The bittersweet pull and tug of being needed—so needed

Sometimes my daughter needs me a bit *too* much. But I know these days will end.

The bittersweet pull and tug of being needed—so needed

As I lay in bed, dozing in and out of sleep, a gentle nudge startled me.

“Mommy, it’s time to wake up,” my daughter whispered in my ear. I glanced at the clock, letting out an audible sigh as I told my daughter it was far too early to be awake. Irritated, I told her to crawl into bed and I turned on the television in hopes of getting a few more minutes of sleep.

Despite a king size bed, my petite child crawled her way to my side, her arm draped over my body as she quietly said, “I need a hug.” Another grumble left my mouth as I slowly fell into a light sleep to sounds of my daughter reciting the theme song to Paw Patrol.

For so many years, I longed for the moments of hugs and unconditional love—just not before the crack of dawn.

I grew up in a tight knit family, with a mother who is now more of a best friend to me, and I hoped that someday I would be blessed with a daughter to share a similar bond with.

Our road to parenthood didn’t come easily for my husband and me. After years of infertility and the loss of two children, our surviving triplet was finally overcoming her medically fragile start to become a healthy little girl. For the first two years of her life, I fretted over her premature stature and wondered if she would ever catch up to children her own age. Time was moving at a snail’s pace and I couldn’t wait for the day when she might be considered “healthy” and “normal.”

If only I could go back in time and embrace those slow days.

By the time she turned 3 years old, doctors cheered as they told us our child was officially caught up. The days of praying for time to speed up gave way to me searching for the pause button in life. My daughter became more independent and curious of the world around her. The days of grabbing my hand for help were few and far between.

Instead, I found myself on the sideline of my daughter’s childhood, a bittersweet feeling as I watched her figure out how to do many simple tasks on her own.

She no longer needed help to reach the bathroom sink. She didn’t want me put on her shoes, she could do it all by herself. Even getting in and out of the car was no longer a challenge; there was no need for a gentle boost to get into the tall SUV.

While my daughter became rapidly independent, something changed when she turned 4 last month. In recent weeks, she has suddenly become clingy—wanting and needing mom and dad at a moment’s notice. At first, the cries for hugs and kisses were endearing, making my heart swell with pride. My daughter needed me, and her little gestures offered a sweet reminder.

But lately, in the hustle and bustle of life, I found myself pulling back. After 10 repetitive hugs, I needed to get to work. After her offers of kisses on my cheeks, hands, even feet, I needed to get dinner made.

It’s hard to admit, but the clinginess was starting to smother me.

As the sounds of early morning cartoons danced through my dreams, that little nudge arrived once again. “Mommy, the show is over,” my daughter said. I opened my eyes in my foggy state and was brought back to reality.

My little girl was laying next to me, her arm draped over me, her face only an inch from mine. As I looked at her beautiful eyes staring deep into mine, the creases of my mouth crept up into a smile. She matched my smile with one of her own, as she whispered the words, “I love you, Mommy.”

Yes, my daughter needs me, sometimes a little too much. But, that’s OK. All it took was an early morning wake-up call to realize that it’s time to cherish those moments.

The days of her needing me won’t last forever. So I’ll take every kiss and hug I can get, even if it’s 50 hugs in a row.

10 must-have registry items that will change your life, mama

The baby gear heavy hitters that should be top of your list

Calling all mamas-to-be! It's a fundamental truth of (impending) motherhood that your prepping-for-baby To Do list can feel a mile long, but really the best way to feel organized is to sort out the most important item at the top of your list: your registry. Sure the items you choose to include will end up running the gamut from nice-to-haves to absolutely essential game-changers, but mamas in the know quickly learn one thing: Not all baby gear is created equal.

So while you can and should pepper your registry with adorable inclusions that aren't necessarily can't-live-withouts (go ahead, add 'em!), you should make sure you're ticking the boxes on those pieces of baby gear that can be absolute life savers once you're in full-blown mama mode. From car seats to bouncers and playmats, your play and travel gear will be some of the most obvious important items on your list, but so can unexpected things, like a super comfy baby carrier and a snooze-inducing white noise machine. So to help you sort through the must-have options, we turned to the holy grail of motherhood that is buybuy BABY and handpicked 10 of the very best essential pieces that will change your life, we promise.

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Motherly editors’ 7 favorite hacks for organizing their diaper bags

Make frantically fishing around for a diaper a thing of the past!

As any parent knows, the term "diaper bag" only scratches the surface. In reality, this catchall holds so much more: a change of clothes, bottles, snacks, wipes and probably about a dozen more essential items.

Which makes finding the exact item you need, when you need it (read: A diaper when you're in public with a blowout on your hands) kind of tricky.

That's why organization is the name of the game when it comes to outings with your littles. We pooled the Motherly team of editors to learn some favorite hacks for organizing diaper bags. Here are our top tips.

1. Divide and conquer with small bags

Here's a tip we heard more than a few times: Use smaller storage bags to organize your stuff. Not only is this helpful for keeping related items together, but it can also help keep things from floating around in the expanse of the larger diaper bag. These bags don't have to be anything particularly fancy: an unused toiletry bag, pencil case or even plastic baggies will work.

2. Have an emergency changing kit

When you're dealing with a diaper blowout situation, it's not the time to go searching for a pack of wipes. Instead, assemble an emergency changing kit ahead of time by bundling a change of baby clothes, a fresh diaper, plenty of wipes and hand sanitizer in a bag you can quickly grab. We're partial to pop-top wipes that don't dry out or get dirty inside the diaper bag.

3. Simplify bottle prep

Organization isn't just being able to find what you need, but also having what you need. For formula-feeding on the go, keep an extra bottle with the formula you need measured out along with water to mix it up. You never know when your outing will take longer than expected—especially with a baby in the mix!

4. Get resealable snacks

When getting out with toddlers and older kids, snacks are the key to success. Still, it isn't fun to constantly dig crumbs out of the bottom of your diaper bag. Our editors love pouches with resealable caps and snacks that come in their own sealable containers. Travel-sized snacks like freeze-dried fruit crisps or meal-ready pouches can get an unfair reputation for being more expensive, but that isn't the case with the budget-friendly Comforts line.

5. Keep a carabiner on your keychain

You'll think a lot about what your child needs for an outing, but you can't forget this must-have: your keys. Add a carabiner to your keychain so you can hook them onto a loop inside your diaper bag. Trust us when we say it's a much better option than dumping out the bag's contents on your front step to find your house key!

6. Bundle your essentials

If your diaper bag doubles as your purse (and we bet it does) you're going to want easy access to your essentials, too. Dedicate a smaller storage bag of your diaper bag to items like your phone, wallet and lip balm. Then, when you're ready to transfer your items to a real purse, you don't have to look for them individually.

7. Keep wipes in an outer compartment

Baby wipes aren't just for diaper changes: They're also great for cleaning up messy faces, wiping off smudges, touching up your makeup and more. Since you'll be reaching for them time and time again, keep a container of sensitive baby wipes in an easily accessible outer compartment of your bag.

Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that supporting Motherly and mamas.

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10 photos to take on baby’s first day that you'll cherish forever

You'll obsess over these newborn baby pictures.

Bethany Menzel: Instagram + Blog

As you're preparing for baby's birth, we bet you're dreaming of all of the amazing photos you'll take of your precious new babe. As a professional photographer and mama, I have some tips for newborn photos you'll want to capture.

Here are the 10 photos you will want to take on baby's first day.

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