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There is a “me” in “Mommy,” after all

When you find yourself using baby talk with no baby in sight—and you realize “Mom” isn’t just a part-time job.

There is a “me” in “Mommy,” after all

Where does Mommy end?

This is a question that has floated into my mind sporadically over the last year.


In moments when all I want to do is sit down and read a long-awaited book, but my house has recently been ransacked by a small monster with a strange affinity for collecting laundry and flinging it around like confetti—and I’m weighing which is going to win out, cracking that book open or sadly burying it under the pile and beginning another load.

When my husband and I are out on date night and I’m trying so hard to talk about interesting topics, worldly things—things not affiliated with the little appendage I seem to be missing–but by the end of the night I still find the most ridiculous smug smile smeared on my face when I lean into my husband and ask how it’s even possible that the two of us made this insanely perfect little human.

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In moments that I’m wandering the aisle of the grocery store and I overhear a conversation between two grandmothers, discussing how their grandchildren have been abandoned by their mothers for the second time. I do not know these women. I do not know these children, and yet my heart drops to my stomach, and I find myself half walking, half running from the aisle, eyes on my feet blinking blinking blinking, ordering myself not to start blubbering in Wal-Mart right now, because how is that even possible?

In the moments when my husband and I are collapsed on the couch, and he leans over to kiss me, and somewhere inside the old me feels happy and loved. But then the mommy in me pecks him a dozen times on the face, realizing somewhere in the middle of it that the usual squeal that comes from my child’s mouth wide with laughter, will not be coming out of the thin line of confusion draped on my husband’s face.

Oops. Sorry, babe.

In the moments when I force myself to read dozens of terrifying articles with titles like “What Every Mom Should Know in Case of…” and “The Quick Thinking that Saved My Child’s Life,” because despite my constant attempts to push it down, there is this incessant nagging feeling that I need to be prepared for absolutely EVERYTHING from the Heimlich maneuver to the apocalypse, because what if?

When I have a sitter and I’m running errands, feeling like my old self again. The self with two accessible hands and a fairly firm grasp on the task at hand—but then I hear a noise similar to my little one’s an aisle over and it’s like this potent, insane love potion takes hold of all of my senses, and I want to race through those precious hours of “me-time,” just so that I can hear her sweet version of the little whimper or giggle for the 10,000th time.

In the moments when I quickly try to recover after accidentally calling my husband a strange pet name for my child or giving him a response in a sickeningly sweet coo created specifically for the only person who doesn’t know better than to endure them.

When I’m perusing the paper or watching the news, and I see an article that is heartbreaking, that is sickening, and I have to put it down or walk away, because I just can no longer stomach it. Because no matter how distant it may seem, it is somehow closer, more intimately acquainted with me now that I have somebody who I have to send out into this world.

Moments where my sweet friends push a glass of wine towards me at dinner and try and tell me a story of their day, but I am too busy wiping, feeding and juggling the little person and her gear at the end of the table to notice.

It is in these moments, and in so many others, that this question seems to be on a loop in my head.

Where does Mommy end?

I guess I always thought that when you were a mother, you were only a mother in certain designated areas of your life. When you’re at home. When you’re cleaning. When you’re grocery shopping. When you’re around your kids (maybe other kids). But I thought that there must be some spaces in your life that are reserved just for you, the person who liked sleeping in and watching Gilmore Girls and meandering antique stores (or something like that).

Instead, this Mommy figure comes unbidden into so many aspects of my life that I think that maybe she is the only one here. That the other version of me, the one that existed before my daughter–the one that inhabited this body before stretch marks and nursing bras–on most days, seems to have gone. Vanished. Things that once only skimmed the surface of my emotions, now can leave me completely gutted. Things that used to relax me, now leave me stressed and uptight. Things that used to be second nature, now seem completely foreign.

I find myself thinking that there must be some sacred ground out there that, on occasion, I can retreat into. A place where Mommy cannot bombard me. A place where she is at the end of her rope. Just a place that I can set down the weight and intensity of the emotions attached to motherhood. Just for a moment. To rub my shoulders and put up my feet.

Somewhere that my heart can be carefully placed back into my chest and hidden away like it used to be, instead of out in the open, running and giggling and terrifyingly vulnerable.

Please tell me it exists.

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Well, I have only been a mother for what seems to have been the shortest year EVER, so I do not claim to be anything close to an expert, but as of now, no one has given me the coordinates to this serene setting, and obviously I have come nowhere close to stumbling upon it on my own.

Which leads me to the conclusion that it most likely does not exist, and that in turn Mommy, indeed, has no end.

And while a lot of the time I feel like she is ruling my life. Telling me that the sink is dirty. That there is laundry to be done. That little hands just picked up something weird off the floor or that the house is eerily quiet and she doesn’t care what I’m doing, I need to stop and go tiptoe around to investigate.

She has also given me a glimpse into a world otherwise unknown to me. She has introduced me to a level of love that cannot be deterred by horrendous smells, fluids, or angry screams. She has shown me the world anew through the eyes of sleep deprivation and true innocence.

She has told me that I have to grow, and given me most of the strength to do it. She has pushed my relationships, and given me the clarity of knowing that those that cannot grow with you are better left behind, while giving me new parameters to love and cherish those that remain.

She does not know boundaries. She does not often accept excuses. And a lot of the time, I kind of want to punch her, but I also know that she has no end.

And because of that, because of the limitless expanse of her attention and insanity, her patience and her drive, I find that I am able to love another human with an intensity that otherwise I would not have possessed.

Mommy has no end. She is both the peppy cheerleader and the cruel slave-driver of my life. She keeps me pushing on, sometimes too hard. And while I know she will weasel her way into just about every crevice of my life with no qualms, I also have found that good, uninterrupted (ahem, childless) conversation, loud belly laughs, and car drives with the windows down and the music up (WAY UP) can drown her out pretty well when need be.

So, while it’s frightening to know that she will not leave my side (presumably) for the rest of my life, and that sometimes I will feel like the host to a woman who will do awkward and sometimes nearly inconceivable things that the “real me” would have never done,  all in the name of fierce and unconditional love. I can also say that most days, I take great comfort in the fact that the woman from before–that knew so little of what it would take to be a mom–will never be alone.

So, here’s to learning to accept the new and wonderful, while also slightly terrifying sides to ourselves that have evolved, all in the name of motherhood.

Cheers.

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I felt lost as a new mother, but babywearing helped me find myself again

I wish someone had told me before how special wearing your baby can be, even when you have no idea how to do it.

My first baby and I were alone in our Brooklyn apartment during a particularly cold spring with yet another day of no plans. My husband was back at work after a mere three weeks of parental leave (what a joke!) and all my friends were busy with their childless lives—which kept them too busy to stop by or check in (making me, at times, feel jealous).

It was another day in which I would wait for baby to fall asleep for nap number one so I could shower and get ready to attempt to get out of the house together to do something, anything really, so I wouldn't feel the walls of the apartment close in on me by the time the second nap rolled around. I would pack all the diapers and toys and pacifiers and pump and bottles into a ginormous stroller that was already too heavy to push without a baby in it .

Then I would spend so much time figuring out where we could go with said stroller, because I wanted to avoid places with steps or narrow doors (I couldn't lift the stroller by myself and I was too embarrassed to ask strangers for help—also hi, New Yorkers, please help new moms when you see them huffing and puffing up the subway stairs, okay?). Then I would obsess about the weather, was it too cold to bring the baby out? And by the time I thought I had our adventure planned, the baby would wake up, I would still be in my PJs and it was time to pump yet again.

Slowly, but surely, and mostly thanks to sleep deprivation and isolation, I began to detest this whole new mom life. I've always been a social butterfly. I moved to New York because I craved that non-stop energy the city has and in the years before having my baby I amassed new friends I made through my daily adventures. I would never stop. I would walk everywhere just to take in the scenery and was always on the move.

Now I had this ball and chain attached to me, I thought, that didn't even allow me to make it out of the door to walk the dog. This sucks, I would think regularly, followed by maybe I'm not meant to be a mom after all.


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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.

$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

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Errands and showers are not self-care for moms

Thinking they are is what's burning moms out.

A friend and I bump into each other at Target nearly every time we go. We don't pre-plan this; we must just be on the same paper towel use cycle or something. Really, I think there was a stretch where I saw her at Target five times in a row.

We've turned it into a bit of a running joke. "Yeah," I say sarcastically, "We needed paper towels so you know, I had to come to Target… for two hours of alone time."

She'll laugh and reply, "Oh yes, we were out of… um… paper clips. So here I am, shopping without the kids. Heaven!"

Now don't get me wrong. I adore my trips to Target (and based on the fullness of my cart when I leave, I am pretty sure Target adores my trips there, too).

But my little running joke with my friend is actually a big problem. Because why is the absence of paper towels the thing that prompts me to get a break? And why on earth is buying paper towels considered a break for moms?

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