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Four-week old babies have no patience, especially in a quiet corner of the public library while her toddler sisters climb bookshelves like trapeze artists scouring for a Daniel Tiger book we haven't read yet. With a burp cloth draped over my shoulder, I cradled my hangry newborn in my left arm and one-handedly pried the lid off her bottle in my other.

As soon as the bottle's plastic nipple met her mouth, all was right in our calm area of the library.

Until that woman looked at me, that is.

We were sitting on a carpeted bench near the kids' corner with puppets and bright-colored blocks between us. And through her thick-framed glasses, the middle-aged woman said, “You have a hard time breastfeeding?"

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With tired eyes, I looked at her. Perhaps I misunderstood.

She waited for me to respond.

“Nah, I didn't even try," I said.

As I muttered those words I saw dozens of books falling from the ceiling tiles. My two giggling toddlers—as if on cue—were tossing piles of paperbacks into the air like confetti.

I instinctively jolted from that carpeted bench while juggling my newborn, her burp cloth and bottle—with formula. I had no time to offer that woman an explanation. This multitasking mama had a paperback party to bust up.

When every Haitian-Creole, Hindi, and Japanese folk and fairy tale was returned neatly to their designated shelf, I walked back over to the corner of formula-feeding shame.

That woman—whoever she is—was gone.

I had no opportunity to elaborate why I chose not to breastfeed my daughter. And why I'm proud of it.

I wanted to tell her I didn't think twice about inverted nipples or whipping out my boobs on demand.

I didn't have to battle with insurance companies for pump coverage or figure out when and where I could pump efficiently and comfortably in the office.

I didn't bother shopping for nursing bras or scour the internet for tips to increase my supply.

I didn't need to look up ways to ease the engorgement that housed my bulging jugs of liquid gold because the pain would leave as fast as it came on.

I didn't buy nipple shields or creams or nursing pads or nipple balms.

I didn't pencil in appointments with the local La Leche League or put out feelers for lactation consultants to help with latch problems or offer tips for surviving overnight cluster feeds.

I wasn't concerned about developing plugged ducts or mastitis.

I didn't pump around the clock to stock the deep freeze with breastmilk bags to last through my transition back to work.

I didn't bother with any of this because I simply didn't want to.

So, to the woman who unapologetically assumed I had problems breastfeeding my daughter because I dumped two scoops of powdered formula in my baby's bottle: I did not have any problems breastfeeding because I didn't even attempt it.

And my daughter is healthy, fed and growing. That's all that matters.

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Motherhood is a practice in learning, growing and loving more than you ever thought possible. Even as a "veteran" mama of four young sons and one newly adopted teenager, Jalyssa Richardson enthusiastically adapts to whatever any given day has in store—a skill she says she's refined through the years.

Here's what just one day in her life looks like:


Jalyssa says she learned to embrace agility throughout her motherhood journey. Here's more from this incredible mama of five boys.

What is the most challenging part of your day as a mom of five?

Time management! I want to meet each of the boys' individual needs—plus show up for myself—but I often feel like someone gets overlooked.

What's the best part of being a mom of five?

The little moments of love. The hugs, the kisses, the cuddles, the smiles... they all serve as little reminders that I am blessed and I'm doing okay.

Are there misconceptions about raising boys?

There are so many misconceptions about raising boys. I think the biggest one is that boys don't have many emotions and they're just so active all the time. My boys display many emotions and they also love to be sweet and cuddly a lot of the time.

What do you think would surprise people the most about being a mom of five?

How much I enjoy it. I never knew I wanted to be a mom until I was pregnant with my first. My desire only grew and the numbers did! I am surprised with every single baby as my capacity to love and nurture grows. It's incredible.

How do you create balance and make time for yourself?

Balance for me looks like intentional planning and scheduling because I never want my boys to feel like they aren't my first priority, but it is extremely difficult. What I try to do is not fit it all into one day. I have work days because motherhood is my first priority. I fit in segments of self-care after the kids' bedtime so I don't grow weary.

What's the biggest lesson you have learned from motherhood?

I have learned that sacrifice is actually beautiful. I was terrified of the selflessness motherhood would require, but I've grown so much through the sacrifice. There is nothing better than living for something bigger than myself.

When did you first feel like a mom? How has your motherhood evolved?

I first felt like a mom when I was pregnant with my first son and I intentionally chose to change my eating habits so my body could be strong and healthy for him. I didn't have to think twice—I just did what I thought would be best for him. That decision being so effortless made me realize I was made for motherhood.

My perspective has changed with each baby as I've realized motherhood doesn't have to be one-size-fits-all. With my first son, I was a by-the-book mama and it was so stressful. With each baby, I have felt more freedom and it has made motherhood so much more beautiful. I have evolved into the mother that they need, I am perfect for these boys.

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.


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