The milestones you didn’t realize would matter—until they did

Transitions can be liberating but also heartbreaking. And that’s OK.

The milestones you didn’t realize would matter—until they did

It all started with a hairy leg.

I was reading to my 3-year-old son, who was wearing his usual summer night uniform of a Lightning McQueen pajama shirt and shorts. I looked down at his legs and noticed that he no longer has the totally smooth, eminently kissable legs of a toddler. He now has fine little hairs on his legs, a sign of the hairy, grown-man legs he will have at some time in the future.

Faced with the reality of this and the finality it implied—this kid is no longer a baby and never will be again—I lost track of where I was and what I was doing.

My chest started to tighten as a physical manifestation of the loss I felt.

A few weeks ago, it was a shower. I was tucking my little one into bed and heard the shower start. I figured it was my husband and didn’t think much of it until I heard sounds of my older son’s singing coming from the bathroom. He had taken it upon himself to take a solo shower for the first time. And I thought, “He is old enough to do this for himself now. Gone are the days when I listen to stories of the day’s dramas while washing his crazy-thick brown hair.”

Again, that tight chest feeling, that feeling of loss.

Because I write for and about moms, I often turn to the writings of other moms to help me make sense of my parenting experiences. But this doesn’t necessarily help me during those odd, out-of-the blue transitional moments. For one thing, most posts focus on capital-T Transitions. The “classic” emotional transitional moments of parenting are well documented: the trauma of the end of breastfeeding, the first day of Kindergarten, the first trip to college. You hear these stories, and you know to gird yourself for the inevitable future time when these things happen to you.

But it’s those moments you’re not prepared for, the ones that catch you off-guard, that really shake you.

Few write about the lower case-t transitional moments. There are no playbooks for those moments, no chatrooms filled with moms similarly traumatized by leg hair.

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I have found, too, that many of the posts I read don’t capture the emotional tone of those transitional moments, at least not as I experience them. Some are overly precious—like when a mom speaks in flowery language about that moment she saw her tween daughter walking on the beach with the golden sun setting behind her and realized that she was no longer a child. Others are overly snarky—like when a mom drops f-bombs while she hates on other moms she meets at the Kindergarten orientation.

But transitions, at least for me, often look much like my leg hair and shower experiences: I’m caught off guard, I’m suddenly hit with an acute sense of loss, my chest tightens, my eyes fill with tears.

My experiences with kid transitions seem to fall somewhere between preciousness and snark.

As a psychologist who specializes in helping moms manage stress, I spend a fair amount of time helping my patients “cope ahead” for transitions. And it’s hard for a big-time “cope ahead” advocate like myself to acknowledge that there are lots of parenting moments you can’t prepare for, that, as vast as the Internet is, there might not be a mom out there who can put words to the particular ache you are feeling. And you yourself might not be able to put words to the ache you’re feeling, either. Sometimes, you can only describe it as a physical pain, like a tightness in your chest.

Here’s what I’ve come to understand: When words fail and there’s no way to prepare, the only thing you can do is let yourself feel what you’re feeling.

Transitions can be liberating but also heartbreaking. Sure, I wished and hoped for the day when my son would be old enough to know not to bite and hit. But as soon as that day came, I also lamented the loss of those kissable legs, those mispronounced words and unasked-for hugs and unabashed declarations of love.

Which is why I allowed myself to cry a little bit when I saw my son’s legs, even though I was mid-tuck-in. And even though my son wondered aloud what my problem was—was I so sad about the dragons accidentally eating spicy salsa that it moved me to tears?—I let myself continue to cry until I’d gotten it all out.

And when I was done crying, when I had some time to reflect on my loss, I wrote about it. I recommend that my patients do that, too. Or put together a slide show of old pictures. Or sit down and reminisce with their partners. It helps to do something to commemorate the transition, the stage that has now come to an end.

I know there will be other leg hair and shower-type moments; other times when the reality of my kids’ maturation will suddenly hit me, seemingly out of nowhere. And in those lower case-t transition moments, I’ll have no choice but to clutch my chest and messy cry a little bit. And maybe smile a little bit, too, as I marvel at what my sons are becoming.

Every transition, no matter how small, is an opportunity to celebrate and to mourn.

The Motherly Shop is here 🎉 (and it has exactly what you need, mama)

We did the hard work for you, hand-picking the things you want and need and ensuring we only bring you the best—so you can take one thing off that full plate of yours.

Since the beginning, Motherly has existed to help mamas of all experiences feel seen, understood and supported. Through expert and mom-to-mom advice and information we've been here to help you along the motherhood journey.

With that same ethos, we've created The Motherly Shop—an online collection of products curated for every stage of motherhood. We did the hard work for you, hand-picking the things you want and need and ensuring we only bring you the best from brands and makers that really care—so you can take one thing off that full plate of yours.

To make browsing a little easier, we curate the products based on mama needs + pain points. For example, here's our newest collection created to gather everything a pregnant woman needs.

Check out some of our favorites from our Becoming Mama collection and get shopping!

The sleep support

Belly Bandit SOS pillow

Finding the right position for sleep can feel like an Olympic sport when you've got a baby belly to accommodate. Belly Bandit, masters of creating wearables that support pregnant bodies, also managed to create the ideal tool for side sleeping.


The wear-anywhere maternity dress

Stowaway Collection Maternity Becca dress

Finding clothes that still make you feel like yourself isn't always easy. With their premium fabrics and universally flattering cuts, we can't get enough of the maternity wardrobe essentials from Stowaway Collection maternity. Even better? They sew everything in Long Island City, NY and source USA-made fabric whenever possible.


The chic but practical shoe 

OSAY the label slip on

Bending over to put shoes on is so overrated. We've got you covered with the most stylish and obsession-worthy handmade loafers with a secret. Just fold down the back, and BAM! slip-ons. Additionally, the La Babouche Loafer + Slip-On OSAY the Label beauties are made from recycled leather that literally forms to your feet.


The delicate reminder

Whether it's whispered sweetly, shrieked from the top of the big slide, or echoed through the phone from thousands of miles away, 'mama' is the name you'll respond to for the rest of your life. Like all the Tiny Tags necklaces, this sweet reminder is laser engraved by highly skilled artisans in the USA.


The stylish diaper bag that doesn't look like a diaper bag

Mina baie vegan stevie

When leaving the house requires as much prep as an international flight (ah, remember those?) having a spacious bag you can depend on is key. Mina Baie bags not only deliver on a space for everything, but also manage to do it in style. They're the kind of bags you'll carry even when you manage to leave your little one behind.


The elegant baby book

Echo Art Bindery Baby Memory Book

From the minute they're born there are so many milestones and memories to capture. We hand-picked the gorgeous clothbound baby memory book from Echo Art Bindery for its small batch-feel and attention to detail. Made from high-quality paper it features colorful custom illustrations, a silver-stamped endive cover, and questions and prompts to help you remember those magical first days and beyond.


The empowering accessory

Sontakey 'I was made for this' bracelet

Words are powerful. Reminding yourself that you can do hard things can go a long way in giving you the energy and confidence to do so. The beautiful mantra bands from Sontakey were created by two mamas who have made it their mission to empower others with these words of encouragement.


The most delicious way to celebrate

Tost non-alcoholic refresher

Time to raise a glass, mama! We've long since had a crush on TÖST's non-alcoholic sparkles. The gingery cranberry tea blend is delicious on its own or even as a mixer. From baby showers to toasting an ordinary Tuesday that went off without a hitch, we think you'll be crushing on it too.


The pampering belly oil

Esker belly oil duo

Moisturizing, soothing, and totally divine, Esker's belly oil duo is formulated with only the cleanest botanical essential oils. One for morning and one for nighttime, they're ideal for pampering that beautiful belly of yours around the clock.


The hydration-friendly water bottle

Welly traveler water bottle

Meeting those daily hydration needs can be a challenge. (So can making it to the bathroom 700 hundred times a day, right?) We're big fans of Welly reusable bottles which not only look super sleek with their stainless steel and bamboo combo, but also include a removable infuser to brew tea or flavor your water.


The pre-packed hospital bag

Belly and Bag fully prepared

Leave packing your hospital bag to the pros. After all, you have plenty of other things to think about right now, right? The brilliant women at Belly and Bag have truly thought of everything and packed it up just for you.


We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.


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

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

Without camps and back-to-school plans still TBD, the cries of "I'm bored!" seem to be ringing louder than ever this summer. And if you're anything like me, by August, I'm fresh out of boxes to check on my "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys.

With that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite wooden toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play.

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!


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.


We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.


The new top 100 American baby names, according to the Social Security office

Did you have a baby in 2018? Did your name make the top 10?

[Editor's note: We know that being pregnant can be, well, a lot. And understanding what you really need versus what's just a nice-to-have takes time . With your needs in mind, we've selected the best products for pregnancy in The Motherly Shop. We've got you, mama.]

No one can beat Emma when it comes to naming babies in America. This week the Social Security Administration announced its annual list of the most popular baby names in America and Emma has the top spot on the girls' side for the fifth year in a row. On the boys' side Liam took the top spot for a second consecutive year.

According to the Social Security Administration, these were the top 20 baby names in America in 2018:

Girls: Emma, Olivia, Ava, Isabella, Sophia, Charlotte, Mia, Amelia, Harper and Evelyn

Boys: Liam, Noah, William, James, Oliver, Benjamin, Elijah, Lucas, Mason and Owen

How do those top 10 lists compare to the top baby names of 2017? Well, the girls' list is nearly the same except that Mia and Charlotte switched spots, and Harper (a name that fell out of the top ten the previous year) is back and has ousted Abigail. On the boys' side, Lucas kicked Jacob out of the top 10.

The real changes happened lower down in the data. Let's take a look at the popular baby names that were trending hard in 2018:

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