It always happens in the still of night.

I come in to check on you one more time before I settle myself into bed for the night. I brush the hair off your forehead, adjust the blanket that you’ve swirled around your legs, and kiss your soft, perfect little cheek—and it hits me with a force so hard it takes my breath away.

I am so lucky.

My life could have gone in a hundred different directions. Instead, here am I, getting to be your mom. You are my perfect. Everything about you is just as it should be, and I am overcome by love and gratitude.


But sometimes, I forget.

Sometimes in the morning, I forget. I hear your little feet running down the hallway into my room, and that sweet raspy little voice saying, “Mommy, the sun is up outside!”

I smile but my mind instantly starts racing to remember what’s on the schedule for the day. But then you climb into bed, all elbow and knees, and rest your little head on my chest for a few calm moments, and I remember—I am so lucky to have another day with you.

Sometimes over breakfast, I forget. You swing your legs under the table while you tell me a story that is a nonsensical combination of something you did on the playground and something you saw on Paw Patrol.

I half listen as I put together lunch boxes and find lost library books. But then you say, “Mommy, isn’t that so funny?” with your big toothless grin and your eyes shining bright, and I remember—I am so lucky to hear your stories.

Sometimes when we’re outside, I forget. You skip and sing in the front yard without a care in the world, while my brain is occupied with the stress of bills to pay, errands to run and phone calls to make. But then you say, “Okay I’ll be Elsa, and you be Anna and Sven and the Snow Monster—and Mommy, do the voices,” and I remember—I am so lucky to watch your imagination soar.

Sometimes at bedtime, I forget. Your teeth are brushed, your story is read, you’re tucked into bed, and it’s finally time when I can have a few moments of peace and quiet to myself. But then you get tears in your eyes and say, “Mom? My friend made me feel sad at school today,”—and I remember, I am so lucky to be the one you trust.

Sometimes at night, I forget. I’ve just fallen asleep, my body heavy with exhaustion and I am jolted out of bed by your cry— “Mommy! I had a bad dream!” I lumber down the hallway sighing deeply because I know this means another long night and hard morning. But then you ask me to stay with you and rub your back, and I remember—I am so lucky to be the one that makes you feel safe.

Feeling lucky is not hard to remember.

I remember pretending to be a mom when I was a little girl, and hoping that one day my dolls would be real babies.

I remember falling in love with your dad, knowing that he was the one I wanted to be my child’s father.

I remember finding out I was pregnant with you, and just sobbing because I was so, so happy.

And I remember exactly how it felt when the midwife laid you on my chest for the first time, all squirmy and wet and perfect.

So when life gets busy, when my mind races and my attention wanders, please know that I know how profoundly lucky I am to be your mom.

When I was expecting my first child, I wanted to know everything that could possibly be in store for his first year.

I quizzed my own mom and the friends who ventured into motherhood before I did. I absorbed parenting books and articles like a sponge. I signed up for classes on childbirth, breastfeeding and even baby-led weaning. My philosophy? The more I knew, the better.

Yet, despite my best efforts, I didn't know it all. Not by a long shot. Instead, my firstborn, my husband and I had to figure it out together—day by day, challenge by challenge, triumph by triumph.


The funny thing is that although I wanted to know it all, the surprises—those moments that were unique to us—were what made that first year so beautiful.

Of course, my research provided a helpful outline as I graduated from never having changed a diaper to conquering the newborn haze, my return to work, the milestones and the challenges. But while I did need much of that tactical knowledge, I also learned the value of following my baby's lead and trusting my gut.

I realized the importance of advice from fellow mamas, too. I vividly remember a conversation with a friend who had her first child shortly before I welcomed mine. My friend, who had already returned to work after maternity leave, encouraged me to be patient when introducing a bottle and to help my son get comfortable with taking that bottle from someone else.

Yes, from a logistical standpoint, that's great advice for any working mama. But I also took an incredibly important point from this conversation: This was less about the act of bottle-feeding itself, and more about what it represented for my peace of mind when I was away from my son.

This fellow mama encouraged me to honor my emotions and give myself permission to do what was best for my family—and that really set the tone for my whole approach to parenting. Because honestly, that was just the first of many big transitions during that first year, and each of them came with their own set of mixed emotions.

I felt proud and also strangely nostalgic as my baby seamlessly graduated to a sippy bottle.

I felt my baby's teething pain along with him and also felt confident that we could get through it with the right tools.

I felt relieved as my baby learned to self-soothe by finding his own pacifier and also sad to realize how quickly he was becoming his own person.

As I look back on everything now, some four years and two more kids later, I can't remember the exact day my son crawled, the project I tackled on my first day back at work, or even what his first word was. (It's written somewhere in a baby book!)

But I do remember how I felt with each milestone: the joy, the overwhelming love, the anxiety, the exhaustion and the sense of wonder. That truly was the greatest gift of the first year… and nothing could have prepared me for all those feelings.

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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I was blissfully asleep on the couch while my little one was occupied elsewhere with toys, books and my partner. She got bored with what they were doing, escaped from his watch and, sensing my absence, set about looking for me. Finding me on the couch, nose-level, she peeled back my one available eyelid, singing, "Mama? Mama? ...You there? Wake UP!"

Sound familiar? Nothing limits sleep more than parenthood. And nothing is more sought after as a parent than a nap, if not a good night's rest.

But Mother Nature practically guarantees that you are likely to be woken up by a toddler—they're hardwired to find you (and get your attention) when you're "away."


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