How my dad(s) helped me understand and appreciate my husband

Growing up with the love and guidance of both of these men helped me understand what I wanted in a husband.

How my dad(s) helped me understand and appreciate my husband

I have a great relationship with my dad. He is someone I look up to, respect, and have a deep appreciation for. We can sit and have small talk over our favorite sports teams, or discuss life and have a good cry (I definitely get my crying gene from him).

But it wasn't always this way—we had to work really hard to get here.

I grew up in a split household which wasn't easy. While so many of my other friends spent their weekends enjoying family time with their mom and dad, I had just one or the other. And even though I had a decently happy childhood, I couldn’t help but be envious of those friends.

I was three when my parents divorced so my memory of them together is pretty hazy. For the first 10 years of my life, I didn't have parents to role model a healthy relationship or learn how couples interacted.

But then both of my parents re-married. I remember when my dad made the announcement. While I wanted him to be happy, I secretly shuddered at the idea of having to share his attention. I was already learning to adjust to having a new step-dad, and now this.

At the time I didn't love trying to navigate my relationship with both my dad and my step-dad. I held some resentment, feelings of jealousy over time lost with each of my parents, and deep hurt around having to deal with being in a “divorced family.”

What I didn't realize is that although it wasn’t an ideal situation, both of these men were shaping my understanding of the type of marriage it was possible to have.

I watched as my step-dad constantly attended to my mother’s needs. Loving her selflessly and always supporting her despite her faults.

I learned that with each school event he attended, homework assignment he helped with, and sports practice he took me to, that the word “step” meant nothing to him—I was his daughter and he would love me as nothing less.

I also learned true humility and sacrifice—as my dad stepped back and allowed this new man into our lives to take on some of the roles and responsibilities he wasn’t able to. He taught me the importance of being loved and made sure I always knew how deep his love ran for his family.

When I yelled at him for missing some of the important events in my life, he sat back and took it, without a defensive posture that would have been so easy for him to adopt. And when my step-dad passed away, he was there, patiently allowing me to grieve with him and humbly acknowledging the hurt I was dealing with.

Growing up with the love and guidance of both of these men helped me understand what I wanted in a husband and how to appreciate the rare qualities that both of them possessed.

When I met my husband I realized that without the foundation I was given, it likely would have been difficult for me to identify and seek out the traits I knew I wanted and needed in a man.

Without the unconditional love I was blessed with growing up, I’m not sure I would know how to receive and appreciate the love and affection my husband showers me with daily.

As I watch my husband help raise my son like his own, I see that same type of sacrifice and love he has for us—I am reminded how blessed I am.

I remember clearly the moments I told myself, “That is how I want to be treated” as I watched the examples in my life, and prayed that I would someday have the same type of marriage.

To my husband—thank you for being the caring, loving man that you are. I never thought it was possible to find someone like you—but you continue to surprise me everyday!

To my dad(s)—thank you for teaching me what it means to be loved, even when it wasn’t easy and you didn’t have to. Thank you for setting the example of what a genuine father and husband is, and helping me to settle for nothing less. I appreciate and love our relationship more than you know.

My village lives far away—but my Target baby registry helped them support me from afar

Virtual support was the next best thing to in-person hugs

They say you shouldn't make too many major life transitions at once. But when I was becoming a mama for the first time nearly five years ago, my husband and I also moved to a new town where we didn't know a soul, bought our first house and changed jobs.

To put it mildly, we didn't heed that advice. Luckily, our family and friends still made it feel like such a magical time for us by supporting our every move (literal and otherwise) from afar. They showered us with love through a virtual baby shower (expectant parents nowadays can relate!) featuring the unwrapping of gifts they were able to ship straight to me from my Target registry.

Here's one piece of advice I did take: I registered at Target so I could take advantage of the retailer's benefits for registrants, which include a welcome kit valued over $100, a universal registry function and more. Fast-forward a few years and Target has made the registration perks even better for expectant parents: As of August 2020, they've added a Year of Exclusive Deals, which gives users who also sign up for Target Circle a full year of savings after baby is born on all those new mama essentials, from formula to diapers and beyond.

Honestly, even without the significant perks of a free welcome kit with more than $100 in coupons, additional 15% off coupons to complete the registry and a full year of free returns, registering at Target wasn't a hard sell for me: Even though the experience of shopping for baby items was new, shopping with Target felt like returning home to me… and the comfort of that was such a gift.

And of course, Target's registry plays a vital role right now, as expectant parents everywhere are being forced to cancel in-person baby showers and navigate early parenthood without the help of a hands-on village. A registry like this represents a safe way for communities to come through for new parents. If you're anything like me (or any of the other mamas here at Motherly), you certainly have emotional ties and fond memories associated with Target.

What to register for at Target was also an easy talking point as I began to connect with moms in my new community. I will always remember going on a registry-building spree with my next door neighbor, who had young children of her own. As we walked the aisles of Target back in 2015, she suggested items to add… and we laid the foundation for what has since become one of my most cherished friendships.

Even as I made connections in my new hometown, I was nervous that expecting my first baby wouldn't feel as special as if I were near family and friends. But my loved ones exceeded all expectations by adding the most thoughtful notes to gifts. They hosted a beautiful virtual baby shower and even encouraged me to keep the registry going after my baby made his debut and new needs arose.

In the years since, "community" has taken on a wonderfully complex new meaning for me… and, in these times of social distancing, for the rest of the world. I've come to cherish my newfound friends in our local community alongside those long-time friends who are scattered around the county and my virtual mama friends.

Now, as my friends' families grow, I'm so grateful that I can show them the same love and support I felt during my first pregnancy. I sing the praises of Target's baby registry—especially in light of the pandemic, since I know mamas can do everything from a distance thanks to Target's website and the added benefit of getting trusted reviews and helpful registry checklists.

And now that I'm on the gift-buying side of the equation, I've found new joy in picking thoughtful gifts for my friends. (Because goodness knows Target has something for everyone!)

For my friend who is a fellow runner, I teamed up with a few others to give the jogging stroller she had on her registry.

For my friend who is a bookworm, I helped her start her baby's library with a few books that are also well-loved in our home.

For other friends, I've bundled together complete "sets" with everything they need for bathing or feeding their children.

I know from my own experience that, yes, the registry purchases are so appreciated, but the thoughtfulness and the support they represent means even more. Because although my village may have been distant, the support they showed me was the next best thing to in-person hugs.

Start your own Target Baby Registry here to experience a Year of Benefits including a Year of Exclusive Deals through Target Circle to enjoy for a full year following your baby's arrival, a year of free returns, two 15% off completion coupons and a free welcome kit ($100 value).

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

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Motherly editors’ 7 favorite hacks for organizing their diaper bags

Make frantically fishing around for a diaper a thing of the past!

As any parent knows, the term "diaper bag" only scratches the surface. In reality, this catchall holds so much more: a change of clothes, bottles, snacks, wipes and probably about a dozen more essential items.

Which makes finding the exact item you need, when you need it (read: A diaper when you're in public with a blowout on your hands) kind of tricky.

That's why organization is the name of the game when it comes to outings with your littles. We pooled the Motherly team of editors to learn some favorite hacks for organizing diaper bags. Here are our top tips.

1. Divide and conquer with small bags

Here's a tip we heard more than a few times: Use smaller storage bags to organize your stuff. Not only is this helpful for keeping related items together, but it can also help keep things from floating around in the expanse of the larger diaper bag. These bags don't have to be anything particularly fancy: an unused toiletry bag, pencil case or even plastic baggies will work.

2. Have an emergency changing kit

When you're dealing with a diaper blowout situation, it's not the time to go searching for a pack of wipes. Instead, assemble an emergency changing kit ahead of time by bundling a change of baby clothes, a fresh diaper, plenty of wipes and hand sanitizer in a bag you can quickly grab. We're partial to pop-top wipes that don't dry out or get dirty inside the diaper bag.

3. Simplify bottle prep

Organization isn't just being able to find what you need, but also having what you need. For formula-feeding on the go, keep an extra bottle with the formula you need measured out along with water to mix it up. You never know when your outing will take longer than expected—especially with a baby in the mix!

4. Get resealable snacks

When getting out with toddlers and older kids, snacks are the key to success. Still, it isn't fun to constantly dig crumbs out of the bottom of your diaper bag. Our editors love pouches with resealable caps and snacks that come in their own sealable containers. Travel-sized snacks like freeze-dried fruit crisps or meal-ready pouches can get an unfair reputation for being more expensive, but that isn't the case with the budget-friendly Comforts line.

5. Keep a carabiner on your keychain

You'll think a lot about what your child needs for an outing, but you can't forget this must-have: your keys. Add a carabiner to your keychain so you can hook them onto a loop inside your diaper bag. Trust us when we say it's a much better option than dumping out the bag's contents on your front step to find your house key!

6. Bundle your essentials

If your diaper bag doubles as your purse (and we bet it does) you're going to want easy access to your essentials, too. Dedicate a smaller storage bag of your diaper bag to items like your phone, wallet and lip balm. Then, when you're ready to transfer your items to a real purse, you don't have to look for them individually.

7. Keep wipes in an outer compartment

Baby wipes aren't just for diaper changes: They're also great for cleaning up messy faces, wiping off smudges, touching up your makeup and more. Since you'll be reaching for them time and time again, keep a container of sensitive baby wipes in an easily accessible outer compartment of your bag.

Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

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

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Talking to kids can come so easily. They have thoughts about everything and stories for miles. They see the world in a completely different light, and could ask enough questions to fill an afternoon.

But sometimes finding the right words for talking to kids can be really, really challenging. When choosing how to respond to the marker on the wall, or the seemingly unending why-can't-I battle, or in simply keeping healthy communication open with kids who don't want to talk, the words don't seem to come so easily.

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