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It was 2008. I was still in my 20’s. Not yet a mom, but about to become one. We were relocating to a new state, so I was job-interviewing and house hunting.


Obviously I was going to be a super cute, trendy, working mom who raised her child in an eclectic, urban environment full of culture and diversity. Our Jeep was the perfect family car because of the cool parents we were destined to be.

I’d never EVER be a frumpy frazzled mom in a mini-van, living on a cul-de-sac where all the houses were nearly identical and a bland shade of gray.

Never.

Fast-forward nine years. My 20s are over. As are my working mom days. I’d like to say it was a slow progression into unshowered-SAHM-cul-de-sac-mini-van life, but to be honest, I sort of dove in head first. At home on my maternity leave, my husband looked at me one day and said, “You’re not going back to work, are you?”

And the rest just happened.

Suddenly, we found our house-hunting trips to be creeping west—away from the city. Bigger yards, better public schools and lower crime rates became our focus, rather than the nearest sushi and coffee bars.

The rows of grayish-tanish houses now looked appealing. They were so much bigger! And the baby just had so. much. stuff. And they had laundry rooms! And attached garages! The mom life was my new life, and every convenience that made my new role more manageable jumped to the top of my priority list.

And you know what happened next.

After settling into a house in a cul-de-sac and tripling my husband’s commute, we looked at our four bedroom house and thought, let’s fill this baby up! With, of course, another baby.

Upon bringing our second child home from the hospital, our beloved Jeep seemed a tad small all of a sudden. As in—my husband couldn’t sit comfortably in the driver’s seat anymore, now that the giant rear-facing car seat was behind him.

By this point, more than two years into this parenting gig, I knew my inevitable fate. I’d seen what the moms around suburbia were driving. I saw them running errands with their automatic sliding doors and giant trunk space. I saw how they’d stock up at Costco, fitting enough provisions to feed every kid in a 12-block radius.

So that December, mere days after my daughter was born, I said four words I’d vowed to never say: “I want a minivan.”

My husband didn’t fight me as hard as I thought he would. He knew, as did I, that we’d officially lost ALL of our cool points anyway. We hadn’t been out to happy hour in two years. All of my dry-clean-only Ann Taylor clothes had been pushed to the back of the closet as I’d adopted a new permanent yoga pant/hooded sweatshirt uniform. Our evenings were spent changing diapers, passing the baby and toddler back and forth, and falling asleep 10 minutes into a movie.

We surrendered.

And when we added baby number three two years later, we knew for sure. We’d never go back.

I was a #MinivanMom4life.

So yeah, a minivan was the logical final piece to my transformation. I was officially “that mom” I never thought I’d be. But you know what? It felt okay.

Actually, it felt better than okay. This was not the path I had started on, but it’s where I was meant to be. And that realization felt great.

I am comfortable in suburbia, at the end of a cul-de-sac, where my kids can safely ride their bikes in the street and hop from house to house snacking on cookies and juice boxes. And as a family who road-trips several times a year, I LOVE the space in our van. It’s like a house on wheels. Five suitcases, a bag of toys and car snacks, outlets to charge the iPad, and enough room for the kids to spread out so they can’t touch each other? Yes please.

With two boys who will fight over whether the sky is blue, my dream machine offers the perfect setup to ensure at least a 75% chance of harmony as we trek across the nation. Which, for Mom and Dad means actually getting to have a real, uninterrupted conversation now and then!

It’s also comforting to know that my family could probably live in my van in the case of a natural disaster or zombie apocalypse. It’s fully stocked with bottled water, granola bars and blankets. It’s my home away from home (or sometimes my actual home—as I feel like I am in that driver’s seat more than than my actual house) and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

So adios, cool 20’s mom. You gave it your best shot, but you opted for comfort and convenience over trendiness and culture. But don’t worry, this eight seater takes the whole fam into the city on a regular basis. We can still hang with the cool kids. We just can’t always parallel park when we get there. ?

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Summer heat has a way of making the house feel smaller, more congested, with less room for the air to circulate. And there's nothing like heat to make me want to strip down, cool off and lighten my load. So, motivation in three digits, now that school is back in, it's time to do a purge.

Forget the spring clean—who has time for that? Those last few months of the school year are busier than the first. And summer's warm weather entices our family outdoors on the weekends which doesn't leave much time for re-organizing.

So, I seize the opportunity when my kids are back in school to enter my zone.

I love throwing open every closet and cupboard door, pulling out anything and everything that doesn't fit our bodies or our lives. Each joyless item purged peels off another oppressive layer of "not me" or "not us."

Stuff can obscure what really makes us feel light, capable and competent. Stuff can stem the flow of what makes our lives work.

With my kids back in school, I am energized, motivated by the thought that I have the space to be in my head with no interruptions. No refereeing. No snacks. No naps… I am tossing. I am folding. I am stacking. I am organizing. I don't worry about having to stop. The neat-freak in me is having a field day.

Passing bedroom doors, ajar and flashing their naughty bits of chaos at me, is more than I can handle in terms of temptation. I have to be careful, though, because I can get on a roll. Taking to my kids' rooms I tread carefully, always aware that what I think is junk can actually be their treasure.

But I usually have a good sense for what has been abandoned or invisible in plain sight for the lack of movement or the accumulation of dust. Anything that fits the description gets relegated to a box in the garage where it is on standby in case its absence is noticed and a meltdown has ensued so the crisis can be averted. Either way, it's a victory.

Oh, it's quiet. So, so quiet. And I can think it through…

Do we really need all this stuff?

Will my son really notice if I toss all this stuff?

Will my daughter be heartbroken if I donate all this stuff?

Will I really miss this dress I wore three years ago that barely fit my waist then and had me holding in my tummy all night, and that I for sure cannot zip today?

Can we live without it all? All. This. Stuff?

For me, the fall purge always gets me wondering, where in the world does all this stuff come from? So with the beginning of the school year upon us, I vow to create a new mindset to evaluate everything that enters my home from now on, so there will be so much less stuff.

I vow to really think about objects before they enter my home…

…to evaluate what is really useful,

...to consider when it would be useful,

...to imagine where it would be useful,

...to remember why it may be useful,

…to decide how to use it in more than one way,

... so that all this stuff won't get in the way of what really matters—time and attention for my kids and our lives as a new year reveals more layers of the real stuff—what my kids are made of.

Bring it on.

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In the moments after we give birth, we desperately want to hear our baby cry. In the middle of the night a few months later it's no longer exactly music to our ears, but those cries aren't just telling us that baby needs a night feeding: They're also giving us a hint at what our children may sound like as kindergarteners, and adults.

New research published in the journal Biology Letters suggests the pitch of a 4-month-old's cry predicts the pitch they'll use to ask for more cookies at age five and maybe even later on as adults.

The study saw 2 to 5-month olds recorded while crying. Five years later, the researchers hit record again and chatted with the now speaking children. Their findings, combined with previous work on the subject, suggest it's possible to figure out what a baby's voice will sound like later in life, and that the pitch of our adult voices may be traceable back to the time we spend in utero. Further studies are needed, but scientists are very interested in how factors before birth can impact decades later.

"In utero, you have a lot of different things that can alter and impact your life — not only as a baby, but also at an adult stage," one of the authors of the study, Nicolas Mathevon, told the New York Times.

The New York Times also spoke with Carolyn Hodges, an assistant professor of anthropology at Boston University who was not involved in the study. According to Hodges, while voice pitch may not seem like a big deal, it impacts how we perceive people in very real ways.

Voice pitch is a factor in how attractive we think people are, how trustworthy. But why we find certain pitches more or less appealing isn't known. "There aren't many studies that address these questions, so that makes this research especially intriguing," Hodges said, adding that it "suggests that individual differences in voice pitch may have their origins very, very early in development."

So the pitch of that midnight cry may have been determined months ago, and it may determine part of your child's future, too. There are still so many things we don't know, but as parents we do know one thing: Our babies cries (as much as we don't want to hear them all the time) really are something special.

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For many years, Serena Williams seemed as perfect as a person could be. But now, Serena is a mom. She's imperfect and she's being honest about that and we're so grateful.

On the cover of TIME, Williams owns her imperfection, and in doing so, she gives mothers around the world permission to be as real as she is being.

"Nothing about me right now is perfect," she told TIME. "But I'm perfectly Serena."

The interview sheds light on Williams' recovery from her traumatic birth experience, and how her mental health has been impacted by the challenges she's faced in going from a medical emergency to new motherhood and back to the tennis court all within one year.

"Some days, I cry. I'm really sad. I've had meltdowns. It's been a really tough 11 months," she said.

It would have been easy for Williams to keep her struggles to herself over the last year. She didn't have to tell the world about her life-threatening birth experience, her decision to stop breastfeeding, her maternal mental health, how she missed her daughter's first steps, or any of it. But she did share these experiences, and in doing so she started incredibly powerful conversations on a national stage.

After Serena lost at Wimbledon this summer, she told the mothers watching around the world that she was playing for them. "And I tried," she said through tears. "I look forward to continuing to be back out here and doing what I do best."

In the TIME cover story, what happened before that match, where Williams lost to Angelique Kerber was revealed. TIME reports that Williams checked her phone about 10 minutes before the match, and learned, via Instagram, that the man convicted of fatally shooting her sister Yetunde Price, in 2003 is out on parole.

"I couldn't shake it out of my mind," Serena says. "It was hard because all I think about is her kids," she says. She was playing for all the mothers out there, but she had a specific mother on her mind during that historic match.

Williams' performance at Wimbledon wasn't perfect, and neither is she, as she clearly states on the cover of time. But motherhood isn't perfect either. It's okay to admit that. Thanks, Serena, for showing us how.

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There are some mornings where I wake up and I'm ready for the day. My alarm goes off and I pop out of bed and hum along as I make breakfast before my son wakes up. But then there are days where I just want 10 more minutes to sleep in. Or breakfast feels impossible to make because all our time has run out. Or I just feel overwhelmed and unprepared.

Those are the mornings I stare at the fridge and think, Can someone else just make breakfast, please?

Enter: make-ahead breakfasts. We spoke to the geniuses at Pinterest and they shared their top 10 pins all around this beautiful, planned-ahead treat. Here they are.

(You're welcome, future self.)

1. Make-ahead breakfast enchiladas

www.pinterest.com

Created by Bellyful

I'd make these for dinner, too.

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