True life: Summer stresses me out as a mama

I feel so much pressure to make it magical for my family.

I live in New England. The winters can be tough. Whenever that first magically warm, sunny spring day finally pops up, I still feel like I should be meeting my friends on the quad to sit on a blanket and drink cheap beer…. But I'm not in college anymore.

And as summer inches closer, I still feel like I should be heading home to Long Island for break. Ready to pick up some babysitting shifts and spend every moment of freedom at the beach or at my friends' house... But I'm not a single human anymore. In fact, I have three tiny humans to care for now.

Let's just say, both scenarios are very far off from my current reality.

Instead of day drinking, while chatting with friends on a blanket, I'm breastfeeding my 8-month-old while blowing bubbles and discussing why bees are important for our planet with my older two.

And instead of just hopping in the car and zooming over to the beach, I am crawling there like a snail—after I pack All. The. Gear.

Even though things are wildly different at 32 vs 22, I still get excited about summer. I mean, I'm not a total monster. But I have to admit—I'm a little stressed about it, too. I think mostly because I am totally behind the eight ball.

I've been meaning to sign up for the town pool and want to commit to it but also am reminding myself that even though my kids don't have school, I do still have work.

But I don't want to feel like I can't balance work and fun. Like it has to be all or nothing. I need to plan a flexible schedule that works for all of us. Isn't that what motherhood is, anyway? Plan as best you can and then be sure to leave room for detours or interruptions?

I haven't even considered any camps for either of my older kids and by the time I do they'll probably be the late-fee price of $1.5 million to sign up versus the early-bird price of $1 million.

But I don't want to feel like I have to get them into ALL the camps (or go broke doing so…) when I've realized that kids don't need much to have fun. As a friend said to me recently, "Give your kids a ball and a box, and see what they do…" (It can entertain them for much longer than one would think!)

I am continuously adding things to the calendar and somehow it's as if I blinked, and our summer weekends seem to be completely planned already.

But I don't want to feel like the summer is over before it has already begun. I don't want our plans to feel stressful, forced or unfulfilling. I want to be intentional about our time together.

I always feel pressure to make things magical. I am the mother; therefore I'm the magician, right? The creative mind? The fun-finder? The memory-maker? Something about the summer is making me raise the stakes even more, too.

I don't want to feel worried about "having enough fun" or "doing enough creative things" or "making the perfect memories." When I read these things back to myself I feel ridiculous, to be honest.

You don't have to look too far for magic—especially in the summer. Especially with kids. Especially when you're a good mom.

Because in the summer, trying to catch fireflies is magical.

Because in the summer, eating ice cream for dinner is magical.

Because in the summer, running around barefoot is magical.

Because in the summer, meeting friends at the playground is magical.

Because in the summer, blasting the music with the windows down is magical.

Because in the summer, having picnics in the backyard is magical.

Because in the summer, watching the waves crash (and squealing with delight!) is magical.

Because in the summer, feeling exhausted from swimming and sunshine is magical.

Because in the summer, the smell of burgers on the grill is magical.

Because in the summer, chasing butterflies at the park is magical.

Summer is magical just because. It encourages us to be a little more laid back with our schedules and inspires us to find fun wherever we can. And so much of it is just naturally there—right in front of us.

So I vow to ease up on the pressure and instead, look for the fun. 😎

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One of the main reasons we launched the Motherly Shop is to help take some of that stress away. We've tracked down the best brands and products developed by people (and in many cases, women!) that truly work to serve the needs of real mamas, especially throughout the overwhelming transition into motherhood.

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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


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1. Put your baby down drowsy, but awake

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