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It is now Day 263 (or so it seems) of doing our part to help flatten the curve. Like most, my children aren't going to school or daycare. They aren't seeing their family or friends. They spend their days mostly inside, safe, but isolated from everything and everyone that once was their norm.

My daughter is about to turn five and my son is two. I truly expected being quarantined at home turning into an all-out war between them. Don't get me wrong, some days it is, with my daughter yelling, "Mommmmy he took my (insert doll/book/blanket)," and my son retorting, "NO! NO! NO! IT'S MINE". Sometimes it's fighting over the same pink fork or which one gets to sit sideways on my right knee (specifically).

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The ups and downs, the managing of emotions, the endlessness. Say it with me moms: It. Is. Exhausting.


But there has been an unexpected result of the forced togetherness. One that I didn't see coming. While in the kitchen the other day, trying to sneak in some meal prep, I overheard them talking in the playroom.

Sister: "Do you want me to read to you?"

Brother: "Yes!"

Sister: "Come sit with me up here."

He proceeded to go over to the couch and climbed up to snuggle next to her. Before she started to read, she leaned into him and said, "You're my best friend. I love you." Automatically, he said, "I love you, too."

I froze. Then smiled. Felt all the feels.

And then it dawned on me: At this moment, in this chaos—during the hardest of times in isolation, disruption and all of the unknowns—they not only have each other, but they have also FOUND each other.

Sure, they still scream at each other. Loudly. And they likely always will. But—and maybe it is just the delirium setting in—I am finding those squabbles to be less frequent. Instead, I see my daughter patiently teaching my son the alphabet.

I see them holding hands walking around the house, and then again, sitting at the dinner table.

I hear their wild giggles.

I see them play Barbies and tractors.

I hear my son sweetly call for his sister when he wakes.

I know he won't go to bed and can't fall asleep without hugging and kissing her.

And when he is upset she will stop me from going to comfort him. Instead, she says, "It's okay, Mommy, you can do what you have to do. I can do this. I can make him all better." And then… she does.

My kids have become best friends. And it is so beautiful.

As a working mom (any mom, really) I am a juggler of kids, home, work, friends, food, schedules, playdates and, well, life. I would never say I am a master at balancing everything, but I do a pretty good job of managing it all.

These days, though, everything is magnified and it's all that much harder. I have been engulfed in the stress of it all. Overwhelmed by simultaneously trying to score a grocery delivery time slot at 12:00am, checking my daughter's sentences and writing, getting a proposal out to a client in record time and checking on my elderly father, making sure he has enough food and toilet paper.

So overwhelmed, in fact, that I almost missed what was happening right in front of me, until that moment when I heard their exchange. Since then I have taken a breath and stopped to appreciate—really appreciate—what they have. What I have. I am watching my children learn more about each other every single day, helping them forge a bond that I hope will always stay with them.

But let's be honest, selfishly their bond has made this whole situation slightly easier on me. With my laptop on one side of me, kids on the other, I can ask my daughter to read a book to her brother while I respond to a fire drill email. I can have them paint paper plate pictures together in the kitchen while I unload the dishwasher. And (my favorite so far!) I can send my daughter into my son's room in the morning to entertain him while I take an extra five minutes to wake up.

Most of the time they are just happy to be together. And these days, that is a huge blessing.

So while this pandemic has uprooted just about everything in our lives, I am lucky they have each other. They are lucky to have this time together and I feel grateful I can witness it firsthand. Years from now, they might be too young to remember the parks being closed, schools being shut down and everyone wearing masks, but I have no doubt the friendship they have formed during this time is something they will never forget.

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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