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I look at my 2-year-old and think, 'Wait, weren't you just a baby?'

As I was rocking my 4-month-old this morning—bouncing and shushing and trying to get her down for her nap—I was overcome with a flood of emotions. She was smiling at me, her eyes full of love and magic and wonder, falling deeper and deeper into sleep as her eyelashes fluttered and her smiled faded.

It has been a hectic morning. My 4-year-old was home sick again from school for what seems like the 500th time this year.

My babysitter's child is sick, too, so I had my 2-year-old with me at home. She has been demanding to sit on my lap, wiggling around, as I try to get work done on my laptop. It's been—let's just say—causing my blood pressure to rise.

She was following me around the house as I was tending to my sick preschooler while also tending to my 4-month-old while also trying to edit and take a meeting online. I was just doing too much and was overwhelmed.

So what did I do?

I lost my patience with her. At her. I told her to stop whining. All the positive parenting techniques I try to incorporate into my everyday life flew right out the window.

I reflected on this (and cried) as I rocked my 4-month-old. My 2-year-old was just this little, too. I was just rocking her.

How is she now demanding Bubble Guppies instead of Daniel Tiger from me? She was just giggling at the funny noises I was making as she lay on her playmat. I was all the entertainment she needed.

How is she telling me (very sternly) "I need some space, Mommy!"? She was just happily eating up every single word I fed to her. I could get her bright eyes to shine and her smile to beam from ear to ear in a millisecond.

How is she getting so tall and growing out of her big girl shoes? She was just in nine month clothes, wasn't she?

How is she voicing her own opinions and directing me, her father, and both of her sisters on what to do and how to do it? She was just starting to babble and say 'Mama' like, a couple of weeks ago, wasn't it?

That's what I feel like. Especially when I lose my patience. Especially when guilt creeps in.

Because sometimes I forget.

I forget how young she really is. She's only two!

I forget how little she really is. She still fits perfectly in my arms.

I forget how her brain is not fully developed yet. She is really smart, but doesn't always understand my requests and directions.

I forget how she doesn't know how to process and handle all of her big emotions yet. That even though she's articulate for her age, she hasn't emotionally matured yet.

I already kind of forget how she felt in my arms, when I was rocking her at four months—so small and so helpless.

Because now she is big and can do things for herself.

When I set my third daughter down in her rock 'n' play when she was deep in sleep, I felt an urgent sense of panic to go into the archives and look through old photos of my oldest two to remind myself of that time in our lives. To remember what it felt like to be a mom of one. Then a mom of two.

This morning, my moment of clarity came while rocking my baby girl. I still feel like a new, baby mom. While I'm not seasoned vet, I'm not really a "new mom." I'm a mom of four years and have a preschooler, a toddler, and a baby to prove it.

But one day my babies will all be kids, then teenagers, then adults, and I'll close the chapter of my life when I had babies. I won't be this mom anymore.

So I have to remember.

Because it's breaking my heart to think I'm forgetting.

Most days are so busy—busy with fun things, hectic things, school things, crazy things, overwhelming things. Full of beauty, love and madness.

But these are the days. THIS is what life is. My beautiful babies. My blessings. I need to remember these moments with them. Please don't let me forget.

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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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