Motherhood—its beauty and brutality—makes me cry

Tears. The tears. They bubble up without warning. In grocery stores, in the car, watching my daughter’s dance class.

Motherhood—its beauty and brutality—makes me cry

I used to think I had something wrong with me for the number of times I spend in tears each day.

Truthfully, I still wonder from time to time if it wouldn’t be easier to be the sort of person who could mosey along, not feeling so much, just doing what needs to be done and contentedly calling it a day. At times that seems like it would be an easier situation than the one I find myself in constantly. But of course, I’m not sure this really exists at all.

Tears. The tears. They bubble up without warning. In grocery stores, in the car, while singing with my students, watching my daughter’s dance class, during final relaxation in a yoga class.

I feel them stirring, first in the base of my throat, quickly rising up throughout my head, flowing from my eyes, and subsequently, cracking my heart open deeper and wider.

Lately, instead of being embarrassed for the quantity of tears I spill, I’m looking to them for guidance. I need them. They are cathartic. The authentic me needs them. I have a wandering soul—I can quickly feel confined, restless, stuck, needing release. I am on a constant search for beauty, I adore words, music, nature—the places that open my soul to its highest calling. I need my heart cracked open often to remind me of the intense passion I feel for this world.  The passion that gets dimmed from time to time with the practicalities of adulthood.

My tears save me from resentment. Motherhood can still conjure up resentment in me. Resentment that I spend large portions of my day doing things I don’t really enjoy. Dishes. Errands. Putting my needs aside again and again. Don’t get me wrong. I’m grateful for all of it, and I would never trade it for anything else. On my good days, I wash dishes in a Zen like state, create meals filled with the nourishment that comes with love. But regardless of all the gratitude I feel, too many days without solitude leave me with an unnamed rage that terrifies me.

This morning I was feeling that rage. I can’t even explain all the feels that were happening. Some sort of grief for the little boy that suddenly turned big as he went to kindergarten. Anger that I was woken from sleep every single hour last night. Frustration that I had to be patient all day with my fiercely independent three-year-old who needs to do everything her own way, no matter how long it takes. A yearning for silence, for solitude, for my soul’s voice to rule the day instead of the needs of the people around me.

If I’m being honest, I hate this rage that occasionally rises. I judge it; I tell myself that if I were a good mother I would never feel it. I would remain in that place of love and gratitude always. So I stuff it down, I keep pushing forward with what needs to get done for our day to happen and for all people to be where they need to be.

But the tears don’t let me off that easily.  Sitting in gobs of traffic, desperately trying to get my daughter to her first day of preschool on time, I flipped on trusty Channel 20 on my car’s Sirius radio—the E Street Station. It took, literally, the three first bars of Bruce Springsteen singing Prince’s Purple Rain for the tears to fall. As I sung along, I felt the stress lift from my shoulders, the light return to my heart, I felt truth settle into my bones.

I also heard beauty coming from my back seat. Grace, staring out the window at the newly turned fall leaves, mused,

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen purple rain. I think I would like rain that was purple. That would be really pretty.” 

Tucker told me during the next song that came on, The Ties that Bind, “Bruce Springsteen is my most favorite singer. I really like the songs he makes. They feel good.” We went on to have an adult like discussion about music and feelings that left me wondering just how many lifetimes that old soul had already lived.

With my tears this morning, I recommitted to my own authenticity. To shed the parts of society that don’t fit, to show the passionate me, the me who cries at least ten times a day.

With my feet grounded firmly in the sand, my eyes watching the osprey hunt, my heart feeling wide as the sea in front of me, I let the tears fall once more.

The tears remind me I’m alive, the tears remind me I’m more than just ‘mom,’ the tears are my truth. It’s when they aren’t falling that there is a problem.

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A very important letter for new mamas

Listen, mom-guilt is a dirty liar. Yes, it's your job to fill your little human's needs, but you matter too. Don't forget to take care of yourself. Hang out with friends, take a drive blaring 90's hip hop or shower without interruptions—trust me, you'll be a better person (and mom) because of it.

Dear new mom,

You will shave again someday. Today is not that day.

Set expectations low, my friend, and set your partner's lower—at least where body hair and overall hygiene are concerned.

That conversation could go something like this: “From now on let's not consider shaving a “standard," but more like a gift that happens on birthdays and the first day of summer."

Voila, you are a gift-giving genius. You know what else is a gift? Shaving the inch and a half of skin that is between your skinny jeans and your boots. You're welcome world.

You will not be perfect at parenting.


I have yet to meet a perfect mother, but when I do, she's going to be a tiger who is insanely good at making up songs. (Daniel Tiger's mom, we salute you.)

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I never wanted to be a mom. It wasn't something I ever thought would happen until I fell madly in love with my husband—who knew very well he wanted children. While he was a natural at entertaining our nephews or our friends' kids, I would awkwardly try to interact with them, not really knowing what to say or do.

Our first pregnancy was a surprise, a much-wanted one but also a unicorn, "first try" kind of pregnancy. As my belly grew bigger, so did my insecurities. How do you even mom when you never saw motherhood in your future? I focused all my uncertainties on coming up with a plan for the delivery of my baby—which proved to be a terrible idea when my dreamed-of unmedicated vaginal birth turned into an emergency C-section. I couldn't even start motherhood the way I wanted, I thought. And that feeling happened again when I couldn't breastfeed and instead had to pump and bottle-feed. And once more, when all the stress from things not going my way turned into debilitating postpartum anxiety that left me not really enjoying my brand new baby.

As my baby grew, slowly so did my confidence that I could do this. When he would tumble to the ground while learning how to walk and only my hugs could calm him, I felt invincible. But on the nights he wouldn't sleep—whether because he was going through a regression, a leap, a teeth eruption or just a full moon—I would break down in tears to my husband telling him that he was a better parent than me.

Then I found out I was pregnant again, and that this time it was twins. I panicked. I really cannot do two babies at the same time. I kept repeating that to myself (and to my poor husband) at every single appointment we had because I was just terrified. He, of course, thought I could absolutely do it, and he got me through a very hard pregnancy.

When the twins were born at full term and just as big as singleton babies, I still felt inadequate, despite the monumental effort I had made to grow these healthy babies and go through a repeat C-section to make sure they were both okay. I still felt my skin crawl when they cried and thought, What if I can't calm them down? I still turned to my husband for diaper changes because I wasn't a good enough mom for twins.

My husband reminded me (and still does) that I am exactly what my babies need. That I am enough. A phrase that has now become my mantra, both in motherhood and beyond, because as my husband likes to say, I'm the queen of selling myself short on everything.

So when my babies start crying, I tell myself that I am enough to calm them down.

When my toddler has a tantrum, I remind myself that I am enough to get through to him.

When I go out with the three kids by myself and start sweating about everything that could go wrong (poop explosions times three), I remind myself that I am enough to handle it all, even with a little humor.

And then one day I found this bracelet. Initially, I thought how cheesy it'd be to wear a reminder like this on my wrist, but I bought it anyway because something about it was calling my name. I'm so glad I did because since day one I haven't stopped wearing it.

Every time I look down, there it is, shining back at me. I am enough.

I Am Enough bracelet 

SONTAKEY  I Am Enough Bracelet

May this Oath Bracelet be your reminder that you are perfect just the way you are. That you are enough for your children, you are enough for your friends & family, you are enough for everything that you do. You are enough, mama <3


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A few years ago, while my wife's baby bump got bigger and my daddy reading list grew longer, I felt cautiously optimistic that this parenthood thing would, somehow, suddenly click one day. The baby would come, instincts would kick in, and the transition from established couple to a new family would be tiring but not baffling.

Boy was I wrong.

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