What I wish I could ask my mom about motherhood

How did you do it? I want to ask her. I am a stay at home mom, and some days I can't even deal. Seriously, how did you do this without missing a beat?

What I wish I could ask my mom about motherhood

I was cooking dinner last night when, on cue, my 10-month-old began screaming at my feet just as the pasta water began boiling. He scrambled around the kitchen floor after me, chasing my legs and crying as I moved from the pantry to the stove in a desperate attempt to put together some kind of dinner after a nerve-fraying day of short naps and tantrums.

My 3-year-old joined in, repeatedly asking when dinner would be done. "I'm HUNGRY!"

Admiring my son's lung capacity and my daughter's persistence, I dumped a box of rotini into the water. Stirring, I thought about the nights my mom came home from work exhausted, yet still manage to cook dinner every night.


How did you do it? I want to ask her. I am a stay at home mom, and some days I can't even deal. Seriously, how did you do this without missing a beat?

As I picked up the baby, I cringed at the memory of poking at more than one of the meals my mom cooked and saying some variation of "What is this?"

I can still see her pursed lips as she issued a quick rebuke, "If you don't like it, don't eat it."

I wanted to pick up the phone and call her amidst the chaos.

She would laugh at the sound of my son's screams through the receiver, combined with high-pitched pleas from my daughter to talk to grandma. And then she'd share some magic secret of motherhood that only she could bestow on me, making it all better in just a few words.

With that one trivial phone call, we would add a deeper layer to our mother-daughter bond: My mom would be delighted to realize that her daughter now appreciates the sacrifices she made. I would be delighted to have the knowledge of generations of women in my family behind me, validating that it is hard, but worthy, work.

But I can't make that call.

She died suddenly nearly a decade ago, from cancer in her womb. She never met my husband, never met my children. Never saw me as a woman, independent from under her wings.

Her death tore a hole through my heart the size of the Grand Canyon. And regardless of how many years pass the hole doesn't get smaller as people sometimes tell me it will. No. I've found instead that over the years I move further away from the void, until it just looks like a smudge on the horizon, only noticeable when I look for it.

I found myself looking for it more after the birth of my first child, and even more so following the birth of my second. I make the painful trek back to the canyon's edge more often now that I have children. Usually when I feel alone in my motherhood.

Standing there in utter isolation, I look out over the breathtaking emptiness and resent the fact that I don't have my mom to talk to. I'm not able to commiserate with her as a peer in motherhood, to share with her my new understanding of what it means to be a woman after having children.

I want to thank her for the sacrifices she made. I want to look her in the eyes and tell her that I appreciate every meal she made for us, every load of laundry she did, every hour she worked overtime and every single time she made things okay with her Mother Magic just by saying they would be.

Every kiss on the knee, every bleary-eyed ounce of patience at 2 a.m. when I wet the bed and needed the sheets changed. Every packed lunch and outfit she sewed for me. Every frustrated yell, worried cry, irrepressible laugh, look of pride.

I want to tell her I know now how it feels to wield such power and be so overwhelmed by it.

I want my children to know her, to feel the warmth of a hug from her—strong arms with smooth skin and the scent of peonies and lilacs clinging to her soft hair.

If she were here, I realize we would disagree on certain things. Styles of parenting, and decisions about feeding and working. We would have different approaches to discipline and dumb things like whether or not my 3-year-old daughter is too young for Disney (yes, Mom, she is). I know she would get on my nerves, giving unsolicited advice and eliciting eye rolls from me.

But those things seem trivial in comparison to what I would gain from the familiarity of her sturdy presence when I'm at my worst—ugly crying into my pillow with exhaustion and frustration at the end of a long day, or unsure of how to proceed with a challenging situation.

Sometimes this tired mother longs to be mothered again.

Sometimes I'm able to remember that she's within me, along with all the other women who came before her. She's beside me, right there in that kitchen watching two screaming children desperate for their mother's love.

I stop cooking and I bend over to scoop each of them in my arms. "I love you," I say, into their ears, swallowing my frustration and knowing in my core, because I lost my mother so suddenly, that all we are ever granted is right now.

My mother's death forces me to cherish these small memories, made on the kitchen floor in a mother's arms because they are the ones that stay within you over time, the ones that you can feel. The ones you can keep with you, no matter how far or near.

These are the best bath time products you can get for under $20

These budget-friendly products really make a splash.

With babies and toddlers, bath time is about so much more than washing off: It's an opportunity for fun, sensory play and sweet bonding moments—with the added benefit of a cuddly, clean baby afterward.

Because bathing your baby is part business, part playtime, you're going to want products that can help with both of those activities. After countless bath times, here are the products that our editors think really make a splash. (Better yet, each item is less than $20!)

Comforts Bath Wash & Shampoo

Comforts Baby Wash & Shampoo

Made with oat extract, this bath wash and shampoo combo is designed to leave delicate skin cleansed and nourished. You and your baby will both appreciate the tear-free formula—so you can really focus on the bath time fun.

Munckin Soft Spot Bath Mat

Munchkin slip mat

When your little one is splish-splashing in the bath, help keep them from also sliding around with a soft, anti-slip bath mat. With strong suction cups to keep it in place and extra cushion to make bath time even more comfortable for your little one, this is an essential in our books.

Comforts Baby Lotion

Comforts baby lotion

For most of us, the bath time ritual continues when your baby is out of the tub when you want to moisturize their freshly cleaned skin. We look for lotions that are hypoallergenic, nourishing and designed to protect their skin.

The First Years Stack Up Cups

First year stack cups

When it comes to bath toys, nothing beats the classic set of stackable cups: Sort them by size, practice pouring water, pile them high—your little one will have fun with these every single bath time.

Comforts Baby Oil

Comforts baby oil

For dry skin that needs a little extra TLC, our team loves Comforts' fast-absorbing baby oil aloe vera and vitamin E. Pro tip: When applied right after drying off your baby, the absorption is even more effective.

KidCo Bath Toy Organizer

KidCo Bath Organizer

Between bathing supplies, wash rags, toys and more, the tub sure can get crowded in a hurry. We like that this organizer gives your little one space to play and bathe while still keeping everything you need within reach.

Another great tip? Shopping the Comforts line on to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices—and follow along on social media to see product releases and news at @comfortsforbaby.

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

Our Partners

There is rightfully a lot of emphasis on preparing for the arrival of a new baby. The clothes! The nursery furniture! The gear! But, the thing about a baby registry is, well, your kids will keep on growing. Before you know it, they'll have new needs—and you'll probably have to foot the bill for the products yourself.

Thankfully, you don't have to break the bank when shopping for toddler products. Here are our favorite high-quality, budget-friendly finds to help with everything from meal time to bath time for the toddler set.

Comforts Fruit Crisps Variety Pack

Comforts fruit snacks

If there is one thing to know about toddlers, it is this: They love snacks. Keeping a variety on hand is easy when the pack already comes that way! Plus, we sure do appreciate that freeze-dried fruit is a healthier alternative to fruit snacks.

Comforts Electrolyte Drink

Comforts electrolyte drink

Between running (or toddling!) around all day and potentially developing a pickier palate, many toddlers can use a bit of extra help with replenishing their electrolytes—especially after they've experienced a tummy bug. We suggest keeping an electrolyte drink on hand.

Comforts Training Pants

Comforts training pants

When the time comes to start potty training, it sure helps to have some training pants on hand. If they didn't make it to the potty in time, these can help them learn their body's cues.

Comforts Nite Pants

comforts nite pants

Even when your toddler gets the hang of using the toilet during the day, nighttime training typically takes several months longer than day-time training. In the meantime, nite pants will still help them feel like the growing, big kid they are.

Comforts Baby Lotion

comforts baby lotion

Running, jumping, playing in sand, splashing in water—the daily life of a toddler can definitely irritate their skin! Help put a protective barrier between their delicate skin and the things they come into contact with every day with nourishing lotion.

Another great tip? Shopping the Comforts line on to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices—and follow along on social media to see product releases and news at @comfortsforbaby.

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

Our Partners

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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