How real moms define true love + romance

“Romance in my house is a hot bath. Alone.?”—Kristi Estes

How real moms define true love + romance

Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to reflect on what true love really means to us. Of course we love our babies and our friends and family, but what does romance look like IRL? We asked #TeamMotherly and they absolutely delivered. Hint: We *love* when our partners let us sleep in and clean up without us having to ask.

Here’s what you told us about true love and real romance:

“Romance in my house is a hot bath. Alone.?”—Kristi Estes

“For me it’s when he puts our baby to sleep, I fall in love more and more every time he does it.”—Natasha Lang

“Anticipates needs, whether it’s changing a diaper or walking through the door with a Coke, without having to be asked/told.”—Kasi Jarvis


“My definition of true love is when my husband goes to work overtime so I was able to stay out on maternity leave for about 4 months! I wish I could always stay home with our son?”—Kimberly M. Howley

“Stops what he is doing to randomly come over and give me a hug and kiss, and tell me how beautiful I am. He does this at the very least once a day. I'm so lucky.??”—Summer Roberts

“My entire relationship I have always been the primary cooker and cleaner. Now with a 18-month-old, my husband always offers to go to the grocery store, cooks the majority of the meals and helps tidy up the house. It's such a relief off me, it's like being awake is simply exhausting?. I'm def lucky.”—Ashley L. Smith

“Brings flowers or a kit kat home because he "knew they would brighten my day" and accepts me for me complaints and all lol”—Draven Slack

“Takes care of me when I’m sick, or texts me in the middle of the day out of nowhere to tell me he loves me.???”—Lydia Salerno

“Takes the baby in the mornings so I can sleep.❤️”—Karina Mueller

“When he takes care of the bottles and pump parts then stores the milk after every at-home pump!”—Lindsey Jenkins Gerow

“Getting up with the kids in the morning so i can sleep in and bringing me a cuppa when i wake.”—Naomi Smith

“Reminds me of how beautiful I am, even when I look like a troll. ?”—Iyah Kumar

“Looks like we're all pretty simple and just want some sleep and food. ??‍???” —Kealakai Hammond

I felt lost as a new mother, but babywearing helped me find myself again

I wish someone had told me before how special wearing your baby can be, even when you have no idea how to do it.

My first baby and I were alone in our Brooklyn apartment during a particularly cold spring with yet another day of no plans. My husband was back at work after a mere three weeks of parental leave (what a joke!) and all my friends were busy with their childless lives—which kept them too busy to stop by or check in (making me, at times, feel jealous).

It was another day in which I would wait for baby to fall asleep for nap number one so I could shower and get ready to attempt to get out of the house together to do something, anything really, so I wouldn't feel the walls of the apartment close in on me by the time the second nap rolled around. I would pack all the diapers and toys and pacifiers and pump and bottles into a ginormous stroller that was already too heavy to push without a baby in it .

Then I would spend so much time figuring out where we could go with said stroller, because I wanted to avoid places with steps or narrow doors (I couldn't lift the stroller by myself and I was too embarrassed to ask strangers for help—also hi, New Yorkers, please help new moms when you see them huffing and puffing up the subway stairs, okay?). Then I would obsess about the weather, was it too cold to bring the baby out? And by the time I thought I had our adventure planned, the baby would wake up, I would still be in my PJs and it was time to pump yet again.

Slowly, but surely, and mostly thanks to sleep deprivation and isolation, I began to detest this whole new mom life. I've always been a social butterfly. I moved to New York because I craved that non-stop energy the city has and in the years before having my baby I amassed new friends I made through my daily adventures. I would never stop. I would walk everywhere just to take in the scenery and was always on the move.

Now I had this ball and chain attached to me, I thought, that didn't even allow me to make it out of the door to walk the dog. This sucks, I would think regularly, followed by maybe I'm not meant to be a mom after all.

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This is my one trick to get baby to sleep (and it always works!)

There's a reason why every mom tells you to buy a sound machine.

So in my defense, I grew up in Florida. As a child of the sunshine state, I knew I had to check for gators before sitting on the toilet, that cockroaches didn't just scurry, they actually flew, and at that point, the most popular and only sound machine I had ever heard of was the Miami Sound Machine.

I was raised on the notion that the rhythm was going to get me, not lull me into a peaceful slumber. Who knew?!

Well evidently science and, probably, Gloria Estefan knew, but I digress.

When my son was born, I just assumed the kid would know how to sleep. When I'm tired that's what I do, so why wouldn't this smaller more easily exhausted version of me not work the same way? Well, the simple and cinematic answer is, he is not in Kansas anymore.

Being in utero is like being in a warm, soothing and squishy spa. It's cozy, it's secure, it comes with its own soundtrack. Then one day the spa is gone. The space is bigger, brighter and the constant stream of music has come to an abrupt end. Your baby just needs a little time to acclimate and a little assist from continuous sound support.

My son, like most babies, was a restless and active sleeper. It didn't take much to jolt him from a sound sleep to crying like a banshee. I once microwaved a piece of pizza, and you would have thought I let 50 Rockettes into his room to perform a kick line.

I was literally walking on eggshells, tiptoeing around the house, watching the television with the closed caption on.

Like adults, babies have an internal clock. Unlike adults, babies haven't harnessed the ability to hit the snooze button on that internal clock. Lucky for babies they have a great Mama to hit the snooze button for them.

Enter the beloved by all—sound machines.

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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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