My family has learned how to slow down—and we're not going back

As the world as we knew it ground to a halt, life had a way of bringing everything into perspective.

woman holding child

A few months ago, I put a short little saying on the letter board in our kids' playroom. The sign read "Be present together ❤️"

Little did I know.

Before coronavirus, we had been living an incredibly busy season of life. Two careers. Four kids. Preschool, elementary school, drop-offs, pickups, occupational therapy, doctor visits, Little League, scheduling work trips and vacations and switching kids clothes out for bigger sizes. It was loud and fun and busy and demanding. It was all so much. Every single day. And as much as I tried to slow down, the franticness of our lives always sucked me back in.


Always trying to keep up with all that is demanded of me—and that I demand of myself.

Maybe your season of life has been similarly busy and distracting and a whirlwind of activity. Maybe, like me, you might have lost your way.

And now, in this terrifying moment, when many of us have been hunkering down for months of isolation, and others are going out to care for the sick or to simply keep their families fed, it's a brutal awakening to recognize just how fragile this life is.

As the world as we knew it ground to a halt, life had a way of bringing everything into perspective.

And I can't help but think that coronavirus has so many things to teach us—if we let it.

What really matters is not the fleeting work stress or laundry mountain or messy house. It's not trying to lose the baby weight or make sure we sign up for the right summer camp. It's not too much screen time or not enough music lessons. It's not getting there on time or catching up on emails too late.

What matters now is that we are safe and present, together.

What matters now is the curl of my baby's fingers around mine as he nurses himself to sleep.

What matters now is the laugh of my children as they chase one another around the house.

What matters now is the joy of getting beaten by my son at Battleship.

What matters now is the bedtime stories that I'm usually too tired to read to my daughter again and again and again. And again.

What matters now is marveling at the miracle of my babies as they sleep.

What matters now is the sun shining on our faces in the backyard even as a virus whips around the world.

What matters now is gratitude to have enough food, for now, to keep us fed.

What matters now is demanding a response from leaders at all levels to live up to the best of what our country can be.

What matters now is the yearning to make sure that every other child and family have that same peace.

What matters now is the hope that my parents, my kids' grandparents, will live as long as fate can possibly allow to make more cherished memories together.

What matters now is the appreciation for the first responders—police, firefighters, doctors, nurses and heroes of all kids—who, every day of their lives, meet people in need on the worst day of theirs.

What matters now is thankfulness that we live in a world where delivery people work tirelessly to bring our essentials to our front door.

What matters now is a new goal to not put our marriage last on the long list of things we have to get done.

What matters now is the humility of knowing that I don't have all the answers, and none of us knows the hour nor the place and that all we really have is this moment.

What matters now is a commitment to making this tragedy the beginning of something beautiful and real and new for all our lives—as people, as a family, as a country and a world.

What matters now is realizing that all I can really do is be present in this fragile moment, together.

And so, I will.

[This was originally published on March 13, 2020. It has been updated.]

I felt lost as a new mother, but babywearing helped me find myself again

I wish someone had told me before how special wearing your baby can be, even when you have no idea how to do it.

My first baby and I were alone in our Brooklyn apartment during a particularly cold spring with yet another day of no plans. My husband was back at work after a mere three weeks of parental leave (what a joke!) and all my friends were busy with their childless lives—which kept them too busy to stop by or check in (making me, at times, feel jealous).

It was another day in which I would wait for baby to fall asleep for nap number one so I could shower and get ready to attempt to get out of the house together to do something, anything really, so I wouldn't feel the walls of the apartment close in on me by the time the second nap rolled around. I would pack all the diapers and toys and pacifiers and pump and bottles into a ginormous stroller that was already too heavy to push without a baby in it .

Then I would spend so much time figuring out where we could go with said stroller, because I wanted to avoid places with steps or narrow doors (I couldn't lift the stroller by myself and I was too embarrassed to ask strangers for help—also hi, New Yorkers, please help new moms when you see them huffing and puffing up the subway stairs, okay?). Then I would obsess about the weather, was it too cold to bring the baby out? And by the time I thought I had our adventure planned, the baby would wake up, I would still be in my PJs and it was time to pump yet again.

Slowly, but surely, and mostly thanks to sleep deprivation and isolation, I began to detest this whole new mom life. I've always been a social butterfly. I moved to New York because I craved that non-stop energy the city has and in the years before having my baby I amassed new friends I made through my daily adventures. I would never stop. I would walk everywhere just to take in the scenery and was always on the move.

Now I had this ball and chain attached to me, I thought, that didn't even allow me to make it out of the door to walk the dog. This sucks, I would think regularly, followed by maybe I'm not meant to be a mom after all.

Keep reading Show less

Every week, we stock the Motherly Shop with innovative and fresh products from brands we feel good about. We want to be certain you don't miss anything, so to keep you in the loop, we're providing a cheat sheet.

So, what's new this week?

Meri Meri: Decor and gifts that bring the wonder of childhood to life

We could not be more excited to bring the magic of Meri Meri to the Motherly Shop. For over 30 years, their playful line of party products, decorations, children's toys and stationery have brought magic to celebrations and spaces all over the world. Staring as a kitchen table endeavor with some scissors, pens and glitter in Los Angeles in 1985, Meri Meri (founder Meredithe Stuart-Smith's childhood nickname) has evolved from a little network of mamas working from home to a team of 200 dreaming up beautiful, well-crafted products that make any day feel special.

We've stocked The Motherly Shop with everything from Halloween must-haves to instant-heirloom gifts kiddos will adore. Whether you're throwing a party or just trying to make the everyday feel a little more special, we've got you covered.

Not sure where to start? Here's what we're adding to our cart:

Keep reading Show less

Becoming a mother has been life-changing. It's been hard, tiring, gratifying, beautiful, challenging, scary and a thousand other things that only a parent would ever understand.

It is these life-changing experiences that have inspired me to draw my everyday life as a stay at home mom. Whether it's the mundane tasks like doing laundry or the exciting moments of James', my baby boy's, first steps, I want to put it down on paper so that I can better cherish these fleeting moments that are often overlooked.

Being a stay-at-home-mom can be incredibly lonely. I like to think that by drawing life's simple moments, I can connect with other mothers and help them feel less alone. By doing this, I feel less alone, too. It's a win-win situation and I have been able to connect with many lovely parents and fellow parent-illustrators through my Instagram account.

Keep reading Show less
Work + Money