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If I could just make it until 4 pm, I can put a movie on for them and by the time it's over, he'll be home and I'll have a small bit of relief.

It's only 10 am? HOW? I've already done school drop-off, changed pee sheets from last night, did three loads of laundry, emptied and re-loaded the dishwasher, entertained a toddler, finally found where I put the magic erasers so I could clean the wall my toddler drew all over... and it's not even time for her nap yet? Again—HOW?

Write that down. You need to remember the form for the field trip. Add that doctor's appointment to your phone calendar. Order the gift for Grandma's birthday so we don't forget. Change out the clothes sizes, she's not fitting into 2T anymore. Get more of those paint stick things. Oh and new Play-Doh, we had to throw ours out… Or find that recipe and make homemade playdough instead.

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These are my thoughts. My stay-at-home mom brain pre-pandemic. The never-ending cycle of reminders and to-do's and movement and lists and constant work, work, work.

I've been a SAHM on and off for the past six years. And even during my working stints, I've never worked full-time. Or out of my home. So even during working seasons, I've always been some sort of stay-at-home/working mom hybrid.

Honestly? I like both. I like being a stay-at-home mom and a working mom. They both have their beauty about them. And they both certainly have their tricky spots, too.

But one thing I'm realizing during this season of quarantine: I bet no one will underestimate the work of a stay-at-home parent ever again after this.


No one will doubt the level of effort they are putting in at home.

No one will doubt the many, many hats they wear—chauffeur, chef, teacher, therapist, entertainer, storyteller, magic maker, memory documenter, cleaner, sibling referee, etc. etc. forever.

No one will doubt the strength they have inside them as they handle some sort of jumping-off-the-couch-injury, snack requests, meal planning and whining—usually at the same time.

No one will doubt their parenting as they wait for the storm of their toddler's tantrum to pass as they walk by them in the grocery store.

No one will doubt how heavy that feeling of failure can be when you can't seem to get a handle on balancing all the many overwhelming things on your plate.

No one will doubt how real and how strong that urge is to list out all that you've accomplished at the end of the day, because while the house looks like it has been ransacked, you've actually gotten so much done.

No one will doubt the fact that stay-at-home parents are a hugely important part of our society as a whole. That their work is just as important and valid as anyone else's.

That is my hope.

Because when you're the stay-at-home parent who often feels like they are schlepping around from one thing to the next, without a moment to yourself, without a moment to breathe—often lonely but yet, also constantly surrounded by people—you wonder about your worth.

You compare yourself to your partner who has a full workload of meetings and conferences and emails and Excel spreadsheets. You watch friends post on social media about promotions and feel a twinge of jealousy. You wonder if this is your life's purpose. You wonder if what you're doing even matters.

I'm grateful the world now fully realizes that what we do every day does matter.

It matters a whole lot.

It matters to your partner who can go into work every day knowing their children are cared for and loved on all day by you.

It matters to your children who have their mama at home with them, helping them learn and grow in a safe and comfortable environment.

It matters to your best friend who is a working mom because she sees you and recognizes the hard yet beautiful work you do every day—and she is proud of you for it.

And it matters to our society as a whole. Because you are putting your all into raising good, decent humans.

Yes—the secret is out.

Many people now know the feeling of being bombarded by tiny voices all day while people are constantly touching or climbing on you while you are also trying to get stuff done.

They know the push and pull of wanting to do this, but needing to do that. Or needing to do that, but wanting to do this.

They know the irony of making a "set" schedule that completely implodes right before your eyes.

They know this 'job' comes with 'work' that can't be turned off. It's 24/7, 365.

It's madness.

It's wild.

It's chaos.

It's rewarding.

It's an honor.

And it's important. So very important.

The term our society usually uses may be "stay-at-home mom," but actually, we don't typically like to stay at home. We like to get out of the house and go on adventures and run errands and interact with the world. So this quarantine is hard for us, too. Sure, we may be more familiar with a lot of aspects of this isolation life, but this is hard. Period.

So, yes, the jig is up. No, we don't sit on the couch eating Bon Bons all day. (Though that does sound appealing.)

We work our tails off from sun up to sun down—mentally, physically, emotionally.

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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