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By letting go of perfection, I found my strength as a mother

Many of us—myself included—begin the journey of motherhood with perfection’ being the ultimate goal.


We want to do everything perfectly. We want to minimize (or if possible, entirely avoid) mistakes. Because of the love we have for our children, we want the very best for them. We feel immense pressure to be the creators, the facilitators, the providers of “the absolute best”.

We also put an extra heaping of pressure on ourselves to be perfect while accomplishing all of this.

We are quick to crown ourselves as having failed to be perfect when we do perfectly human things—like losing our patience, or feeling overwhelmed, or doing something that we swore we would never, ever, do when we became mothers.

It’s hard to avoid the pressure to be a perfect parent. It comes at us from all angles—external sources and also from within. Decorate the ‘perfect’ nursery. Bake the ‘perfect’ healthy muffins. Throw the ‘perfect’ birthday party. Teach them the ‘perfect’ manners. Waitlist them at the ‘perfect’ preschool. Get back to the ‘perfect’ body weight within moments of giving birth to your ‘perfect’ baby, who, of course—if you’re doing your job as a parent correctly—will never “misbehave” because—you guessed it, you’re all doing everything ‘perfectly’.

In addition to all that, somehow we also expect to miraculously be the ‘perfect’ spouse, the ‘perfect’ daughter, the ‘perfect’ employee, and the ‘perfect’ friend. Whatever all of those things really mean.

We ask so much of ourselves.

We ask too much of ourselves.

There is a difference between striving to do our very best for our children, and striving for perfection. And the thing is, if we are putting our all into parenting—the issue is not the effort we’re exerting or the ideals we hold as our goal—but rather, the fact that when we fall short of our perfectionist expectations, we come down so hard on ourselves.

Perfect” is such an absolute. It is also elusive, unattainable, and means so many different things to different people.

And here’s the thing: if our children see us coming down so hard on ourselves when we miss the mark of perfection—you guessed it—we’re just perpetuating this exhausting, unrealistic and unhealthy picture of how we are meant to live our lives.

And so, I want you to ask yourself: if I’m trying to raise children who are kind and loving and gentle, isn’t it important—no, isn’t it necessary—that I model those things towards myself, too?

If I want my children to learn that it’s okay to make mistakes, it’s okay not to get something the way you wanted it to be the first time, and that the courage and resilience it takes to get back up after you’ve fallen is what actually gives you strength of character, then isn’t it important that when I make a mistake or struggle with something, I am honest and show them that I am not perfect, but that I’m trying, and that I’ll keep trying again?

If I want my children to know that, sometimes, perseverance can be hard because you have to confront the fact that you still haven’t quite gotten there yet, over and over (and over) again—then don’t I need to make sure that they see an example of someone who can come across a stumbling block or a major hurdle or completely screw up altogether, but then have the conviction and confidence to try again?

The beautiful thing is that our children can often be the best teachers when it comes to this.

Those little toddling legs that keep buckling and losing balance, but also keep getting back up? That baby isn’t going to give up on walking because she didn’t get it perfectly the first time.

That 3-year-old who has been practicing and practicing and practicing at pouring his own glass of milk straight out of the carton? He will leave behind a few drops on the counter or create spills demanding a mountain of paper towels, but he will most likely keep trying to get it right as long as you keep giving him that opportunity to try.

The 5-year-old trying to master riding a bike, the 7-year-old who finds it difficult and scary to make new friends, or the 12-year-old who is really struggling with a subject at school—if that child has seen their own parent come to terms with their own struggle, if that child has seen their own parent be kind to themselves when they’ve “failed,” if they’ve seen their own parent continue to push on, especially when we really, really think we should just write off our efforts once and for all—then that child will know.

That child will know that resilience and perseverance are an intrinsic part of being human, and that actually, the process of getting to where you want to be, and not just the ‘perfect’ end result, is where we find true meaning and contentment.

So the next time you lay your head on your pillow at night and start counting the ways you fell short of parenting perfection that day, I want you to stop.

I want you to think about all the weaknesses you confronted, all the things you learned that day and all the future opportunities that you will continue to encounter so that you can keep getting better.

I also want you to remember this: embracing the imperfect and focusing your energies on accepting your humanity, building your resilience and nurturing your perseverance—that? That is one of the greatest gifts you will ever give to your children.

Who said motherhood doesn't come with a manual?

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Parents in New Jersey will soon get more money and more time for parental leave after welcoming a baby.

This week New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed off on legislation that extends New Jersey's paid family leave from six weeks to 12.

It also increases the benefit cap from 53% of the average weekly wage to 70%, meaning the maximum benefit for a parent on family leave will be $860 a week, up from $650.

It might not seem like a huge difference, but by raising the benefit from two-thirds of a parent's pay to 85%, lawmakers in New Jersey are hoping to encourage more parents to actually take leave, which is good for the parents, their baby and their family. "Especially for that new mom and dad, we know that more time spent bonding with a child can lead to a better long-term outcome for that child," Murphy said at a press conference this week.

The law will also make it easier for people to take time off when a family member is sick.

Because NJ's paid leave is funded through payroll deductions, workers could see an increase in those deductions, but Murphy is betting that workers and businesses will see the benefits in increasing paid leave benefits. "Morale goes up, productivity goes up, and more money goes into the system," Murphy said. "And increasingly, companies big and small realize that a happy workforce and a secure workforce is a key ingredient to their success."

The new benefits will go into effect in July 2020 (making next Halloween a good time to get pregnant in the Garden State).

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Whether you just need to stock up on diapers or you've had your eye on a specific piece of baby gear, you might want to swing by your local Walmart this Saturday, February 23rd.

Walmart's big "Baby Savings Day" is happening from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at participating Walmarts (but more deals can be found online at Walmart.com already and the website deals are happening for the rest of the month).

About 3,000 of the 3,570 Supercenter locations are participating in the sale (check here to see if your local Walmart is).

The deals vary, but in general you can expect up to 30% off on items like cribs, strollers, car seats, wipes, diapers and formula.

Some items, like this Graco Modes 3 Lite Travel System have been marked down by more than $100. Other hot items include this Lille Baby Complete Carrier (It's usually $119, going for $99 during the sale) and the Graco 4Ever 4-in-1 Convertible Car Seat (for as low as $199).

So if you're in need of baby gear, you should check out this sale. Travel gear isn't the only category that's been marked down, there are some steep discounts on breast pumps, too.

Many of the Walmart locations will also be offering samples and expert demos of certain products on Saturday so it's worth checking out!

Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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Any Schumer has not had an easy pregnancy. She intended to keep working, but if you follow her on social media you know she's been very sick through each trimester.

And now in her final trimester she's had to cancel her tour due to hyperemesis gravidarum, also known as HG. It's a rare but very serious form of extreme morning sickness, and on Friday evening Schumer announced she is canceling the rest of her tour because of it.

“I vomit every time [I] ride in a car even for 5 minutes," Schumer explained in an Instagram post.

Due to the constant vomiting she's not cleared to fly and just can't continue to the tour.

This is not the first time Schumer has had to make an announcement about HG. Back in November, just weeks after announcing her pregnancy, she had to cancel shows and again broke the news via Instagram.

She posted a photo of herself in a hospital bed with her little dog Tati, and spelled out the details of her health issues in the caption. "I have hyperemesis and it blows," Schumer wrote.

Poor Amy. Hyperemesis gravidarum is really tough.

Kate Middleton, Ayesha Curry and Motherly co-founder Elizabeth Tenety are among those who, like Schumer, have suffered from this form of severe morning sickness that can be totally debilitating.

As she previously wrote for Motherly, Tenety remembers becoming desperately ill, being confined to her apartment (mostly her bed) and never being far from a trash can, "I lost 10% of my body weight. I became severely dehydrated. I couldn't work. I couldn't even get out of bed. I could barely talk on the phone to tell my doctor how sick I was—begging them to please give me something, anything—to help."

Thankfully, she found relief through a prescription for Zofran, an anti-nausea drug.


Schumer probably knows all about that drug. It looks she is getting the medical help she obviously needs, and she was totally right to cancel the tour in order to stay as healthy as possible.

We're glad to see Schumer is getting help, and totally understand why she would have to cancel her shows. Any mama who has been through HG will tell you, that wouldn't be a show you'd want front row seats for anyway.

Get well soon, Amy!

[A version of this post was published November 15, 2018. It has been updated.]

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As a military spouse, Cydney Cooper is used to doing things alone. But when she delivered her twin daughters early after complications due to Influenza A, she was missing her husband Skylar more than ever.

Recovering from the flu and an emergency C-section, and trying to parent the couple's two older boys and be with her new infant daughters in the NICU, Cydney was exhausted and scared and just wanted her husband who was deployed in Kuwait with the Army and wasn't expected home for weeks.

Alone in the NICU 12 days after giving birth, Cydney was texting an update on the twins to her husband when he walked through the door to shoulder some of the massive burden this mama was carrying.

"I was typing up their summary as best I could and trying to remember every detail to tell him when I looked up and saw him standing there. Shock, relief, and the feeling that everything was just alright hit me at once. I just finally let go," she explains in a statement to Motherly.

The moment was captured on video thanks to a family member who was in on Skylar's surprise and the reunion has now gone viral, having been viewed millions of times. It's an incredible moment for the couple who hadn't seen each other since Skylar had a three-day pass in seven months earlier.

Cydney had been caring for the couple's two boys and progressing in her pregnancy when, just over a week before the viral video was taken, she tested positive for Influenza A and went into preterm labor. "My husband was gone, my babies were early, I had the flu, and I was terrified," she tells Motherly.

"Over the next 48 hours they were able to stop my labor and I was discharged from the hospital. It only lasted two days and I went right back up and was in full on labor that was too far to stop."

Cydney needed an emergency C-section due to the babies' positioning, and her medical team could not allow anyone who had previously been around her into the operating room because anyone close to Cydney had been exposed to the flu.

"So I went in alone. The nurses and doctors were wonderful and held my hand through the entire thing but at the same time, I felt very very alone and scared. [Skylar] had been present for our first two and he was my rock and I didn't have him when I wanted him the most. But I did it! He was messaging me the second they wheeled me to recovery. Little did I know he was already working on being on his way."

When he found out his baby girls were coming early Skylar did everything he could to get home, and seeing him walk into the NICU is a moment Cydney will hold in her heart and her memory forever. "I had been having to hop back and forth from our sons to our daughters and felt guilty constantly because I couldn't be with all of them especially with their dad gone. It was one of the most amazing moments of my life and I won't be forgetting it."

It's so hard for a military spouse to do everything alone after a baby comes, and the military does recognize this. Just last month the Army doubled the amount of leave qualifying secondary caregivers (most often dads) can take after a birth or adoption, from 10 days to 21 so that moms like Cydney don't have to do it all alone.

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