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After 6 years of motherhood, I’ve finally started wondering what *I* need, too

I've been deep in the trenches of motherhood for six years. I had three kids in a short amount of time. Pregnancy, postpartum, breastfeeding, identity crisis, repeat, repeat, repeat. There's been so much trial and error. So much learning and growing. I've been winging it, doing my best to figure things out as I go. After all, how else can you walk this journey?

After 6 years of motherhood, I’ve finally started wondering what *I* need, too

Motherhood can feel heavy.

It's like a weighted blanket—comfortable and amazing and you never want to come out from under it... But you also feel that weight. You notice it. It becomes part of you.

It starts with the diapers and the feedings and the exhaustion from only getting small chunks of sleep at a time. The worries, the unanswered questions, the guessing.

Are they breathing?

Are they eating enough?

Are they okay?

Then it's the milestones and the climbing on everything and the tantrums. The teething, the speech delays, the food fights.

Are they developing correctly?

Are they on track with their peers?

Are they okay?

All of a sudden it's school and potty language and their questioning of every word that ever comes out of your mouth. The leaving the nest, the making new friends, the bittersweet heartache of watching them grow.

Are they understanding how hard I work for them?

Are they being kind to others?

Are they okay?

I've been deep in the trenches of motherhood for six years. I had three kids in a short amount of time. Pregnancy, postpartum, breastfeeding, identity crisis, repeat, repeat, repeat. There's been so much trial and error. So much learning and growing. I've been winging it, doing my best to figure things out as I go. After all, how else can you walk this journey?

What I've experienced in the trenches is this—when you're deep in there, you can't actually see how far down you've gone. You don't even know which way is up.

And you feel a little lost.

And you may even feel a little broken.

When you're down there, it seems like life will be this way forever. You start to convince yourself that you'll never not feel overwhelmed.

But, slowly, at a moment I can't specifically pinpoint, the fog started to clear for me. I was finally able to see just how far down I had sunk. I was scared at first, knowing how much work I had ahead of me. And sad, too. Because I felt like the overwhelm had stolen some of my life.

There was also joy, though. And hope. I knew I was still there inside of me, and I wasn't willing to give up on myself.

From that moment on, I couldn't pretend I wasn't lost anymore. I needed to find my bearings. I needed people and tools to help guide me in the right direction. So I made a decision to do whatever I needed to in order to start showing up for myself again. This was the beginning of my journey back—a journey I'm still traveling.

There are many things I've turned to in order to reconnect with who I am, small things and big things. Like meeting with a therapist who I feel comfortable and safe with. Or deciding to go back to acupuncture—something that I used to love to do before I had kids, but stopped because it started to become too hard to fit into our schedule. I've leaned heavily on music, crying while listening to Kacey Musgraves' 'Rainbow' a million times, and singing my heart out to Lizzo's 'Like A Girl' a million and one.

I started exercising regularly at a studio I love and I now spend most of my Sundays outside of our home doing what fills my creative cup most—writing. I even kicked it up a notch this weekend by booking a night away (by myself!) to write, read, rest and do as I please.

What I've been practicing is allowing myself to consider myself—my needs, my wants, my feelings. And it has felt both refreshing and also like, "Shouldn't this be a given? Why have I needed to re-train myself to think about myself?"

Because the truth is, it should have never gotten as foggy as it did for me over these past six years. But it did. We live in a society today that demands so much from mothers—pouring pressure on us and layering guilt on top of that. We're often asked to make the unrealistic and unimaginable happen—from working 50+ hour workweeks and figuring out childcare to making gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free birthday treats for the whole class and making sure homework is done before the 3+ hour bedtime process begins.

Instead of simply taking a deep breath and getting every wild task done that has been asked of me, I've finally realized I can say a big, huge, satisfying "nope!" to those unrealistic expectations—and everything will still be okay. And I will still be a good mother.

We can change things in our society, my friends. But it starts with changing things for ourselves first and foremost.

So, we have to show up.

It's a fight to climb out of the trenches. But instead of fighting with myself like I have many, many times before, now I'm fighting for myself.

My youngest child recently turned two, and I feel like I'm finally starting to come out on the other side. As I sit here and write this, I acknowledge things are still messy. That's life. Some days, each bucket of my life seems semi-balanced. And some days they each feel like they're spilling over and no one is cleaning up the mess.

But the notable thing is—I'm not becoming one with the mess. I'm not losing myself in it.

As I lift the diapers, tame the tantrums and peel off the many hats I wear, I look at the woman I've become, and tell her I'm proud of where she's been, where she is and where she's going.

I remind her of her strength, her power, her love.

And I ask her

Are you breathing?

Are you eating enough?

Are you okay?

It's your turn, mama.

10 must-have registry items that will change your life, mama

The baby gear heavy hitters that should be top of your list

Calling all mamas-to-be! It's a fundamental truth of (impending) motherhood that your prepping-for-baby To Do list can feel a mile long, but really the best way to feel organized is to sort out the most important item at the top of your list: your registry. Sure the items you choose to include will end up running the gamut from nice-to-haves to absolutely essential game-changers, but mamas in the know quickly learn one thing: Not all baby gear is created equal.

So while you can and should pepper your registry with adorable inclusions that aren't necessarily can't-live-withouts (go ahead, add 'em!), you should make sure you're ticking the boxes on those pieces of baby gear that can be absolute life savers once you're in full-blown mama mode. From car seats to bouncers and playmats, your play and travel gear will be some of the most obvious important items on your list, but so can unexpected things, like a super comfy baby carrier and a snooze-inducing white noise machine. So to help you sort through the must-have options, we turned to the holy grail of motherhood that is buybuy BABY and handpicked 10 of the very best essential pieces that will change your life, we promise.

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Our Partners

Every week, we stock the Motherly Shop with innovative and fresh products from brands we feel good about. We want to be certain you don't miss anything, so to keep you in the loop, we're providing a cheat sheet.

So, what's new this week?

Earth Mama: Effective, natural herbal care for mamas and babies

Founded and grown in her own garage in 2002, Earth Mama started as an operation of one, creating salves, tinctures, teas and soaps with homegrown herbs. With a deep desire to bring the healing powers of nature that have been relied on for thousands of years to as many mamas as possible, Melinda Olson's formulas quickly grew into Earth Mama Organics. Since then, the brand has remained committed to manufacturing clean, safe and effective herbal solutions for the entire journey of motherhood, including pregnancy, breastfeeding and baby care, and even the loss of a baby.

Bravado Designs: Soothing sounds for a good night's sleep

With 28 years of serving pregnant and postpartum mamas under their belt, Bravado Designs is a true authority on the needs of changing bodies. It's true that we have them to thank for rescuing us from the uncomfortable and frumpy designs our own moms had to live with. Launched in Canada by two young mamas, they designed the first prototypes with extra leopard print fabric certain that a better bra was possible. Throughout the years they've maintained their commitment to ethical manufacturing while creating long-lasting products that truly work.

The Sill: Instagram-ready potted plants

We've long admired this female-founded brand and the brilliant mind behind it, Eliza Blank. (She even joined Motherly co-founder Liz Tenety on and episode of The Motherly Podcast!) The mission behind the business was simple: To make the process of bringing plants into your home as easy as possible, and as wonderful as the plant themselves. With their in-house, exclusively designed minimalist planters, the end result makes plant parenthood just a few clicks away.

Not sure where to start? Here's what we're adding to our cart:

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The 6 biggest lies I believed before having kids

Just about all of us had set assumptions about raising kids before we became parents ourselves.

Just about all of us had set assumptions about raising kids before we became parents ourselves. Some of these ideas might have been based on our own ideas of how we would absolutely do things differently than everyone else. Others, we believed what everyone else told us would happen would apply to our littles, too. But, that's not always the case, mama.

Below are six of the biggest lies I believed before having kids—and the reality of what actually happened for me.

1. Put your baby down drowsy, but awake

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Life