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Dear Elf on the Shelf,

You've been with our family for a few years, so you know by now that I love Christmas. I really do. I love everything about it, in fact.

I start 'keeping an eye out for deals' in August.

I LOVE wrapping Christmas presents.

Matching Christmas PJs are a requirement in my home.

I love it all. But I owe you an apology. Because though I am really good at Christmas, I am really bad at you.

You see, when I brought you into our lives a few years back, I did so with Pinterest grandeur. You were promised endless mornings of creative hilarity and mischievous shenanigans, surrounded by a family in matching sweaters and perfectly warmed cups of hot cocoa.

I even—wait for it—bought a photo album where I planned to document all of your antics year after year. Which I did. For three days.

Because you did not get a Pinterest mom—you got me.

(In my defense, I did save you from being named 'Hairy Elbow' by a creative 3-year-old. Yes, it is your middle name, but at least we landed on 'Hats' as a first name, so that was pretty clutch of me. #Truestory)

But still, I am sorry.

I'm sorry that you sat on the same shelf for four days in a row last year, and that we blamed it on you for being 'tired' and 'silly.' I was the tired and silly one, Hats Hairy Elbow, not you. Thanks for taking the fall.

I'm sorry that my kids are too creeped out by you to let you upstairs while they're sleeping, so you're quarantined to the first floor of our house, probably forever. It's that smile, dude—sorry.

I'm sorry you live in my underwear drawer 11 months out of the year. It's the only place you're safe.

I'm sorry I can't enforce the 'don't touch the elf' rule. If my daughter thought that by touching you she inflicted some kind of injury upon you, it would legit ruin Christmas for the next three years.

I'm sorry for the time I left you in the refrigerator for 48 hours.

I'm sorry that we got a puppy this year, and that he will probably eat you. I promise to invent a tale of true heroism about how you died saving Christmas, while I wait for your replacement elf to be delivered by Amazon.

I'm sorry that your friends all have cute outfits and accessories, but the closest I ever came to that was the time I wrapped dental floss around your torso—the kids thought it was hilarious though.

I am sorry that you will never be featured in blog posts inspiring other elves' charades, and that this, my apology letter, is your 15 minutes of fame.

Because, you got me—I'm not a "I'm sorry for the mess my kids were making memories" kind of mom. I'm more of a "I'm sorry for the mess I was just too darn tired to clean" kind of mom.

And you, Sir Hats Hairy Elbow, have had to bear the burden of that.

But I want you to know that despite it all, we really do love you.

In the chaos of our lives, you remind us that it doesn't have to be perfect to be absolutely magical.

I'm not sure we have ever laughed as hard as when our daughter decided that she wanted to name you Hairy Elbow—that will forever be one of my favorite Christmas memories.

Every time I open my underwear drawer and see your little face (albeit a little creepy) I smile, because you instantly make me think about the joy of this time of year, and this tradition that we are making our own—even though I am terrible at it.

When I forget to move you, it's usually because I am exhausted from a full day of getting to be a mom to my awesome kids.

And though your schemes are not in the least elaborate, my children's eyes are still wide with sparkling wonder every morning as they search for you, and their squeals of pure delight when they find you are some of the sweetest sounds I know.


Because the truth is that my kids don't need perfect. They just need me, as I am. Together we are magic enough.

Love,

Mom

P.S. Please try not to let the dog eat you, because in thinking about it, that would also probably ruin Christmas for the next three years.


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If there's one thing you learn as a new mama, it's that routine is your friend. Routine keeps your world spinning, even when you're trucking along on less than four hours of sleep. Routine fends off tantrums by making sure bellies are always full and errands aren't run when everyone's patience is wearing thin. And routine means naps are taken when they're supposed to, helping everyone get through the day with needed breaks.

The only problem? Life doesn't always go perfectly with the routine. When my daughter was born, I realized quickly that, while her naps were the key to a successful (and nearly tear-free!) day, living my life according to her nap schedule wasn't always possible. There were groceries to fetch, dry cleaning to pick up, and―if I wanted to maintain any kind of social life―lunch dates with friends to enjoy.

Which is why the Ergobaby Metro Compact City Stroller was such a life-saver. While I loved that it was just 14 pounds (perfect for hoisting up the stairs to the subway or in the park) and folds down small enough to fit in an airplane overhead compartment (you know, when I'm brave enough to travel again!), the real genius of this pint-sized powerhouse is that it doesn't skimp on comfort.

Nearly every surface your baby touches is padded with plush cushions to provide side and lumbar support to everything from their sweet head to their tiny tush―it has 40% more padding than other compact strollers. When nap time rolls around, I could simply switch the seat to its reclined position with an adjustable leg rest to create an instant cozy nest for my little one.

There's even a large UV 50 sun canopy to throw a little shade on those sleepy eyes. And my baby wasn't the only one benefiting from the comfortable design― the Metro is the only stroller certified "back healthy" by the AGR of Germany, meaning mamas get a much-needed break too.

I also appreciate how the Metro fits comfortably into my life. The sleek profile fits through narrow store aisles as easily as it slides up to a table when I'm able to meet a pal for brunch. Plus, the spring suspension means the tires absorb any bumps along our way―helping baby stay asleep no matter where life takes us. When it's time to take my daughter out, it folds easily with one hand and has an ergonomic carry handle to travel anywhere we want to go.

Life will probably never be as predictable as I'd like, but at least with our Metro stroller, I know my child will be cradled with care no matter what crosses our path.

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

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It's been more than a year since Khloé Kardashian welcomed her daughter True Thompson into the world, and like a lot of new moms, Khloé didn't just learn how to to be a mom this year, she also learned how to co-parent with someone who is no longer her partner. According to the Pew Research Center, co-parenting and the likelihood that a child will spend part of their childhood living with just one parent is on the rise.

There was a ton of media attention on Khloé's relationship with True's father Tristan Thompson in her early days of motherhood, and in a new interview on the podcast "Divorce Sucks!," Khloé explained that co-parenting with someone you have a complicated relationship with isn't always easy, but when she looks at True she knows it's worth it.

"For me, Tristan and I broke up not too long ago so it's really raw," Khloé tells divorce attorney Laura Wasser on the podcast. She explains that even though it does "suck" at times, she's committed to having a good relationship with her ex because she doesn't want True to pick up on any negative energy, even at her young age.

That's why she invited Tristan to True's recent first birthday bash, even though she knew True wouldn't remember that party. "I know she's going to want to look back at all of her childhood memories like we all do," Khloé explained. "I know her dad is a great person, and I know how much he loves her and cares about her, so I want him to be there."

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We totally get why being around Tristan is hard for Khloé, but it sounds like she's approaching co-parenting with a positive attitude that will benefit True in the long run. Studies have found that shared parenting is good for kids and that former couples who have "ongoing personal and emotional involvement with their former spouse" are more likely to rate their co-parenting relationship positively.

Khloé says her relationship with Tristan right now is "civilized," and hopefully it can get even better with time. As Suzanne Hayes noted in her six guiding principles for a co-parenting relationship, there's no magic bullet for moving past the painful feelings that come when a relationship ends and into a healthy co-parenting relationship, but treating your ex with respect and (non-romantic) love is a good place to start. Hayes describes it as "human-to-human, parent-to-parent, we-share-amazing-children-and-always-will love."

It's a great place to start, and it sounds like Khloé has already figured that out.

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Kim Kardashian West welcomed her fourth child into the world. The expectancy and arrival of this boy (her second child from surrogacy) has garnered much attention.

In a surrogacy pregnancy, a woman carries a pregnancy for another family and then after giving birth she relinquishes her rights of the child.

On her website, Kim wrote that she had medical complications with her previous pregnancy leading her to this decision. “I have always been really honest about my struggles with pregnancy. Preeclampsia and placenta accreta are high-risk conditions, so when I wanted to have a third baby, doctors said that it wasn't safe for my—or the baby's—health to carry on my own."

While the experience was challenging for her, “The connection with our baby came instantly and it's as if she was with us the whole time. Having a gestational carrier was so special for us and she made our dreams of expanding our family come true. We are so excited to finally welcome home our baby girl."

A Snapchat video hinted that Kim may have planned to breastfeed her third child. What she chooses to do is of course none of our business. But is has raised the very interesting question, “Wait, can you breastfeed when you use a surrogate?"

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The answer is yes, you sure can! (And you can when you adopt a baby, too!)

When a women is pregnant, she begins a process called lactogenesis in which her body prepares itself to start making milk. This usually starts around the twenty week mark of pregnancy (half way through). Then, when the baby is born, the second phase of lactogenesis occurs, and milk actually starts to fill the breasts.

All of this occurs in response to hormones. When women do not carry a pregnancy, but wish to breastfeed, they can induce lactation, where they replicate the same hormonal process that happens during pregnancy.

A woman who wants to induce lactation can work with a doctor or midwife, and start taking the hormones estrogen and progesterone (which grow breast tissue)—often in the form of birth control pills—along with a medication called domperidone (which increases milk production).

Several weeks before the baby will be born, the woman stops taking the birth control pill but continues to take the domperidone to simulate the hormonal changes that would happen in a pregnancy. She'll also start pumping multiple times per day, and will likely add herbal supplements, like fenugreek and blessed thistle.

Women can also try to induce lactation without the hormones, by using pumping and herbs, it may be harder but some women feel more comfortable with that route.

Inducing lactation takes a lot of dedication—but then again, so does everything related to be a mama. It's a super personal decision, and not right for everyone.

The important thing to remember is that we need to support women and mothers through their entire journey, no matter what decisions they make about themselves and their families—whether Kardashian or the rest of us.

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