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I made a mistake a few weeks ago. I double-booked myself, and it wasn't just a coffee date. My double-booking meant that one way or another, I was going to disappoint someone close to me. I was embarrassed and so disappointed in myself.

I told this story to my best friend and she responded (as she always does) with grace and empathy. "I feel like you're describing my life," she said, "so I'll tell you what I'm sure you'd tell me. Everyone makes mistakes like that sometimes." She went on to say that she was beating herself up for a similar error but listening to me tell my story reminded her to offer herself the same grace she was offering me.

When we care about people, we gladly and generously share the encouragement and truth they need in moments of struggle or weakness. We offer solidarity and a "me too," and we believe these things for them. So why is it so hard to believe them for ourselves?

At 1 year old, my oldest son Ian received a set of magnetic blocks for Christmas. They've gone on to become one of the most used toys in our home—the boys can spend hours every day building towers, houses, and cars. The thing about Magnatiles, though, is that they are a bit wobbly. You can imagine what this is like for a toddler with chubby hands and a limited understanding of physics.

If Ian's structure fell, he would always scream, knock the rest of it over, and throw himself onto the floor in a fit. He's grown past this a bit, but now my youngest has taken up the habit. So, wherever you find Magnatiles in our home, you'll likely find my boys' tempers lurking.

We spend a lot of time talking about how it's okay when things fall down. That we can rebuild, and that sometimes it's just the nature of the game. We talk about taking deep breaths and trying again. And again, and again, and again.

Once, while I was still pregnant with my youngest Leo, Ian grabbed my hand and sat me down on the living room floor. "Build big house, Mama, pwease," he said. I'm no architect, but I set out to build the biggest house our stash of magnets would allow. I didn't have the exact pieces I needed to make it sturdy and I kept bumping it with my clumsy hands. (The apple doesn't fall far from the tree, perhaps.) The fourth or fifth time I knocked it over, I let out a loud, "Ughh!"

Ian looked up at me and said, "That okay, Mama. You build new house!"

A few weeks later, the same thing happened. I made a batch of meatballs to serve with spaghetti, only to realize that we didn't have any pasta sauce in the house. In moments like that, I am likely to succumb to the inner critic who says that I will never be able to get my act together, can't remember a simple thing, am terrible at this housewife gig. These small mistakes reveal that I am still struggling with perfectionism in the worst way.

Just minutes before, Ian had been dancing around the kitchen yelling, "Hooray! Yummy meatballs! Hooray!" I looked at him and said, "Ian, we can't have meatballs. I forgot the sauce." I expected a meltdown, but he looked at me and gently said, "That okay, Mama. You no need be sad."

I wish I recorded videos of those little moments, so I could play them back for him in the future. Every time he knocks over a block tower, can't sound out a word, or doesn't make the team, I could gently remind him: "Try again, sweet boy."

Each time he grows frustrated, loses hope, and needs to be reminded of who he is, I can remind him: "Deep inside, little man, you know the truth. Failure is fine. Mistakes are good. Let's try again. You are brave. You are loved. You are enough."

I know that in those sweet moments, he was mostly mimicking me. He heard me offer those same phrases many times before. Today, he tells his little brother not to worry, only to quickly follow up with his own frustration-fueled meltdown. But you know what? I think there's value in the mimicking. Maybe if that thought—it's okay, deep breath, try again—crosses his mind every time a tower falls, he will eventually internalize it. The deep breaths and second chances will become second-nature, as much as a tantrum is during the terrible twos. I have hope.

This is the thing about parenthood: I need the reminders as much as my children do.

Motherhood helps me recognize my own weaknesses while learning to help my children avoid the same pitfalls. I don't want failure to derail my boys and their sister the way it often has derailed me. I want them to know their identity is not molded by their achievements, friendships, or reputation.

Maybe if we actually believed the things we say, the entire structures of our lives, vocations, and relationships would feel less tenuous. We'd believe that even if they got knocked down, we could put them back up just the same as before but with the weaker areas reinforced, stronger in the long run.

We'd step less gingerly around for fear of knocking them over. We'd build with enthusiasm instead of the fear of making mistakes along the way.

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When I was expecting my first child, I wanted to know everything that could possibly be in store for his first year.

I quizzed my own mom and the friends who ventured into motherhood before I did. I absorbed parenting books and articles like a sponge. I signed up for classes on childbirth, breastfeeding and even baby-led weaning. My philosophy? The more I knew, the better.

Yet, despite my best efforts, I didn't know it all. Not by a long shot. Instead, my firstborn, my husband and I had to figure it out together—day by day, challenge by challenge, triumph by triumph.

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The funny thing is that although I wanted to know it all, the surprises—those moments that were unique to us—were what made that first year so beautiful.

Of course, my research provided a helpful outline as I graduated from never having changed a diaper to conquering the newborn haze, my return to work, the milestones and the challenges. But while I did need much of that tactical knowledge, I also learned the value of following my baby's lead and trusting my gut.

I realized the importance of advice from fellow mamas, too. I vividly remember a conversation with a friend who had her first child shortly before I welcomed mine. My friend, who had already returned to work after maternity leave, encouraged me to be patient when introducing a bottle and to help my son get comfortable with taking that bottle from someone else.

Yes, from a logistical standpoint, that's great advice for any working mama. But I also took an incredibly important point from this conversation: This was less about the act of bottle-feeding itself, and more about what it represented for my peace of mind when I was away from my son.

This fellow mama encouraged me to honor my emotions and give myself permission to do what was best for my family—and that really set the tone for my whole approach to parenting. Because honestly, that was just the first of many big transitions during that first year, and each of them came with their own set of mixed emotions.

I felt proud and also strangely nostalgic as my baby seamlessly graduated to a sippy bottle.

I felt my baby's teething pain along with him and also felt confident that we could get through it with the right tools.

I felt relieved as my baby learned to self-soothe by finding his own pacifier and also sad to realize how quickly he was becoming his own person.



As I look back on everything now, some four years and two more kids later, I can't remember the exact day my son crawled, the project I tackled on my first day back at work, or even what his first word was. (It's written somewhere in a baby book!)

But I do remember how I felt with each milestone: the joy, the overwhelming love, the anxiety, the exhaustion and the sense of wonder. That truly was the greatest gift of the first year… and nothing could have prepared me for all those feelings.

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

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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.

On July 13, the Ventura County Sheriff's Department announced the 33-year-old mother's body was found at Lake Piru, five days after her son was found floating alone on a rented boat. According to Ventura County Sheriff Bill Ayub, Rivera's last action was to save her son.

"We know from speaking with her son that he and Naya swam in the lake together at some point in her journey. It was at that time that her son described being helped into the boat by Naya, who boosted him onto the deck from behind. He told investigators that he looked back and saw her disappear under the surface of the water," Ayub explained, adding that Rivera's son was wearing his life vest, but the adult life vest was left on the unanchored boat.

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Ayub says exactly what caused the drowning is still speculation but investigators believe the boat started drifting and that Rivera "mustered enough energy to get her son back onto the boat but not enough to save herself."

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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