Motherhood showed me what I need most: Grace

Perhaps one of the biggest lessons motherhood teaches us is how to forgive ourselves.

Motherhood showed me what I need most: Grace

We moms—we women—put so much pressure on ourselves.

We’re bombarded with choices to make for ourselves and our children the minute the pregnancy test shows two pink lines.

Breast or bottle, work outside or stay home with the kids, jarred baby food or homemade, co-sleep or crib, cloth or disposable diapers—the list truly goes on… and on…

And really, no matter what you choose, there will be times when you hit it out of the park and times when you make the wrong choice. Some days you nail the mom thing. Other days you fall flat on your face. I know I have—a lot. But you’re trying. You are desperately trying to give your children the best you can.

You love them with a love that you never knew was possible until you had kids.

I’m not saying motherhood is great all the time. Many people say, “Enjoy every minute of it because it goes by so fast.” I’ve even uttered those words myself. But honestly, I don’t know if it’s truly possible to enjoy every moment.

I mean, when your first baby has a major diaper explosion at a formal family dinner event and you forget to pack an extra set of clothes, I’m not sure you’re actually relishing that moment. I know—rookie mistake. Or when your 4-year-old is refusing to stay in bed and you’re on the outside of the room holding the door closed, praying that your tough love will work. That’s not a moment to relive over and over again. Just try not to wish away all the hard stuff. It will pass.

I have enjoyed my kids at every stage of development. I had good babies, even though I remember two of them being colicky, so there were certainly times when it was hard. Maybe you have a colicky baby, too. Maybe you’re walking around the house, standing up and sitting down, using warm rice bags, swaying to and fro—whatever it takes to make them comfortable—and you’re thinking I CANNOT WAIT until this stage is over! I get it. I have been there. Just remember, it will pass.

We’ve just entered the teen years with our oldest, and while she’s been pretty easy going so far, I’m sure she will test us. There will be moments when her dad and I think, “Who is this little person we created, and what do we do with her?!” In fact, I’m pretty sure we’ve already uttered those words in reference to each of our children.

When I think about all this hard stuff—the crying newborns and the testing teenagers and everything in between—I realize that there is one gift I need more than anything else. Maybe you need this gift too.

Grace. I need grace. For myself and for the people in my life.

I am so hard on myself and on others. I’d like to blame it on my birth order—I’m a firstborn. I have a tendency to strive for the ever-unattainable perfection, but I’m working on letting that go. Or I could blame it on society and our desire to do things “best”—whatever that means. I’m learning that what’s best for my family may look different from what’s best for yours, and that’s OK. Either way, it doesn’t matter why we judge ourselves and others so harshly. We just need to stop.

Just like anything in life that is truly worthwhile—faith, healthy living, marriage, parenting—it’s a journey. Grace is what saves me, but receiving that grace is one of my biggest struggles. I would guess that might be true for you, too.

I see who I want to be, but I fall short sometimes. I think there is a balance between always having it together or falling apart. I know I can’t be “all together” all the time, but I don’t want to always have a frazzled feeling either.

For me, grace is forgiving myself when I don’t meet my own expectations. Giving grace to others is offering mercy when they mess up, too.

When the house isn’t clean or I don’t get a chance to put away the laundry, grace reminds me I’m a work-at-home mom with a big, busy family. Some days the housework isn’t a priority, but being present with my kids or meeting a deadline is.

When I haven’t done the meal prep ahead of time and the kids are eating whatever they can find in the cabinets, grace reminds me they love breakfast for dinner, and some of our most enjoyable meals have come from me having to quickly get creative in the kitchen.

When I’ve lost patience with loved ones, grace reminds me I’m human and have many emotions. I have to slow down, figure out my feelings, ask for forgiveness, and forgive myself.

Grace is here for us every day. Grace in motherhood and grace in life. We just have to recognize that we need it, and then we have to accept it. What helps me accept grace is writing down all the things I did well and the things I’m grateful for each day.

So if you are having a day or a week when you don’t think you measure up, I’m here to say, “You do. You are more than enough.”

You’re doing your best. Maybe some days you don’t feel like your best self because you’re tired, overworked or just having a bad day.

But this too shall pass.

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After 4 kids, this is still the best baby gear item I’ve ever purchased

I wouldn't be swooning over the BABYBJÖRN bouncer after eight years and four kids if it didn't work.

I have four kids 8 and under, so you might expect that my house is teeming with baby gear and kid toys.

But it turns out that for me, the more kids I have, the more I simplify our stuff. At this point, I'm down to the absolute essentials, the gear that I can't live without and the toys my kids actually play with. And so when a mama-to-be asks me what things are worth registering for, there are only a few must-haves on my list.

The BABYBJÖRN bouncer seat is on the top of my list—totally worth it and an absolute must-have for any new mama.

In fact, since I first splurged on my first BABYBJÖRN bouncer eight years ago (it definitely felt like a splurge at the time, but the five star reviews were really compelling), the bouncer seat has become the most-used product in our house for baby's first year.

We've actually invested in a second one so that we didn't have to keep moving ours from the bedroom to the living room when we change locations.

BABYBJÖRN bouncer bliss

baby bjorn bouncer

The utility of the seat might seem counterintuitive—it has no mechanical parts, so your baby is instead gently bounced by her own movements. In a world where many baby products are touted for their ability to mechanically rock baby to sleep, I get that many moms might not find the "no-motion" bouncer that compelling. But it turns out that the seat is quite reactive to baby's little kicks, and it has helped my kids to learn how to self-soothe.


Lightweight + compact:

The BABYBJÖRN bouncer is super lightweight, and it also folds flat in a second. Because of those features, we've frequently stored it under the couch, in a suitcase or in the back of the car. It folds completely flat, which I love.

Entertainment zone:

Is the toy bar worth it? The toy bar is totally worth it. Not only is the toy bar adorable, but it's one of the first toys that my babies actually play with once they discover the world beyond my boobs. The toys spin and are close to eye level so they have frequently kept my baby entertained while I cook or take a quick shower.

Great style:

This is not a small detail to me–the BABYBJÖRN bouncer is seriously stylish. I am done with baby gear and toys that make my house look like a theme park. The elegant European design honestly just looks good in my living room and I appreciate that parents can enjoy it as much as baby.

It's adjustable:

With three height settings that let you prop baby up to be entertained, or lay back to rest, we get years of use. And the bouncer can actually be adjusted for bigger kids and used from newborn to toddler age. It's that good.

It just works:

I wouldn't be swooning over the BABYBJÖRN bouncer after eight years and four kids if it didn't work. But I have used the seat as a safe space to put baby while I've worked (I once rocked my baby in it with my foot while I reported on a breaking news story for the Washington Post), and as a cozy spot for my second child to lay while his big brother played nearby. It's held up for almost a decade with almost-constant use.

So for me, looking back on what I thought was a splurge eight years ago, was actually one of the best investments in baby gear I ever made.

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


Sorry, you can’t meet our baby yet

Thank you for understanding. ❤️

In just over three weeks, we will become parents. From then on, our hearts will live outside of our bodies. We will finally understand what everyone tells you about bringing a child into the world.

Lately, the range of emotions and hormones has left me feeling nothing short of my new favorite mom word, "hormotional." I'm sure that's normal though, and something most people start to feel as everything suddenly becomes real.

Our bags are mostly packed, diaper bag ready, and birth plan in place. Now it's essentially a waiting game. We're finishing up our online childbirth classes which I must say are quite informational and sometimes entertaining. But in between the waiting and the classes, we've had to think about how we're going to handle life after baby's birth.

I don't mean thinking and planning about the lack of sleep, feeding schedule, or just the overall changes a new baby is going to bring. I'm talking about how we're going to handle excited family members and friends who've waited just as long as we have to meet our child. That sentence sounds so bizarre, right? How we're going to handle family and friends? That sentence shouldn't even have to exist.

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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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