Hi honey,

I've been waiting all day to see you. Mostly because I love you and your company and everything is more fun when you're here with us. But also, to be honest, because I need an extra set of hands.

That is why, the moment you walk in the door from a full day at your demanding job, I typically greet you with a kiss and a swift handoff of the baby. I know this is so very un-Mad Men of me. The time that used to be an invitation to kick your feet up and enjoy a cocktail until dinner is on the table is now a solid, chaotic three-hour block before bedtime.


Although I'm not sure the expectation that you'll immediately transition from one job to the next is quite fair, you never complain. And more than that, you encourage it by telling me to go take a break or by answering my plea to have uninterrupted time to make dinner. (Cooking has always been meditative for me, but the experience is quite different with a baby on my hip and toddler at my side.)

Maybe you don't think twice about how much this means to me. Maybe you're just looking at it as meaningful time with the kids, which can be in shorter supply for you during the work week than it is for me. Just as I find joy in the routine of getting the kids ready for the day, I know you cherish the special time carved out during bedtime when you are in charge of the baths and pajamas.

I hope you see how much this means to our kids, too. As much fun as I have with them during the day, I am no you. They've been waiting all day for the moment your car pulls into the driveway—as if you couldn't tell from those tackle-style hugs and cheers that greet you.

Still, I think we can both recognize that this emotionally precarious evening time can go either way. But you don't flinch if it happens to be one of those meltdown nights and I'm so thankful for that.

I've always known what a great partner you would be in parenting. Now I know that doesn't just mean those moments when we are parenting together—but also those times when we play tag team and you enable me to recharge. Even if it just seems like five minutes when I'm able to lay on the bed and scroll through Instagram, it does so much good for me.

I hope you have this same experience when you're driving home from work in your car or able to go out for a lunch break—because I'm certainly not the best at giving it to you when you're home. While you're always so modest about it by acknowledging that you do get more breaks built into your day than me, it takes a certain kind of grit to make that quick shift from work- to home-life every. single. evening.

Of course, there are some days that pass in the blink of an eye. I simply look at the time and realize you're almost home. Then there are other days when it seems like it must be time for you to get home when it's actually only 9 o'clock. On those occasions, it's often the promise of a few minutes relief later in the evening that don't just "help me get through," but also keep me focused on the gift of the time I have with the kids.

I really feel so privileged in this way: Not only do I get to spend most of my time with our children, but I also get the chance to replenish my energy at the end of the day thanks to you.

This feels pretty close to "having it all"—and it's all thanks to how hard you work during the day and night.

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When I was expecting my first child, I wanted to know everything that could possibly be in store for his first year.

I quizzed my own mom and the friends who ventured into motherhood before I did. I absorbed parenting books and articles like a sponge. I signed up for classes on childbirth, breastfeeding and even baby-led weaning. My philosophy? The more I knew, the better.

Yet, despite my best efforts, I didn't know it all. Not by a long shot. Instead, my firstborn, my husband and I had to figure it out together—day by day, challenge by challenge, triumph by triumph.


The funny thing is that although I wanted to know it all, the surprises—those moments that were unique to us—were what made that first year so beautiful.

Of course, my research provided a helpful outline as I graduated from never having changed a diaper to conquering the newborn haze, my return to work, the milestones and the challenges. But while I did need much of that tactical knowledge, I also learned the value of following my baby's lead and trusting my gut.

I realized the importance of advice from fellow mamas, too. I vividly remember a conversation with a friend who had her first child shortly before I welcomed mine. My friend, who had already returned to work after maternity leave, encouraged me to be patient when introducing a bottle and to help my son get comfortable with taking that bottle from someone else.

Yes, from a logistical standpoint, that's great advice for any working mama. But I also took an incredibly important point from this conversation: This was less about the act of bottle-feeding itself, and more about what it represented for my peace of mind when I was away from my son.

This fellow mama encouraged me to honor my emotions and give myself permission to do what was best for my family—and that really set the tone for my whole approach to parenting. Because honestly, that was just the first of many big transitions during that first year, and each of them came with their own set of mixed emotions.

I felt proud and also strangely nostalgic as my baby seamlessly graduated to a sippy bottle.

I felt my baby's teething pain along with him and also felt confident that we could get through it with the right tools.

I felt relieved as my baby learned to self-soothe by finding his own pacifier and also sad to realize how quickly he was becoming his own person.

As I look back on everything now, some four years and two more kids later, I can't remember the exact day my son crawled, the project I tackled on my first day back at work, or even what his first word was. (It's written somewhere in a baby book!)

But I do remember how I felt with each milestone: the joy, the overwhelming love, the anxiety, the exhaustion and the sense of wonder. That truly was the greatest gift of the first year… and nothing could have prepared me for all those feelings.

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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My husband and I always talked about starting a family a few years after we were married so we could truly enjoy the “newlywed” phase. But that was over before it started. I was pregnant on our wedding day. Surprise!

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