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It's the usual scene: 10 p.m., brushing my teeth, scrolling through Instagram. And while I love seeing my friends and their gorgeous babies and their beautiful lives, I can't help but start to feel a little down.

Wow. She had the stamina to stay outside long enough to build that huge snowman?

She's always sitting on the floor with her kids reading and playing.

Her house is always so cute and neat.

They went on another date in the city? That must be nice...

I don't begrudge my friends at all. I truly am happy for them.

I begrudge myself. Because once again, I feel like I'm not enough.

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This modern day photo-album-highlight-reel has started to really shake my confidence. But the issue I am really grappling with is that I am a part of it, too.

I showed you the photo of the dog asleep on the floor, the space around him clean and clutter free. The dog bed he's asleep on matches the decor of the room, there's a fire blazing in the fireplace behind him, and the mantle above it looks like something out of a Pottery Barn catalog.

I did not show the photo of the piles of stuff I shoved behind me with the side of my foot before I took that photo. Cheerios, a lone mitten, stuffed animals who are missing parts of their bodies (thanks to that same dog) all around me, reminding me that yet again, I didn't tackle that decluttering project that's been on my list for a month.

I also didn't show you the random little white strips of paper scattered on the walls of our house that say “good"—my daughter found the label maker and made “stickers" to put on the walls to “remind you that you are a good mom."

I showed you the photo of my newly decorated office. I am beaming with joy—you can tell I feel excited and proud. “I absolutely love my work," I say.

I did not show you the photo of me pouring myself a cup of coffee at 7 p.m. because I know that I have yet another night of endless work ahead of me. Or the photo of me forcing my eyes to stay open at 1 a.m. as the world around me sleeps and I question why on earth I decided to 'go out on my own.'

I also didn't show you the photo of me after I finally do go to bed, staring at the ceiling because I am suddenly so excited by the idea of a new project that I can't fall asleep.

I showed you the date night photo—the one where I had asked the babysitter to come over an hour early so I could take a real shower, blow-dry my hair AND put make-up on. The one where my husband is wearing a shirt just out of the dry cleaning bag, and we're smiling at the camera, arms around each other, and we look very much in love. It's true, but...

I didn't show you the photo of us on the car ride home, sitting in silence, because one of us said something that the other one took the wrong way and now we're both annoyed that a perfectly good evening had to turn into this awkward stuck-in-traffic moment.

I also didn't show you the photo of my husband grabbing my hand in the hallway at 2 a.m., me on the way to hold our daughter's hair back as she threw up, him on the way to change the sheets that our son threw up in. He grabbed my hand, looked me in the eyes and said, “It's going to be okay. We'll get through this, babe."

I showed you the photo of my three kids piled on my lap as we read a bedtime story. We're all smiling, one of them is kissing me while the other two hug each other, and they all happen to be wearing clean pajamas.

I did not show you the photo of what happened five seconds later—the hug devolved into a wrestling match, the kissing turned into a bite, and apparently one of them was secretly holding a tube of toothpaste because it is now all over his fingers and those clean pajamas.

I also didn't show to the photo of when I went to check on them later that evening to find my eldest in my youngest's crib—“I didn't want him to be lonely, Mommy."

I showed you the photo of me with the kids at Target. “Our fave place!" the caption reads. We're all making silly faces and my fresh Starbucks coffee looks like heaven in a cup.

I did not show you the photo of the checkout line meltdown, where literally all three of them are crying, everyone is staring, and I no longer have my coffee because I forgot it on a shelf somewhere while I was trying to keep my toddler from leaping out of the cart.

I didn't show you the photo of me slumped over on my bed that night, head buried in my hands as I just cry.

I'm not good at this.

This is just so hard.

Why can't I be like all those other moms who have it all together?

And then my phone dings with a message from my friend that says, “Today was ROUGH." Her Instagram photos from the day made me think she was having one of the unicorn-magical mom days—but no. It was a regular day in motherhood, just like mine. Just like all of our's.

Hectic, crazy, stressful, loving, loud, exhausting—real.

The photos I show you on Instagram are real (except for the ones that show a clean house), but they are only a sliver of my reality. I think I choose to show you those because they feel safe. They can't judge me if I only show them a sliver.

But here's the thing—the more I learn about other moms, the more I realize that you are not, in fact judging me. You're judging yourself. Just like I am. Just like we all are.

We hold ourselves to some impossible standard that does nothing but stress us out. If we look back at my day and it doesn't look like a spread from Pinterest, we somehow failed.

I think I want to be done feeling like that.

I am learning that the real beauty comes from those unexpected, unplanned moments that are hectic and crazy and stressful and loving and loud and exhausting and real.

It's the raw moments of motherhood that take your breath away.

So I vow to show you my mess. To show you the tantrums and tears and the doubts. Because those are all real moments of my life. My whole life is IG worthy, not just the sparkly perfect ones. It's not fair to other hidden beautiful moments of my life to only show you that tiny sliver.

I vow to find the beauty in my chaos. And I vow to see the beauty in yours.

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So far 2020 has been a year of big changes for Meghan Markle and her husband, Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex. Earlier this month the royal couple announced their plans to step back as senior members of the royal family. Initially, the plan was for the couples to retain their royal tiles and raise their "son with an appreciation for the royal tradition into which he was born" while also give themselves the space to work and live in North America. Sometimes young parents have to make tough choices to do what's best for their new family and that can mean making changes that impact your family of origin.

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On Sunday, during a speech at a charity event for Sentebale (an organization Prince Harry co-founded to get support children living with HIV in Southern Africa), the Duke of Sussex explained that stepping back from being a senior royal wasn't easy but had to be done.

"The UK is my home and a place that I love," he explained. "That will never change...The decision that I have made for my wife and I to step back is not one I made lightly," he said. "It was so many months of talks after so many years of challenges. And I know I haven't always gotten it right, but as far as this goes, there really was no other option."

This follows the Queen's announcement earlier this weekend. She stated that her family has found a way for Harry and Meghan to move forward, and it means they're not only not senior royals anymore, they do not have HRH titles (His Royal Highness or Her Royal Highness) anymore and "are no longer working members of the Royal Family."

The statement from the Queen reads, in part: "Following many months of conversations and more recent discussions, I am pleased that together we have found a constructive and supportive way forward for my grandson and his family.

"Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved members of my family.

"I recognise the challenges they have experienced as a result of intense scrutiny over the last two years and support their wish for a more independent life.

"I want to thank them for all their dedicated work across this country, the Commonwealth and beyond, and am particularly proud of how Meghan has so quickly become one of the family.

"It is my whole family's hope that today's agreement allows them to start building a happy and peaceful new life."

The Queen's statement explains that Harry and Meghan have "shared their wish to repay Sovereign Grant expenditure for the refurbishment of Frogmore Cottage, which will remain their UK family home."

Basically, they're serious about being financially independent and they're going to pay rent on the cottage.

Untangling family issues can be hard, and it is difficult for anyone to imagine what it must be like to live this out on the world's stage. In her statement, the Queen said she understands the role the intense press scrutiny has played in the couple's decision to forge a new path, and that they will always be her family.

Whether you're leaving the royal family to move to Canada, or just trying to explain to your parents that your own family needs to move to another state, the challenges are real.

Here's to a new chapter for Harry and Meghan and all the other new parents writing their own stories.

[This post was originally published January 18, 2020. It has been updated.]

News

Motherhood is a juggling act. Whether you have one child or many, work outside the home or don't, have a partner or are doing this whole thing solo, you are always juggling something. So how on earth do we keep up the act? How do we ensure no ball gets dropped?

We don't.

All of us, every single one, lets something slip through our fingers on some occasion or another. And that's totally okay.

A friend from college recently commented on Instagram how peaceful and sweet my children seemed. I laughed out loud, and not an endearing chuckle, a wholehearted cackle. What a glorious and erroneous idea that my children are peaceful and sweet. I have three of these beautiful monsters, ages 12, 5 and 4 months. Our house sounds more like a child run circus than a zen meditation retreat.

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It is true that my children are sweet at times. And I will admit I try very hard to create a peaceful life and home, but those are not the two words I would ever use to describe our family. I might choose words like rambunctious, spirited, passionate and intense.

What I realized as I simultaneously smiled and snorted in laughter, was that I put a lot of work into creating a life on social media that looks just like that. Peaceful and sweet. I choose my words carefully, I edit my photos and of course choose only the best ones, the ones where everyone is smiling and we appear to love each other. The pictures of my children pulling each other's hair, stealing snacks and shouting that they hate each other don't get quite as many likes.

Don't get me wrong—my children often smile and we do love each other very much. But by carefully curating the life I post on social media I have unintentionally created something laughable. What a jolt to realize the very thing I'm striving for makes me laugh out loud when someone names it. Is there anything more inauthentic than that?

I am working to strive for authenticity and perfect imperfection.

I make mistakes, hurt those I love, burn dinner and that is what makes me human.

I drop the ball every single day in some large or small way—and that's okay. It is to be expected really.

It's what can give us the gift of connection. We can connect with one another via our faults and our vulnerabilities. We starve ourselves of this by pretending to be perfect.

As I write this I'm sitting in the front seat of my car in the parking lot of our local skate park, my youngest is napping in his car seat, my oldest is wearing a helmet and pads and is driving his new BMX bike as fast as he can up and down hills and ramps set at odd angles with weird curves among them.

This moment feels ideal t. The breeze blows through my open windows as my oldest is getting a great workout and my youngest slowly wakes up cooing.

We can only enjoy the moment if we are present within it. When I live my life constantly in a state of distraction, constantly keeping my eyes on all the balls I'm juggling, I'm not enjoying any of it.

I am not a master juggler at this moment in life. I don't think what I'm doing even looks like juggling. I do not have my eyes on all the balls, I am not even attempting to catch or toss them all in that perfect arc that looks so magical.

I prefer to relish these kinds of moments, soak up their joy, their peace, their sweetness and to do that I have to let go of the charade, I have to accept imperfection in the form of letting some balls drop.

I want to live a life full of authenticity and joy in the simple moments.

I want to live without the pressure of doing it all.

I want to give myself the gift of not doing everything the way it should be done by the imagined deadlines that cannot be met.

I want to enjoy my rambunctious, passionate children.

So I let the ball drop—and I'm okay with that.

Life

Feeding your new baby can be a beautiful experience, but it can also be really hard. We at Motherly have talked about it. Amy Schumer has talked about it. And now Kate Upton is talking about it, too.

Upton and her husband Justin Verlander became parents when their daughter Genevieve was born in November 2018, and in a new interview with Editorialist, Upton explains that while she loves motherhood she didn't always love breastfeeding.

"Having VeVe has changed my life in such a wonderful way," she explains, adding that in the early days of motherhood she felt "so much pressure"..."to be doing all these things, like breastfeeding on the go—when the reality, for me, was that breastfeeding was sucking the energy away from me. I realized I needed to calm down, to allow my body to recover."

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Breastfeeding can take up a lot of a mama's time and energy in those early weeks and months, and while Upton doesn't explicitly say whether she switched to formula, combo fed, pumped or what, it's clear that she did give herself some grace when it came to breastfeeding and found the right parenting pace by taking the pressure off of herself.

Upton took the pressure off herself when it came to her demanding breastfeeding schedule, and she's also resisting the pressure to keep up with a social media posting schedule.

"I want to be enjoying my life, enjoying my family, not constantly trying to take the perfect picture," she says. "I think my husband wants me to throw my phone away. We talk about it in the house all the time: 'Let's have a phone-free dinner.' We don't want [our daughter] thinking being on the phone is all that life is."

Whether the pressure to be perfect is coming from your phone or from society's conflicting exceptions of mothers it's a force worth rejecting. Upton is loving life at her own pace, imperfect as reallife can be.

News

After the treat-filled sugar rush of holidays and birthdays, it can be hard to get back on track with eating healthy as a family. (What can I say, I love cake—and my kids do, too.) It's totally okay to hold your boundary for sugar in your kid's diet, no matter what that boundary is. And you can do it without being the bad guy.

Putting a positive spin on "the sugar issue" (letting kids know that they can have treats sometimes, but not all. the. time.) will help prevent sugar becoming an ongoing power struggle, which nobody wants.

Here are a few phrases that can help your kids eat less sugar, without creating a power struggle over treats:

1. "Holiday and birthday treats are so fun, but they're not for every day."

Acknowledge that all of the extra treats were fun (they were!). You can talk about how some foods are for special occasions and others are the ones we eat every day to have strong bodies and feel good.

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2. "I feel so much better when I eat lots of fruits and vegetables."

Instead of putting the emphasis on why sugar is bad, try focusing on all the good reasons to eat healthy foods. You can talk about how eating carrots gives us strong eyes, eating oranges keeps us from getting sniffles, or eating kale helps us feel good and have lots of energy for playing.

3. "Which fruit would you like to have with your lunch?"

Keep it fun by letting your child choose which healthy foods to eat. Two or three choices are fine. You can let them help pick at the grocery store or let them pick from the options you've selected—the important thing is to offer choice.

4. "Let's see if we can make a rainbow on your plate!"

Who doesn't love rainbows, especially among the under-six crowd? Use their universal appeal to your advantage and encourage kiddos to make their own edible rainbows.

Make it extra fun by writing a checklist with colored pencils, one checkbox for every rainbow color, and bringing it with you to the grocery store. Let your child choose one item from the produce section for every color.

5. "You can choose one treat with dinner, but candy isn't a choice for snack today."

Make sure kids know that they will still be able to enjoy treats sometimes. Instead of saying "candy makes you crazy," or "sugar rots your teeth," just let them know when you're okay with them having a treat. It may be every night after dinner, only on Friday nights, or it may not be until Valentine's Day, but having a clear boundary will help reduce the constant pleas for sweet treats.

6. "I think treats feel more special when we don't have them every day."

Talk to your child about how part of the fun of holiday treats is that they're out of the ordinary. They are special traditions we get to enjoy each year and they help make the holidays feel magical. Just as it wouldn't be as fun if we had a Christmas tree up all year or wore a Halloween costume every day, treats aren't as fun if we eat them nonstop.

7. "I hear that you really want candy. I can't let you have it right now, but it's okay to be disappointed."

Let your child know that you empathize with their feelings about not being able to eat what they want all of the time.

Sometimes children just need to be heard. It might be more important to them to know that you understand their feelings about treats than to actually get a treat.

8. "Let's think of a healthy treat we could get at the grocery store next week."

Brainstorm with your child and come up with a list of healthy treats you could bring home from your next grocery shopping trip. This might be a kind of fruit they haven't had in a while, a granola bar you don't usually buy, or the makings of a fun trail mix.

Part of the fun of treats is the ritual—you can still enjoy the sweetness without the extra sugar.

9. "Would you like to bake with me?"

Carry those fond memories of making Christmas cookies together into the new year to help wean kids off the holiday high of constant treats. Just find something you're okay with your child eating regularly, like a healthy muffin recipe, baked oatmeal, or energy bites—whatever meets your own nutritional guidelines for your family!

10. "I noticed you didn't sleep well when you ate those treats before nap time. Let's think of a better time for treats together."

You can explain the effects of sugar on the body without vilifying it. Sometimes just saying sugar is bad makes it all the more desirable or pits you against your child. But that doesn't mean you can't give them the facts. Just tell them plainly that sugar makes it harder for them to sleep well, makes it harder for them to concentrate, or whatever other effects you've seen.

Here's to a healthy 2020—you've got this, mama!

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