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I wanted to be the mom that gave 110% on everything—but that left nothing for *me*

Even when Elliot started sleeping through the night, I didn't. I would wake up around 4 am to pump under moonlight, worried my milk supply would drop.

I wanted to be the mom that gave 110% on everything—but that left nothing for *me*

When Elliot was born, I thought being a mom meant giving 110% on every single task. I kept floors spotless months before he could crawl. I ate up parenting podcasts and books at every turn. I was all too happy to give my husband pointers (commands?) when his swaddling technique differed from my own. Mother knows best, after all.

I thought that the more time I spent learning about parenting, the better I was at it.

When Elliot napped, I rarely did the same. There was always more to be done! And if I didn't get it all done, I wasn't a good enough mom. Or so I told myself.

That's the constant struggle with perfectionists. We hear “good" and we think “could be better." There is no “good enough" in the perfectionist's compendium.

The lack of sleep didn't help. It stirred my anxiety around the clock. Even when Elliot started sleeping through the night, I didn't. I would wake up around 4 am to pump under moonlight, worried my milk supply would drop.

When Elliot started eating solids, I made everything by hand. I wanted to maximize the “flavor window" and was determined to fill it with apples and peaches and lentils and squash. I took pride in steaming and pureeing organic kale. He loved it. (Just kidding.) As he got older, I soaked and skinned almonds to make almond milk. I briefly explored raising chickens in the backyard.

Looking back, these behaviors seem a bit much, but at the time, they felt vital to my survival.

When Elliot turned 6 months old, I went back to work—terrified of not being able to keep up with home life on top of work life, but insistent on not letting anything slip.

It was impossible. Dishes piled up. Dust bunnies taunted. I felt guilty on the nights we ordered takeout. I felt bad when new recipes were just meh.

My quest to do everything the best and be everything to my little one was sucking joy and energy from my life.

One morning I awoke with a horrible stomachache. Fever...chills...I wanted to dive under the covers and watch rom coms. But we host a nanny share at our small San Francisco apartment, and there was nowhere to hide. So I went to work. By 10 am, I was deteriorating fast. I left the office, unsure where I would go. It was raining, and I had no umbrella.

As I passed two women, I overheard them discussing a faulty umbrella. At a red light, I saw that one of them was Oscar (and Emmy and Tony) winner Francis McDormand, of Fargo fame. She tossed her umbrella—her navy blue Muji, covered-in-Hollywood-fingerprints umbrella—in the trash.

As they walked on, I pulled it out of the bin, figuring a busted umbrella was better than none at all. I opened it, it closed. I tried again, harder this time, and it snapped into place.

VICTORY! But...I still felt awful. I texted a few friends and found one who was home. I curled up on her sofa, and she brought me tea while I explained the story of my newest accessory.

I didn't care if her house was clean or if her tea was organic. I just needed someone to take care of me.

Years from now, Elliot isn't going to care whether I made all of his meals from scratch, or if his toys occasionally found their way into the dog's mouth. He's going to remember the time we spent playing, the forts we built, the books we read.

Elliot's now a year and a half old. I have resolved to do less and to care less (which still sometimes feels like failure.) I still don't nap when he does, but sometimes I read a book or watch TV. And yesterday, instead of cleaning the floor, I bought more socks.

As a mom, I have learned to compromise with myself. It's not easy, but I'm learning.

14 sweet 'just thinking of you' gifts for every mama

A sweet surprise that tells her you've been thinking of her might be the pick-me-up she needs.

Who says you have to wait for birthdays or holidays to give your bestie a great gift? A sweet surprise that tells her you've been thinking of her might be the pick-me-up she needs in these more-than-trying times. We've rounded up some of our favorite go-to gifts that are certain to be a bright spot in her week. But be warned, you may want to snag a few for yourself. (You deserve it, mama.)

Here are some our favorite "just because" gifts to give our hardworking mama friends.

New Mother face + body care duo

volition face + body care duo

This correcting oil and stretch mark minimizer is perfect for the pregnant mama looking to keep her pregnancy glow. The correcting oil brightens the skin while reducing dark spots, and the stretch mark minimizer works to smooth her ever-growing belly.

$70

Allover roller

esker allover roller

This jade roller goes beyond your typical face roller and can be used anywhere on the body. It works to increase stimulation and reduce puffiness and is perfect for applying any oils to the face or body. Plus, it feels like a mini spa treatment.

$65

Kombucha making kit

farmsteady kombucha making kit

What could be a more perfect gift for the health-obsessed friend? This kombucha making kit comes with everything you need to brew your own homemade green tea kombucha. They'll think this is the tastiest gift ever.

$45

Laetitia lipstick

cupid & psyche laetitia

This red lipstick is perfect for your makeup enthusiast bestie who is looking to spruce up her life in quarantine. Crafted in the United States, these bee and vegan-friendly and cruelty-free lipsticks are created to flatter all complexions. Cupid and Psyche Beauty makes finding the perfect red lip way too easy!

$23

Jigsaw puzzle

inner piecec jigsaw puzzle

Mamas need to destress now more than ever during quarantine. This adorable jigsaw puzzle is perfect for the mama who needs a brain break! The 500-piece puzzle designed by artist Ray Oranges features an abstract gradient design that fits a standard frame when completed. Bonus: It's printed on recycled paper and the company donates $1 from every puzzle sold to youth mindfulness programs.

$30

Matilda's Bloombox

matilda's bloombox

If we have to be stuck inside, we might as well have some gorgeous florals to brighten up the space. Matilda's Bloombox locally sources blooms, delivers them to her door and provides simple tips on how to arrange it into a beautiful bouquet.

$39

'I Am Enough' bracelet

I Am Enough bracelet

Let this dainty bracelet serve as a constant reminder to your bestie that she is enough. She'll wear this on her wrist and read this daily oath to herself, "I Am Enough."

$35

Glow assorted teas

vahdam low assorted teas

This tea gift box set covers the entire spectrum of flavors from sweet to spicy. Individually packaged in beautiful tins, your gal pal will feel like a queen sipping her morning tea. Originally $40, this set is currently on sale for just $24. We'll take two, please.

$24

Find your voice journal

find your voice journal

Journaling is a great way to ease anxiety and will slow your bestie's racing mind before bed. This gift is perfect for first time journalists and includes prompts, daily quotes and coloring pages to help her unlock her potential and find her voice.

$22

Premium frother

shore magic premium frother

This gift is fitting for your latte-sipping bestie who can't go a day without her coffee. All she has to do is add two scoops of collagen to her favorite drink, and she'll have a perfectly foamy drink ready in seconds. Skipping the drive-thru line has never been so easy!

$25

Bath soak infusion kit

maude bath soak infusion kit

Say hello to hydration! She'll be feeling smooth and relaxed as ever after a long bath soaking in these salts. This vegan + cruelty-free set incorporates dead sea salt and dehydrated coconut milk powder for an ultra hydrating experience.

$32

Tiny Tags 'mama' necklace

Tiny Tags 'mama' necklace

It's a hard-earned title she answers to a hundred times per day. Whether she's new to the club or a seasoned professional, this delicate script 'mama' necklace is guaranteed to be a perfect fit.

$105

Superfood honey

Beekeeper's Naturals B.Powered honey

With a lack of sleep and jam-packed days, getting through the afternoon can be a real challenge. Send her a powerful pick-me-up in the form of a therapeutic blend of royal jelly, bee pollen, propolis and raw honey. It makes the ideal companion for tea, smoothies, yogurt or even on its on.

$17

Calming midnight mask with melatonin

Who doesn't deserve a reminder to pamper themself every once in awhile? Even better, this mask does all its work at night while you're sleeping with no extra effort needed. It's an amazing plant-powered antioxidant-packed mask that has melatonin, wild dandelion leaf and hyaluronic acid to rehydrate, repair and reset facial skin. It's so good, you might want to gift it to yourself. We won't tell, mama.

$68

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

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Is the Belly Bandit helpful for postpartum recovery?

I personally found myself wanting more core support in my early postpartum months.

My belly has been through some things.

Hyperemesis Gravidarum (yep, severe debilitating pregnancy-related vomiting), the pregnancies of each of my four kids, the 65 pounds of weight gain I have endured with each pregnancy, stretch marks, Occupational Therapy for pregnancy pelvic pain, unmedicated childbirth, and of course, postpartum recovery.

It's my personal opinion that this belly deserves some love. So starting with my second pregnancy, I've relied on Belly Bandit's postpartum belly bands (which I own in three sizes) to help support my core, reduce swelling, and begin to activate my midsection after nine months of being stretched to the max.

Here's why I love Belly Bandit:

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This viral post about the 4th trimester is exactly what new mamas need right now

"We are alone. Together. You are surrounded all the other mothers who are navigating this tender time in isolation. You are held by all of us who have walked the path before you and who know how much you must be hurting. You are wrapped in the warm embrace of mama earth, as she too settles into this time of slowness and healing."

Artist and teacher Catie Atkinson at Spirit y Sol recently shared a beautiful drawing of a new mom crying on a couch—leaking breasts, newborn baby, pile of laundry and what we can only assume is cold coffee, included. Everything about the image is so real and raw to me—from the soft stomach to the nursing bra and the juxtaposition of the happy wallpaper to the palpable vulnerability of the mother—I can almost feel the couch underneath me. I can feel the exhaustion deep in this woman's bones.

My heart feels the ache of loneliness right alongside hers. Because I remember. I remember the confusion and uncertainty and love and messy beauty of the fourth trimester so well. After all, it's etched in our minds and bodies forever.

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