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‘Enjoy every moment’? I’m exhausted this moment.

Cheers to the moments when you open the door, looking completely unhinged.

‘Enjoy every moment’? I’m exhausted this moment.

In honor of all the beautiful mothers I know and love, I thought I’d share a real life story, a little segment I’m calling True Confessions.


You know what I’m talking about. I think. I hope? Maybe not. Maybe you will finish reading this and decide I’m not fit to write about anything having to do with mothering. You decide.

True Confession #1:

Not long after moving into our new home, in a new neighborhood, we added a new baby to our life with a 21 month old. This new baby was adorable and snuggly and had an amazing ability to sleep for 90 minutes increments and projectile spit up every time she ate.

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My Grace is a love. She was an exhausting baby.

Soon after our move into our “real house to be real adults” our neighborhood had a volunteer day. We decided to attend, in hopes of meeting new neighbors and to do good deeds to earn us a “good neighbor” label. That Saturday morning, we arrived, me with an 8 week old in her little pouch, a toddler running amuck, husband with shovel in hand. Ready to be helpful. Everyone there was planting flowers—I think—honestly I can’t recall; I had about 4 hours of interrupted sleep the night before. And about the same for the nights before that.

Tucker, Grace, and I lasted about 15 minutes before we headed back home, clearly more of a hindrance than a help. My husband stayed, helped, and presumably got labeled good neighbor or at least good man.

Later that week, said good man was traveling for business. Or maybe just at work late. I don’t remember. Again—I had been getting 90 minutes intervals of sleep for weeks, and sleep deprivation destroys both the spirit and the memory.

What I do remember, clearly, is that I was trying to make dinner. Nothing elaborate, just put some foods together to feed my people. I remember Grace had been crying on and off all day, I remember Tucker had one of those needy days—babies crawling on me all day long. Our two dogs had been barking incessantly, probably the sound of which had caused Tucker a sleepless afternoon. It was one of those days I was about to lose it. Crying and barking and “mamamamamammaamama” all day long. By 5 pm, I poured myself a glass of wine.

And then the dogs went bananas. Beserker. Completely nuts. But I was too tired to look for the root cause. I decided to start yelling STOP, as if that would calm it down. At this point, Tucker, nearly two , decided to start screaming, all the noise too much for his sensitive little being, his body went into sensory overload—which resulted in his own cacophony of screams and tears.

I snapped.

Not at Tucker. Not at Grace. At the dogs. I started yelling, ferociously and rather insanely, That’s it! I can’t take it anymore! That’s enough. That’s enough! That’s ENOUGH!

At that moment I noticed what the dogs were barking at. There were people at the door. Not just any people—the kind older couple who lived down the street, the ones in charge of the neighborhood volunteer day. But they were no longer at the door. They were walking away.

Rational Catherine took over, and opened the door. Wanting to appear normal, I decided to open the door and call out to them. Trying desperately to portray myself as a good mom. A nice mom. At least not a raging lunatic. Hi—I’m sorry, I didn’t hear you.

Oh that’s ok, they quickly said, eyes looking at anything but me. You’re busy.

Suddenly I looked at myself and saw what they saw. What this older man and his wife, coming on a mission of goodwill—to thank my husband for helping, these new neighbors of ours—what they saw at this particular moment.

They saw me —disheveled and crazy, with giant dark circles under my eyes, baby in one hand, glass of wine in the other (because why not be known as the neighborhood lush?), crying toddler standing in the background, dogs barking, food burning on the stove, and the leftover vibration of enough ENOUGH!

These nice people were sliding away, trying to avoid further contact with me.

I was embarrassed. This one moment was this family’s vision of me, as a mother, when in truth, I really was so much more. Looking back, I don’t know why I even tried to participate in the world as a normal human during those times. I mean. I had an infant who LITERALLY DIDNT SLEEP and a toddler who had a drastic sleep regression, wanting to be with us and her every time she was up, which was all the time. I was a walking zombie.

And I kept trying to put on this face, this mask that said “I got this. I’m awesome. I’m a great mom.”

Often times I was. But sometimes, pieces of me were aching. Crying for attention.

Meanwhile, I wanted to appear kind. Gentle. Sweet. Patient. And people everywhere were telling me to enjoy every moment, I would never get it back, so I felt guilty for being so tired. The guilt and the exhaustion and the wish to be better—those were some of my toughest moments, and I felt badly for having them.

My overly sensitive self was then worried about what these people thought of me. Would they think I was terrible? Would they call Child Protective Services on me? When I shared my worries with my husband he reassured me. No. You aren’t a bad mom. You had a bad moment.

I realized, after some thought, that they weren’t walking away because they were scared. They were walking away because they knew. They knew that feeling of being so tired, so overwhelmed, so not YOURSELF, that absolutely irrational thoughts and feelings come flying out of your mouth. I think they had been there. Or at least I pretend they’ve been there. That’s the only way I can make eye contact with them now, as I see them at least once a week on our family walks.

This experience made a deep and lasting impression on me. Not so much at embarrassed I was, but at the idea that mothers do so much. And at any given moment, the moment people witness might be the worst moment of a mother’s day, a mother’s week, or a mother’s career as a mother. Now, when I see a mom grabbing a child by the arm in the grocery store, hissing stop. that. right. now I know there’s more behind the picture. When another mother comments “helpfully” to me that “He seems a little old for you to be carrying him,” I let it slide, instead of lashing out at her. Other people don’t know what any other mother’s day (or child’s day) was like, or what any other person may be going through. I’ve been that mom, seen for one moment of irrational sleep deprived insanity, not for the millions of moments I’ve been gentle, kind, and all the things I always wish to be.

Mothers, I salute you. Cheers to the moments that get photographed for their poetic beauty, and cheers to the moments when you open the door, looking completely unhinged, drinking wine, holding babies, and screaming at the top of your lungs. Neither of these moments defines you as mother. You are always so much more.

I look forward to sharing with you episode #2 of True Confessions. The day I screamed and ran from the house (into the back yard), came back in to find my young son, eyes more worried than they should have been, comforting his little sister. Don’t worry. Mommies always come back. They have to. They really have to...

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I felt lost as a new mother, but babywearing helped me find myself again

I wish someone had told me before how special wearing your baby can be, even when you have no idea how to do it.

My first baby and I were alone in our Brooklyn apartment during a particularly cold spring with yet another day of no plans. My husband was back at work after a mere three weeks of parental leave (what a joke!) and all my friends were busy with their childless lives—which kept them too busy to stop by or check in (making me, at times, feel jealous).

It was another day in which I would wait for baby to fall asleep for nap number one so I could shower and get ready to attempt to get out of the house together to do something, anything really, so I wouldn't feel the walls of the apartment close in on me by the time the second nap rolled around. I would pack all the diapers and toys and pacifiers and pump and bottles into a ginormous stroller that was already too heavy to push without a baby in it .

Then I would spend so much time figuring out where we could go with said stroller, because I wanted to avoid places with steps or narrow doors (I couldn't lift the stroller by myself and I was too embarrassed to ask strangers for help—also hi, New Yorkers, please help new moms when you see them huffing and puffing up the subway stairs, okay?). Then I would obsess about the weather, was it too cold to bring the baby out? And by the time I thought I had our adventure planned, the baby would wake up, I would still be in my PJs and it was time to pump yet again.

Slowly, but surely, and mostly thanks to sleep deprivation and isolation, I began to detest this whole new mom life. I've always been a social butterfly. I moved to New York because I craved that non-stop energy the city has and in the years before having my baby I amassed new friends I made through my daily adventures. I would never stop. I would walk everywhere just to take in the scenery and was always on the move.

Now I had this ball and chain attached to me, I thought, that didn't even allow me to make it out of the door to walk the dog. This sucks, I would think regularly, followed by maybe I'm not meant to be a mom after all.


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Motherly editors’ 7 favorite hacks for organizing their diaper bags

Make frantically fishing around for a diaper a thing of the past!

As any parent knows, the term "diaper bag" only scratches the surface. In reality, this catchall holds so much more: a change of clothes, bottles, snacks, wipes and probably about a dozen more essential items.

Which makes finding the exact item you need, when you need it (read: A diaper when you're in public with a blowout on your hands) kind of tricky.

That's why organization is the name of the game when it comes to outings with your littles. We pooled the Motherly team of editors to learn some favorite hacks for organizing diaper bags. Here are our top tips.

1. Divide and conquer with small bags

Here's a tip we heard more than a few times: Use smaller storage bags to organize your stuff. Not only is this helpful for keeping related items together, but it can also help keep things from floating around in the expanse of the larger diaper bag. These bags don't have to be anything particularly fancy: an unused toiletry bag, pencil case or even plastic baggies will work.

2. Have an emergency changing kit

When you're dealing with a diaper blowout situation, it's not the time to go searching for a pack of wipes. Instead, assemble an emergency changing kit ahead of time by bundling a change of baby clothes, a fresh diaper, plenty of wipes and hand sanitizer in a bag you can quickly grab. We're partial to pop-top wipes that don't dry out or get dirty inside the diaper bag.

3. Simplify bottle prep

Organization isn't just being able to find what you need, but also having what you need. For formula-feeding on the go, keep an extra bottle with the formula you need measured out along with water to mix it up. You never know when your outing will take longer than expected—especially with a baby in the mix!

4. Get resealable snacks

When getting out with toddlers and older kids, snacks are the key to success. Still, it isn't fun to constantly dig crumbs out of the bottom of your diaper bag. Our editors love pouches with resealable caps and snacks that come in their own sealable containers. Travel-sized snacks like freeze-dried fruit crisps or meal-ready pouches can get an unfair reputation for being more expensive, but that isn't the case with the budget-friendly Comforts line.

5. Keep a carabiner on your keychain

You'll think a lot about what your child needs for an outing, but you can't forget this must-have: your keys. Add a carabiner to your keychain so you can hook them onto a loop inside your diaper bag. Trust us when we say it's a much better option than dumping out the bag's contents on your front step to find your house key!

6. Bundle your essentials

If your diaper bag doubles as your purse (and we bet it does) you're going to want easy access to your essentials, too. Dedicate a smaller storage bag of your diaper bag to items like your phone, wallet and lip balm. Then, when you're ready to transfer your items to a real purse, you don't have to look for them individually.

7. Keep wipes in an outer compartment

Baby wipes aren't just for diaper changes: They're also great for cleaning up messy faces, wiping off smudges, touching up your makeup and more. Since you'll be reaching for them time and time again, keep a container of sensitive baby wipes in an easily accessible outer compartment of your bag.

Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on www.comfortsforbaby.com to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that supporting Motherly and mamas.

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It's science: Why your baby stops crying when you stand up

A fascinating study explains why.

When your baby is crying, it feels nearly instinctual to stand up to rock, sway and soothe them. That's because standing up to calm babies is instinctual—driven by centuries of positive feedback from calmed babies, researchers have found.

"Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother," say authors of a 2013 study published in Current Biology.

Even more striking: This coordinated set of actions—the mother standing and the baby calming—is observed in other mammal species, too. Using pharmacologic and genetic interventions with mice, the authors say, "We identified strikingly similar responses in mouse pups as defined by immobility and diminished ultrasonic vocalizations and heart rate."

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