, I make cupcakes explode in the oven and (often) I forget to pick up my oldest from middle school. My children are also in the stage of being able to feed and water themselves; let’s not forget they can get dressed and buckle their seatbelts. They don’t need me as much. Compared to my friends, I have moments of free time where I can take a bath and not worry about little hands finding their way under the door, asking for mommy; while my friends are in the sleepless nights and hundreds of dirty diapers stage. But I want to start over. I want more kids. I want to be needed.

They think I’m nuts. Okay, I can see their point.

I suppose this feeling began after my youngest stopped needing me. Victoria (Tori-Grace) finally made her debut after two inductions and tipping the scales at 10 pounds, 2 ounces. Not only did she outweigh her nursery mates, she also had a larger than life personality. Adding her to the mix of one autistic child and one severely ADHD child, I thought I’d lose my sanity. My two older kids needed me. My to-do list consisted of appointments, transporting to therapy visits, assisting at their schools, creating structure at home and making balanced meals.

But Tori was different. She stopped needing me when she learned she could conduct everyone’s attention on her own. With a squeal and a tweaked eye-brow, Tori-Grace commanded whatever room she happened to be in. The final curtain-of-being-needed closed when she walked into her first day of pre-school and she shooed me away from the door with a stern look behind her thick, pink princess glasses, lisping, “Mom, you can go now. I don’t need you anymore.” Taken back by her words, I looked around the hall witnessing other moms hugging scared kids, wiping away tears with reassurance that it would be okay.

I did the grown up thing and walked away with my head held high, while the mother inside me squealed with wanting to be needed.

My not-so-needed mommy days are filled with being the “show and tell” friend at Tori’s preschool. We play dress up with fairy wings and create play dough animals as she conducts what my animals should and should not say. I get to enjoy moments with all three of my kids like game nights, soccer practice, baking with the entire brood, sleeping in, field leader activities for MOPS, and loads upon loads of laundry (sorry ladies, that doesn’t change). While I’m still mourning the loss of being as needed as I once was, I’m also learning to love this stage of motherhood. And the extra sleep isn’t too bad either!

Heather Riggleman is a mom to three children, two with special needs, married to her high school sweetheart. When she isn’t chugging coffee, she’s talking about her new book,