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If you needed to lose weight, what would be more motivating? You are getting chubby. I’m not buying you any more clothes until you lose weight. Or: Let’s take a walk after dinner. I’ll let you make the salad. I love you just the way you are, exactly as you are.


If you needed to learn how to swim, what would be most motivating? I don’t want to hear your crying. Get in the water and swim! Don’t be a baby! Or: I’ll be right by your side. You can do this. If not today, we’ll try again tomorrow. I love you just the way you are, exactly as you are.

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If you needed to practice better hygiene, what would be most motivating? What is that awful smell? It’s a wonder you have any friends. Or: Let’s go to the store and pick out some deodorant. Your hair smells so good when you wash it. I think you should wash it every day. I love you just the way you are, exactly as you are.

If your table manners needed improvement, what would be most motivating? You eat like a pig. I cannot stand to watch you eat. You are disgusting. Or: I am trying to put down my fork after each bite, I’d like you to join me. Thank you for chewing with your mouth closed. I love you just the way you are, exactly as you are.

If you are a bit clumsy and disorganized, what would motivate you to be more responsible? Can’t you do anything right? You are either losing things or making a mess! Or: Everyone makes mistakes. That’s how we learn. It’s no big deal—just get a rag and clean it up. I love you just the way you are, exactly as you are.

At times in my life I have been overweight, scared to swim, smelly, ill-mannered and disorganized. During those times, I could have used some encouragement. So when I saw the young boy ordered to get out of the pool because he was scared to swim, I cried with him from behind my sunglasses. I saw the disappointment in the man’s eyes as he looked at his shivering son hugging his knees to his chest. The man really wanted his boy to learn to swim. He thought reprimanding him and ignoring the boy’s cries would motivate him to try harder next time.

At times in my life, I thought this, too…

About a little girl and her ukulele,
About a little girl and her frequent messes,
About a little girl and her perpetually slow self,
About a little girl and her inability to ride a bike.


“Play the song again; you’re not trying hard enough.”
“Another spill? Are you serious?”
“How many times do I have to tell you to hurry up?”
“All the other kids have learned to ride their bike. It’s high time you did too.”


With every sharply delivered word, with each disapproving glare, with every disappointed shake of the head, that girl got smaller. Less confident. Less capable. Less shiny. And one day she spoke the words of a defeated soul.

“I just want to be good, Mama,” cried the little girl who once loved to strum her beloved instrument. And now she was placing the instrument at her feet, wondering if she should even be strumming at all.

Over time, my constant critiques and exasperated breaths led her to believe she was no good.

Over time, I’d broken her beautiful spirit—the one that gave her a unique and radiant light.

Motivating? Not so much.

There was a fine line between helpful adult guidance and using my authority to shame and belittle (under the guise of good intentions). As I crossed that line again and again, my child experienced a harsh reality: No matter what she did, it would never be good enough for me; I could never be pleased.

Motivating? Not so much.

The thought of my child growing up with a parent whose love was based on what she did rather than who she was caused an immediate change in me. I stopped being her rigid taskmaster and instead became her loving encourager…

Rather than harping on every single thing my child did wrong, I saved my guidance for serious issues—issues that could be potentially dangerous or life-altering.

Rather than forcing her to master a skill at the same rate as her peers, I assured myself that she would be ready in her own time.

I stopped overreacting to kid mishaps and minor incidents and realized she was better at cleaning up after herself without someone breathing down her neck.

If there was a bad habit that needed changing, I led by example. I invited her to join me in healthy habits. I provided tools (like timers and check-off lists) to empower her to become more prompt and responsible without my assistance.

I celebrated her efforts rather than the outcome and strived to speak three times as many positive words than negative ones.

Under the wing of Loving Encourager for the past several years, I’ve watched my child blossom. Her confidence and self-assurance have grown. She takes risks and when she fails, it’s not the end of the world because she knows she can try again. She knows I will love her regardless of what she does or doesn’t do. She confides in me when she does something wrong. She loves herself “as is” even though she does things a little differently than most.

I wish I’d abandoned the role of demanding taskmaster sooner, but I will not dwell on yesterday. Today matters more.

My hope is that by sharing my own painful regrets and life-changing discoveries, I can help someone else see what I see:

Shame abandons, encouragement believes.

Condemnation paralyzes, compassion frees.

Exasperation quits, patience prevails.

Yelling silences, communication opens up.

Blame hurts, grace heals.

Faultfinding destroys, praise builds.

Rejection loses, unconditional love wins.

If you were a child trying to get through life the best way you know how, what would be most motivating?

I don’t think you’ll ever measure up.

Or

I love you just the way you are, exactly as you are.

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Here I go again, wearing my troubles on my brow. Troubles and worries this furrow cannot hide—at least not from you, my love.

You know me all too well.

You know the one thing I need when I'm sad isn't a girl's night out, but instead, a good hard cry in your arms and for you to tell me I'm enough. Not enough because of my motherhood, my job, or my cooking, but simply because I'm enough.

You know that even though you've told me I'm sexy a million times in one evening, I'll need to hear it again in a few days when I'm in my sweat pants, no makeup on, eating a tub of freezer burnt ice cream, feeling real grumpy from PMS.

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You know that when I get anxious and afraid, I don't need you to coddle me or become a codependent accomplice to my fears, but instead I need you to give me a gentle nudge back to reality.

You know me all too well.

You know how embarrassed I was about you witnessing me poop myself during labor, so you still deny that you saw it to this day.

You know that when I say, "I'm fine," it really means "No, I'm not fine, but I'm too stubborn to say so."

You know that me not wanting sexy time after the kids have gone to bed has nothing to do with motherhood fatigue, but rather how much I hated my body today.

You know that when you tell me to do something, I won't do it out of pure rebellion, but if we're honest, that's one of the reasons you love me so much.

You know that when I get all dolled up, ready to hit the town, the more makeup I put on, the more insecure I'm feeling about myself.

You know how guilty I felt after yelling at our 8-year-old for being an 8-year-old, so you made sure you told me what an amazing mother I was for the mere fact of feeling guilty and apologizing for it.

You know that when I'm feeling off, you need to fill in the gaps in household work, so I don't completely get overwhelmed with tasks.

You know that me dieting is never a good idea, so you tell me even more times than usual that I'm beautiful and perfect just the way I am.

You know that my laughter comes out most when it's ignited by you—you never stop trying to be funny, just so you can hear me laugh again.

You know that when you look at me that way, it still gives me butterflies, so you make sure you do it at least once a day.

You know that loving me is a choice, but it's never felt like a choice—more so like the reason you live.

You know that after a fight, it's harder for me to forget than for you, so you hold me extra tight for as long as it takes to get back to us.

You know that I wished I had more friends, but hesitate to make an effort because I'm afraid of rejection.

You know me enough to know that I never want you to stop knowing me more deeply, so you keep discovering and learning more about who I am, even after 10 years together.

You know me all too well, my love.

So much so, that I can no longer hide my sorrows, my laughter, my insecurities, my flaws or failures. You've seen it all; you know it all. And despite it all—despite knowing everything about me, you still love me.

Thank you for loving even the darkest parts of me.

Thank you for being loyal to even the worst of me.

Thank you for being exactly who you are. I love you.

Life

Dear past me,

This is future you writing. The one who has been through the full nine months of pregnancy. The one who gave birth and breastfed and stayed up all night with a baby full of gas and sore gums. This isn't you, yet.

But it will be.

It's hard for you to fathom that you will become me. You look at other mothers, mothers with squirming 1-year-olds or rampaging toddlers, but all that seems so far away. You can't marry it together, your bump with those giggling, giddy kids. It seems miraculous that one will become the other. It's too hard to believe.

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But it will happen.

Right now you hold the baby inside of you. You are the only one who feels every kick as he wiggles and wriggles around. How can you begin to imagine how it will feel to pass that baby, that baby that inhabits you, that lives because you live, to someone else?

Sometimes it will be hard, to watch your precious little one getting passed around. He'll seem so vulnerable out there without your stretched skin protecting him inside the cocoon of your stomach. But it will also be wonderful.

Just wait. Just wait until your mother meets him for the first time, the little quiver in her voice as she tells you he's beautiful. It will remind you of the first time you brought your husband home to meet her, your boyfriend as he was then, and you knew that she knew that this man was special.

I know you dream of it, your husband holding his child, the child you brought into the world, for the first time. You imagine how it will feel to see them together. Will there be pride? Or worry? Will you feel happy? Will you feel put out?

Let me tell you.

You will feel all of those things, like watching a film in 3D high resolution with surround sound. Every emotion is more intense than ever before, so intense it is overwhelming. You'll apologize to your husband for taking the baby back because he's screaming and he probably needs feeding. You'll feel like your intruding on their life-affirming moment, when you ask your husband to pass him to you so you can try, again, to get him to latch on. The midwife will tell you not to apologize, that it's your responsibility to feed him and that's the priority. She's so sure and confident, even in the way she handles your precious newborn. That doesn't live inside you yet.

But it will.

Time will race away from you and, before you know it, you'll be spoon-feeding puréed vegetables from little Tupperware pots. You'll be tired. More tired than you are now when the baby kicks every time you get comfortable enough to fall asleep.

But time flies by.

And someday soon you will be me, the mother of a 2-year-old. It's the same baby you carried in your stomach, that made your belly wobble when he hiccupped and that kicked you when you drank orange juice. It's the same one you gave birth to, the one you brought home from the hospital and placed in the crib next to your bed on that first night in the house.

Yet, he's different now. He's more whole somehow, a proper little person. He doesn't know all the names for the parts of a face so when you call him a cheeky monkey, he strokes his chin and giggles. He loves wearing hats—bobble hats, summer hats, it doesn't matter which—and he pulls them off better than you ever could.

He's so perfect and wonderful and some days you'll feel like you're not good enough for him. You'll be utterly convinced that any moment he'll figure you out. "Mommy," you imagine him saying, "you're not that funny after all. And the activities you do with us aren't very exciting, no matter how hard you try and make buying bananas fun. Can I get a different mommy?" Of course, he'll never actually say this.

Because he loves you.

It was obvious from the start, in the way he used to look for you when someone else was holding him, searching you out in the room, making sure you were close by. He loved you when he gave you his first smile, his first giggle, his first step. I know you're worried you'll miss it because you have to go back to work, but he'll save it for you, the stumbling toddle across the room from mommy to daddy and back again. It will be your reward for making it through the first year of parenting. By the time he's two he'll treat you by telling you he loves you, stroking your face and smiling because that's what you do to him. He knows it means love.

All of this will come. Take my word for it; I'm the future you and I've lived it. But right now, enjoy these precious pregnancy moments because, even though it feels like it will never end, you won't be pregnant forever. Breathe every second of it in.

But also know this: the best is yet to come.



Love,

The future you

Life

I don't think anyone told me I was "glowing" either time I was pregnant. I'm not sure that is the word I would have used to describe me in the early months, either—nauseated is more like it, or tired. Add to that some extra-dry skin and acne like I hadn't had since middle school, and let's just say I wasn't feeling my most beautiful. Apparently I wasn't alone.

"Hormonal changes, and, of course, all the ways your life is changing, can lead to some unpleasant skin changes during pregnancy," says Diana Spalding, Motherly's Digital Education Editor, midwife and writer of The Mother Guide to Becoming Mama. "It's so easy to get dehydrated during pregnancy, which can lead to issues like dryness and itchiness. And nights spent tossing and turning (because how is anyone supposed to sleep with all those sweet baby kicks?!) can lead to dark circles."

If you're suffering from any of the common pregnancy skin issues, but you don't want to pile chemicals on your skin, there are natural, healthy pregnancy-safe makeup and skin care products out there for you. Some even contain treatment ingredients that could help alleviate your skin symptoms, all while covering them up in the meantime. It's also worth noting that the FDA maintains an updated list and categorization of ingredients used in beauty and cosmetic products women should avoid if they are pregnant. A few include: retin-a, hydroquinone, formaldehyde, dihydroxyacetone, benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acids.

Just remember that sometimes itching skin can be a sign of a "serious complication known as cholestasis, so definitely check in with your midwife or OB before trying to treat the issue on your own," says Spalding.

The bottom line is, whatever your pregnancy skin care issues are, we've got you covered.

Here is what you need to fix eight common pregnancy skin problems:

For oily skin: RMS Beauty 'Un' Powder

Un Powder RMS BEAUTY

Sweaty? Oily? Yup, you can thank those pregnancy hormones for that! The RMS "un" powder can help! This ultra-fine, super-silky powder has only two ingredients (mica and silica—not to be confused with silicone) and will never give you a white cast. It's so sheer but so effective. We promise no one will know you're wearing powder.

$34

For dull skin: Plant Makeup Pink Rose Shimmer Balm

Plant Makeup\u2019s Pink Rose Shimmer Balm

Pregnancy can make a lady tired, and along with fatigue comes dull skin. Plant Makeup's Pink Rose Shimmer Balm to the rescue! Made by hand with French pink clay and pure natural mica, this very subtle balm moisturizes, highlights and adds a little sparkle. We love that it's not glittery, but rather reflects light for a hint of highlighting.

$3

For breakouts: Juice Beauty Photo Pigments Perfecting Concealer

Juice Beauty Phyto-pigments Perfecting Concealer

Oh, hello, pimples. We meet again. Juice Beauty's Photo Pigments Perfecting Concealer will mask your blemishes while healing them with organic coconut oil, known for its antibacterial, anti-fungal and antimicrobial properties.

Editor tip: For best results, warm formula with finger or brush before application.

$25

​ For dry + itchy skin: Suntegrity 5 in 1 Tinted Face Suncsreen

Suntegrity 5 in 1 Tinted Face Sunscreen

Winter months can take a toll on your skin, and with low temps come flakes, bumps and cracks. And if you're pregnant, dry skin can during this time can be even worse. So how about a multitasking product that moisturizes, soothes and protects while providing a light tint for that no-makeup look? If you suffer from parched and dry skin during pregnancy, Suntegrity 5-in-1 Natural Moisturizing face sunscreen is the product for you.

$45

For dark circles under eyes: W3ll People Bio Correcting Multi-Action Concealer

W3LL PEOPLE Bio Correct Multi-Action Concealer

Tossing and turning at night because you cannot get comfortable? You know what that means. Dark circles and puffy eyes are sure to appear. We love W3LL PEOPLE Bio Correct Multi-Action Concealer because it contains caffeine, so while the gorgeous mineral pigments cover those circles, the caffeine also depuffs your under-eye area.

$22.99

For capillaries + visible veins: Gressa Minimalist Corrective Serum Foundation

Gressa Skin Minimalist Corrective Serum Foundation

During pregnancy, your veins may make your body look like a country map. Nothing to worry about, your network of veins is actually here to carry your increasing blood supply and provide a support system to your growing baby. Unfortunately, you may also experience spider veins (also spider angiomas or spider nevi) on your face, which is also due to increased blood circulation. Gressa Skin Minimalist Corrective Serum Foundation is a serum-to-powder formula, almost like a multi-vitamin for your skin and provides seamless coverage.

$62

For dark brown spots: 14e Aloe Nourish Foundation

Aloe Nourish Foundation

Are you noticing, dark, blotchy brown spots on your cheeks and forehead? Blame it on an estrogen surge stimulating melanin production. Aloe Nourish Foundation by 14e Cosmetics provides medium, buildable coverage while leaving you feeling weightless with a satin semi-matte finish. It has only a few ingredients, and its base is aloe, which means it soothes as it covers.

$38

For tired eyes: Alima Pure Natural Definition Mascara

Alima Pure mascara

In my opinion, nothing wakes up a face like a good mascara. Alima Pure's Natural Definition Mascara makes one that's super-subtle, if you're not much of a makeup wearer and don't want to look like you suddenly went all-out.

$22

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

Beauty + Style Shopping Guides

When we buy baby gear we expect it to be safe, and while no parent wants to hear that their gear is being recalled we appreciate when those recalls happen as a preventative measure—before a baby gets hurt.

That's the case with the recent recall of Baby Trend's Tango Mini Stroller. No injuries have been reported but the recall was issued because a problem with the hinge joints mean the stroller can collapse with a child in it, which poses a fall risk.

"As part of our rigorous process, we recently identified a potential safety issue. Since we strongly stand by our safety priority, we have decided to voluntarily recall certain models of the Tango Mini Strollers. The recalled models, under excessive pressure, both hinge joints could release, allowing the stroller to collapse and pose a fall hazard to children. Most importantly, Baby Trend has received NO reports of injuries," the company states on its website.

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The strollers were sold through Amazon and Target in October and November 2019 and cost between $100 and $120. If you've got one you should stop using it and contact Baby Trend for a refund or replacement.

Four models are impacted by this recall:

  • Quartz Pink (Model Number ST31D09A)
  • Sedona Gray (Model Number ST31D10A)
  • Jet Black (Model Number ST31D11A)
  • Purest Blue (Model Number ST31D03A

"If you determine that you own one of these specific model numbers please stop using the product and contact Baby Trend's customer service at 1-800-328-7363 or via email at info@babytrend.com," Baby Trend states.

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