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It's been five years now.

Five years of rocking and diaper changing and kissing boo-boos and wiping tears and correcting behavior and snuggling and reading books and cleaning up all. the. things.

Five years of milestone-recording and picture-taking and preschool-researching and playdate-arranging.

Five years of feeling my heart walk around outside my chest.

Five years of desperately longing for bedtime, only to spend my evenings looking at cute pictures of my kids.

Five years of wondering if they got there safely.

Five years of not being able to leave my house whenever I want, or sleep in whenever I want, or buy anything I want.

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Five years of the purest love I've ever known.

And after five years of motherhood to my 5, 3 and 1-year-old children, I'm a totally different person. But the biggest shock isn't that I've been transformed by motherhood.

It's that I truly cannot remember what it was like to not be a mom.

Of course I remember some things—where I lived, what I did most days, what I hoped for in motherhood. But I cannot remember what it FEELS like to be me-before-kids.

It's almost as if a form of motherhood-induced amnesia has struck: As much as I'd like to go back in time for a bit, I cannot inhabit the mind of me before kids.

What did I used to worry about? Why did I think I was SO busy? (Ha, just you wait, lady.) What did I think motherhood would be like? And why did I not take more pictures of my pre-baby stomach?!

When you're expecting your first child, people will tell you, “You cannot understand until you have a child."

You nod and smile—desperate to understand—but unsure of exactly what that means. You are sure your life will change, but you have no clue exactly how.

And now, of course, now I get it.

It's as if I've been transported to a foreign land and can never return to my past.

And yet, sometimes I wish I could go back and tell the “old me" so many things.

I wish I could have forced “old me" to get up early and get stuff done before work—but I only found the strength to do that when I was up against childcare deadlines.

I wish I could teach“old me" how to really focus at work—a skill I only learned after kids came along and it became absolutely necessary.

I wish I could give “old me" body confidence—but it was pregnancy and becoming a mother that allowed me to see my body through the eyes of love and admiration.

I wish “old me" could have understood just HOW MUCH LEISURE TIME SHE ACTUALLY HAD—but it took motherhood to see that free time as precious.

I wish “old me" could have enjoyed more date nights and getaways—but it was having kids that forced me to prioritize R+R more than ever.

I wish I could have shown “old me" just how good she had it—but also let her know that the best part of life was yet to come.

I'll never know “old me" again. I'll never have totally free weekends, mornings sleeping in, endless "fun" money to spend and only myself to worry about.

And for that, I am so very grateful.

Motherhood is a practice in learning, growing and loving more than you ever thought possible. Even as a "veteran" mama of four young sons and one newly adopted teenager, Jalyssa Richardson enthusiastically adapts to whatever any given day has in store—a skill she says she's refined through the years.

Here's what just one day in her life looks like:


Jalyssa says she learned to embrace agility throughout her motherhood journey. Here's more from this incredible mama of five boys.

What is the most challenging part of your day as a mom of five?

Time management! I want to meet each of the boys' individual needs—plus show up for myself—but I often feel like someone gets overlooked.

What's the best part of being a mom of five?

The little moments of love. The hugs, the kisses, the cuddles, the smiles... they all serve as little reminders that I am blessed and I'm doing okay.

Are there misconceptions about raising boys?

There are so many misconceptions about raising boys. I think the biggest one is that boys don't have many emotions and they're just so active all the time. My boys display many emotions and they also love to be sweet and cuddly a lot of the time.

What do you think would surprise people the most about being a mom of five?

How much I enjoy it. I never knew I wanted to be a mom until I was pregnant with my first. My desire only grew and the numbers did! I am surprised with every single baby as my capacity to love and nurture grows. It's incredible.

How do you create balance and make time for yourself?

Balance for me looks like intentional planning and scheduling because I never want my boys to feel like they aren't my first priority, but it is extremely difficult. What I try to do is not fit it all into one day. I have work days because motherhood is my first priority. I fit in segments of self-care after the kids' bedtime so I don't grow weary.

What's the biggest lesson you have learned from motherhood?

I have learned that sacrifice is actually beautiful. I was terrified of the selflessness motherhood would require, but I've grown so much through the sacrifice. There is nothing better than living for something bigger than myself.

When did you first feel like a mom? How has your motherhood evolved?

I first felt like a mom when I was pregnant with my first son and I intentionally chose to change my eating habits so my body could be strong and healthy for him. I didn't have to think twice—I just did what I thought would be best for him. That decision being so effortless made me realize I was made for motherhood.

My perspective has changed with each baby as I've realized motherhood doesn't have to be one-size-fits-all. With my first son, I was a by-the-book mama and it was so stressful. With each baby, I have felt more freedom and it has made motherhood so much more beautiful. I have evolved into the mother that they need, I am perfect for these boys.

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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Naya Rivera/Instagram

As mamas we want our babies to be safe, and that's what makes what happened to Glee actress Naya Rivera and her 4-year-old son Josey so heartbreaking. Late Wednesday night news broke that Rivera was missing and presumed drowned after her 4-year-old son, Josey, was found floating alone on a rented boat on Lake Piru in Ventura County, California.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Ventura County Sheriff's Department Capt. Eric Buschow said the mother and her preschooler were swimming near the boat Wednesday afternoon. Josey got back into the rented boat after the swim but his mother did not. The preschooler was later found by other boaters, sleeping alone in the boat. Rescuers were able to figure out who he was because Rivera's wallet and identification were on the boat.

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Our hearts are breaking for Josey and his dad right now. So much is unknown about what happened on Lake Piru but one thing is crystal clear: Naya Rivera has always loved her son with all her heart.

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