The mental load of parenthood overwhelmed me until I realized—I am enough

I have this simple message to pass along: You aren't an invincible superhero. You are something much more dazzling, tender, terrifying, and awe-inspiring. You are a human doing one of the most human things of all. Taking care of another.

The mental load of parenthood overwhelmed me until I realized—I am enough

The vision of an overwhelmed parent is a common sight in media. Advertisers sell dozens of products to the bumbling, busy, burnt out parent who has way too much to do. Quick fixes and Band-Aids show up everywhere in the form of paper towels, stain removers, instant dinners, book clubs, giant glasses of wine, cupcakes and spa days.

While the quick fixes get attention, it feels like we never actually see the overwhelmed parent in all their muck and rawness. We get a brief glimpse, perhaps, then everything is glazed over.

But I want to talk about being an overwhelmed parent.

When my daughter was born, I expected everything to be chaos. But the things I expected to be hard, weren't. She was one of those kids I felt like I couldn't tell other parents about. She wasn't fussy. She slept well. As she got older she was independent and could easily entertain herself.


My wife started a new business. I changed my work to be a nanny so that I could bring my daughter along while still earning money. So many things in our life seemed ideal. It seemed like it should be the perfect situation.

While it seemed like everything should be easy—every little thing felt so hard. My brain became consumed with this never-ending list of everyone and everything that needed something from me. My child, my spouse, our dog, our chickens, our garden, my job, our extended family, our community.

I used to love cooking. I used to love gardening. I used to love our dog. I used to love hanging out with the chickens in the coop. But, suddenly everything just felt like an endless chore. It all piled up and felt like yet another thing that needed something from me. I truly believed everyone's health and happiness rested on me—and that I kept coming up short.

I kept not being able to deliver what they needed. It seemed that everyone needed more. I couldn't give enough. I wasn't enough. I kept failing to be there for everyone.

The feeling was relentless.

During this time I had a sense that I was descending into a deep, dark cavern. It was jagged, damp and terrifying. The feeling of the cavern wasn't new, but I used to be able to ignore the pain by numbing it. A few glasses of wine, an ongoing flow of carbs, and Facebook scrolling were my methods of escape. A way of building a rope bridge over the cavern to skim over the darkness.

However, my self-made rope bridges were fraying. My escapism strategy wasn't working anymore. I knew I was going to descend into it.

The descent was terrifying. I felt like an empty shell. Everything I was trying to do and be was for my daughter. But I was crashing and burning.

I struggled to muster the energy to play and laugh with her. Laughter felt like it echoed off of tin when I heard it emerge from my mouth. It felt hollow, metallic. During this time my daughter developed a strong preference for my wife which made my heart ache. I know it's a natural thing for kids to trade off preferences between parents, but it was difficult watching my wife with my kid. She would play and giggle and have fun with our daughter. She had energy and smiles to give her. I didn't.

I've never been someone who thinks in words. I see things. I feel things. But, I don't actually think in language. Which is sort of weird because I like to write. But language isn't my first territory of experiencing something. However, while journaling one day I found myself writing over and over again: I am enough. I am enough.

I had been telling myself this story that I wasn't enough, that nothing I did was enough. And, I needed to change the story. I wrote it over and over again on the lines of the page. I am enough. I. Am. Enough. I AM ENOUGH.

Our stress, our experiences, our self-talk, our feelings, our culture—are all part of a story. It's a story of how we contain ourselves, what paths we take, what sort of lives we lead. And sometimes there are little elements that we can introduce which shift the story a bit. I desperately needed a new story. I couldn't go on in the experience I was having. The cavern was too dark and too lonely. Something needed to poke through the darkness.

When I started to embrace the mantra of I am enough, something changed. It wasn't a huge change—I wasn't suddenly not depressed anymore—but, the darkness was perforated. Tiny holes of light shone through—just enough to see where I was going.

Enough to recognize that the dark, slimy walls of the cavern were part of a story. The pressure to do everything. The feeling of never being enough. The constant sense of failure. All of it was part of a story that I heard from our culture, societal pressure, the media, etc. It wasn't real. And it was malleable. I could change the story. What I thought was rock was actually clay that I could sculpt.

It took almost a year before I felt like I had my feet under me again. The struggle was difficult and felt isolating which is why I now I turn to you, fellow mom.

I have this simple message to pass along: You aren't an invincible superhero. You are something much more dazzling, tender, terrifying, and awe-inspiring. You are a human doing one of the most human things of all. Taking care of another.

Best of luck. Best of love. I'm rooting for you.

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14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.


Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!


Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.


Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.


Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.


Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.


Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.


Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.


Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.


Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.


Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.


Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.


Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.


Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.


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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?

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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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