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My path to healing from postpartum depression required grace, not persistence

I learned persistence from my mother.

Like some children learn to fold a fitted sheet or bake a perfectly flaky pie crust, I learned how to put my head down and persist.


My third-grade vernacular included the words “effective effort” and, before every spelling test or group presentation, my mother would say, “Good effort.”

She never wished me, “Good luck” because my mother doesn’t believe in luck, she believes in EFFORT. Her life’s motto is a Marian Wright Edelman quote: “Whoever said anyone has a right to give up?”

My mother taught me about grit, endurance, commitment, and fortitude. I learned to set goals, make lists, and cross off accomplishments. I believed that, with enough will-power and sheer determination, I could achieve anything.

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Persistence paid off for me in substantial ways: I earned a major and two minors in 3.5 years, I obtained a Master’s degree before age 30, I trained for and ran two half-marathons, I had a drug-free home birth. Each accomplishment affirmed for me that I was strong, capable, and powerful.

Which is why it devastated me to find myself in the depths of postpartum depression and anxiety after the birth of my third baby.

I tried everything I knew to climb out of the deep, dark hole on my own.

I popped placenta pills, I found a therapist, I became a vegan, I drank green smoothies, I took iron supplements, Vitamin D, and a supplement to support my “adrenals.”

I tried massage, “energetic unwindings,” chiropractic care, and acupuncture.

I tried going to bed at 8:30 p.m., taking more naps, and squeezing in a walk around the block before work.

I tried prayer, meditation, and yoga.

Everything I tried made small improvements but I was still drowning; underwater life was heavy and cloudy and there wasn’t enough air.

Why couldn’t I make this better?

What was I doing wrong?

What did I need to do differently?

Why was I such a failure?

I could not “effectively effort” myself to wellness.

Deficient, depleted, defeated, and depressed, I showed up for my monthly appointment with my massage therapist, Gillian. (Gillian is my personal hero in yoga pants, and I will write more about her, but the short story is she is a magical healer.)

My time with Gillian is usually relaxing and enjoyable, but this time I was restless and irritable. She rubbed an oil on my feet and the scent wafted up to my nose, filling my lungs with citrus and woodiness.

“What is that?” I asked.

She paused.

“Humility,” she finally responded.

I immediately bristled and stiffened.

Humility?

Humility is for people who don’t put forth enough EFFORT!

Humility is powerlessness.

Humility is victimhood.

Humility is failure.

Humility is the OPPOSITE of persistence.

Sensing my thoughts without my speaking them, Gillian retorted, “There’s strength in softness and surrender.”

In that moment, a small voice inside me whispered: You don’t have to live like this.

You don’t have to persist.

I told my therapist at my next appointment that I wanted to pursue medication. I had resisted medication for 13 months because medication felt like weakness.

But I was tired.

I was ready to surrender.

Every morning at 7 a.m., an alarm in my phone reminds me to take my medication, and it feels like God loving me.

It feels like when the doctor places your first pair of perfectly prescribed eyeglasses and you look around, blinking, and wonder, “Is this what the world really looks like??”

It feels like tuning the radio and finally hearing sharply and without static.

It feels like exhaling.

Life as a working mom with three young kids is still hard, but I’m swimming, not drowning.

I’m not a medical professional or qualified therapist; I don’t know if medicine is right for you. This post both is and is not about taking medication.

What I DO know, is that you will encounter The Thing Which is Bigger Than You.

Perhaps infertility, miscarriage, a birth plan that doesn’t pan out, or breastfeeding struggles you didn’t expect.

Perhaps it will be a strong-willed child, a marriage you can’t fix, or a diagnosis you can’t escape.

You WILL receive an invitation to practice humility, not because you are too big, but because you aren’t the biggest thing in the universe.

There WILL be a moment in which you must discern whether it is time to persist or time to surrender. Because, sometimes, persistence doesn’t pay.

Is it time for persistence?

Or is it time for humility?

Only you can know, but here is what I know for sure. Strength is valuable, and so is softness.

Also, grace is more likely to meet us in our humility. In our softness. In our surrender.

Grace is what happens the minute we wave our white flag.

Like blood that rushes to the point of trauma in the body, Grace rushes in, rolls up its sleeves, and says, “Let’s get to work.”

And then Grace does what Grace does best. It heals.

14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

$40

Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

$120

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

$179

Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

$100

Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$33

Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$88

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Motherly editors’ 7 favorite hacks for organizing their diaper bags

Make frantically fishing around for a diaper a thing of the past!

As any parent knows, the term "diaper bag" only scratches the surface. In reality, this catchall holds so much more: a change of clothes, bottles, snacks, wipes and probably about a dozen more essential items.

Which makes finding the exact item you need, when you need it (read: A diaper when you're in public with a blowout on your hands) kind of tricky.

That's why organization is the name of the game when it comes to outings with your littles. We pooled the Motherly team of editors to learn some favorite hacks for organizing diaper bags. Here are our top tips.

1. Divide and conquer with small bags

Here's a tip we heard more than a few times: Use smaller storage bags to organize your stuff. Not only is this helpful for keeping related items together, but it can also help keep things from floating around in the expanse of the larger diaper bag. These bags don't have to be anything particularly fancy: an unused toiletry bag, pencil case or even plastic baggies will work.

2. Have an emergency changing kit

When you're dealing with a diaper blowout situation, it's not the time to go searching for a pack of wipes. Instead, assemble an emergency changing kit ahead of time by bundling a change of baby clothes, a fresh diaper, plenty of wipes and hand sanitizer in a bag you can quickly grab. We're partial to pop-top wipes that don't dry out or get dirty inside the diaper bag.

3. Simplify bottle prep

Organization isn't just being able to find what you need, but also having what you need. For formula-feeding on the go, keep an extra bottle with the formula you need measured out along with water to mix it up. You never know when your outing will take longer than expected—especially with a baby in the mix!

4. Get resealable snacks

When getting out with toddlers and older kids, snacks are the key to success. Still, it isn't fun to constantly dig crumbs out of the bottom of your diaper bag. Our editors love pouches with resealable caps and snacks that come in their own sealable containers. Travel-sized snacks like freeze-dried fruit crisps or meal-ready pouches can get an unfair reputation for being more expensive, but that isn't the case with the budget-friendly Comforts line.

5. Keep a carabiner on your keychain

You'll think a lot about what your child needs for an outing, but you can't forget this must-have: your keys. Add a carabiner to your keychain so you can hook them onto a loop inside your diaper bag. Trust us when we say it's a much better option than dumping out the bag's contents on your front step to find your house key!

6. Bundle your essentials

If your diaper bag doubles as your purse (and we bet it does) you're going to want easy access to your essentials, too. Dedicate a smaller storage bag of your diaper bag to items like your phone, wallet and lip balm. Then, when you're ready to transfer your items to a real purse, you don't have to look for them individually.

7. Keep wipes in an outer compartment

Baby wipes aren't just for diaper changes: They're also great for cleaning up messy faces, wiping off smudges, touching up your makeup and more. Since you'll be reaching for them time and time again, keep a container of sensitive baby wipes in an easily accessible outer compartment of your bag.

Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on www.comfortsforbaby.com to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that supporting Motherly and mamas.

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Errands and showers are not self-care for moms

Thinking they are is what's burning moms out.

A friend and I bump into each other at Target nearly every time we go. We don't pre-plan this; we must just be on the same paper towel use cycle or something. Really, I think there was a stretch where I saw her at Target five times in a row.

We've turned it into a bit of a running joke. "Yeah," I say sarcastically, "We needed paper towels so you know, I had to come to Target… for two hours of alone time."

She'll laugh and reply, "Oh yes, we were out of… um… paper clips. So here I am, shopping without the kids. Heaven!"

Now don't get me wrong. I adore my trips to Target (and based on the fullness of my cart when I leave, I am pretty sure Target adores my trips there, too).

But my little running joke with my friend is actually a big problem. Because why is the absence of paper towels the thing that prompts me to get a break? And why on earth is buying paper towels considered a break for moms?

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