I wish my dad was here to see my daughters grow up

My girls will never know my father. They'll never hear him make up the words to "I Feel Pretty." They'll never catch him sneaking thirds of Blue Bell's pralines and cream ice cream late at night. He'll never send them off to school quoting the Village Schoolmaster by Oliver Goldsmith... "And still they gazed, and still the wonder grew that one small head could carry all he knew."

I wish my dad was here to see my daughters grow up

My girls will never know my father. They'll never hear him make up the words to "I Feel Pretty." They'll never catch him sneaking thirds of Blue Bell's pralines and cream ice cream late at night. He'll never send them off to school quoting the Village Schoolmaster by Oliver Goldsmith... "And still they gazed, and still the wonder grew that one small head could carry all he knew."

As his daughter, and one of the select few charged with keeping his memory alive, that's a tough pill to swallow.

He was diagnosed with Stage IV cancer when I was six months pregnant but waited until I was full-term to tell me in case the news might cause complications my daughter would pay for the rest of her life. That was my dad: Looking out for his girls, right up until the very end.


By the time my daughter arrived in September, my dad was already on borrowed time. Yet he hung on long enough for us to spend her first Christmas together. We said goodbye exactly one month later.

When my second child was born following a traumatic labor and delivery Christmas day two years later, I knew my father was present yet again as they rushed my pure white, limp, tiny girl to the NICU. Despite the chaos around me, I felt a sense of peace as I imagined her getting to those pearly gates and my dad, JJ, stopping her in her tracks with a twinkle in those Irish eyes.

"Silly girl, you need to go back to your mama," I believe he told her. She listened, and doctors tell me she is still a legend in the NICU.

Now at 5 months old, just starting to smile and giggle, I see his same mischievous twinkle in her eyes—perhaps a lasting gift from their encounter.

But for all the beautiful, small ways it feels like he's still here, there are other times when his loss hits me all over again.

I felt that again this past week when I was asked to emcee The Relay for Life benefiting the American Cancer Society. My 2-year-old and I decorated a luminaria bag the night before, one of hundreds that would line the track during the 12-hour walk. We painted an Irish flag on one side, a Texas flag on the other. We pasted on a picture of JJ holding her in her swaddle after her Christening, one of him walking me down the aisle in what she called "Mommy's princess dress." She added some gold paint, of course, to "make it shiny."

When we finished them, I told her JJ was up in the sky, in heaven—and she nodded, looked up into my misty eyes and said, "We need to buy a ladder."

The following day felt like a ladder. I felt closer to him than I've felt since he left. I shared his story in front of hundreds of survivors, not even meaning to share as much as I did. When those survivors took their victory lap, my sweet child blew them kisses.

As we released doves and watched them "fly in the sky to JJ," my daughter's affection for a man she'll never remember touched me, maybe even healed me.

My dad may not walk this earth with us today, but I will do for my girls as he did for me: I will look out for them up until my very last breath by trying to create as beautiful of a world as I can—but also taking them to the tough stuff.

We'll go to the hospital to see a sick friend, the funeral of a beloved relative, the food bank to help a complete stranger... I want them to know life isn't all splash pads and puppet shows. There will be pain; There will be sorrow; There will be grief.

But there is love when you look for it, especially when you look toward the sky.

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.

Keep reading Show less

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 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.

Our Partners

Report: President Trump plans to choose Amy Coney Barrett for Supreme Court

What you need to know about this mom of 7.

When Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg died on Friday her spot on the Supreme Court was vacated and on Monday President Trump said he is prepared to make his third U.S. Supreme Court nomination this week. "I will announce it either Friday or Saturday," Trump said on Fox News, adding, "We should wait until the services are over for Justice Ginsburg."

Now, CNN reports President Trump plans to choose Judge Amy Coney Barrett for the Supreme Court Nomination. He is expected to make the announcement on Saturday.

According to CNN, senior Republican sources are "indicating that Barrett is the intended nominee... All sources cautioned that until it is announced by the President, there is always the possibility that Trump makes a last-minute change but the expectation is Barrett is the choice."

President Trump says a vote on this Supreme Court nominee should come before the upcoming presidential election (a move that goes against Ginsberg's last wishes—and the precedent set by the senate in 2016). The President previously said he was looking seriously at five candidates for the spot, but during his Fox News interview on Monday, he only mentioned two: Amy Coney Barrett and Barbara Lagoa.

Here's what you need to know about Amy Coney Barrett

Keep reading Show less