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To the mama who is barely hanging on

I've been where you are. I was there, and I lost myself 1,000 times. But—I'm here to tell you—I've made it to the other side.

To the mama who is barely hanging on

Weary mama,

I drove past you the other day. You were on a walk with an infant strapped to your chest, the handle of a stroller in your left hand, and the leash of your small and energetic dog nearly yanking your right shoulder out of its socket. Your face said it all.

Your eyes told me you had reached the end of your rope. Your expression told me that you're clinging to some sort of freedom you refuse to lay down. But, I got the feeling that your world is putting up such a fight that you're not sure it's worth it some days.

I'm sure you were stuck in the house all day and the walls felt like they were closing in on you.

I'm sure you grew tired of cleaning up the same 15 toys a dozen times.

I'm sure you started to wonder if all this mothering of little ones is making a difference or not.

I'm sure you found yourself wondering where you are these days.

I'm sure you need a break.

You've given up career advancement. You've let friendships slip to the back-burner. You can't remember the last time you had a girls' night out or ate with both hands in your very own kitchen. For that matter, you can't recall the last time you actually sat down to enjoy your own meal.

You sometimes wonder if you and your husband live on two entirely different planets. The most pressing household needs—hungry children, sticky fingers, toys strewn under the dining room table three minutes before dinner is served, poopy diapers—seem to complete for both of your attention.

And in these different worlds, he still gets to hold onto pieces of his life that you feel like you haven't seen in years ago. He makes time for Saturday morning golf, Friday afternoon happy hour, and career development seminars. He makes time for football games, haircuts, and morning workouts at the gym.

And you're feeling like your individuality doesn't really exist anymore.

You've paused hobbies and have put personal passions aside during this season of life. You traded in your gym membership for baby yoga in the living room, and you now cut your own hair every six months using a complicated system of tilted mirrors. Because they're easier for now; they fit your life now.

I know these things, woman with two children and a yanking dog, because I've been where you are. I was there, and I lost myself 1,000 times. But—I'm here to tell you—I've made it to the other side. And the woman I've found there is a woman I'd like to spend a day with. She's a woman who I happen to like more than the single woman who had a thriving career, passion for travel, strict workout routine, and full social schedule.

I found that when I learned to let go of the rope I was ferociously clinging to, I was forced to jump into a new kind of life. And as it turns out, letting go of that rope was the greatest gift.

Letting go made me a bit gentler. It taught me that I don't have all the answers and that, the longer I live, the fewer answers I seem to have.

Letting go softened me. It slowed me down. It invited me into a life that's less about me and what I want in any given moment, and more about others and how I can invest in a way that brings joy to the lives of others.

Letting go taught me that I don't have to be perfect. I don't have to keep it all together or put on a mask. I simply need to show up.

So, lady with the kids and the yanking dog, I applaud you. I applaud you for trying, and I applaud you for showing up.

I see it on your face that you're barely hanging on, and I'm here to encourage you that letting go isn't as terrifying as you thought it might be. Let go of all that's draining you dry, and keep putting one tired foot in front of the other in all your human imperfection.

This season won't last nearly as long as you expect, and when you emerge on the other side, the woman you've become will look back on the journey with a tender smile. Because you're accomplishing so much, every single day—and it's really pretty amazing, mama. It's just hard to recognize that in the fog.

There are clear skies ahead, though—promise.

Create a school-ready capsule wardrobe for your kids

Dress for success whether virtual learning or in the classroom!

Tina Meeks

Going "back to school" this year may be less of a literal statement than in years past—but there is just as much reason for your kids to celebrate moving on to new grades. Just like in every new school year, a big part of the fun is refreshing your kids' wardrobe with clothes that allow them to express themselves.

Even if finding back to school clothes this year doesn't include a trip to the mall, you can still make an event of it by shopping H&M's kids collection from your computer. Pull up another chair for your shopping buddy and get the cart started with these fave capsule wardrobe options we've already scouted.

Here are our favorite picks:

A t-shirt made for play

H&M t-shirt

Call them essentials, not basics. A graphic t-shirt aces the test when it comes to being perfect for school. And because your little student will probably want to wear something that expresses their personal style as often as possible, it's great to know the shirts can stand up to school time, playtime, downtime and everything in between!

$4.99

Dressed-up casual shorts for total comfort

H&M boy shorts

Whether pulling up a chair for a virtual meeting with the class or heading back to the school for in-person learning, some comfortable, yet stylish, shorts will help your kid focus on the real tasks at hand: learning—and having fun while doing it!

$19.99

Layers for when seasons change

H&M sweatshirt

When it comes to feeling comfortable at school, layers are the MVPs. Whether the AC is blasting or the day started off cool and is warming up quickly, having a unique sweatshirt to shed or add will help your kid look cool while staying warm.

$9.99

A bit of flair with distressed denim

H&M distressed jeans

A school staple for generations, denim is both classic and continually fashionable with updates like distressing and new wash colors. If you're shopping online for jeans this year, take note of H&M's generous return policy—your kids can try on the orders at home and return anything that doesn't fit without a trip to the store.

$24.99

A fashion statement piece

H&M girls skirt

What's better than expressing yourself through a stylish outfit when school is back in session? Still feeling perfectly comfortable and ready to tackle anything the day holds while looking so good. With so many fashion-forward looks available at budget-friendly prices, H&M's children's collection means every kid can find an outfit that speaks to them.

$14.99

Some comfy kicks

H&M boys shoes

A sure way to put a little pep in your child's step this year, cool and cozy shoes are a staple on all back-to-school shopping lists for good reason. (Plus, it's fun to compare them to last year's shoes to see how much your kid has grown!)

$19.99

Anything-but-basic blouses

H&M girls blouse

Whether in the classroom or showing up for a video call with the class, a styling blouse or button-down shirt is a great way for your student to comfortably dress up the day. Better yet? Style doesn't have to come at the expense of comfort with so many made-to-move tops designed just for kids.

$14.99

A shirt ready to go whatever the day holds

H&M boys shirt

With "going to school" meaning anything from showing up in the classroom to doing a virtual session, it's important to have clothes that are perfect for anything the day holds. A classic, cotton shirt with a fashion-forward design is a great way to keep your student feeling ready to start the year with an A+ attitude.

$9.99

This article was sponsored by H&M. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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