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I wish my mom could see me as a mother

I want my mom to know that I am okay. Because things look a lot different for me since the last time I saw her.

woman looking off into the distance

I saw my mother today.

We were at The Little Gym, my two daughters and me. She saw us and immediately came over. She played with my older daughter helping her to roll backward and walk on the balance beam. When my kiddo wanted to play with the balls, she lifted her high up so she could choose the "right" ball from the bin—the red, spiky one.

I was wearing my 3-month-old daughter in a carrier, and honestly, without her help, I don't know how I would have gotten through the class I was so grateful. When it was time to say goodbye, I felt sad our class was over because I didn't know when exactly I'd get to see her again.

I guess none of this sounds out of the ordinary or strange, other than the fact that my mother passed away almost 10 years ago. I have not seen her face or heard her voice in almost a decade and yet, I see her in someone almost every day.

It happens when a kind woman, who is the age my mom would be today, comes over to me. In this case, it was the great aunt of another member of The Little Gym. When she came closer to me, it was as if we knew each other already. She smiled at me and I instantly recognized something in my heart. My gut did a weird little twirl and I knew it was my mom.

As I recount the ages and names of my children to this stranger, I can't help but throw some personal information in there, too. I was a first grade teacher, but it was too stressful. I think I might go back to school for counseling. My husband is very helpful and owns the coin store in town. He is a good man.

I want this person to know that I am okay, but really, I want my mom to know that I am okay. Because things look a lot different for me since the last time I saw her.

When my mom passed away I was only 22. I was still in college and I had no idea what I was doing with any aspect of my life. I was in an unhealthy relationship with a boy I didn't like at all, but like most insecure 20-somethings, I didn't think I could do better. I had no idea where I would work or what I would teach. I was dealing with a poorly treated anxiety and panic disorder. I was afraid to live on campus.

It was a rough time for me—and she didn't get to see that I turned out okay.

Because I did. I learned to live with her absence and eventually grew to accept it. But nothing prepared me for just how much I would miss my mother until I became one myself. I realized I missed her more than ever.

Everyone felt like a stranger to me, even the tiny human tucked onto my chest. I just wanted a familiar face and someone to say they were proud of us. And, sure, others could say it, but I wanted my mom to say it. She was the one who knew me best.

As I grapple through motherhood with a 20-month-old and a 3-month-old, I can't help but notice the extra set of hands that are missing. As I pick out clothes for my kids and detail their every milestone, I wonder what my milestones were like when I reached them with my mother by my side. More importantly, I wonder how she even survived motherhood, because it can be so hard.

So it's nice when I can walk into ACME, stand in line at Target, or take a class at The Little Gym and see someone approaching me with a kind smile. I immediately feel that I have known them forever and my stomach twirls. I look into their eyes as we meet for the first time, but really, I know that it isn't the first time. It's just you, mom, coming to check in to make sure I'm okay.

And I am. I promise.

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.

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