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Our house may not be fancy or pristine, but it’s safe, warm and loving

“Mommy, I’m safe,” she said, snuggling into my chest as we laid in bed.

Our house may not be fancy or pristine, but it’s safe, warm and loving

“Mommy, I’m safe,” she said, snuggling into my chest as we laid in bed, in that sweet interim between saying bedtime prayers and finally closing her eyes to sleep.


Where did that come from? I wonder, while reassuring her that yes, she was most certainly safe.

My daughter is two years old and to my knowledge, besides an unfortunate incident with a stuffed monkey that scared the heck out of her, she’s never felt unsafe. I’m sure the concept came from TV, from some episode of Daniel Tiger that I didn’t notice because I was mentally tuning it out. But still, lying there with her in the dark, holding her close as she repeated several times that she was safe and nestling closer and closer to my heart, I thought about how much I needed to hear her unprecedented observations.

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You see, I’ve been mentally languishing lately over the state of my house.

I blame it on following too many interior design blogs, and spending too much time on Pinterest. According to the internet world, my house full of mismatched hand-me-down furniture is miles apart from the pristine West Elm tableaus and expertly st‌yled bookshelves I dream of at night.

The brightly colored toys strewn across the floor just don’t match up to the muted tone, sustainably sourced wooden train sets and handmade vintage dollhouses that live in the playrooms I busily pin, as if saving them to my Dream Home board will magically mold them into existence. Even amongst my peers, who have living rooms large enough to host big parties and kitchens that are not covered in hideous yellow linoleum, I feel less than. Like I’m desperately trying to catch up to some standard of living and failing every day.

But the one thing I need to remember is that my kids don’t see it that way.

I think back to my own childhood, growing up in a tiny cape that I still drive by with a deep sense of yearning. There was only one bathroom, and until a rather disgusting plumbing overflow that forced its replacement, the floor was covered in rough blue carpeting.

I distinctly remember lying on that floor every morning, talking with my mom while I waited my turn for the shower (one bathroom and five people necessitated a strict schedule for daily personal hygiene routines.) As the steam built up in the tiny room, I never once thought about how the tub was old and mildewed and the carpet was outdated and the plumbing fixtures needed to be replaced. Maybe that’s because I always felt safe, too.

I wonder if my mom fretted over the ugly brown carpet that blanketed the entire first floor (ugly carpets were a theme of that house.) I wonder if she felt self-conscious over the chipped baseboards, or the beat up furniture, or the overflowing playroom that would make Marie Kondo flee in horror. I doubt it—my mom isn’t that type of person. But I am. I’m very hung up on appearances, though I’m trying so hard not to be.

My daughter’s declaration of safety brought me back to reality.

And to the frivolity of obsessing over leather couches and tufted ottomans. We don’t have a fancy house, but we have a house. Our children have beds to sleep in and food to eat. They have toys and books and parents who love them fiercely. All of these wonderful, magical things I take for granted—heat in the winter, milk in the fridge, a yard to play in—my daughter notices and appreciates these small yet important details. The only person who cares about crown molding is me. And I need to knock it off.

As she drifted off to sleep, I held her close and breathed in the sweet scent of her hair. I said a grateful prayer for the blessing of my children, for the privilege of being their mother and for the frank honesty of my sweet baby’s words. We didn’t have the big fancy house, but we did have shelter. We had refuge from hunger, fear, desperation and wanting. In our little suburban oasis, we were protected from war and all the terrible things going on in the world today.

We were there in the night, cuddled close, and we were safe.


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These are only the vitamins I give my children and here's why

It's hard to say who loves these more—my kids or me.

When I became a mama five years ago, I didn't put too much thought into whether my son was getting the right vitamins and minerals. From breastfeeding to steaming and pureeing his first bites of solid food, I was confident I was giving him everything to support his growth and development.

But then the toddler years—and the suddenly picky palate that accompanied them—came along. Between that challenge and two additional children in the mix… well, I knew my oldest son's eating plan was falling short in some vitamin and mineral categories.

I also knew how quickly he was growing, so I wanted to make sure he was getting the nutrients he needed (even on those days when he said "no, thank you" to any veggie I offered).

So when I discovered the new line of children's supplements from Nature's Way®, it felt like a serious weight off my chest. Thanks to supplements that support my children's musculoskeletal growth, their brain function, their immune systems, their eyes and more, I'm taken back to that simpler time when I was so confident my kids' vitamin needs were met.*

It wasn't just the variety of supplements offered by Nature's Way that won me over: As a vegetarian mama, I'm the picky one in the family when it comes to scanning labels and making sure they meet our standards. The trick is that most gummy vitamins are made with gelatin, which is not vegetarian friendly.

But just like the other offerings from Nature's Way that I've already come to know and love, the children's supplement line is held to a high standard. That means there's no high-fructose corn syrup, gelatin or common allergens to be found in the supplements. The best part? My two oldest kids ensure we never miss their daily vitamins—they are so in love with the gummy flavors, which include tropical fruit punch, lemonade and wild berry.


Nature's Way Kids Mulitvitamin


Meanwhile, my pharmacist husband has different criteria when evaluating supplements, especially when it comes to those for our kids. He appreciates the variety of options from Nature's Way, which gives us the ability to rotate the vitamins based on our kids' daily needs. By keeping various children's supplements from Nature's Way on hand, I can customize a regimen to suit my kids' individual requirements.

Of course, high-quality products often come at a higher price point. But (to my immense gratitude!) that isn't the case with Nature's Way, which retails for a competitive value when compared to the other items on the shelf.

Like all mamas, my chief concern is supporting my children's health in any way I can. While I see evidence of their growth every time I pack away clothes they've outgrown, I know there is much more growth that doesn't meet the eye. That's why, for my oldest son, I like stacking the Brain Builder gummy with the Growing Bones & Muscles gummy and the Happy & Healthy Multi. My 3-year-old also enjoys getting her own mix to include the Healthy Eyes gummy. And both of my older kids are quick to request the Tummy Soothe tablet when something isn't sitting right in their stomachs.* And I'll admit it: I've tried it myself and the berry blast flavor really is tasty!

Although my current phase of motherhood may not be as "simple" as it once was, there is so much to appreciate about it—like watching my kids play and sing and create with their incredible imaginations. Along the way, I've eased up on some of my need for control, but it does help to have this range of supplements in my motherhood tool kit. So while I may not be able to convince my son to try kale, having the Nature's Way supplements on hand means I do know he's right on track.*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.


This article was sponsored by Nature's Way. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Our Partners

I never wanted to be a mom. It wasn't something I ever thought would happen until I fell madly in love with my husband—who knew very well he wanted children. While he was a natural at entertaining our nephews or our friends' kids, I would awkwardly try to interact with them, not really knowing what to say or do.

Our first pregnancy was a surprise, a much-wanted one but also a unicorn, "first try" kind of pregnancy. As my belly grew bigger, so did my insecurities. How do you even mom when you never saw motherhood in your future? I focused all my uncertainties on coming up with a plan for the delivery of my baby—which proved to be a terrible idea when my dreamed-of unmedicated vaginal birth turned into an emergency C-section. I couldn't even start motherhood the way I wanted, I thought. And that feeling happened again when I couldn't breastfeed and instead had to pump and bottle-feed. And once more, when all the stress from things not going my way turned into debilitating postpartum anxiety that left me not really enjoying my brand new baby.

As my baby grew, slowly so did my confidence that I could do this. When he would tumble to the ground while learning how to walk and only my hugs could calm him, I felt invincible. But on the nights he wouldn't sleep—whether because he was going through a regression, a leap, a teeth eruption or just a full moon—I would break down in tears to my husband telling him that he was a better parent than me.

Then I found out I was pregnant again, and that this time it was twins. I panicked. I really cannot do two babies at the same time. I kept repeating that to myself (and to my poor husband) at every single appointment we had because I was just terrified. He, of course, thought I could absolutely do it, and he got me through a very hard pregnancy.

When the twins were born at full term and just as big as singleton babies, I still felt inadequate, despite the monumental effort I had made to grow these healthy babies and go through a repeat C-section to make sure they were both okay. I still felt my skin crawl when they cried and thought, What if I can't calm them down? I still turned to my husband for diaper changes because I wasn't a good enough mom for twins.

My husband reminded me (and still does) that I am exactly what my babies need. That I am enough. A phrase that has now become my mantra, both in motherhood and beyond, because as my husband likes to say, I'm the queen of selling myself short on everything.

So when my babies start crying, I tell myself that I am enough to calm them down.

When my toddler has a tantrum, I remind myself that I am enough to get through to him.

When I go out with the three kids by myself and start sweating about everything that could go wrong (poop explosions times three), I remind myself that I am enough to handle it all, even with a little humor.


And then one day I found this bracelet. Initially, I thought how cheesy it'd be to wear a reminder like this on my wrist, but I bought it anyway because something about it was calling my name. I'm so glad I did because since day one I haven't stopped wearing it.

Every time I look down, there it is, shining back at me. I am enough.

I Am Enough bracelet 

SONTAKEY  I Am Enough Bracelet

May this Oath Bracelet be your reminder that you are perfect just the way you are. That you are enough for your children, you are enough for your friends & family, you are enough for everything that you do. You are enough, mama <3

$35

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Life

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.

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