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When did you first feel like a mother?

When I heard them say, "Mama" for the first time.

pregnant woman posing with sonogram photo

When did you first feel like a mother?

I've wondered about this question many times over the last five years. I've asked other women this question, and I've heard a variety of answers.

When did I first feel like a mother?

When I first saw those two pink lines. Those little tiny lines that held huge significance. The ones on the pregnancy test I took in the bathroom of our first apartment together. I know it sounds cliche but I felt so scared and so excited at once. Like I couldn't believe that moment was real but also feeling like I had been waiting for it my whole life. I felt, Yes of course. And, Oh my goodness! Mixed with, WHAT. And a little of, Well what do I do next?

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When I felt my first contraction. When I had an unmedicated birth with my firstborn, when I had a really fast unmedicated birth with my middle baby and a truly enjoyable epidural-assisted birth with our latest addition. Each time that I came face-to-face with my children for the first time, holding them in my arms. That's when I felt like someone's mother. Feeling their warm skin on mine. Hearing their small—but mighty—cries. Looking, staring, admiring this body that grew inside mine.

When I first breastfed. When I stumbled and tripped and doubted myself. When I was figuring out how to feed my baby, if I could feed my baby, wondering when one "gets the hang of it" as I heard over and over. Breastfeeding felt so strange at first. I eventually grew to love what nursing has brought to me and my babies, but at first—it felt foreign. It was one of the many things I would have to figure out along the path of motherhood.

When I felt my heart breaking. In a way, over the course of five years, I think my heart has been broken and put back together, many times, by the same people—my children. My heart has broken from fear and overwhelming love at the same time. What a wild feeling that is. When I've cried myself to sleep some nights or felt like the wind get knocked out of me at times, over worries and fears and feeling scared—scared they'll get hurt, scared that I'm failing, scared that they will go off in the big world one day without me.

When they need me. To brush their hair and tie their shoes and change their diapers. When they need me to lay next to their crib or bring them to the bathroom in the middle of the night. When I'm cleaning vomit off of this or boogers off of that. When I'm serving meals and playing tag and going on adventures. When they look to me to help them figure out how to have fun or figure out what they're going to eat for lunch. And when I can come up with, actually, a pretty good answer.

When I've had to cancel plans. Because someone had a fever. Or when I couldn't do something I wanted to because I was really pregnant. Or when I had to be *that friend* who chimes into the group text, "Ugh, sorry, that date doesn't work for me…. Oh, that one either… Nope, not that one… Maybe [INSERT DATE 5 WEEKS FROM NOW]?" When their schedule came before mine. When their agenda was more important. When I put them before myself.

When I feel their love. When they give me the biggest hugs and the sloppiest kisses. When they want me. When I'm the only one who could heal a boo-boo or calm their cries. When they tell me I'm the best mom, and especially when they sing the song from Sid the Science Kid that goes, "I love my mom, my mom is cool!" (I mean, whoever wrote that song deserves an award, in my opinion. It's my favorite.)

Being a mother has made me, without a doubt, a better version of myself. My children have taught me to love with an open heart and to choose to see the good in people. To be happy (even on the chaotic days… which are… every day). To forgive. To work hard. To show compassion. To nurture. To be kind. To have an open mind. To be humble.

Taking care of people has taught me true selflessness. Creating a family with my husband, and raising these kids together, has shown me the true meaning of love. Love is what matters most.

So when did I first feel like a mother?

Well, there are a lot of small moments intertwined with a ton of big moments, too.

Though, I think I know my top three.

1. When I witnessed the miracle of life.

2. When I heard, "Mama" for the first time.

3. When I have felt the strong, heady concoction of feelings that, I suspect, only motherhood can bring. That combination of exhaustion and energy—from your children. That mixture of frustration and wonder—because of your children. That feeling of complete overwhelm—overwhelmed with fear, overwhelmed with love and overwhelmed with joy—for your children.

This concoction of feelings doesn't happen every day. Some days are more regular than others. But when I have one of these days, I feel all the wow, I am someone's mother feels.

My heart is that of a mother now. The makeup of my heart is like a soldier, always standing at attention, ready to give whatever it needs to give in the moment. Ready to protect, ready to serve and most of all—always ready to love with absolutely everything bit of myself that I have to offer.

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.

$30

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!

$75

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.

$40

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.

$120

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.

$30

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.

$100

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.

$40

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.

$121

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.

$100

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.

$45

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.

$179

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.

$100

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.

$33

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.

$88

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

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I never wanted to be a mom. It wasn't something I ever thought would happen until I fell madly in love with my husband—who knew very well he wanted children. While he was a natural at entertaining our nephews or our friends' kids, I would awkwardly try to interact with them, not really knowing what to say or do.

Our first pregnancy was a surprise, a much-wanted one but also a unicorn, "first try" kind of pregnancy. As my belly grew bigger, so did my insecurities. How do you even mom when you never saw motherhood in your future? I focused all my uncertainties on coming up with a plan for the delivery of my baby—which proved to be a terrible idea when my dreamed-of unmedicated vaginal birth turned into an emergency C-section. I couldn't even start motherhood the way I wanted, I thought. And that feeling happened again when I couldn't breastfeed and instead had to pump and bottle-feed. And once more, when all the stress from things not going my way turned into debilitating postpartum anxiety that left me not really enjoying my brand new baby.

As my baby grew, slowly so did my confidence that I could do this. When he would tumble to the ground while learning how to walk and only my hugs could calm him, I felt invincible. But on the nights he wouldn't sleep—whether because he was going through a regression, a leap, a teeth eruption or just a full moon—I would break down in tears to my husband telling him that he was a better parent than me.

Then I found out I was pregnant again, and that this time it was twins. I panicked. I really cannot do two babies at the same time. I kept repeating that to myself (and to my poor husband) at every single appointment we had because I was just terrified. He, of course, thought I could absolutely do it, and he got me through a very hard pregnancy.

When the twins were born at full term and just as big as singleton babies, I still felt inadequate, despite the monumental effort I had made to grow these healthy babies and go through a repeat C-section to make sure they were both okay. I still felt my skin crawl when they cried and thought, What if I can't calm them down? I still turned to my husband for diaper changes because I wasn't a good enough mom for twins.

My husband reminded me (and still does) that I am exactly what my babies need. That I am enough. A phrase that has now become my mantra, both in motherhood and beyond, because as my husband likes to say, I'm the queen of selling myself short on everything.

So when my babies start crying, I tell myself that I am enough to calm them down.

When my toddler has a tantrum, I remind myself that I am enough to get through to him.

When I go out with the three kids by myself and start sweating about everything that could go wrong (poop explosions times three), I remind myself that I am enough to handle it all, even with a little humor.


And then one day I found this bracelet. Initially, I thought how cheesy it'd be to wear a reminder like this on my wrist, but I bought it anyway because something about it was calling my name. I'm so glad I did because since day one I haven't stopped wearing it.

Every time I look down, there it is, shining back at me. I am enough.

I Am Enough bracelet 

SONTAKEY  I Am Enough Bracelet

May this Oath Bracelet be your reminder that you are perfect just the way you are. That you are enough for your children, you are enough for your friends & family, you are enough for everything that you do. You are enough, mama <3

$35

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

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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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