Dear mama: You’re not doing it wrong, it’s just *that* hard

We can try as hard as we possibly can, but sometimes things are just messy.

It’s amazing how the smallest thing can change your whole perspective on life. For me, it was the kind words of a stranger.

I was leaving a mommy-and-me gym class, on my way to pick up my preschooler, holding my toddler by one hand and the carseat with my newborn in the other. I opened the door and my toddler made a bee-line for the parking lot—just slipped out of my hand and bolted.

By some marvel of mama-power I was able to grab him before he got there, without dropping my newborn—but not without falling, tearing my pants and skinning both my knees.

I just sat down on the sidewalk and cried. I was relieved he was okay of course, but I just felt so tired, so defeated. That’s when she came—another mom I hardly knew, from the class I just left.

She knelt down next to me, put her hand on my back and said, “Youre not doing it wrong. It’s just that hard.”

In that one moment, with my hair matted to my tear-soaked cheeks and searing pain shooting down my legs, she made me realize it wasn’t my fault. That I could try as hard as I possibly could every day, but sometimes things would just be messy.

As mothers, we often start to believe that if something isn’t going right, that it’s our fault.
Clearly I am missing something that would make this easier.’
‘Other moms seem to have this figured out, why can’t I?’
‘If only I was [fill in the blank]-er, this wouldn’t be a problem right now.’

And so, dear mama, I want to say loud and clear—it’s not your fault.

If you are trying so hard to limit your kids’ screen time, but literally have no other way to make a phone call, cook dinner or get a moment of quiet—you’re not doing it wrong, it’s just that hard.

If you desperately miss your partner and wish you could spend more time together, but find yourself collapsing into bed—alone—because you are just too touched out to consider anything romantic—you’re not doing it wrong, it’s just that hard.

If you spend hours a day washing, folding and wiping, but every evening your floors are still covered with Legos, crumbs and tiny socks—you’re not doing it wrong, it’s just that hard.

If you would love to run a 5k, but can’t even find five minutes to train, let alone get to the gym—you’re not doing it wrong, it’s just that hard.

If you’ve read three and a half books on sleep, tried everything and your baby still just won’t sleep through the night—you’re not doing it wrong, it’s just that hard.

If you get so much conflicting parenting advice from every corner of your life that all you can hear is noise so loud it drowns out your confidence in the fact that you are the best person to make decisions about your child—you’re not doing it wrong, it’s just that hard.

If you lived on Pinterest for weeks researching baby’s first birth party ideas, stayed up until 2 a.m. multiple nights in a row DIYing decorations and cupcakes, only to have to cancel it last-minute because the baby got pink eye—you’re not doing it wrong, it’s just that hard.

If every time you cross something off your to-do list you add two more to-do’s—you’re not doing it wrong, it’s just that hard.

If you love your job but feel like you can’t devote your attention to it the way you used to—you’re not doing it wrong, it’s just that hard.

If you really dislike your job but can’t leave because you need the money/insurance/tenure—you’re not doing it wrong, it’s just that hard.

If you love being a stay-at-home mom but are sick of feeling like you have to defend your choice to everyone—you’re not doing it wrong, it’s just that hard.

If you thought you wanted to be a stay-at-home mom, but now that you’re here, you find that it’s really not what you envisioned—you’re not doing it wrong, it’s just that hard.

If you love your children so much it hurts, yet check the clock repeatedly to see if it’s bedtime yet—you’re not doing it wrong, it’s just that hard.

In that moment when I felt like a complete and total failure, the stranger outside of gym class saw an exhausted mama who was trying so hard to take care of her kids, even when it left her bleeding and crying on a sidewalk. She saw me more clearly than I could see myself—as a mama who was doing a good job.

And so, darling mama, allow me to pay it forward—

Finding time when you are a mother is just hard.

Working on relationships when you are a mother is just hard.

Keeping the house clean when you are a mother is just hard.

Exercising when you are a mother is just hard.

Making parenting decisions when you are a mother is just hard.

Feeling like you can get stuff done when you are a mother is just hard.

Figuring out if and how to balance a career when you are a mother is just hard.

Sometimes it’s all just really hard. Not because you are doing it wrong, simply because it is.

The fact that you keep going, keep cuddling, keep cleaning, keep planning and keep loving in spite of how hard it is, is your super power. You’re doing the hardest job on the planet with dedication, grace and love—and there is nothing wrong in that.

Ask for help, be gentle on yourself and know that you are not alone.

In This Article

    14 Toys that will keep your kids entertained inside *and* outside

    They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

    With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

    From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

    Meadow ring toss game

    Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

    Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.


    Balance board

    Plan Toys balance board

    Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!


    Detective set

    Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

    This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.


    Wooden doll stroller

    Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

    Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.


    Sand play set

    Plan Toys sand set

    Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.


    Water play set

    Plan Toys water play set

    Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.


    Mini golf set

    Plan Toys mini golf set

    Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.


    Vintage scooter balance bike

    Janod retro scooter balance bike

    Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.


    Wooden rocking pegasus

    plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

    Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.


    Croquet set

    Plan Toys croquet set

    The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.


    Wooden digital camera

    fathers factory wooden digital camera

    Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.


    Wooden bulldozer toy

    plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

    Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.


    Pull-along hippo

    janod toys pull along hippo toy

    There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.


    Baby forest fox ride-on

    janod toys baby fox ride on

    Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.


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


    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? All things maternity fashion, mama.

    Stowaway Collection Maternity: Modern maternity wear that shows off your bump.

    Finding clothes that still make you feel like yourself isn't always easy. With their premium fabrics and universally flattering cuts, we can't get enough of the maternity wardrobe essentials from Stowaway Collection maternity. Even better? Everything from the mama/daughter duo owned brand is sewn in Long Island City, NY and they source USA-made fabric whenever possible.

    Superkin: High tech, low maintenance clothing designed for mamas.

    Superkin's line of focused essentials (launched by two retail execs, Miriam Williams and Tara Henning, who worked for world-class brands like Louis Vuitton, Walmart, J.Crew and Narvar) are meticulously designed with the needs of mamas in mind. Made from luxurious, wear tested fabrics and featuring thoughtful design details, they've created a line of clothing women actually want to wear. Each piece is a welcome addition to a solid maternity capsule wardrobe, making them a worthy investment from the first trimester.

    Tellus Mater: Sophisticated, luxury maternity wear with a minimalist aesthetic.

    Founded by a former ELLE and Marie Claire beauty editor, Tellus Mater offers high-end, sophisticated maternity looks. Designed for mamas who are looking beyond the standard ruched dresses and oversize T-shirts, the considered line features classic white blouses, tailored trousers and fitted turtlenecks with a minimalist aesthetic. Their classic feel can easily carry mamas from meetings to business dinners all in one day.

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

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    Expectant parents do not need to be told to move beyond Jennifer and Jason. Their thinking about names has evolved to the point that the most useful thing we can do is offer a large menu of intriguing choices.

    Here are our picks for the 100 best surprising + unusual baby names now.

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