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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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Baby stuff comes in such cute prints these days. Gone are the days when everything was pink and blue and covered in ducks or teddy bears. Today's baby gear features stylish prints that appeal to mom.

That's why it's totally understandable how a mama could mistake a car seat cover for a cute midi skirt. It happened to Lori Farrell, and when she shared her mishap on Facebook she went viral before she was even home from work. Fellow moms can totally see the humor in Farrell's mishap, and thankfully, so can she.

As for how a car seat cover could be mistaken for a skirt—it's pretty simple, Farrell tells Motherly.

"A friend of mine had given me a huge lot of baby stuff, from clothes to baby carriers to a rocker and blankets and when I pulled it out I was not sure what it was," she explains. "I debated it but washed it anyway then decided because of the way it pulled on the side it must be a maternity skirt."

Farrell still wasn't 100% sure if she was right by the time she headed out the door to work, but she rocked the ambiguous attire anyway.

"When I got to work I googled the brand and realized not only do they not sell clothing but it was a car seat cover."

The brand, Itzy Ritzy, finds the whole thing pretty funny too, sharing Farell's viral moment to its official Instagram.

It may be a car seat cover, but that print looks really good on this mama.

And if you want to copy Farell's style, the Itzy Ritzy 4-in-1 Nursing Cover, Car Seat Cover, Shopping Cart Cover and Infinity Scarf (and skirt!) is available on Amazon for $24.94.

Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy.You've got this.

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Daycare for infants is expensive across the country, and California has one of the worst states for parents seeking care for a baby. Putting an infant in daycare in California costs $2,914 more than in-state tuition for four years of college, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

Paying north of $1,000 for daycare each month is an incredible burden, especially on single-parent families. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services defines affordable childcare as costing no more than 10% of a family's income—by that definition, less than 29% of families in California can afford infant care. Some single parents spend half their income on day care. It is an incredible burden on working parents.

But that burden may soon get lighter. CBS Sacramento reports California may put between $25 and $35 million into child care programs to make day care more affordable for parents with kids under 3 years old.

Assembly Bill 452, introduced this week, could see $10 million dollars funneled into Early Head Start (which currently gets no money from the state but does get federal funding) and tens of millions more would be spent on childcare for kids under three.

The bill seeks to rectify a broken childcare system. Right now, only about 14% of eligible infants and toddlers are enrolled in subsidized programs in California, and in 2017, only 7% of eligible children younger than three years of age accessed Early Head Start.

An influx of between $25 to $35 million dollars could see more spaces open up for kids under three, as Bill 452, if passed, would see the creation of "grants to develop childcare facilities that serve children from birth to three years of age."

This piece of proposed legislation comes weeks after California's governor announced an ambitious plan for paid parental leave, and as another bill, AB 123, seeks to strengthen the state's pre-kindergarten program.

Right now, it is difficult for some working parents to make a life in California, but by investing in families, the state's lawmakers could change that and change California's future for the better.

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When a mama gets married, in most cases she wants her children to be part of her big day. Photographers are used to hearing bride-to-be moms request lots of pictures of their big day, but when wedding photographer Laura Schaefer of Fire and Gold Photography heard her client Dalton Mort planned to wear her 2-year-old daughter Ellora instead of a veil, she was thrilled.

A fellow mama who understands the benefits of baby-wearing, Schaefer was keen to capture the photos Mort requested. "When I asked Dalton about what some of her 'must get' shots would be for her wedding, she specifically asked for ones of her wearing Ellie, kneeling and praying in the church before the tabernacle," Schaefer tells Motherly.

She got those shots and so many more, and now Mort's toddler-wearing wedding day pics are going viral.

"Dalton wore Ellie down the aisle and nursed her to sleep during the readings," Schaefer wrote on her blog, explaining that Ellie then slept through the whole wedding mass.

"As a fellow mother of an active toddler, this is a HUGE win! Dalton told me after that she was SO grateful that Ellie slept the whole time because she was able to focus and really pray through the Mass," Schaefer explains.

Dalton was able to concentrate on her wedding day because she made her baby girl a part of it (and that obviously tired Ellie right out).

Ellie was part of the commitment and family Dalton if forging with her husband, Jimmy Joe. "There is no better behaved toddler than a sleeping toddler, and she was still involved, even though I ended up unwrapping her to nurse her. I held her in my arms while my husband and I said our vows. It was really special for us," Dalton told POPSUGAR.

This is a wedding trend we are totally here for!

Congrats to Dalton and Jimmy Joe (and to Ellie)! 🎉

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The internet is freaking out about how Peppa Pig is changing the way toddlers speak, but parents don't need to be too worried.

As Romper first reported, plenty of American parents have noticed that preschoolers are picking up a bit of a British accent thanks to Peppa. Romper's Janet Manley calls it "the Peppa effect," noting that her daughter started calling her "Mummy" after an in-flight Peppa marathon.


Plenty of other parents report sharing Manley's experience, but the British accent is not likely to stick, experts say.

Toronto-based speech and language pathologist Melissa James says this isn't a new thing—kids have always been testing out the accents they hear on TV and in the real world, long before Peppa oinked her way into our Netflix queues.

"Kids have this amazing ability to pick up language," James told Global News. "Their brains are ripe for the learning of language and it's a special window of opportunity that adults don't possess."

Global News reports that back in the day there were concerns about Dora The Explorer potentially teaching kids Spanish words before the kids had learned the English counterparts, and over in the U.K., parents have noticed British babies picking up American accents from TV, too.

But it's not a bad thing, James explains. When an American adult hears "Mummy" their brain translates it to "Mommy," but little kids don't yet make as concrete a connection. "When a child, two, three or four, is watching a show with a British accent and hears [words] for the first time, they are mapping out the speech and sound for that word in the British way."

So if your baby is oinking at you, calling you "Mummy" or testing out a new pronunciation of "toh-mah-toe," know that this is totally natural, and they're not going to end up with a life-long British pig accent.

As Dr, Susannah Levi, associate professor of communicative sciences and disorders at New York University, tells The Guardian, "it's really unlikely that they'd be acquiring an entire second dialect from just watching a TV show."

It sure is cute though.

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