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You were someone before you were their mom—and she still matters

I feel like the woman I was before I became a mother is someone I am familiar with, but I don't know her all that well—she's more like an acquaintance. Honestly, I have to think really hard to remember what it was like to be her.

You were someone before you were their mom—and she still matters

I was mindlessly scrolling Instagram and saw this quote: "You were someone before you were their mom—and she still matters."

My heart felt that one as I read it. My mind sort of came to attention.

Yeah, that's true, I thought.

I used to be someone different. I slept really late. (And I never felt guilty about it.) I spent money way more willy-nilly than I do now. I went to concerts and stayed out late dancing. I worried a lot more about what makeup I was wearing (versus what my soft stomach looks like now). I made plans with friends on a whim and my husband and I traveled whenever we felt like it.

I never thought twice about the timing of my workout classes—I just signed up for the ones I wanted to do, when I wanted to do them. I made my hair appointments whenever there were openings, I didn't have to check with anyone—my roots were always tended to.

I weighed less and my clothing sizes were much smaller. We stayed up so late binge watching TV shows and sometimes on the weekends, we'd just laze around on the couch for hours. I finished books I started, I finished conversations, I finished the thoughts inside my brain.

I would get up in the morning and shower, put my makeup on, do my hair, get dressed in "real" clothes and go to work. My husband and I planned fun adventures on the weekends that only him and I had to agree on.

I had dreams and goals and a vision of what my life would look like. And starting a family was one of them.

I had my first baby five years ago. Then, after two years with our daughter, we welcomed another daughter. Then, two years after that one, we welcomed another one. (We've been busy.) Five years have zoomed by and all of a sudden, after reading that quote on Instagram, I felt like the wind was knocked out of me.

I feel like the woman I was before I became a mother is someone I am familiar with, but I don't know her all that well—she's more like an acquaintance. Honestly, I have to think really hard to remember what it was like to be her.

I think that's because I've been deep in the trenches for the past five years. I'm all the way down here—under the diapers and laundry piles and preschool paperwork and doctor's appointments and hours breastfeeding and boxes of toys and dress up bins and all of it. All of motherhood.

I'm down here, with this title 'mother' weighing heavy on my shoulders. It's felt so heavy, I haven't been able to climb out of this trench. Or maybe I just haven't been trying as hard to? I've been living among the chaos, feeling too overwhelmed to try.

But I have to. Because that woman does matter. She really matters to me.

I keep thinking if I take care of myself—if I go to bed earlier and get more sleep, if I talk to a therapist to work through some stuff, if I plan fun date nights, if I schedule dinners with my girlfriends, if I make time to exercise—if I do some of those things that made me 'me' back then, then I'll find my way back to myself somehow. I'll remember more easily.

And I don't know if that's true, necessarily. I don't know if I'll ever know her very well again. Not like I used to. But I think part of the process of digging out of the trenches is getting comfortable with that fact—of not feeling like her anymore. Because I no longer am her.

Instead, right now is about getting acquainted with a new version of myself—not the pre-mom version or the new-mom version, but the version who realizes she's lost herself a bit in this big, beautiful, messy life.

I've been surviving. I've been managing, just getting by. But I deserve more than that. So I'm going to create more, get more, believe in more. I'm a work in progress—and one worth tending to.

So, little by little, I'll dig. I'll try a new yoga class or I'll plan a weekend away with my husband. I'll try out new hobbies and spend time with friends who make me feel like the best version of myself. I'll journal and meditate and I'll focus on personal growth.

My ultimate promise to myself is this:

I will not diminish my feelings.

I will treat my dreams with respect.

I will forgive myself when I make mistakes.

I will not try to do it all.

I will allow myself to be vulnerable enough to accept help.

I will be gentle, kind and considerate with myself.

I will remind myself that I matter—very much—to three tiny humans and one man who loves me as I am.

And, possibly most importantly, I matter to myself—past, present and future iterations of me—too. ❤️

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Create a school-ready capsule wardrobe for your kids

Dress for success whether virtual learning or in the classroom!

Tina Meeks

Going "back to school" this year may be less of a literal statement than in years past—but there is just as much reason for your kids to celebrate moving on to new grades. Just like in every new school year, a big part of the fun is refreshing your kids' wardrobe with clothes that allow them to express themselves.

Even if finding back to school clothes this year doesn't include a trip to the mall, you can still make an event of it by shopping H&M's kids collection from your computer. Pull up another chair for your shopping buddy and get the cart started with these fave capsule wardrobe options we've already scouted.

Here are our favorite picks:

A t-shirt made for play

H&M t-shirt

Call them essentials, not basics. A graphic t-shirt aces the test when it comes to being perfect for school. And because your little student will probably want to wear something that expresses their personal style as often as possible, it's great to know the shirts can stand up to school time, playtime, downtime and everything in between!

$4.99

Dressed-up casual shorts for total comfort

H&M boy shorts

Whether pulling up a chair for a virtual meeting with the class or heading back to the school for in-person learning, some comfortable, yet stylish, shorts will help your kid focus on the real tasks at hand: learning—and having fun while doing it!

$19.99

Layers for when seasons change

H&M sweatshirt

When it comes to feeling comfortable at school, layers are the MVPs. Whether the AC is blasting or the day started off cool and is warming up quickly, having a unique sweatshirt to shed or add will help your kid look cool while staying warm.

$9.99

A bit of flair with distressed denim

H&M distressed jeans

A school staple for generations, denim is both classic and continually fashionable with updates like distressing and new wash colors. If you're shopping online for jeans this year, take note of H&M's generous return policy—your kids can try on the orders at home and return anything that doesn't fit without a trip to the store.

$24.99

A fashion statement piece

H&M girls skirt

What's better than expressing yourself through a stylish outfit when school is back in session? Still feeling perfectly comfortable and ready to tackle anything the day holds while looking so good. With so many fashion-forward looks available at budget-friendly prices, H&M's children's collection means every kid can find an outfit that speaks to them.

$14.99

Some comfy kicks

H&M boys shoes

A sure way to put a little pep in your child's step this year, cool and cozy shoes are a staple on all back-to-school shopping lists for good reason. (Plus, it's fun to compare them to last year's shoes to see how much your kid has grown!)

$19.99

Anything-but-basic blouses

H&M girls blouse

Whether in the classroom or showing up for a video call with the class, a styling blouse or button-down shirt is a great way for your student to comfortably dress up the day. Better yet? Style doesn't have to come at the expense of comfort with so many made-to-move tops designed just for kids.

$14.99

A shirt ready to go whatever the day holds

H&M boys shirt

With "going to school" meaning anything from showing up in the classroom to doing a virtual session, it's important to have clothes that are perfect for anything the day holds. A classic, cotton shirt with a fashion-forward design is a great way to keep your student feeling ready to start the year with an A+ attitude.

$9.99

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

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5 brilliant products that encourage toddler independence

Help your little one help themselves.

One of our main goals as mothers is to encourage our children to learn, grow and play. They start out as our tiny, adorable babies who need us for everything, and somehow, before you know it, they grow into toddlers with ideas and opinions and desires of their own.

You may be hearing a lot more of "I do it!" or maybe they're pushing your hand away as a signal to let you know, I don't need your help, Mama. That's okay. They're just telling you they're ready for more independence. They want to be in charge of their bodies, and any little bit of control their lives and abilities allow.

So, instead of challenging your toddler's desire for autonomy, we found five of our favorite products to help encourage independence—and eliminate frustration in the process.

EKOBO Bamboo 4-piece kid set

EKOBO bamboo 4-piece kid set

This colorful set includes a plate, cup, bowl and spoon and is just right for your child's meal experience. Keep them in an easy-to-reach cabinet so they'll feel encouraged (and excited!) to get their own place setting each time they eat.

$25

Puj PhillUp hangable kids cups

Puj PhillUp hangable kids cups

Before you know it, your little one will be asking (okay, maybe demanding) to fill their own water cups. This amazing 4-pack of cups attaches directly to the fridge (or any glass, metal, tile or fiberglass surface) making it easier for your child to grab a cup themselves. Just be sure a water pitcher or dispenser is nearby, and—boom!—one task off your plate.

$29

Wise Elk puzzle tower blocks

Wise Elk puzzle tower blocks

These beautiful blocks, made from sustainably-sourced wood and water-based, non-toxic, lead-free paint, will keep your little one focused on their creation while they're also busy working on their fine-motor skills. The puzzle design will encourage patience as your kiddo creates their own building, fitting one block in after the next.

$18

Lorena Canals basket

Lorena Canals Basket

This *gorgeous* braided cotton basket is the perfect, accessible home for their blocks (and whatever else you want to hide away!) so your kiddo can grab them (and clean them up) whenever their heart desires.

$29

BABYBJÖRN step stool

BABYBJ\u00d6RN Step Stool

Your kiddo might be ready to take on the world, but they might need an extra boost to do so—cue, a step stool! An easy-to-move lightweight stool is the must-have confidence-boosting tool you need in your home so your growing tot can reach, well... the world.

$20

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

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21 questions to ask your partner instead of, “How was your day?”

2. If you could do any part of today over again, what would it be?

After a long day of doing seemingly everything, when our partners get home it kind of becomes a habit to ask, "How was your day?" In between prepping dinner, handing off the kids, finishing your own work, we don't exactly get much value from this question. Sure, it may open up the opportunity to complain about that awful thing that happened or excitedly share that presentation you killed at work—but it usually stops there.

I could do a better job of really talking in my relationship. After 12 years and two kids, sometimes all we can come up with post bedtime routine is, "You good? I'm good. Fire up the Netflix."

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