Welcome to motherhood: The snuggles + struggles are real

The LOVE has overwhelmed me and the exhaustion has overtaken me.

Welcome to motherhood: The snuggles + struggles are real

Are you becoming a mother soon?

If so, you’d better strap on your parachute and get ready for the ride of your life.

My mom friends and I have experienced it all: exhaustion, disappointment, struggle. On the flip side, there are just as many heart bursting and love crushing moments.

I turned 40 just days after giving birth to my first child, a beautiful son who is now almost 10 months old.

It took me nearly four decades to get ready for this experience, and here’s what I’ve learned so far:

Becoming a mother has been the greatest gift + the greatest challenge of my life.

Despite my maturity, motherhood made me feel suddenly inadequate. In these last months, I’ve been put through the ringer physically and emotionally. All the confidence and grace I worked years on building and crafting flew out the window. Adapting to this new role as "mom" has me feeling conflicted, because most days I feel like a fraud and everyday I feel like a hypocrite. I’ve realized that I will forever be dealing with this push and pull of emotions.

The many frustrating + tearful days balanced with the most loving moments full of joy + laughter: This is the dichotomy of motherhood.

Take, for example, the issue of sleep.

My baby wakes up at least two times a night and has decided that his day starts between the wee hours of 4:30 am and 5:30 am. When I do put him down for his naps, I do anything I can to get him to sleep, desperately rocking, shushing, singing, letting him cry it out, and finally giving him the boob. I’m trying to get him to rest so I can get a break from the demands of caring for him.

But yet, once I get him down to sleep and I close that door behind me, all I want to do is go back in to check on my son. I want to see his adorable smile, look into his innocent eyes, and it takes everything in me not to crawl into his crib. My baby has a magnetic pull on me, one I cannot ignore or resist. Watching your baby sleep is the most comforting and surreal feeling in the world.

Welcome to motherhood.

How can I love a little human so much, be completely head over heels with my son? But at the same time be completely bulldozed over by the demands of my mundane day to day? I go back to work soon and I’m dreading every minute of it because I can’t bare the thought of leaving him. But I find myself counting down the hours to "me” time so I can begin to rebuild my lost self. I step out of the house with messy unwashed hair, a puked stained t-shirt and dirty sneakers, but it’s ALL GOOD because I am focused on caring for my sweet baby. Yet, I have days when I wake up, disappointed and angry with myself for losing my mojo as I navigate through the weeds of this new existence.

Welcome to motherhood.

The days are long; they don’t seem to end because they seem to blend into one another. But the weeks and months are short. My baby is showing many signs of independence, which gets me really excited. When he started holding his own bottle, it was a game-changer. It bought me a few more minutes to do stuff around the house and these few minutes made the difference between a clean home or a quick shower and my sanity. In a blink of an eye, he now feeds himself by picking up little bits of food with his little hands. The more I relish in all his milestones, the more my heart aches, knowing that he is slowly weaning from my help.

Welcome to motherhood.

Figuring out what he needs is like pin the tail on the donkey. Do you want the red ball? (He’s screaming.) What about the squishy square? (More screaming.) Are you hungry? Need food or milk? (I’m making all these hand gestures and he is now having a full-scale fit.) In these moments, I start to resent him. But then my baby smiles, wraps his little arms around my neck, giggles and makes some utterly cute sound and I melt. All of a sudden I’m instantly the bad mom, full of guilt. (Insert deep breathes here, I’m sorry I thought you were a jerk.)

Welcome to motherhood.

Motherhood is a dichotomy of extremes. The lack of sleep and an exciting routine that consists of laundry, changing diapers and doing feeds gets extremely BORING and EXHAUSTING. But we all say the same thing, with our tired eyes, tussled hair, and unwashed faces: “It’s all WORTH it, so so worth it. The intense LOVE you feel is indescribable.” I’ve experienced the most intense joys and also have experienced some of my lowest lows since becoming a mom. The LOVE has overwhelmed me and the exhaustion has overtaken me.

Welcome to motherhood.

Motherhood is sometimes trusting your instincts. Sometimes it’s turning to Google if you need answers. You’ll question every little thing you do or don’t do and how can you do it better. On Monday you wake up and stay firm on a planned routine and by Tuesday you give in purely due to exhaustion and frustration. Gone is your shoes-and-handbags budget, but you tend to always find the money to spend on your child.

Welcome to motherhood.

The snuggles and struggles are real. There is only one of him and one of me, but most days I feel out numbered. Some days I feel like giving up completely. But, on all days and every day from here on after, I will love, cherish and protect my son with everything I got.

Join Motherly

As much as I love fall, it always feels like the season when my family's routine gets kicked into overdrive. With our oldest in (homeschool) kindergarten, my youngest on the brink of entering her twos, work, housework and *all the things* filling my day, it's hard not to feel a little overwhelmed sometimes. Did I mention we're still in a pandemic? (Yeah, it's a lot.) And while I try to take a positive view as much as I can, now more than ever I definitely jump at the chance to take anything off my busy plate.

One thing first in line at the chopping block? Cooking. To be fair, I like cooking. I cooked most of our meals long before I had ever even heard of social distancing. But there's something about the pandemic that suddenly made cooking every single meal feel exponentially more draining.

Enter Daily Harvest. They deliver nourishing, delicious food right to your door. Daily Harvest's mix of smoothies, bowls, flatbreads, snacks and more provide a balanced, whole food options that are as satisfying as they are nutritious. But my favorite part? When we're ready to eat, I simply pull the food from the freezer and it's ready in minutes—without any chopping, measuring or searching for a recipe. Even better, they're incredibly tasty, meaning I'm not struggling to get my girls to dig in. Not cooking has never felt so good.

Here are my 8 favorite products that are helping to lighten my load right now:

Mulberry + Dragonfruit Oat Bowl

Mulberry + Dragonfruit Oat Bowl

One thing that actually helps break up the monotony of quarantine? Trying and introducing new ingredients to my family. I love this overnight oat bowl (add milk the night before and let it set in your fridge overnight—easy-peasy!) because not only does it not compromise on nutrition, but it also helps me bring new whole fruits, vegetables and superfoods to the table with ease.

Mint + Cacao Smoothie

Mint + Cacao Smoothie

I kid you not, these taste exactly like a mint chocolate chip milkshake. (Just ask my 4-year-old, who is constantly stealing sips from my glass.) What she doesn't know? She's actually getting organic banana, spinach and chlorella with every sip. #momwin

Kabocha + Sage Flatbread

Kabocha + Sage Flatbread

Our family's eating habits have been leaning more plant-forward this year, which often means a lot of veggie washing, peeling and chopping every time I cook. That's why these flatbreads are my new best friend come lunchtime. This Kabocha + Sage Flatbread is made with a gluten-free cauliflower crust topped with kabocha squash, fennel and sage for a taste of fall in every bite. (Missing the cheese? You can add it before baking for more of a pizza feel.)

Kale + Sweet Potato Flatbread

Kale + Sweet Potato Flatbread

There's something about the combination of sweet potato crust topped with red cabbage, organic greens and an herby-cilantro sauce that is so delicious… like surprisingly delicious. I polished off this bad boy in seconds! And unlike other "veggie" crusts I've tried, these are actually clean (AKA no fillers, preservations, partially-hydrogenated oil or artificial anything). Plus, it couldn't be easier to throw in the oven between conference calls and homeschool lessons.

Cacao + Avocado Smoothie

Cacao + Avocado Smoothie

Any time I get to serve a breakfast that tastes like chocolate, it's a good day. (That goes double when it's *my* breakfast.) This rich, chocolatey smoothie is packed with organic zucchini, avocado, pumpkin seeds and pea protein for a nourishing mix of healthy fats and muscle-building protein so I can carry that baby all day long. And did I mention the chocolate?

Vanilla Bean + Apple Chia Bowl

Vanilla Bean + Apple Chia Bowl

Maybe it's just me, but after a long week of cooking, the last thing I want to do on Saturday morning is...wake up and cook. That's why these one-step breakfasts are saving my weekend. I simply add our favorite milk the night before and store the bowl in the fridge overnight. Come morning, I have a nutritious chia bowl that powers me through even the busiest day of errands. It's also Instagram-ready, which makes me feel like I'm out brunching (even if I can't remember the last time I was in a restaurant).

Cacao Nib + Vanilla Bites

Cacao Nib + Vanilla Bites

My kids have turned into snack monsters during quarantine, and I'm often struggling to find a wholesome option (that doesn't require a lot of extra cooking or else I resort to something ultra-refined and shelf-stable). These bites are the hero I never knew I needed. For one, they taste like cookie dough, but they're actually packed with chickpeas, pumpkin, dates and flax seed (among other whole ingredients). But unlike actual cookie dough, I don't have to go anywhere near my mixer to whip them up—all I have to do is pull the container out of the freezer, let them defrost a bit and we can all enjoy a treat.

Cauliflower Rice + Pesto Harvest Bowl

Cauliflower Rice + Pesto Harvest Bowl

Sometimes I have a little more time to cook, but I still want a quick, stress-free solution. (Especially because it always feels like I just cleaned up from the last meal.) I love these Harvest Bowls because they warm up in under five minutes on the stove top (or microwave!) but pack tons of flavor. The Cauliflower Rice + Pesto bowl is one of my favorites, with basil, olive oil and nutritional yeast for a hearty dish reminiscent of a mouth-watering Italian meal. When I'm feeling extra fancy, I add leftover grilled chicken or a fried egg.

Strawberry + Rich, Rippled Berry Compote Scoops

Strawberry + Rich, Rippled Berry Compote Scoops

Who doesn't want to end the day with a little something sweet? This creamy and decadent frozen treat from Daily Harvest is swirled with sweet berries and tropical dragonfruit for an antioxidant burst you'll feel good about—but that your kiddos will just think is ice cream. Go ahead, take credit for being the best mom ever.

Want to try it yourself? You can get $25 off your first box of Daily Harvest with code MOTHERLY.

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

Our Partners

I never wanted to be a mom. It wasn't something I ever thought would happen until I fell madly in love with my husband—who knew very well he wanted children. While he was a natural at entertaining our nephews or our friends' kids, I would awkwardly try to interact with them, not really knowing what to say or do.

Our first pregnancy was a surprise, a much-wanted one but also a unicorn, "first try" kind of pregnancy. As my belly grew bigger, so did my insecurities. How do you even mom when you never saw motherhood in your future? I focused all my uncertainties on coming up with a plan for the delivery of my baby—which proved to be a terrible idea when my dreamed-of unmedicated vaginal birth turned into an emergency C-section. I couldn't even start motherhood the way I wanted, I thought. And that feeling happened again when I couldn't breastfeed and instead had to pump and bottle-feed. And once more, when all the stress from things not going my way turned into debilitating postpartum anxiety that left me not really enjoying my brand new baby.

As my baby grew, slowly so did my confidence that I could do this. When he would tumble to the ground while learning how to walk and only my hugs could calm him, I felt invincible. But on the nights he wouldn't sleep—whether because he was going through a regression, a leap, a teeth eruption or just a full moon—I would break down in tears to my husband telling him that he was a better parent than me.

Then I found out I was pregnant again, and that this time it was twins. I panicked. I really cannot do two babies at the same time. I kept repeating that to myself (and to my poor husband) at every single appointment we had because I was just terrified. He, of course, thought I could absolutely do it, and he got me through a very hard pregnancy.

When the twins were born at full term and just as big as singleton babies, I still felt inadequate, despite the monumental effort I had made to grow these healthy babies and go through a repeat C-section to make sure they were both okay. I still felt my skin crawl when they cried and thought, What if I can't calm them down? I still turned to my husband for diaper changes because I wasn't a good enough mom for twins.

My husband reminded me (and still does) that I am exactly what my babies need. That I am enough. A phrase that has now become my mantra, both in motherhood and beyond, because as my husband likes to say, I'm the queen of selling myself short on everything.

So when my babies start crying, I tell myself that I am enough to calm them down.

When my toddler has a tantrum, I remind myself that I am enough to get through to him.

When I go out with the three kids by myself and start sweating about everything that could go wrong (poop explosions times three), I remind myself that I am enough to handle it all, even with a little humor.

And then one day I found this bracelet. Initially, I thought how cheesy it'd be to wear a reminder like this on my wrist, but I bought it anyway because something about it was calling my name. I'm so glad I did because since day one I haven't stopped wearing it.

Every time I look down, there it is, shining back at me. I am enough.

I Am Enough bracelet 

SONTAKEY  I Am Enough Bracelet

May this Oath Bracelet be your reminder that you are perfect just the way you are. That you are enough for your children, you are enough for your friends & family, you are enough for everything that you do. You are enough, mama <3


We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.


What went viral this week: Pregnant Disney Princesses + an airline nightmare

Now, more than ever, we need to hear those good news stories.

Vanessa Firme/Instagram

Last week was a week.

We lost a legal and cultural icon with the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and deadly wildfires continue to blaze on the West Coast. Now, more than ever, we need to see creativity, kindness and compassion in our world—we need to hear those "good news" stories, but we also need to see the headlines that show us how and why the world needs to change .

And right now both kinds of stories are going viral.

Here are the viral stories you need to read right now:

Keep reading Show less