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I almost let fear hold me back as a woman and a mom

It is hard to live a simple and purposeful life unless we learn to challenge fear. I have allowed fear to shackle me in many ways over my 45 years.


But I am grateful for a stubbornness within me, a fire passed along from my mama I think, that has propelled me to slowly, sometimes painfully, forge ahead—which calls me to push back against status quo, through fear, into possibility.

Maybe you have been bound by fear for so long and you want to be free. Maybe it will help you to know that you are not alone.

Here are some of the messages fear has spoken to me along the way, and some of the ways I have challenged this disheartening voice:

The fear: You can’t marry him because he doesn’t speak English, and your French isn’t great, and there are some huge cultural differences between you two. Maybe he is only marrying you to stay in the country.

Or maybe he actually loves me. And I have that, knowing that he is to be my husband. And maybe none of that other stuff actually matters, and we will build a beautiful life together.

The fear: Wait to have your baby until after university when it makes more sense.

I don’t have to make decisions based on what other people think makes the most sense. We are ready to be parents.

The fear: How can you waste your university education to stay home with your kids?

I am not wasting anything. This is my primary dream; I want to be here to read to him and nurse him and take him to the park. One day I may use my formal education, or I may not. But this is not a mistake.

The fear: You need to defend yourself when people make unkind assumptions about who you are and what you stand for.

Arguing with people is a waste of my energy. Those who need my message—they hear my heart. And I need to remember to be slow to judge others, because I know how it feels.

The fear: You don’t know how to do that, so maybe you should wait.

I’m done waiting, so I’ll just step out into imperfect and keep tweaking and learning as I go. I didn’t know how to parent or be a wife, or how to budget or homeschool, and I figured out all of that as I went along.

The fear: You’ll never stop yelling/numbing/living with anxiety (etc.), so you should just give up and enjoy the wine because trying and failing hurts so much.

Instead, I keep taking baby step after baby step and celebrate the small successes along the way. I have gained freedom before and am still on the journey; I’ll get there. Take a minute and look back at how far you have come. You have healed and learned to love and laugh and rise above. Don’t quit now.

The fear: He is following in your footsteps; it’s your fault.

But this discredits all the good that is in me, too. And if he’s following in my footsteps, then he may struggle, but ultimately he will be ok. He is also wise and gifted and still young and finding his way.

The fear: Don’t let yourself feel too happy, because you don’t know what lies around the next bend in the road.

You have suffered a little and walked through loss, but you have also tasted incredible joy. Receive the gifts in your life today and let tomorrow take care of itself.

The fear: If you say yes to that thing you want, you might fail; that would be horrible.

Actually, if I say yes to that thing, there is no failure. There is only stepping through the door and enjoying the experience. Whether or not other people like what I offer is not my business. Even if there are hard parts mixed in, I will grow and learn, and it will be part of my becoming.

The fear: If you don’t do it the right way, the way all the experts say to do it, you will get left behind.

I opt out of the race. I choose slow, organic growth, and living authentically. If I have to hustle to have it, then I don’t want it.

The fear: Don’t say no to anything that comes your way, even if it makes you feel anxious and way too busy, because what if you never get another chance like that again?

Then I will happily live my quiet life, because saying yes to everything destroys my health and happiness, and fear of missing out sucks the joy out of my days.

The fear: You can’t rest, because then you’ll never catch up.

Somehow the essential stuff always gets taken care of. And besides, I get to choose who and how I want to be. I can let the laundry sit a while longer and go for a walk while the sun is shining. A little dust won’t kill anyone, so I can read that book, cuddle with her while she is asking, climb into bed early if that is what I most need.

The fear: If you tell the whole truth of who you are, they will reject you.

Yup, they might. But that is their choice. And I will survive and feel free, because I am not pretending or putting on a brave face all the time.

Open your eyes to the way that fear has been whispering to you. Challenge the voice of fear in your life.

You do not have to accept every thought that drops into your mind—mindset matters. And remember, though we are still on the journey, we can pause to notice how far we have come. To give thanks. To acknowledge that baby steps are powerful. To speak life over ourselves, over the broken and insecure places that remain.

And then we forge ahead.

Mom life demands efficiency. Because while the amount of hours in the day are the same as before kids, now a sizable chunk of that time is spent caring for and loving on those little people. Compromises happen—and let's just be honest, the old beauty routine is one of the first things to get cut.

But, wait! You don't have to sacrifice putting on mascara or, worse, skipping the SPF. Instead, why not flip it, reverse it, and look at the bright side? Here's your opportunity to streamline your morning makeup routine. With some savvy skin care and beauty hacks, you can get your radiant glow on in record time.

Here are our tried-and-true hacks passed down from Motherly mamas:

1. Embrace multipurpose items

If the most pressing issue is limited time, consolidate multiple steps of your beauty routine with a multipurpose item. For example, instead of starting with a SPF moisturizer, followed by spot concealer and a blendable foundation, you can take care of all of that in one go with one of our favorites: Earth Mama's 3-in-one Lady Face™ Tinted Mineral Sunscreen. The beauty stick also allows you to easily fold SPF 40 into your routine, because Lady Face doubles as super-safe, clean sun protection. Even better? The sunscreen blocks blue light from those ever-present digital screens with a ray-scattering, non-nano formula.

2. Revive dried mascara

Especially after a sleepless night (#motherhood), mascara can make a major difference in how well rested you appear to be. If you realize your tube of mascara is dried out, don't write it off as a lost cause. Simply soak the sealed tube in warm water to loosen up the mascara — or add a drop of a multi-purpose saline solution into the tube. That should do the trick until you have time to buy a replacement. (But let's face it: You're a mom. It's okay if you're tired.)

3. Keep coconut oil handy

Coconut oil isn't just for the kitchen. From a DIY hair mask to an in-a-pinch lip balm or naturally removing makeup at the end of the day, coconut oil's cosmetic hack-list is long. For summer, we especially like adding a thin swipe of organic extra virgin coconut oil to the cheekbones at the end of the makeup routine for a bit of an extra glow.

4. Multitask while deep conditioning

If your hair needs a bit of TLC, consider applying a natural, paraben-free deep conditioner before doing chores around the house or even a short workout. By working up a bit of a sweat, the conditioner will set even better before you rinse off in the shower.

5. Start your hair care routine the night before

As you work to find your new normal morning routine, it can help to simply reschedule a task or two—like hair. If you shower the night before, get a jumpstart on your look by blowdrying, straightening or even braiding it for loose waves in the morning.

6. Even out your skin tone

Between multiple wake-ups during the night and wavering hormones, complexion issues can become a thing for most mamas. Thankfully, the hack for managing that is as simple as finding a great foundation that goes on smoothly and doesn't cake or crack through a morning of momming. Scope out the ingredient list for naturally nourishing components like coconut oil, shea butter or beeswax — and skip the stress (and the return process if the shade doesn't match) by going for something that easily blends with most skin tones.

7. Find brands your feel great about

As a mom, you might find yourself considering bigger life questions: Are my cosmetics safe for pregnancy and breastfeeding? Are they helping the world my children will grow up in? Can I trust the ingredients and mission? Pro tip: read the ingredients on all your personal care products, memorize the ones you want to avoid, and look for third-party certification to ensure the product is actually what it says it is. When you find a brand that walks the talk, you're going to want to be loyal.

8. When in doubt, go for a bold lip

With happy hours swapped for play dates, your daily routine may look a bit different than it used to. But who says you have to leave your personal style behind? If you've always been a fan of makeup and going a bit glam, keep going for it, mama! The extra 60 seconds it takes to apply lipstick or whatever else gives you a bit of pep in your step is well worth it.


This article was sponsored by Earth Mama Organics. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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When expecting a baby, there is a lot you can test-run in advance: Take that stroller around the block. Go for a spin with the car seat secured in place. Learn how to use the baby carrier with help from a doll. But breastfeeding? It's not exactly possible to practice before baby's arrival.

The absence of a trial makes it all the more important to prepare in other ways for breastfeeding success—and it can be as simple as adding a few of our lactation aiding favorites to your registry.

MilkBliss chocolate chip soft baked lactation cookies

MilkBliss lactation cookies

Studies have shown the top reason women stop breastfeeding within the first year is because they are concerned about their milk supply being enough to nourish baby. Consider MilkBliss Lactation Cookies to be your secret weapon. Not only are they wholesome and delicious, but they were formulated specifically for breastfeeding moms based on the science of galactagogues—also known as milk boosters. They also come in peanut butter and wild blueberry flavors.

$23

Evereden multi-purpose healing balm

Evereden multipurpose healing balm

Also up there on the list of reasons women stop breastfeeding: the toll the early days can take on nipples. Made from just five ingredients, this all natural healing balm is ideal for soothing chafed nipples, making for a much more comfortable experience for mama as her body adjusts to the needs of a breastfeeding baby.

$20

Lansinoh milk storage bags

Lansinoh milk storage bags

For a breastfeeding mama, there are few things more precious and valuable than the milk she worked so hard to pump—and it's the stuff of nightmares to imagine it spilling out in the fridge. With these double-sealed milk storage bags, you can be assured your breastmilk is safe and sound until baby needs it.

$12.50

Belly Bandit bandita nursing bra

Belly Bandit bandita nursing bra

Nursing a baby is a 24/7 job, which calls for some wardrobe modifications. Because Belly Bandit specializes in making things more comfortable for the postpartum mama, they've truly thought of every detail—from the breathable fabric to the clips that can be easily opened with one hand.

$47

boob-ease soothing therapy pillows

Boob Ease soothing therapy pillows

For nursing moms, duct can quickly become a four-letter word when you suspect it's getting clogged. By keeping these soothing breast pillows in your breastfeeding arsenal, you can immediately go on the defense against plugged milk ducts by heating the pads in the microwave or cooling them in the freezer.

$25

Belly Bandit perfect nursing tee

Belly Bandit perfect nursing tee

A unfortunate reality of nursing is that it can really seem to limit the wardrobe options when you have to think about providing easy, discrete access. But by adding functional basics to your closet, you can feel confident and prepared for breastfeeding on the go.

$59

Bebe au Lait premium cotton nursing cover

Bebe au Lait cotton nursing cover

Nursing in public isn't every mama's cup of tea. But babies can't always wait until you've found a private place to get down to business if that's your preference. That's where a nursing cover comes in handy. This one is made from premium cotton and features a patented neckline that allows for airflow and eye contact even while you're covered.

$36

Lactation Lab basic breastmilk testing kit

Lactation Lab breastmilk testing kit

Curious to learn more about the liquid gold you're making, mama? The testing kit from Lactation Labs analyzes your breast milk for basic nutritional content like calories and protein, as well as vitamins, fatty acids and environmental toxins to help boost your breastfeeding confidence.

$99

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Our list of 100 baby names that should be on everyone's list this year includes more choices than in the past of names that are obscure and surprising. That's because there are so many more unusual baby names coming into widespread use and baby namers have become a lot more adventurous.

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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