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The chaos of motherhood is a part of the magic

Sometimes it’s not clear that something doesn’t matter until you get a little space from it.

The chaos of  motherhood is a part of the magic

Remember this feeling, I thought.

My daughter and I sat in her room listening to her Sesame Street playlist. We dug the baby clothes out of the closet for her new brother, and I explained that yes, she really was that small once.


Listening to Ernie sing about his rubber duckie, I was flooded with memories. It was just like in the movies when someone who's had amnesia suddenly remembers everything.

I remembered being a new mother and having no idea what that was supposed to look like.

I remembered swaying to Shakira with my baby until she fell asleep in my arms.

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I remembered making this playlist when her brother was born three years ago.

I remembered the first time I took them out in the double jogger. It became a weekend ritual for just the three of us. Now there are three of them.

They were the kind of memories you want to go back and live in again.

But I also remembered how much pressure I felt back then. Pressure to be a good enough mother. To be a good enough wife. To earn that approval that I thought I needed so much.

Sometimes it's not clear that something doesn't matter until you get a little space from it (and a lot of perspective), but every now and then, life reminds you to slow down and look at it all without the pressure to make it anything other than what it already is.

In those moments, you wonder why you never saw it that way before. You vow to be more present from now until forever and to say just how much you love them before they all grow up.

And in those moments, your heart swells with gratitude and breaks into a million little pieces because you see so clearly it hurts.

Everything is changing all on its own. All the time.

My 3- and 5-year old looked suddenly enormous when I brought the baby home. It was as if someone had swapped my sweet babies with these kids overnight. But of course, they'd been growing and changing a little bit every day.

Every day, we're all a little older.

And every day, as everything moves so fast and we lose ourselves in one quest or another, we might miss the chance to just show up, be there, and see that we already have what's really important.

This was one of those moments, and I didn't want to forget it. This absolute clarity.

I pulled out a notebook and spilled my heart all over the pages. Then I sent it into hiding. I usually go back and read through journal entries, but I couldn't bring myself to look at this one. It somehow felt too raw. Too real.

When I eventually did, I found this:

Remember this. The tears that come from nowhere deep inside. The flood of vivid memories. All the phases and seasons. The parts I maybe took for granted thinking they would last forever and the parts I feared would. The things I thought were important and the things that actually turned out to be. The clarity. The things I know now that I wish I knew then but could only ever learn by going through it without knowing.

The GRATITUDE. The beauty I see where I usually see mess and imperfection. This love so big it doesn't even fit inside my body. I don't feel this because I didn't love enough. I feel this because I love so much. This feeling is falling in love. It's my heart expanding further than I thought it ever could. And it's so much love it's hard to imagine loving more, but then I always do.

The tears did eventually stop. I brushed myself off, and I went about the rest of my day.

Maybe we can't have that clarity all the time. Maybe we shouldn't. It's an awful lot to take in.

But here's what I want to try to remember moving forward anyway:

The bumps are part of the beautiful bigger picture, and sometimes the really good stuff is hiding in them. Looking back, the times that I once wished would pass by quickly actually turned out to be the hardest to let go.

And...to be totally honest, sometimes the bumps are just bumpy.

It isn't all amazing all the time. I mean, daily life, right? It's where we're living, and I don't know about you, but where we're living can get messy.

Daily life is where the noise happens. It's sticky fingerprints on the windows, ants in the sink, tantrums in the parking lot, and sibling rivalry.

I guess that's the bittersweet thing about life. You can't wait until this tough part is over, but then it's gone and you wish you could have it back.

As I sat there, all I could think about were the years that had passed. They already happened. And it seemed like I missed it all. I felt guilty for a moment, but I realized that this feeling doesn't make me bad. It makes me a living, breathing, real, actual human.

Being present, loving, and appreciating where you are isn't about never having a worry or having a bad day. It's definitely not about never feeling like you wish you could go back for a little bit.

It's about stepping out of the daily details every now and then. Showing up, slowing down, and opening yourself up to mayhem just as much as you do to the magic.

The bumps in the road are part of your path. When you're frustrated with where you are and just wish you could move on already, trust that you'll look back one day and realize that you'd been heading in the right direction all along.

When that's hard, love yourself anyway because all of us are still growing up. And try not to beat yourself up about it too much, either. You can try this whole being present and growing up thing again tomorrow.

After 4 kids, this is still the best baby gear item I’ve ever purchased

I wouldn't be swooning over the BABYBJÖRN bouncer after eight years and four kids if it didn't work.

I have four kids 8 and under, so you might expect that my house is teeming with baby gear and kid toys.

But it turns out that for me, the more kids I have, the more I simplify our stuff. At this point, I'm down to the absolute essentials, the gear that I can't live without and the toys my kids actually play with. And so when a mama-to-be asks me what things are worth registering for, there are only a few must-haves on my list.

The BABYBJÖRN bouncer seat is on the top of my list—totally worth it and an absolute must-have for any new mama.

In fact, since I first splurged on my first BABYBJÖRN bouncer eight years ago (it definitely felt like a splurge at the time, but the five star reviews were really compelling), the bouncer seat has become the most-used product in our house for baby's first year.

We've actually invested in a second one so that we didn't have to keep moving ours from the bedroom to the living room when we change locations.

BABYBJÖRN bouncer bliss

baby bjorn bouncer

The utility of the seat might seem counterintuitive—it has no mechanical parts, so your baby is instead gently bounced by her own movements. In a world where many baby products are touted for their ability to mechanically rock baby to sleep, I get that many moms might not find the "no-motion" bouncer that compelling. But it turns out that the seat is quite reactive to baby's little kicks, and it has helped my kids to learn how to self-soothe.

$200

Lightweight + compact:

The BABYBJÖRN bouncer is super lightweight, and it also folds flat in a second. Because of those features, we've frequently stored it under the couch, in a suitcase or in the back of the car. It folds completely flat, which I love.

Entertainment zone:

Is the toy bar worth it? The toy bar is totally worth it. Not only is the toy bar adorable, but it's one of the first toys that my babies actually play with once they discover the world beyond my boobs. The toys spin and are close to eye level so they have frequently kept my baby entertained while I cook or take a quick shower.

Great style:

This is not a small detail to me–the BABYBJÖRN bouncer is seriously stylish. I am done with baby gear and toys that make my house look like a theme park. The elegant European design honestly just looks good in my living room and I appreciate that parents can enjoy it as much as baby.

It's adjustable:

With three height settings that let you prop baby up to be entertained, or lay back to rest, we get years of use. And the bouncer can actually be adjusted for bigger kids and used from newborn to toddler age. It's that good.

It just works:

I wouldn't be swooning over the BABYBJÖRN bouncer after eight years and four kids if it didn't work. But I have used the seat as a safe space to put baby while I've worked (I once rocked my baby in it with my foot while I reported on a breaking news story for the Washington Post), and as a cozy spot for my second child to lay while his big brother played nearby. It's held up for almost a decade with almost-constant use.

So for me, looking back on what I thought was a splurge eight years ago, was actually one of the best investments in baby gear I ever made.

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Every week, we stock the Motherly Shop with innovative and fresh products from brands we feel good about. We want to be certain you don't miss anything, so to keep you in the loop, we're providing a cheat sheet.

So, what's new this week?

Meri Meri: Decor and gifts that bring the wonder of childhood to life

We could not be more excited to bring the magic of Meri Meri to the Motherly Shop. For over 30 years, their playful line of party products, decorations, children's toys and stationery have brought magic to celebrations and spaces all over the world. Staring as a kitchen table endeavor with some scissors, pens and glitter in Los Angeles in 1985, Meri Meri (founder Meredithe Stuart-Smith's childhood nickname) has evolved from a little network of mamas working from home to a team of 200 dreaming up beautiful, well-crafted products that make any day feel special.

We've stocked The Motherly Shop with everything from Halloween must-haves to instant-heirloom gifts kiddos will adore. Whether you're throwing a party or just trying to make the everyday feel a little more special, we've got you covered.

Not sure where to start? Here's what we're adding to our cart:

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It's science: Why your baby stops crying when you stand up

A fascinating study explains why.

When your baby is crying, it feels nearly instinctual to stand up to rock, sway and soothe them. That's because standing up to calm babies is instinctual—driven by centuries of positive feedback from calmed babies, researchers have found.

"Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother," say authors of a 2013 study published in Current Biology.

Even more striking: This coordinated set of actions—the mother standing and the baby calming—is observed in other mammal species, too. Using pharmacologic and genetic interventions with mice, the authors say, "We identified strikingly similar responses in mouse pups as defined by immobility and diminished ultrasonic vocalizations and heart rate."

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