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I don't mourn the woman I was before I became a mother

I was very fortunate to grow up alongside my child, lucky to have him anchor me to make choices that were better than the ones I was making for myself alone.

I don't mourn the woman I was before I became a mother

"I miss who I was before I became a mother."

There's no attribution required for a quote like this. If you were to close your eyes and spin with an outstretched finger in a room full of mothers, you could land on almost any of them and they likely would have felt this statement at one point or another. Many women mourn the woman they were before they had to change diapers, put aside their own needs and focus much of their energy on caring for another.

But not me.

I had my first baby at 19 years old. I was two years out from my first mental breakdown and I was phasing out of the youth-in-care system. I was a high school dropout with no prospects, very little in the form of social supports, and a history of drug use and mental health issues. I was the very epitome of squandered potential. My life derailed by my own poor choices and stubborn insistence on learning things the hard way.

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My pregnancy changed everything. I didn't want to be just another teenage parent. I saw my impending motherhood as a chance for redemption, and I turned all my anxieties towards trying to do this thing right. I read the books, tried (and failed) to take up knitting and took a lot of time to look inwards at what I wanted to be.

Prior to this, I had convinced myself that I wasn't worth a normal life, but this baby was different. He deserved everything possible, his tiny body full of limitless potential.

I'm now 35 with three children and I can say with full certainty that I do not miss the person I was before I became a mother. I was very fortunate to grow up alongside my child, lucky to have him anchor me to make choices that were better than the ones I was making for myself alone.

I went back to school because I wanted to show him that education was important. I got a degree to show him the importance of hard work. I worked to improve my circumstances because I wanted him to know me as someone other than the mixed-up girl with a shaved head and an inclination for destruction that I was when he was conceived.

I wasn't always the best mother, but I was certainly a better person than I would have been if I had not become a young parent. People assume that young parents are cool, and my son simply rolls his eyes as he sees me as far from it.

My desire to forge a life that was different than where I was headed has made it so that I value discipline and hard work. I am not one to let my children off the hook, as I believe in taking responsibility for your actions. I try and maintain close bonds with them in an attempt to know what is going on in their worlds. I tend to be overprotective. I try my best to learn from my mistakes. I fail often, but I like to think that as we matured together, we were patient with each other.

The person I was before I became a parent was lost and confused. She had no self-esteem and felt that she was not worth much in life. Although some of these issues required work after his birth, I can say that now 16 years later I feel more confident and wiser than I ever could have imagined.

My role as a mother has made me prioritize my mental health, my self-image and resilience. I am keenly aware that there are young ones watching me, and that I have a responsibility to communicate to them the best possible messages, which starts with how I treat me. It took me a long time to get here, but I did so with the weight of motherhood to tether me and keep me grounded.

I don't mourn the woman that I was before I became a mother. I wouldn't even recognize her now. I much prefer the self-assured and confident person that I became with age and the experience of struggling and growing up alongside my child.

Becoming a parent at such a young age protected me from missing the painfully damaged person that I was on track to become. In motherhood, I found an interruption on a path to nowhere and was rerouted to a future that has been characterized by confidence and hope.

14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

$40

Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

$120

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

$179

Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

$100

Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$33

Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$88

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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.

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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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Errands and showers are not self-care for moms

Thinking they are is what's burning moms out.

A friend and I bump into each other at Target nearly every time we go. We don't pre-plan this; we must just be on the same paper towel use cycle or something. Really, I think there was a stretch where I saw her at Target five times in a row.

We've turned it into a bit of a running joke. "Yeah," I say sarcastically, "We needed paper towels so you know, I had to come to Target… for two hours of alone time."

She'll laugh and reply, "Oh yes, we were out of… um… paper clips. So here I am, shopping without the kids. Heaven!"

Now don't get me wrong. I adore my trips to Target (and based on the fullness of my cart when I leave, I am pretty sure Target adores my trips there, too).

But my little running joke with my friend is actually a big problem. Because why is the absence of paper towels the thing that prompts me to get a break? And why on earth is buying paper towels considered a break for moms?

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