To my son, in the leopard print one-piece

You would make any mama proud, parading around in that thing like you were born in it. 

To my son, in the leopard print one-piece

You always want to be just like your older sister. So last week you innocently asked if you could wear her extra bathing suit.

Sure, I said. Why not?

You looked super swanky in that girl’s leopard print bathing suit.

You would make any mama proud, parading around in that thing like you were born in it. We were, of course, in our own backyard. When we went to a friend’s to go swimming, you asked again if you could wear a bathing suit like Sissy’s. I paused slightly before I responded that time.

Sure. Go ahead.

You stood beside your sister, each admiring the other’s outfit. “Mama, don’t we look cute?” you asked.


A week later, as we were getting ready to go to the splash pad at the park, you saw me packing your Thomas the Train suit.

No, Mama, you said, “I want my bathing suit. The one like Sissy’s.”

“OK, no problem. You can wear whatever one you like!” I told you, enthusiastically. But inside I was hoping you would pick the shorts. Inside, I was wondering if your girls’ bathing suit and painted nails were going to draw attention.

When we got to the park, I’m embarrassed to admit that I felt a little anxious. What if someone said something to you? Was I going to have to defend you to another mother at a splash park? What if a kid teased you? Was I going to have to defend you to another kid at a splash park?

But as I watched you laugh and play, it made me think hard about what that bathing suit meant.

Here is what I decided—

1. You are two-years-old

Wearing a piece of clothing does not define you. It is not a marker for your sexuality, your orientation or the direction your life is going to take. Last month, you wore a helmet for two weeks straight. You then traded it in for a bucket and wore that for another two. You are experimenting with wearing things—who am I to judge? I wore a fanny pack once. And socks with jellies.

2. It is only a piece of cloth

Who gives a hoot, really? When you think about it, the difference between a boy’s bathing suit and a girl’s bathing suit is just a CUT OF FABRIC. So someone decided that boys should wear a certain shape? And ohhhh yes—the colors! Everyone knows that if you are a boy you can only like blue, green and maybe red. But no pink. No purple. Apparently the fact that you have a Y chromosome makes you partial to only half of the rainbow. Sorry, kid. That’s just science.

3. There is a double standard

When your sister was two, she really liked baby dolls. But she also really loved matchbox cars. She would fill her purse with sedans and sports cars and carry them with her wherever she went. I thought nothing of it—and guess what—neither did anyone else. The stereotypes that toys, colors and patterns are purely gender-specific is antiquated and should be put back on the shelf.

4. I don’t care where it leads

This phase of your life is about discovery. Wherever your path heads, whoever you decide to be, or what you decide to like, or whom you decide to love, I’m OK with that. I am your mom and I just want you to be happy. You can be anything you want to be! My dream would be that you become a vintner, but that’s for purely selfish reasons.

And you can continue to wear the smashing leopard print bathing suit on public outings, and I will continue to protect you and stand by you. Whatever that does, or does not mean, for your future.

This article was originally published on Diary of a Mommy: Girl from the North Country.

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After 4 kids, this is still the best baby gear item I’ve ever purchased

I wouldn't be swooning over the BABYBJÖRN bouncer after eight years and four kids if it didn't work.

I have four kids 8 and under, so you might expect that my house is teeming with baby gear and kid toys.

But it turns out that for me, the more kids I have, the more I simplify our stuff. At this point, I'm down to the absolute essentials, the gear that I can't live without and the toys my kids actually play with. And so when a mama-to-be asks me what things are worth registering for, there are only a few must-haves on my list.

The BABYBJÖRN bouncer seat is on the top of my list—totally worth it and an absolute must-have for any new mama.

In fact, since I first splurged on my first BABYBJÖRN bouncer eight years ago (it definitely felt like a splurge at the time, but the five star reviews were really compelling), the bouncer seat has become the most-used product in our house for baby's first year.

We've actually invested in a second one so that we didn't have to keep moving ours from the bedroom to the living room when we change locations.

BABYBJÖRN bouncer bliss

baby bjorn bouncer

The utility of the seat might seem counterintuitive—it has no mechanical parts, so your baby is instead gently bounced by her own movements. In a world where many baby products are touted for their ability to mechanically rock baby to sleep, I get that many moms might not find the "no-motion" bouncer that compelling. But it turns out that the seat is quite reactive to baby's little kicks, and it has helped my kids to learn how to self-soothe.


Lightweight + compact:

The BABYBJÖRN bouncer is super lightweight, and it also folds flat in a second. Because of those features, we've frequently stored it under the couch, in a suitcase or in the back of the car. It folds completely flat, which I love.

Entertainment zone:

Is the toy bar worth it? The toy bar is totally worth it. Not only is the toy bar adorable, but it's one of the first toys that my babies actually play with once they discover the world beyond my boobs. The toys spin and are close to eye level so they have frequently kept my baby entertained while I cook or take a quick shower.

Great style:

This is not a small detail to me–the BABYBJÖRN bouncer is seriously stylish. I am done with baby gear and toys that make my house look like a theme park. The elegant European design honestly just looks good in my living room and I appreciate that parents can enjoy it as much as baby.

It's adjustable:

With three height settings that let you prop baby up to be entertained, or lay back to rest, we get years of use. And the bouncer can actually be adjusted for bigger kids and used from newborn to toddler age. It's that good.

It just works:

I wouldn't be swooning over the BABYBJÖRN bouncer after eight years and four kids if it didn't work. But I have used the seat as a safe space to put baby while I've worked (I once rocked my baby in it with my foot while I reported on a breaking news story for the Washington Post), and as a cozy spot for my second child to lay while his big brother played nearby. It's held up for almost a decade with almost-constant use.

So for me, looking back on what I thought was a splurge eight years ago, was actually one of the best investments in baby gear I ever made.

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


I never wanted to be a mom. It wasn't something I ever thought would happen until I fell madly in love with my husband—who knew very well he wanted children. While he was a natural at entertaining our nephews or our friends' kids, I would awkwardly try to interact with them, not really knowing what to say or do.

Our first pregnancy was a surprise, a much-wanted one but also a unicorn, "first try" kind of pregnancy. As my belly grew bigger, so did my insecurities. How do you even mom when you never saw motherhood in your future? I focused all my uncertainties on coming up with a plan for the delivery of my baby—which proved to be a terrible idea when my dreamed-of unmedicated vaginal birth turned into an emergency C-section. I couldn't even start motherhood the way I wanted, I thought. And that feeling happened again when I couldn't breastfeed and instead had to pump and bottle-feed. And once more, when all the stress from things not going my way turned into debilitating postpartum anxiety that left me not really enjoying my brand new baby.

As my baby grew, slowly so did my confidence that I could do this. When he would tumble to the ground while learning how to walk and only my hugs could calm him, I felt invincible. But on the nights he wouldn't sleep—whether because he was going through a regression, a leap, a teeth eruption or just a full moon—I would break down in tears to my husband telling him that he was a better parent than me.

Then I found out I was pregnant again, and that this time it was twins. I panicked. I really cannot do two babies at the same time. I kept repeating that to myself (and to my poor husband) at every single appointment we had because I was just terrified. He, of course, thought I could absolutely do it, and he got me through a very hard pregnancy.

When the twins were born at full term and just as big as singleton babies, I still felt inadequate, despite the monumental effort I had made to grow these healthy babies and go through a repeat C-section to make sure they were both okay. I still felt my skin crawl when they cried and thought, What if I can't calm them down? I still turned to my husband for diaper changes because I wasn't a good enough mom for twins.

My husband reminded me (and still does) that I am exactly what my babies need. That I am enough. A phrase that has now become my mantra, both in motherhood and beyond, because as my husband likes to say, I'm the queen of selling myself short on everything.

So when my babies start crying, I tell myself that I am enough to calm them down.

When my toddler has a tantrum, I remind myself that I am enough to get through to him.

When I go out with the three kids by myself and start sweating about everything that could go wrong (poop explosions times three), I remind myself that I am enough to handle it all, even with a little humor.

And then one day I found this bracelet. Initially, I thought how cheesy it'd be to wear a reminder like this on my wrist, but I bought it anyway because something about it was calling my name. I'm so glad I did because since day one I haven't stopped wearing it.

Every time I look down, there it is, shining back at me. I am enough.

I Am Enough bracelet 

SONTAKEY  I Am Enough Bracelet

May this Oath Bracelet be your reminder that you are perfect just the way you are. That you are enough for your children, you are enough for your friends & family, you are enough for everything that you do. You are enough, mama <3


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


Becoming a mother has been life-changing. It's been hard, tiring, gratifying, beautiful, challenging, scary and a thousand other things that only a parent would ever understand.

It is these life-changing experiences that have inspired me to draw my everyday life as a stay at home mom. Whether it's the mundane tasks like doing laundry or the exciting moments of James', my baby boy's, first steps, I want to put it down on paper so that I can better cherish these fleeting moments that are often overlooked.

Being a stay-at-home-mom can be incredibly lonely. I like to think that by drawing life's simple moments, I can connect with other mothers and help them feel less alone. By doing this, I feel less alone, too. It's a win-win situation and I have been able to connect with many lovely parents and fellow parent-illustrators through my Instagram account.

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