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To the mother who feels lonely right now—it won't be like this forever

The thing that surprised me most about motherhood was the loneliness. I grew up in a large family of six and never had a single minute to feel lonely. Even when I moved out and lived on my own, loneliness didn't surround me in my apartment—I enjoyed the solitude. I enjoyed getting acquainted with myself.

But for one reason or another, I became engulfed in loneliness after becoming a mother—especially after becoming a stay-at-home mom.

After a few months of staying home with my two small children, sorrow began to creep into me. My life began to feel like it was stuck on repeat. I'd wake up, perform mundane chore after mundane chore, and play pretend Little People with the kids.

Despair sat inside of me throughout it all. Only, I didn't know what it was or why it was there. So, I ignored it. But, it didn't go away. In fact, the unhappiness swirled a little out of control. There were days when I took it out on the kids—yelling into their sweet, innocent eyes.

I recall one day specifically when my overwhelming sadness took over me. I put a cartoon on for the kids and walked into my small bathroom just so I could cry—alone. I sat there, letting the tears roll down my cheeks as my kids watched their cartoon, never knowing just how sad their mama was. But despite these heavy feelings budding inside me, still, I ignored the despair that I felt.

And soon enough, the despair in my heart made room for the shame I felt, too. I realized that I was blessed with two healthy children who I also got to stay home with. I knew I was lucky to see those first steps, first belly laughs, first foods. But without anyone to share that with the loneliness suffocated me.

The biggest mistake I made in dealing with my loneliness is that I never expressed it to anyone—not even my own deserving husband. Instead, on some mornings I acted grumpy as I staggered out of bed. Instead of talking to someone about my loneliness and despair, I painted on my smile, put a shield and spears in my hands, and acted like I was a can't-be-broken soldier. But all soldiers can be broken, especially if they're unwilling to accept help from their troops.

Finally, I shared my shame with my husband. After letting me sink into him and pour my feelings out—he urged me to make time for myself. He knew that I needed to reprioritize my time and reconnect with who I was—just like I did before kids. He understood, even better than I did at the time, that I needed more outside of motherhood.

"Angela," my husband said, "Go find yourself."

So, I did.

I started graduate school, began typing stories on my laptop, and trained for a half marathon. Slowly, the loneliness faded and my vivacity sprang back into me. I became a happier mother.

I'm no longer as quick to lose my temper with my children. I am more present when we play Little People and often I notice that our laughter reflects my joy into their eyes.

Sure, there are days when the aching sneaks back in—motherhood does that to us. But now I know to always put away my shield and spear, so I can let people in—inviting them to help me make things better. When I feel like I'm drowning in motherhood, I make sure I take extra time for myself.

I don't ever want to forget who I am again. I now know that motherhood can do that to me, but it doesn't have to. Moms, take your armor off. There are troops to help us in this beautiful, complicated thing called motherhood. Let them be there for you.

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Who says you have to wait for birthdays or holidays to give your bestie a great gift? A sweet surprise that tells her you've been thinking of her might be the pick-me-up she needs in these more-than-trying times. We've rounded up some of our favorite go-to gifts that are certain to be a bright spot in her week. But be warned, you may want to snag a few for yourself. (You deserve it, mama.)

Here are some our favorite "just because" gifts to give our hardworking mama friends.

New Mother face + body care duo

volition face + body care duo

This correcting oil and stretch mark minimizer is perfect for the pregnant mama looking to keep her pregnancy glow. The correcting oil brightens the skin while reducing dark spots, and the stretch mark minimizer works to smooth her ever-growing belly.

$70

Allover roller

esker allover roller

This jade roller goes beyond your typical face roller and can be used anywhere on the body. It works to increase stimulation and reduce puffiness and is perfect for applying any oils to the face or body. Plus, it feels like a mini spa treatment.

$65

Kombucha making kit

farmsteady kombucha making kit

What could be a more perfect gift for the health-obsessed friend? This kombucha making kit comes with everything you need to brew your own homemade green tea kombucha. They'll think this is the tastiest gift ever.

$45

Laetitia lipstick

cupid & psyche laetitia

This red lipstick is perfect for your makeup enthusiast bestie who is looking to spruce up her life in quarantine. Crafted in the United States, these bee and vegan-friendly and cruelty-free lipsticks are created to flatter all complexions. Cupid and Psyche Beauty makes finding the perfect red lip way too easy!

$23

Jigsaw puzzle

inner piecec jigsaw puzzle

Mamas need to destress now more than ever during quarantine. This adorable jigsaw puzzle is perfect for the mama who needs a brain break! The 500-piece puzzle designed by artist Ray Oranges features an abstract gradient design that fits a standard frame when completed. Bonus: It's printed on recycled paper and the company donates $1 from every puzzle sold to youth mindfulness programs.

$30

Matilda's Bloombox

matilda's bloombox

If we have to be stuck inside, we might as well have some gorgeous florals to brighten up the space. Matilda's Bloombox locally sources blooms, delivers them to her door and provides simple tips on how to arrange it into a beautiful bouquet.

$39

'I Am Enough' bracelet

I Am Enough bracelet

Let this dainty bracelet serve as a constant reminder to your bestie that she is enough. She'll wear this on her wrist and read this daily oath to herself, "I Am Enough."

$35

Glow assorted teas

vahdam low assorted teas

This tea gift box set covers the entire spectrum of flavors from sweet to spicy. Individually packaged in beautiful tins, your gal pal will feel like a queen sipping her morning tea. Originally $40, this set is currently on sale for just $24. We'll take two, please.

$24

Find your voice journal

find your voice journal

Journaling is a great way to ease anxiety and will slow your bestie's racing mind before bed. This gift is perfect for first time journalists and includes prompts, daily quotes and coloring pages to help her unlock her potential and find her voice.

$22

Premium frother

shore magic premium frother

This gift is fitting for your latte-sipping bestie who can't go a day without her coffee. All she has to do is add two scoops of collagen to her favorite drink, and she'll have a perfectly foamy drink ready in seconds. Skipping the drive-thru line has never been so easy!

$25

Bath soak infusion kit

maude bath soak infusion kit

Say hello to hydration! She'll be feeling smooth and relaxed as ever after a long bath soaking in these salts. This vegan + cruelty-free set incorporates dead sea salt and dehydrated coconut milk powder for an ultra hydrating experience.

$32

Tiny Tags 'mama' necklace

Tiny Tags 'mama' necklace

It's a hard-earned title she answers to a hundred times per day. Whether she's new to the club or a seasoned professional, this delicate script 'mama' necklace is guaranteed to be a perfect fit.

$105

Superfood honey

Beekeeper's Naturals B.Powered honey

With a lack of sleep and jam-packed days, getting through the afternoon can be a real challenge. Send her a powerful pick-me-up in the form of a therapeutic blend of royal jelly, bee pollen, propolis and raw honey. It makes the ideal companion for tea, smoothies, yogurt or even on its on.

$17

Calming midnight mask with melatonin

Who doesn't deserve a reminder to pamper themself every once in awhile? Even better, this mask does all its work at night while you're sleeping with no extra effort needed. It's an amazing plant-powered antioxidant-packed mask that has melatonin, wild dandelion leaf and hyaluronic acid to rehydrate, repair and reset facial skin. It's so good, you might want to gift it to yourself. We won't tell, mama.

$68

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