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Being a mom doesn't get easier—but you get stronger

Without a doubt, I'm getting better at it. Motherhood is like a muscle that just keeps getting stronger, every time you use it.

Being a mom doesn't get easier—but you get stronger

I was lying in bed after another marathon day of motherhood.

Work, cooking, cleaning, doctor's appointments, bedtime stories.

My emails filled my inbox. Our laundry flowed over and out of the basket.

I was working a full time job on East Coast hours—while living on the West Coast. So I worked 6 am to 2 pm every day, and then took over toddler-watching duties until bed time. I cleaned the house in the evenings, and then squeezed in a few hours of sleep before the next round started all over again.

Life with my toddler and my second son on the way felt exhausting. At nine months pregnant, I worried about how I was going to manage it all with two kids, when keeping up with life with just one child felt so challenging. I was scared about growing our family—but our little one was about to show up any day.

And that's when I saw it.

Scrolling on my phone when I should have been asleep, I read eight simple words that shifted my entire perspective on motherhood. It was an Instagram post that honestly changed my life. It read—

It doesn't get easier. You just get stronger.

It was as if a ray of hope entered my heavy burdened life.

You see, I had been struggling against motherhood. I had been sinking underneath the weight of the work. I had been fretting amidst the constant demands and the growing expectations of raising two tiny little people. I had been staring down the challenge of parenting and swearing to myself that some day, somehow, it was going to just get easier.

It HAD to get easier, I told myself.

Because becoming a new mother, especially those first few years, just. felt. so. hard.

And those words, this insight, made me realize that motherhood actually wasn't going to get easier, but that I was going to rise to the occasion.

It doesn't get easier, you just get stronger."

It transformed me.

My house wasn't going to get magically cleaner—but I'll get better at living more simply and hiring help when I can.

My kids won't necessarily sleep through the night—but I'll prioritize self-care and my own rest in a new way.

Toddler tantrums will still raise my blood pressure—but I can use motherhood as an opportunity to become the calm, peaceful woman that deep down I long to be.

Our laundry piles will not suddenly disappear—but I'll find ways to build it into my routine and not get so behind.

I won't stop missing alone time with my husband—but we'll keep becoming stronger partners and finding joy in our roles as mom and dad.

The email will never stop arriving—but I'll get better at managing working motherhood and knowing what to prioritize, and what to let go.

I won't suddenly stop worrying about money— but I'll learn to find joy in experiences, not things.

Because deep down, I knew that motherhood wouldn't suddenly get easier. Talk to a mom a few years ahead of you, with kids a few years older than yours, and you'll realize that things aren't easier, they're just different.

The worrying doesn't disappear—but what you worry about does.

The demands won't lighten—but the tasks that occupy your time can change.

So while today I worry about getting to preschool on time, later I'll worry about where my kids are out so late.

While today I wonder if their clothes are clean, tomorrow I'll worry if they are up to the challenge of caring for themselves.

While today I fret over toddler skirmishes, tomorrow I'll fear bullies and online harassment.

While today I worry about being SO needed all the time, tomorrow I'll miss the days when I could solve all their problems with just my presence.

But my ability to handle it all? Without a doubt, I'm getting better at it. Motherhood is like a muscle that just keeps getting stronger, every time you use it.

It's not get easier, but I'm getting so much stronger.

And there's no one stronger than a mother.

My village lives far away—but my Target baby registry helped them support me from afar

Virtual support was the next best thing to in-person hugs

They say you shouldn't make too many major life transitions at once. But when I was becoming a mama for the first time nearly five years ago, my husband and I also moved to a new town where we didn't know a soul, bought our first house and changed jobs.

To put it mildly, we didn't heed that advice. Luckily, our family and friends still made it feel like such a magical time for us by supporting our every move (literal and otherwise) from afar. They showered us with love through a virtual baby shower (expectant parents nowadays can relate!) featuring the unwrapping of gifts they were able to ship straight to me from my Target registry.

Here's one piece of advice I did take: I registered at Target so I could take advantage of the retailer's benefits for registrants, which include a welcome kit valued over $100, a universal registry function and more. Fast-forward a few years and Target has made the registration perks even better for expectant parents: As of August 2020, they've added a Year of Exclusive Deals, which gives users who also sign up for Target Circle a full year of savings after baby is born on all those new mama essentials, from formula to diapers and beyond.

Honestly, even without the significant perks of a free welcome kit with more than $100 in coupons, additional 15% off coupons to complete the registry and a full year of free returns, registering at Target wasn't a hard sell for me: Even though the experience of shopping for baby items was new, shopping with Target felt like returning home to me… and the comfort of that was such a gift.

And of course, Target's registry plays a vital role right now, as expectant parents everywhere are being forced to cancel in-person baby showers and navigate early parenthood without the help of a hands-on village. A registry like this represents a safe way for communities to come through for new parents. If you're anything like me (or any of the other mamas here at Motherly), you certainly have emotional ties and fond memories associated with Target.

What to register for at Target was also an easy talking point as I began to connect with moms in my new community. I will always remember going on a registry-building spree with my next door neighbor, who had young children of her own. As we walked the aisles of Target back in 2015, she suggested items to add… and we laid the foundation for what has since become one of my most cherished friendships.

Even as I made connections in my new hometown, I was nervous that expecting my first baby wouldn't feel as special as if I were near family and friends. But my loved ones exceeded all expectations by adding the most thoughtful notes to gifts. They hosted a beautiful virtual baby shower and even encouraged me to keep the registry going after my baby made his debut and new needs arose.

In the years since, "community" has taken on a wonderfully complex new meaning for me… and, in these times of social distancing, for the rest of the world. I've come to cherish my newfound friends in our local community alongside those long-time friends who are scattered around the county and my virtual mama friends.

Now, as my friends' families grow, I'm so grateful that I can show them the same love and support I felt during my first pregnancy. I sing the praises of Target's baby registry—especially in light of the pandemic, since I know mamas can do everything from a distance thanks to Target's website and the added benefit of getting trusted reviews and helpful registry checklists.

And now that I'm on the gift-buying side of the equation, I've found new joy in picking thoughtful gifts for my friends. (Because goodness knows Target has something for everyone!)

For my friend who is a fellow runner, I teamed up with a few others to give the jogging stroller she had on her registry.

For my friend who is a bookworm, I helped her start her baby's library with a few books that are also well-loved in our home.

For other friends, I've bundled together complete "sets" with everything they need for bathing or feeding their children.

I know from my own experience that, yes, the registry purchases are so appreciated, but the thoughtfulness and the support they represent means even more. Because although my village may have been distant, the support they showed me was the next best thing to in-person hugs.

Start your own Target Baby Registry here to experience a Year of Benefits including a Year of Exclusive Deals through Target Circle to enjoy for a full year following your baby's arrival, a year of free returns, two 15% off completion coupons and a free welcome kit ($100 value).

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

Our Partners

Every week, we stock the Motherly Shop with innovative and fresh products from brands we feel good about. We want to be certain you don't miss anything, so to keep you in the loop, we're providing a cheat sheet.

So, what's new this week?

Earth Mama: Effective, natural herbal care for mamas and babies

Founded and grown in her own garage in 2002, Earth Mama started as an operation of one, creating salves, tinctures, teas and soaps with homegrown herbs. With a deep desire to bring the healing powers of nature that have been relied on for thousands of years to as many mamas as possible, Melinda Olson's formulas quickly grew into Earth Mama Organics. Since then, the brand has remained committed to manufacturing clean, safe and effective herbal solutions for the entire journey of motherhood, including pregnancy, breastfeeding and baby care, and even the loss of a baby.

Bravado Designs: Soothing sounds for a good night's sleep

With 28 years of serving pregnant and postpartum mamas under their belt, Bravado Designs is a true authority on the needs of changing bodies. It's true that we have them to thank for rescuing us from the uncomfortable and frumpy designs our own moms had to live with. Launched in Canada by two young mamas, they designed the first prototypes with extra leopard print fabric certain that a better bra was possible. Throughout the years they've maintained their commitment to ethical manufacturing while creating long-lasting products that truly work.

The Sill: Instagram-ready potted plants

We've long admired this female-founded brand and the brilliant mind behind it, Eliza Blank. (She even joined Motherly co-founder Liz Tenety on and episode of The Motherly Podcast!) The mission behind the business was simple: To make the process of bringing plants into your home as easy as possible, and as wonderful as the plant themselves. With their in-house, exclusively designed minimalist planters, the end result makes plant parenthood just a few clicks away.

Not sure where to start? Here's what we're adding to our cart:

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Mom rage is real—and it's a sign that mothers' needs aren't being met

The truth is, anger—real, fist-clenching, heart-racing, uncontrollable anger—is so much more common among mothers than many of us think.

Maternal anger takes most women who experience it by surprise. I'm not this person, we say, after feeling a shocking swell of rage during one of those inevitable moments of frustration we all face as a parent.

I never thought I'd be "that mom" who yells at her family, we say, after snapping and yelling at our toddler.

I don't recognize myself when I feel like this—and I feel like this more than I want to, we say, when we realize that our anger isn't a temporary, one-time thing but an undercurrent in our day-to-day, an undeniable presence like a shadow.

The truth is, anger—real, fist-clenching, heart-racing, uncontrollable anger—is so much more common among mothers than many of us think. And it's time to talk about what "mom rage" is, where it comes from, and what we can do about it.

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