Thank you to our mini-heroes—our kids

You're adapting to this world turned upside down in a way that's really inspiring.

mom and child playing during coronavirus quarantine

I confess: I've been fairly wrapped up in my own feelings lately.

I've been stressing about working without childcare at home while all five of us are here quarantined together. I've been worrying about trying to fit in school work for my kindergartener and preschooler while also keeping up with my job, the laundry, the snacks and meals and sibling squabbles.

I've been surfing the wave of our new normal feeling like, "This is fine, this is okay, we're doing it…" cruising along quickly into the crash of, "Why is this happening, what is going on, when does this end?"

And I've realized—I don't think I'm a very good emotional surfer.

I've been swimming around in grief of all kinds. We lost my grandfather two weeks ago and we couldn't travel to New York to be there with him. We couldn't be with my parents or siblings. I think of this in between my editing work, wiping tears as I type. I remember my heartache during story time with my kids, coming back to reality with, "Why are you crying, Mom? Gerald the giraffe is funny!"

Because my grandfather's name was Gerald and life is not funny right now.

I've been crying from sadness then crying from the beauty of watching John Krasinski's Some Good News show. I've been coping by staying up even later than my typical already-late bedtime, watching Gossip Girl on Netflix, and by eating Airheads, tortilla chips and queso dip and lots of bread. Like, a lot.

I've been struggling. But you know what—I don't think my kids are struggling as much as me. Which is encouraging. When I look around (online, because… #socialdistancing), I see kids making face masks for medical personnel, I see them drawing rainbows and taping them to their windows, making signs to thank the health heroes, standing outside clapping during shift change before bedtime. They're going on bear hunts, having dance parties and virtual birthday celebrations.

They're adapting to this world turned upside down in a way that's really inspiring.

So to our kiddos, our mini-heroes—thank you.

Thank you for being amazing and resilient and funny and wise. You are the exact teachers all of us grownups need—always—but especially right now.

Thank you for seeing our new way of learning exciting. You have class Zoom calls instead of in-person class inside your adorable little classroom. You watch videos from your teacher reading instead of sitting on the blue rug, together with your friends, smelling the pages of the library book turning in front of you. You write the date on our small chalkboard in the kitchen instead of finally getting to place the date on the velcro calendar on the board at school as the special helper for the day.

I know you miss your school and classmates, and I know this feels strange—but you're working so hard and I am so proud of you.

Thank you for accepting these temporary subs for in-person family hangouts—from activities at the kitchen table with Grandma while she cheers you on through a 5-inch screen and video storytimes with your grandparents to playing FaceTime peek-a-boo with your cousin in California and Houseparty Pictionary with your cousin in the next town over.

I know this feels wrong, in a way—you're so used to seeing all the people you love on a regular basis. Feeling their hugs, kissing their cheeks, hearing their laughter without a poor connection. But, still—you're okay. You're happy you can still see everyone, even if it's "only" virtually. It won't always be like this.

Thank you for understanding—even through sad tears—why we couldn't go into your aunt's house to play when we drove by to say hi. You were saying, "Don't leave, Mama!" and I felt your heart break, because my heart broke, too. It breaks when you ask if we can go to the playground and I have to say no. It breaks when you ask for a playdate and I have to say no.

I know you want to go out into the world and have fun. And go on adventures. I know this feels confusing. And while I can't tell you exactly when we can go to the park again, I can tell you that one day we will. This isn't forever.

Thank you to the only children without peers to play with right now. The immunocompromised children. The children with parents who live separately. The sick children. The children being born into a world where they need to have tiny face shields placed over their faces. The children whose parents are temporarily living elsewhere, to protect the health of their families. The children who have lost someone they love.

You all are absolute champions.

Thank you for your imagination. For drawing pictures of unicorns and Princess Jasmine and puppies. For taking recycled materials and creating dinosaurs and treasure boxes. For playing soccer in the rain and jumping like frogs on the trampoline. For playing Dora and Diego on the swingset and digging around in the garden. For building a robot and planting seeds. For writing books and reading me stories. For singing loudly and laughing uncontrollably during the millionth viewing of Frozen 2.

I know not leaving our home can feel like you're trapped. We aren't meant to live in isolation.

Thank you for showing me the good side of all this. That when we're together, we're okay.

Thank you for teaching me how to slow down.

For the beauty that is wearing your pajamas all day.

For feeling through every emotion without shame or judgement.

For seeing the beauty in the day ahead.

For forging ahead.

For not giving up.

For being silly.

For laughing loudly.

For being the best dance party hype-human I could ever ask for.

For snuggling with me on the couch when I want to crawl back into bed.

For wiping my tears.

For making the heaviness lighter.

For being there for me in a way you don't even really understand.

For reminding me every single day that you are my reason, you are my everything.

I know you want your friend to come in the house after they so kindly took the time to drive by with signs taped to their car to say hi to you. I see you pretending to be a baby more than you ever have before. I hear your pacifier requests again. I feel you climb into my bed in the middle of the night.

We all have our own way of coping with trauma and uncertainty. Yours might be the comfort and safety of Mom and Dad sleeping next to you. Mine might be Airheads on the couch with Blair and Serena—potato, potahto.

What's important right now is we're here for each other. We're in this together.

So, thanks for the most profound lesson of all.

That I will get through this because of you.

For you.

With you.

Thank you. You are my hero.

My village lives far away—but my Target baby registry helped them support me from afar

Virtual support was the next best thing to in-person hugs

They say you shouldn't make too many major life transitions at once. But when I was becoming a mama for the first time nearly five years ago, my husband and I also moved to a new town where we didn't know a soul, bought our first house and changed jobs.

To put it mildly, we didn't heed that advice. Luckily, our family and friends still made it feel like such a magical time for us by supporting our every move (literal and otherwise) from afar. They showered us with love through a virtual baby shower (expectant parents nowadays can relate!) featuring the unwrapping of gifts they were able to ship straight to me from my Target registry.

Here's one piece of advice I did take: I registered at Target so I could take advantage of the retailer's benefits for registrants, which include a welcome kit valued over $100, a universal registry function and more. Fast-forward a few years and Target has made the registration perks even better for expectant parents: As of August 2020, they've added a Year of Exclusive Deals, which gives users who also sign up for Target Circle a full year of savings after baby is born on all those new mama essentials, from formula to diapers and beyond.

Honestly, even without the significant perks of a free welcome kit with more than $100 in coupons, additional 15% off coupons to complete the registry and a full year of free returns, registering at Target wasn't a hard sell for me: Even though the experience of shopping for baby items was new, shopping with Target felt like returning home to me… and the comfort of that was such a gift.

And of course, Target's registry plays a vital role right now, as expectant parents everywhere are being forced to cancel in-person baby showers and navigate early parenthood without the help of a hands-on village. A registry like this represents a safe way for communities to come through for new parents. If you're anything like me (or any of the other mamas here at Motherly), you certainly have emotional ties and fond memories associated with Target.

What to register for at Target was also an easy talking point as I began to connect with moms in my new community. I will always remember going on a registry-building spree with my next door neighbor, who had young children of her own. As we walked the aisles of Target back in 2015, she suggested items to add… and we laid the foundation for what has since become one of my most cherished friendships.

Even as I made connections in my new hometown, I was nervous that expecting my first baby wouldn't feel as special as if I were near family and friends. But my loved ones exceeded all expectations by adding the most thoughtful notes to gifts. They hosted a beautiful virtual baby shower and even encouraged me to keep the registry going after my baby made his debut and new needs arose.

In the years since, "community" has taken on a wonderfully complex new meaning for me… and, in these times of social distancing, for the rest of the world. I've come to cherish my newfound friends in our local community alongside those long-time friends who are scattered around the county and my virtual mama friends.

Now, as my friends' families grow, I'm so grateful that I can show them the same love and support I felt during my first pregnancy. I sing the praises of Target's baby registry—especially in light of the pandemic, since I know mamas can do everything from a distance thanks to Target's website and the added benefit of getting trusted reviews and helpful registry checklists.

And now that I'm on the gift-buying side of the equation, I've found new joy in picking thoughtful gifts for my friends. (Because goodness knows Target has something for everyone!)

For my friend who is a fellow runner, I teamed up with a few others to give the jogging stroller she had on her registry.

For my friend who is a bookworm, I helped her start her baby's library with a few books that are also well-loved in our home.

For other friends, I've bundled together complete "sets" with everything they need for bathing or feeding their children.

I know from my own experience that, yes, the registry purchases are so appreciated, but the thoughtfulness and the support they represent means even more. Because although my village may have been distant, the support they showed me was the next best thing to in-person hugs.

Start your own Target Baby Registry here to experience a Year of Benefits including a Year of Exclusive Deals through Target Circle to enjoy for a full year following your baby's arrival, a year of free returns, two 15% off completion coupons and a free welcome kit ($100 value).

This article was sponsored by Target. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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