Menu

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.

FEATURED VIDEO

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.

Back when my husband and I were creating our wedding registry, it was a fun, low-pressure opportunity to select some new dishes and linens. After all, I knew a thing or two about stocking my home and making the "wrong decision" with thread count was the only thing that posed any risk to my sleep at night.

Fast-forward a few years to when I created a baby registry before the birth of my first child—and I found the experience to have a much steeper learning curve. Unlike those sheets, it felt like a bad swaddle or bassinet selection would be catastrophic. Unsure of what to expect from motherhood or my baby, I leaned heavily on advice from friends who already ventured into parenthood. (Starting with their reminders to take deep breaths!)

FEATURED VIDEO

Now a mom of three little ones under the age of four, I'm happy to be in a position to pass along some baby registry wisdom.

Go shopping with a veteran parent

As first-time parents, my husband and I barely knew the difference between a bouncer and a swing, let alone what specific features we would want. So when a mom friend recommended we head to Walmart to build my registry together—because she found them to carry the trendy brands she loved AND make registering a breeze during her pregnancy—I leapt at the chance.

By walking through the aisles together and actually getting to see the products, I was much more confident in my registry selections. Thanks to that quick, in-store tutorial from my friend, I understood exactly how to match a perfect infant car seat with an extra base and stroller—which is something I would have been clueless about on my own.

Include items at a variety of price points

When it comes down to it, a registry is really a wish list. So, while I had a personal budget for a stroller if it had to come out of my own pocket, this was an opportunity for me to ask for the stroller of my dreams. And, wouldn't you know it? A few family members went in on it together, which made a bigger price tag much more manageable.

At the same time, it's nice to include some of the smaller ticket items that are absolutely essential. I can't even begin to tell you how grateful I was to skip buying my own diapers for those first few weeks. (With super cute patterns, these are also surprisingly fun to give, too!)

Think about the gifts you would like to give

The first time I bought a mom-to-be a gift after my own child was born, I knew immediately what to look for on her registry: a diaper bag backpack, which I had come to have very strong opinions about after battling falling straps with my first diaper bag. This allowed me to feel like I had a personal touch in my gift, even if I brought one pre-selected by her.

I also appreciate it when my friends clearly incorporate their style into their registry choices, like with adorable baby outfits or nursery decor—and there's no sweeter "thank you" than a picture from a friend showing your gift in use.

Ask for things to grow with your child

Even though it's called a baby registry, there's no need to limit yourself to gifts to use before their first birthday. (To this day, I still have people who attended my baby shower to thank for the convertible bed that my oldest child sleeps in!) Knowing that, I would have included more options with long lifespans into my registry—namely, a baby carrier that can be used during the newborn months, baby months and well into the toddler years. A well-designed baby carrier would have saved my back from serious pain because it would have allowed me to comfortably and ergonomically carry my toddler as she made her way into the 25lb+ club. One brand that's designed to grow with your baby and accommodates 7-45 pounds (up to about four years old) and offers both inward and forward-facing positions is Ergobaby. With several different design and style options, you can easily find one that caters to your parenting needs. From an all-in-one carrier, like the Omni 360, that grows with baby from the newborn stages into the toddler years or a newborn-specific carrier, like the Embrace (and don't worry you can later upgrade to a carrier for an older baby, I recommend the 360 Carrier). The best part? All ergonomic designs are supportive and comfortable for both baby and parent, offering extra lumbar support with breathable, lightweight mesh styles. Everyone (even grandparents!) can get a kick out of babywearing, which is a nice and welcomed break for parents. Having one of these on my registry would have certainly made those first few years so much easier.

Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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


You might also like:

Shop

Whether I live next to you or across the country, social media makes it easy for us to stay updated on each other's lives and that's a wonderful thing. I love seeing pictures of your kids and I think it's great that you choose to share videos of your child singing, giggling and taking his or her first steps.

I simply choose not to share pregnant pictures, or even a family photo from the hospital once our daughter arrived because my pregnancy, birth and growing family are parts of my life I wanted to protect from the outside world.

Keep reading Show less
Life