To my village: Thank you for helping to shape me as a mother

I am the mother I am because of the collective group of women I have in my life.

To my village: Thank you for helping to shape me as a mother

I've been reflecting quite a bit. Reminiscing about who I am now and how I've reached this place in my life. While I'm nowhere near perfect, I'm pretty proud of the woman I've become. Even more so, I'm proud of the mother I've become.

It has taken a substantial amount of time and a rocky path to get to this place in my life. I undeniably couldn't have done it alone. And I wouldn't have wanted to.

They say it takes a village to raise a child. Well, it took a community of brilliant women to shape me as a mother.

To find a group of people who help you and encourage you to be a better version of yourself, is a powerful thing. A blessing I don't take lightly. I know just how lucky I am to be included in such a beautiful community of women who are not only my mentors but my friends and family.

My mother: you are my light, my inspiration and my best friend.

You are the one who introduced to me the importance of community in the first place. Your resiliency is unmatched. In spite of losing your own mother at such a young age, you parented three children fearlessly and with endless love. You've taught me so much about self-worth and you've helped me figure out who I am and who I want to be as a mother myself.

Not only am I blessed to pass the family biscuit recipe down to my children, but also their Nanny's tremendous spirit and generous heart.

My grandma: You are who I've inherited my slightly cheeky, sometimes saucy, attitude from and for that, I will be forever thankful. Thank you for showing me that it is important to have a voice and equally as important to use it.

You've taught me the significance of standing up for myself when others might prefer I sit down; a legacy my children already carry on.

My mother-in-law: Even though your son and I aren't married yet, you've always treated me like your daughter. I cannot thank you enough for that. Without a word from me, you've understood the challenges I've faced living so far away from my family and you've embraced me as part of yours.

Always a devoted and caring grandmother, I couldn't have asked for a better role model for my children. You've taught me to cherish the small moments with my children, to be patient with them because they grow so fast, and the importance of family.

Although my child was born first, my best friend, you are one my greatest teachers in parenting. I always turn to you for advice and understanding when I'm doubting myself. You always just "get it" and make me feel like I'm not alone in this chaotic journey called motherhood.

You've taught me to roll with the punches, as scary as they might seem, to trust my instincts, and that, no matter what, I always have a friend.

Thank you to my sisters. I have always said that while my parents didn't give me a sister, fate gave me two. You have given me the gift of being an aunt to your beautiful and brilliant children. Both of you are my OG parenting coaches. You let me participate from the sidelines, gaining a glimpse into the highs and lows of what real parenting is like.

You've taught me how to be resilient and persevere while continuing to light up the sky with a genuine kindness that shines so bright. My nieces and nephews are privileged to call you their mom.

Thank you to my girl squad. Your unwavering support throughout so many tribulations that life has thrown our way is surely unmatched and almost unbelievable. You all are a true example of what it means to be supportive of your village. Together, we have the ability to challenge each other while also building each other up. The undeniable strength that's been shown amidst immense loss and life changes has been an inspiration.

You have demonstrated just how capable and courageous a woman can be. Thank you for teaching me what it means to be a good friend, a quality that I try to demonstrate to my children as often as I can.

I am the mother I am because of the collective group of women I have in my life.

I am an amalgamation of the remarkable women in my life. I feel closer to being complete and have a better understanding of who I want to be because of the community I'm part of. Thank you will never be enough.

I'm forever grateful for you.

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    My village lives far away—but my Target baby registry helped them support me from afar

    Virtual support was the next best thing to in-person hugs

    They say you shouldn't make too many major life transitions at once. But when I was becoming a mama for the first time nearly five years ago, my husband and I also moved to a new town where we didn't know a soul, bought our first house and changed jobs.

    To put it mildly, we didn't heed that advice. Luckily, our family and friends still made it feel like such a magical time for us by supporting our every move (literal and otherwise) from afar. They showered us with love through a virtual baby shower (expectant parents nowadays can relate!) featuring the unwrapping of gifts they were able to ship straight to me from my Target registry.

    Here's one piece of advice I did take: I registered at Target so I could take advantage of the retailer's benefits for registrants, which include a welcome kit valued over $100, a universal registry function and more. Fast-forward a few years and Target has made the registration perks even better for expectant parents: As of August 2020, they've added a Year of Exclusive Deals, which gives users who also sign up for Target Circle a full year of savings after baby is born on all those new mama essentials, from formula to diapers and beyond.

    Honestly, even without the significant perks of a free welcome kit with more than $100 in coupons, additional 15% off coupons to complete the registry and a full year of free returns, registering at Target wasn't a hard sell for me: Even though the experience of shopping for baby items was new, shopping with Target felt like returning home to me… and the comfort of that was such a gift.

    And of course, Target's registry plays a vital role right now, as expectant parents everywhere are being forced to cancel in-person baby showers and navigate early parenthood without the help of a hands-on village. A registry like this represents a safe way for communities to come through for new parents. If you're anything like me (or any of the other mamas here at Motherly), you certainly have emotional ties and fond memories associated with Target.

    What to register for at Target was also an easy talking point as I began to connect with moms in my new community. I will always remember going on a registry-building spree with my next door neighbor, who had young children of her own. As we walked the aisles of Target back in 2015, she suggested items to add… and we laid the foundation for what has since become one of my most cherished friendships.

    Even as I made connections in my new hometown, I was nervous that expecting my first baby wouldn't feel as special as if I were near family and friends. But my loved ones exceeded all expectations by adding the most thoughtful notes to gifts. They hosted a beautiful virtual baby shower and even encouraged me to keep the registry going after my baby made his debut and new needs arose.

    In the years since, "community" has taken on a wonderfully complex new meaning for me… and, in these times of social distancing, for the rest of the world. I've come to cherish my newfound friends in our local community alongside those long-time friends who are scattered around the county and my virtual mama friends.

    Now, as my friends' families grow, I'm so grateful that I can show them the same love and support I felt during my first pregnancy. I sing the praises of Target's baby registry—especially in light of the pandemic, since I know mamas can do everything from a distance thanks to Target's website and the added benefit of getting trusted reviews and helpful registry checklists.

    And now that I'm on the gift-buying side of the equation, I've found new joy in picking thoughtful gifts for my friends. (Because goodness knows Target has something for everyone!)

    For my friend who is a fellow runner, I teamed up with a few others to give the jogging stroller she had on her registry.

    For my friend who is a bookworm, I helped her start her baby's library with a few books that are also well-loved in our home.

    For other friends, I've bundled together complete "sets" with everything they need for bathing or feeding their children.

    I know from my own experience that, yes, the registry purchases are so appreciated, but the thoughtfulness and the support they represent means even more. Because although my village may have been distant, the support they showed me was the next best thing to in-person hugs.

    Start your own Target Baby Registry here to experience a Year of Benefits including a Year of Exclusive Deals through Target Circle to enjoy for a full year following your baby's arrival, a year of free returns, two 15% off completion coupons and a free welcome kit ($100 value).

    This article was sponsored by Target. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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