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Motherhood is: Feeling sad that your child needs you less, but so happy to watch them soar

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I remember exactly how I felt when I found out I was pregnant for the first time. It was a whirlwind of emotions from excitement to anticipation, but also a lot of wondering if I was going to be a good parent. After all, as a first time mom, I had no idea what it even meant to parent.

I read all the books and did all the research I could fit between naps as my belly grew bigger and bigger. I had everything prepared―your room, your coming home outfit, the playlist I wanted to listen to as I brought you earth side. I got this, I thought, and then you proved me wrong.

You were born three weeks early via C-section. We didn't even have our hospital bag or car seat with us because it all happened so quickly.

You were already teaching me the first lesson of being a mom: From now on, we were doing things your way, not mine.

I remember the first time you looked at me and said "mama," connecting that word to my face.

I remember when I offered you food and you had enough so you shook your head "no," already so confident in your own opinions.

I remember when you let go of my hand and took your first steps alone, tears running down my face because you were growing so fast.

I remember when you didn't look like just my cute baby anymore―you were suddenly a little person developing a bit more with every day that went by.

There are days that I wish you could stay little for a bit longer. That you could fit in the crook of my arm while I sing you a song to calm you down after the dog knocked you over. I feel a little sad when I pack favorite outfits that don't come close to fitting you anymore. I find myself staring at the photos on my phone of when you were a tiny peanut, so new to this world.

Yes, you are growing so fast―but, really, I wouldn't want it any other way. Because seeing you become the person you are is magical.




I know what your favorite color is because you love to dress yourself all in green. You spend hours in your room reading books and transporting yourself into different adventures inside your creative mind. You know the lyrics to songs I'm clueless about and you roll your eyes at me when I mess them up, already letting me know I'm embarrassing you.

I love the confidence you have when you run up the steps of your school with your giant backpack carrying all your projects, and you wave goodbye at me excited to learn more about the world. When you learned how to ride a bike and started going on adventures with your dad (while I cheered on the sidelines―and made sure you were both wearing helmets). When we took you to your first movie--to watch your eyes widen at the magic you saw on the screen—and to introduce you to some of my own childhood favorites like Dumbo.




Watching your personality soar makes me look forward to what's going to come next. I cannot wait to be there for you when you fall in love for the first time, or when you need to stay up late studying for that important test. I cannot wait to see the person you'll become―I know you'll be nothing short of wonderful.

So I remind myself along the way that, slowly but with quickening speed, you are needing me less and less―and that's okay. It only means you're growing more and more into yourself. And all the hard work we put in, all the sleepless nights we spent next to you and all the support we gave you, is giving you the confidence you need to let go of our hands and fly.

I'm in awe of who you already are, and I can't wait to keep watching you grow. But let's not fast-forward time just yet. Instead, let's enjoy today. Because today is what matters right now.

We have an entire lifetime to watch you soar.


Here are 4 ways I'm encouraging my child to chase her dreams now:

1. When it's movie night time, we let her choose what we are watching.

That way we can be more involved in her interests and be able to chat about what we take away from the movie after. It also gives her confidence in knowing that she has a voice that can be heard. One of our favorite choices? The new live-action Dumbo, because it not only opens conversations about being inclusive and putting family first, but it also encourages her to soar to new heights no matter what obstacles he encounters.

2. We encourage her to do new things.

Like that time that we signed her up for soccer after school. Initially she was terrified of having to make new friends and the possibility of not being good at the sport. Being outside of her comfort zone made her more confident on herself and she enjoys those hours running after a ball so much that now every time we suggest new activities she's excited with the possibility of new adventures and discoveries. When she's afraid, we share examples from characters we love. "Remember how Dumbo first flew? He was scared in the beginning but did it!" You can too!

3. We talk about our feelings a lot.

Both hers and ours. We want her to know that our family is a safe place to be honest and heard. We want her to be comfortable around us to express herself openly so we can all grow together.

4. We visit museums all the time.

It probably helps a lot that her dad is in the art world, so we have a walking encyclopedia of knowledge with us whenever we go to one. We've already noticed how our daughter is inspired by what we see, and how her little sponge brain is absorbing all the knowledge we put in front of her.

Bring home the new Disney live-action Dumbo adventure to share these special moments with your families.

This article was sponsored by Disney. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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Chrissy Teigen is one of the most famous moms in the world and definitely one of the most famous moms on social media.

She's the Queen of Twitter and at least the Duchess of Instagram but with a massive following comes a massive dose of mom-shame, and Teigen admits the online comments criticizing her parenting affects her.

"It's pretty much everything," Teigen told Today, noting that the bulk of the criticism falls into three categories: How she feeds her kids, how she uses her car seats and screen time.

"Any time I post a picture of them holding ribs or eating sausage, I get a lot of criticism," she explained. "Vegans and vegetarians are mad and feel that we're forcing meat upon them at a young age. They freak out."

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Teigen continues: "If they get a glimpse of the car seat there is a lot of buckle talk. Maybe for one half of a second, the strap slipped down. And TV is another big one. We have TV on a lot in my house. John and I work on television; we love watching television."

Teigen wants the shame to stop, not just for herself but for all the other moms who feel it. (And we agree.)

"Hearing that nine out of 10 moms don't feel like they're doing a good enough job is terrible," she said. "We're all so worried that we're not doing all that we can, when we really are."

The inspiration for Teigen talking publicly about mom-shame may be in part because of her participation in Pampers' "Share the Love" campaign. But even though Teigen's discussion coincides with this campaign, the message remains equally important. Advertising can be a powerful tool for shifting the way society thinks about what's "normal" and we would much rather see companies speaking out against mom-shame than inducing it to sell more stuff.

Calling out mom-shame in our culture is worth doing in our lives, our communities and yes, our diaper commercials. Thank you Chrissy (and thank you, Pampers).

News

Dear fellow mama,

I was thinking about the past the other day. About the time I had three small boys—a newborn, his 2-year-old brother and his 5-year-old brother.

How I was always drowning.

How I could never catch my breath between the constant requests.

How I always felt guilty no matter how hard I tried.

How hard it was—the constant exhaustion, struggling to keep my home any kind of clean or tidy, how I struggled to feed my kids nutritious meals, to bathe them and clean them and keep them warmly dressed in clean clothing, to love them well or enough or well enough.

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Those years were some of the toughest years I have ever encountered.

But mama, I am here to tell you that it doesn't last forever. Slowly, incrementally, without you even noticing, it gets easier. First, one child is toilet trained, then the bigger one can tie his own shoelaces, then finally they are all sleeping through the night.

It's hard to imagine; I really really get it.

It is going to get easier. I swear it. I'm not saying that there won't be new parenting challenges, that it won't be the hardest thing you have ever done in your life. It will be. But it will get easier.

These days, all of my kids get the bus to school and back. Most of them dress themselves. They can all eat independently and use the toilet. Sometimes they play with each other for hours leaving me time to do whatever I need to do that day.

I sleep through the night. I am not constantly in a haze of exhaustion. I am not overwhelmed by three tiny little people needing me to help them with their basic needs, all at the same time.

I can drink a hot cup of coffee. I do not wish with every fiber of my being that I was an octopus, able to help each tiny person at the same time.

I am not tugged in opposite directions. I don't have to disappoint my 3-year-old who desperately wants to play with me while I am helping his first grade bother with his first grade reading homework.

And one day, you will be here too.

It's going to get easier. I promise. And while it may not happen today or even next week or even next month, it will happen. And you will look around in wonder at the magnificent people you helped to create and nurture and sustain.

Until then, you are stronger and more resilient than you can even imagine.

You've got this. Today and always.

Love,

A fellow mama

Life

I am broken.

It has happened again and I am breaking even more. Soon, the pieces will be too small to put back together.

The negative pregnancy test sits on my bathroom sink like a smug ex-lover. I am left pleading, How could you do this to me again? I thought it would be different this time. I had hope.

We are still trying. It has been 11 months and 13 days and there has been no progress. No forward momentum. No double solid lines. The emptiness of the space where the line should be mocks me.

I am broken.

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No amount of planning and scheming and effort is enough. I am not enough because I cannot make a chemical reaction happen at the exact moment it needs to happen. I cannot do what I want but oh how I wish I could.

It almost happened once. Two months ago, I felt different. Sore breasts and aware of the world like never before. I felt not empty. The blankness had been replaced by someone. I was sure of it. And I was late. Six days late and I thought this is it.

I didn't rush to test because I didn't want to jinx it. Or perhaps I just didn't want to let go of that string of hope. Without evidence that you're not actually here, I can pretend that you are.

So I waited. And I Googled early pregnancy symptoms and I kept an eye out for red spots I hoped I would never see. I finally couldn't wait any longer and decided the next morning would be the test.

But when I woke up, I knew it was just me. The feeling I had been feeling was gone and I knew, just knew, what I would find.

This test had words instead of lines. 'Not pregnant' it blared loudly, obnoxiously, insensitively.

I am broken.

It was four in the morning and I stood in my tiny bathroom apartment silently sobbing. Alone.

Perhaps you were there for a brief moment, but then you were gone.

I stared again at the stick.

Not pregnant.

Not pregnant.

Not pregnant.

It was taunting me now.

I wrapped it in a paper towel. Walked down three flights of stairs to the front of my building and threw it in the garbage can outside.

Later, when my husband woke, I told him I was wrong. There was nothing there after all.

And I mourned. All day long, I mourned. While I walked to work. While I said hello to my co-workers. While I answered questions and pretended to smile and tried not to think of the broken body I was living in.

The next day the blood arrived. Furious. Both of us infuriated it was there once again.

Can I keep doing this?

Am I broken?

Will I get to the point where I just… stop? Stop hoping. Stop praying. Stop wishing. Stop. Trying.

Am I broken? Or can I keep going?

Life

One of my biggest jobs as a mama is to create a foundation for my kids to become trailblazers and problem-solvers. It's not an easy task. I'm constantly wondering what type of person they'll become and how I can ensure they'll be awesome citizens of the world. For me, part of raising and encouraging future leaders starts with exposure—the more I introduce them to notable leaders in history, the better they can envision their own future.

This is why I love when brands create inspirational clothing and accessories for kids. And this month, Piccolina, a lifestyle brand for littles, added an exclusive Black History Month capsule collection to their trailblazer tees series and they are too cute for words.

The Black History Month line honors heroic leaders like Harriet Tubman, Maya Angelou, Katherine Johnson and Rosa Parks on colorful tees. It even features illustrations by emerging artists of color like Monica Ahanonu, Erin Robinson and Joelle Avelino who are, in my opinion, just as important.

In addition to the tops, the collection features art prints that coincide with the shirts, making this a perfect addition to any kids room—and even mama's office. Perhaps even more exciting are the price points: The limited-edition tees retail for $28 and framed art prints are $60.

Maya Angelou trailblazer tee

Maya Angelou trailblazer tee

This cotton tee features a portrait of the award-winning author, poet and civil rights activist and is the perfect way for your little one to celebrate her inner storyteller. A portion of the shirts proceeds benefit non-profit organizations that support girls' education and empowerment, such as the Malala Fund and Step Up.

$28

While I'm not sure what type of person my little ones will become, I'm certain that introducing them to leaders will help them have greater self-confidence and reinforce that they are competent and resilient, too. And what mama can't get behind that? Now the hardest part is deciding which ones to purchase.

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