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This weekend I got to experience magic: One of my best friends invited me and a few others to be there for the birth of her first baby. I’ve never seen birth except my own.


It was magic. Birth is magic. It is terrible, it is messy and it is brilliant. After 24 hours of hard labor and zero results, my friend had gotten a epidural. She cracked jokes as she nibbled graham crackers between pushing contractions. What a rockstar. She was so strong and so powerful… I have never seen her so beautiful. Her husband stroked her head and held her hand as she used all her strength to bring new life into the world.

We cheered her on like it was the World Cup. At one point we offered to leave the room and the midwife looked at us intently, “No, she needs you–she pushes harder when you encourage her.”

“This is how it used to be,” she said, “Women gathered, supporting each other during birth.”

As she gave the final push, Flora Milo became, and I watched her dear parents also become. They will never be the same. We all burst into tears as this tiny being was placed on Allie’s chest. Magic. Blood, sweat and tears, had brought them to this moment. Crushed hearts, tragic loss, health battles and doctors that said this moment would never happen… Yet, here they are.

And here is this baby who says I beg to differ.

And we cry, because magic.

As I held this precious one, I thought of my own babes when they were brand new earth side… And my heart hurt. I remember the magic. I remember the simplicity of eat, sleep, eat, sleep.

That night I was looking for pictures and I came across Facebook posts from two and three years ago. My heart sank. Their precious tiny faces. Oh how I miss it! How’d it go by so quickly? The moment didn’t seem special when I was in it. It seemed stressful and hectic. It seemed like something to survive until everyone was finally in their beds, fast asleep.

I was disturbed by the regret that gripped my heart. What was I worried about then? I was worried about my pant size and whether Scout would ever stop throwing tantrums. I was worried about the budget and whether or not my floor was clean. I was worried about me.

How am I ever going to stop worrying so much about me?

I have somehow misplaced this magic. This magic that lives and breathes and wakes up in my house every morning.

Haven with her big hair and puffy eyes. She sometimes is cute, other times she growls in response to our cheer with clenched fists and an arched neck. Her eyes say DO NOT SPEAK THESE GOOD MORNING WORDS TO ME.

It will get better when you can have coffee dear-heart, hang in there.

Magic.

Magic is the smell of Oaklee after a bath. It is all of us dancing in the living room to Shakira and Robin Thicke after movie night. Magic is when Haven sings to Bob the cat about how she wasn’t trying to hurt him. It is Scout crying because Malachi got in trouble. It is that four kids ask to have sleepovers together on their bedroom floor.

Magic.

There is magic happening all around me every day… Why do I miss it?

Sometimes there is no coffee strong enough. Sometimes I look inside my bottom fridge drawer and witness things a person can never unsee. Sometimes it’s the whining and the bickering and it’s the constant of eat, clean, eat, clean. Sometimes it’s that life is painful and it feels like it is closing in from every side.

It’s the constant, persistent, wondering if I am doing this. all. wrong.

It’s the wondering if I can really raise these children into the incredible adults I know they can be. Will they be kind? Will they be strong? Will they be healthy?

I think about my friend giving birth.

Could it be that the process and pain of labor isn’t really over? Our mother hearts are in the wringer daily. With each transition and every stage of growth–our minds often scream, “I CANNOT DO THIS.”

And we lose the magic… for good reason. Because it is hard.

Birth isn’t that magical when you’re doing it. It is a lot more like pain and really, really hard work.

But, we are not doing it alone. We are a sisterhood. A sisterhood of flawed mothers doing our very best.

So my friend, wherever you are at, and whatever your story,

As one flawed mama to another,

I want to take your hand and say LISTEN TO ME. YOU ARE A ROCKSTAR. You are DOING IT!! This is HARD, but you are CAPABLE. Look at the amazing children you are raising…WOW! Look at how STRONG you are…

Because we can most definitely, certainly do it better together.

Mama, YOU are INCREDIBLE. Look at you.

Childhood is magic. It is terrible, it is messy, it is brilliant.

Let’s cheer each other on like it’s the World Cup.

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We've had some struggles, you and me. In my teens, we were just getting to know each other. It was a rocky road at times, like when people referred to you as "big boned." I was learning how to properly fuel you by giving you the right foods. How to be active, to keep you strong and in good shape. I wish I knew then what I do now about you and what a true blessing you are. But that's something that has come with the gift of motherhood.

In my 20's, we became more well-acquainted. I knew how to care for you. After I got engaged, we worked so hard together to get into "wedding shape." And, looking back now, I totally took that six pack—okay, four pack—for granted. (But I have the pictures to prove it.)

Now that I'm in my 30's (how did my 30's happen so fast, btw?) with two kids, I'm coming to terms with my new postpartum body.

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If there are two things a mama is guaranteed to love, it's Target plus adorable and functional baby products. Target's exclusive baby brand Cloud Island has been a favorite destination for cute and affordable baby clothing and décor for nearly two years and because of that success, they're now expanding into baby essentials. 🙌

The new collection features 30 affordable products starting at $0.99 and going up to $21.99 with most items priced under $10—that's about 30-40% less expensive than other products in the market. Mamas can now enjoy adding diapers, wipes, feeding products and toiletries to their cart alongside clothing and accessories from a brand they already know and love.


The best part? The Target team has ensured that the affordability factor doesn't cut down on durability by working with hundreds of parents to create and test the collection. The wipes are ultra-thick and made with 99% water and plant-based ingredients, while the toiletries are dermatologist-approved. With a Tri-Wrap fold, the diapers offer 12-hour leak protection and a snug fit so parents don't have to sacrifice safety or functionality.

So when can you start shopping? Starting on January 20, customers can shop the collection across all stores and online. We can't wait to see how this beloved brand expands in the future.

Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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Many people experience the "winter blues," which are often worst in northern climates from November to March, when people have less access to sunlight, the outdoors and their communities. Another 4% develops Seasonal Affective Disorder, which is a form of clinical depression that often requires formal treatment.

If you have the winter blues, you may feel “blah," sad, tired, anxious or be in a worse mood than usual. You may struggle with overeating, loss of libido, work or sleep issues. But fear not—it is possible to find your joy in the winter, mama.

Here are eight ways to feel better:

1. Take a walk

Research has shown that walking on your lunch break just three times per week can reduce tension, relax you and improve your enthusiasm. If you are working from 9 to 5, the only window you have to access natural sunlight may be your lunch hour, so head outside for a 20 minute brisk but energizing walk!

If you are home, bundle up with your kids midday—when the weather is often warmest—and play in the snow, go for a short walk, play soccer, race each other, or do something else to burn energy and keep you all warm. If you dress for the weather, you'll all feel refreshed after some fresh air.

2. Embrace light

Research suggests that a full-spectrum light box or lamp, which mimics sunlight, can significantly improve the symptoms of the winter blues and has a similar effect to an antidepressant. Bright light at a certain time every day activates a part of the brain that can help restore normal circadian rhythms. While light treatment may not be beneficial for everyone (such as people who have bipolar disorder), it may be a beneficial tool for some.

3. Plan a winter trip

It may be helpful to plan a getaway for January or February. Plan to take it very easy, as one research study found that passive vacation activities, including relaxing, "savoring," and sleeping had greater effects on health and well-being than other activities. Engaging in passive activities on vacation also makes it more likely that your health and well-being will remain improved for a longer duration after you go back to work.

Don't overschedule your trip. Relax at a beach, a pool, or a cabin instead of waiting in long roller coaster lines or visiting packed museums. Consider visiting or traveling with family to help with child care, build quiet time into your vacation routine, and build in a day of rest, recovery, and laundry catch-up when you return.

4. Give in to being cozy

Sometimes people mistake the natural slowness of winter as a problem within themselves. By making a concerted effort to savor the slowness, rest and retreat that complement winter, you can see your reduction in activity as a natural and needed phase.

Research suggests that naps help you release stress. Other research suggests that when your brain has time to rest, be idle, and daydream, you are better able to engage in "active, internally focused psychosocial mental processing," which is important for socioemotional health.

Make a "cozy basket" filled with your favorite DVDs, bubble bath or Epsom salts, lemon balm tea (which is great for “blues,") or chamomile tea (which is calming and comforting), citrus oils (which are good for boosting mood), a blanket or a favorite book or two. If you start to feel the blues, treat yourself.

If your child is napping or having quiet time in the early afternoon, rest for a full 30 minutes instead of racing around doing chores. If you're at work, keep a few mood-boosting items (like lavender spray, tea, lotion, or upbeat music) nearby and work them into your day. If you can't use them at work, claim the first 30 minutes after your kids are asleep to nurture yourself and re-energize before you tackle dishes, laundry, or other chores.

5. See your friends

Because of the complex demands of modern life, it can be hard to see or keep up with friends or family. The winter can make it even harder. While you interact with your kids throughout the day, human interaction with other adults (not just through social media!) can act as a protective layer to keep the winter blues at bay.

Plan a monthly dinner with friends, go on a monthly date night if you have a partner, go to a book club, get a drink after work with a coworker, visit a friend on Sunday nights, or plan get-togethers with extended family. Research suggests that social interactions are significantly related to well-being.

Realize that given most families' packed schedules, you may need to consistently take the lead in bringing people together. Your friends will probably thank you, too.

6. Get (at least) 10 minutes of fresh air

A number of research studies have shown positive effects of nature on well-being, including mental restoration, immune health, and memory. It works wonders for your mood to get outside in winter, even if it's just for 10 minutes 2 to 3 times per week. You might walk, snowshoe, shovel, go sledding or go ice-skating. If you can't get outside, you might try these specific yoga poses for the winter blues.

7. Add a ritual

Adding a ritual to your winter, such as movie night, game night, hot chocolate after playing outside, homemade soup on Sundays, or visiting with a different friend every Saturday morning for breakfast, can add beauty and flow to the seemingly long months of winter. Research has suggested that family rituals and traditions, such as Sunday dinner, provide times for togetherness and strengthening relationships.

8. Talk to a professional

Counseling, which helps you identify the connections between your thoughts, feelings and behaviors, can be extremely helpful for the winter blues (especially when you are also experiencing anxiety or stress). A counselor can assist you with identifying and honoring feelings, replacing negative messages with positive ones, or shifting behaviors. A counselor may also help you indulge into winter as a time of retreat, slowness, planning, and reflecting. You may choose to use the winter to get clear on what you'd like to manifest in spring.

The opposite of the winter blues is not the absence of the winter blues—it's taking great pleasure in the unique contribution of a time of cold, darkness, retreat, planning, reflecting, being cozy and hibernating. Nurturing yourself and your relationships can help you move toward winter joy.

Weary mama,

You are incredibly strong. You are so very capable.

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