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This life is chaotic, imperfect... and all I really need

Sure, there are ways I would *like* to improve. But, you know what? I’ll still be fulfilled if they never happen.

This life is chaotic, imperfect... and all I really need

I did an interview this week and the interviewer asked me a question I’ve been asked before and always trip over: What is your ultimate goal?


I assume he meant writing-wise, since that was the interview subject, but it wasn’t specifically stated and I had to put a hand over my mouth to keep from shouting random goals out into the universe: Financial independence! Bigger boobs! A faster split pace when I run! A walk-in closet! Children who listen to what I say the first time I say it! The secret to my best friend’s killer lemon bar recipe! A car from this decade!

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Eventually, after thinking for a second, I said what I’m pretty near certain is the truth: “If it was only ever this, just what I have right now and nothing more, then that would have been more than enough.”

Part of me still struggles to admit this truth though, because of course I have goals and dreams. Just recently, I’ve been letting myself whittle away hours of insomnia lying in bed and planning a book launch party attended by the likes of my new bestie Oprah and Glennon where waiters serve from big trays of bacon wrapped everything and I drink just enough from the open bar to have incredible dance moves (but not so much that I start pulling people aside and ugly crying about how much I love them).

But that’s just the stuff of silly dreams—and anyway I don’t think having dreams means I can’t also appreciate the forest for the trees.

Because if it only ever was me here throwing thoughts onto a page and sharing them with you and you sharing yours back with me, what an incredible and wonderful gift having had that would have been, in the end.

And it’s not just the writing.

It’s everything.

Take my parenting. I mean, sure I would love to be better–so much better–at motherhood. I wish I was more patient and played more and served more nutritious meals and had the resources and the energy to take us to interesting and educational places and lessons and to get my daughter to stop wearing that one same stained shirt Every. Single. Day.

But if it was only ever this, if it was only ever me doing my mediocre best while serving up orange powder macaroni and wearing last night’s pajamas and yesterday morning’s makeup, wouldn’t it still have been the most amazing thing I’ve ever done, hands down? Wouldn’t it still have been full to bursting with incredible moments of breathtaking beauty? Wouldn’t it still have been the truest love?

Or how about my marriage? Good God, there’s an awful lot of room for improvement in my wifing skills. Just ask my husband. Like, I could stay awake past the kids bedtime and spend some actual time with him. Or we could plan outings together where we have idle time for conversation that isn’t 100 percent about the children we just left and doesn’t take place in stolen 10 second interludes in between emergencies.

Except same, because if this was all we ever had, if it never went beyond raising these babies together and being lucky enough to have made a life with someone who loves the same people I love with the same irrational craziness I have then wouldn’t that have been more than enough? Wouldn’t it have been the stuff of romance novels, the epilogue that happens after the drama dies down, the happily-ever-after?

Then there’s my body. What if this was it? What if I never get skinny enough again to fit into the jeans I insist on holding onto even though they have just as much of a chance of being worn again as Oprah does of actually doing the Thriller dance with me? What if this is as perky as my boobs are gonna be, or the smallest my waist is gonna get or the easiest waking up in the morning is going to be from here on out? Can that be enough? Or will it only ever be enough later, like it is now when I look back on pictures of myself when I was younger and think, “Oh Liz. What an idiot you were to be wasting your time worrying about any of that nonsense when you HAD NO IDEA HOW GOOD YOU HAD IT.”

The thing about this truth is it works everywhere. My writing, my parenting, my marriage, my health, my career, my hair, my bank accounts, even my house.

Sure, I’d love a cleaner and more modern everything where the decor is more shabby chic and less “my kid smeared poop on the wall,” but to look around at a place filled with the beautiful chaos of love and not see it as the gift that it truly is would be as silly as looking around at a life filled with the same and somehow coming up lacking.

Because here’s the real truth: If it was only ever this, only this and nothing more, then that would have been more than enough. It would, in fact, be everything.*

*Except Oprah. Still need her.

After 4 kids, this is still the best baby gear item I’ve ever purchased

I wouldn't be swooning over the BABYBJÖRN bouncer after eight years and four kids if it didn't work.

I have four kids 8 and under, so you might expect that my house is teeming with baby gear and kid toys.

But it turns out that for me, the more kids I have, the more I simplify our stuff. At this point, I'm down to the absolute essentials, the gear that I can't live without and the toys my kids actually play with. And so when a mama-to-be asks me what things are worth registering for, there are only a few must-haves on my list.

The BABYBJÖRN bouncer seat is on the top of my list—totally worth it and an absolute must-have for any new mama.

In fact, since I first splurged on my first BABYBJÖRN bouncer eight years ago (it definitely felt like a splurge at the time, but the five star reviews were really compelling), the bouncer seat has become the most-used product in our house for baby's first year.

We've actually invested in a second one so that we didn't have to keep moving ours from the bedroom to the living room when we change locations.

BABYBJÖRN bouncer bliss

baby bjorn bouncer

The utility of the seat might seem counterintuitive—it has no mechanical parts, so your baby is instead gently bounced by her own movements. In a world where many baby products are touted for their ability to mechanically rock baby to sleep, I get that many moms might not find the "no-motion" bouncer that compelling. But it turns out that the seat is quite reactive to baby's little kicks, and it has helped my kids to learn how to self-soothe.

$200

Lightweight + compact:

The BABYBJÖRN bouncer is super lightweight, and it also folds flat in a second. Because of those features, we've frequently stored it under the couch, in a suitcase or in the back of the car. It folds completely flat, which I love.

Entertainment zone:

Is the toy bar worth it? The toy bar is totally worth it. Not only is the toy bar adorable, but it's one of the first toys that my babies actually play with once they discover the world beyond my boobs. The toys spin and are close to eye level so they have frequently kept my baby entertained while I cook or take a quick shower.

Great style:

This is not a small detail to me–the BABYBJÖRN bouncer is seriously stylish. I am done with baby gear and toys that make my house look like a theme park. The elegant European design honestly just looks good in my living room and I appreciate that parents can enjoy it as much as baby.

It's adjustable:

With three height settings that let you prop baby up to be entertained, or lay back to rest, we get years of use. And the bouncer can actually be adjusted for bigger kids and used from newborn to toddler age. It's that good.

It just works:

I wouldn't be swooning over the BABYBJÖRN bouncer after eight years and four kids if it didn't work. But I have used the seat as a safe space to put baby while I've worked (I once rocked my baby in it with my foot while I reported on a breaking news story for the Washington Post), and as a cozy spot for my second child to lay while his big brother played nearby. It's held up for almost a decade with almost-constant use.

So for me, looking back on what I thought was a splurge eight years ago, was actually one of the best investments in baby gear I ever made.

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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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?

Meri Meri: Decor and gifts that bring the wonder of childhood to life

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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Becoming a mother has been life-changing. It's been hard, tiring, gratifying, beautiful, challenging, scary and a thousand other things that only a parent would ever understand.

It is these life-changing experiences that have inspired me to draw my everyday life as a stay at home mom. Whether it's the mundane tasks like doing laundry or the exciting moments of James', my baby boy's, first steps, I want to put it down on paper so that I can better cherish these fleeting moments that are often overlooked.

Being a stay-at-home-mom can be incredibly lonely. I like to think that by drawing life's simple moments, I can connect with other mothers and help them feel less alone. By doing this, I feel less alone, too. It's a win-win situation and I have been able to connect with many lovely parents and fellow parent-illustrators through my Instagram account.

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