To the woman who made me  a father—thank you

To the mother of my children,

That day was such a blur. We hardly knew what was happening to us. It didn’t help that she was two weeks early. Or that she was born on New Year’s Day just hours after we’d gone “all in” on one final kidless party. I will be forever grateful for the triage nurse who finally admitted us so that I could get a nap.

Me. Not you...even with your swollen belly and feet and cheeks and heart. You were incredible that day. That whole nine months. I remember we discovered we were pregnant the day before Mother’s Day. Four days later we were the proud owners of a timeshare in Cabo San Lucas thanks to our boundless optimism, as well as incredible stupidity, about what it would mean for us to become a family.

Since we met, I’ve run two marathons. I’ve ridden my bicycle from Seattle to Portland twice and from Seattle to Canada once. I’ve escaped from Alcatraz five times and swam across Lake Washington twice. I’ve completed a triathlon. I’ve attempted to hike up Mount Rainier. I even did one of those muddy obstacle course races to prove how “tough” I was.

But you created a life. What you accomplished over those months is awe inspiring. It makes all of my medals and ribbons and certificates seem puny, even phony. Because of what you created that day. Because of her. She’s 13 now, currently carving through the water at swim practice. You made her. You make her every day. She’s priceless.

But you made something else that day. You made a father. My relationship with fathers and Father’s Day is complicated. I’ll not spill too much ink on my own father except to say that I do wish the best version of him had gotten a chance to meet the best version of me. But I’ve had a ton of great fathers step in where he didn’t or wouldn’t or couldn’t: Ray, Otis, Keith, Ron, George, Sean, and Steve and Steve and Steve. But none of them. Not one taught me to be a father as you have.

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I am so grateful for the father you are making me into. Your grace, your kindness, your courage, as well as your rage, your fear, your despair have all invited me to step up on her behalf. Of course now there are two of them. The second arrived on Halloween, and she is both haunted and hallowed. They’re both priceless creations.

They’re smart, powerful, compassionate, wild, and beautiful. Like their mother.

They dance, swim, play, and dream with reckless abandon. Like their mother.

They’re creative. Like their mother.

The three of you have all created a father.

I could not be more grateful. The greatest privilege of my life is writing the story of our family. Not with this sticky keyboard, but with you. Some day, not too long from now, our girls are going to sit on some therapist’s couch and they’re going to start talking about their parents.

What will they say? Can you imagine what might come out of their mouth?

I hope it is this:

My parents took care of each other. They were great friends. They fought with integrity. They were intentional. Even though they made a ton of mistakes, they were really good at apologizing, to one another and to us. They were a team. As hard as we tried, we couldn’t get between them.

My dad adored my mom. And us. We never doubted that he was absolutely in love with her and also absolutely committed to us. And my mom...she respected my dad. She respected him enough to let him lead and speak for our family; but she also respected him enough to let him know when he was being a dork. She was crazy about him. She was his equal.

Family mattered to them, but not just our family of four. And not the families that defined them. Somehow, they cared about our future families. They cared about who we would become as adults. They wanted us to grow up to be emotionally and physically and spiritually independent. I think mostly because they wanted to be able to rest easy once they had the house to themselves again.

My parents, just like all parents, did a ton of damage. They’re broken, just like me, but they loved me and they helped me create good boundaries. I’m sure I’ll complain about them forever, but I know with certainty that they were mostly good. And they were definitely good for each other.

That’s what I hope they say.

So here’s what I want you, as the mother who created a father, to know:

You are good for me. I know you are broken. And I know that you know that I am broken. I am so grateful to share life with you. Even, and perhaps, especially the life we will share after our girls are gone. I look forward to loving them as adults. To traveling with them—to Cabo, obviously—and to becoming part of their future families. I adore you you. And I am in awe of you. I love fighting with you and making up with you. You are my best friend. And I am committed to protecting our friendship, our love affair, from all comers. Including our two priceless trophies.

You made me a father. But you also made me a husband. I accept both roles. But mostly I accept that you are a creator, and I am grateful for the opportunity to be creative with you.

Thank you for making me into the man, husband, father that I am.

Zach Brittle is a licensed mental health counselor and Certified Gottman Therapist based in Seattle, Wa. He is the founder of forBetter, which offers online courses for couples, and the best-selling author of The Relationship Alphabet. His writings and insights have also been featured in Verily Magazine, Psych Central, Happify, Men’s Health Magazine and the Washington Post. He has been happily married to Rebecca for 18 of 19 years – year #8 was pretty rough. Together, they have two daughters (9 & 13), a minivan, and most of the silverware we got as wedding presents.

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Mom life demands efficiency. Because while the amount of hours in the day are the same as before kids, now a sizable chunk of that time is spent caring for and loving on those little people. Compromises happen—and let's just be honest, the old beauty routine is one of the first things to get cut.

But, wait! You don't have to sacrifice putting on mascara or, worse, skipping the SPF. Instead, why not flip it, reverse it, and look at the bright side? Here's your opportunity to streamline your morning makeup routine. With some savvy skin care and beauty hacks, you can get your radiant glow on in record time.

Here are our tried-and-true hacks passed down from Motherly mamas:

1. Embrace multipurpose items

If the most pressing issue is limited time, consolidate multiple steps of your beauty routine with a multipurpose item. For example, instead of starting with a SPF moisturizer, followed by spot concealer and a blendable foundation, you can take care of all of that in one go with one of our favorites: Earth Mama's 3-in-one Lady Face™ Tinted Mineral Sunscreen. The beauty stick also allows you to easily fold SPF 40 into your routine, because Lady Face doubles as super-safe, clean sun protection. Even better? The sunscreen blocks blue light from those ever-present digital screens with a ray-scattering, non-nano formula.

2. Revive dried mascara

Especially after a sleepless night (#motherhood), mascara can make a major difference in how well rested you appear to be. If you realize your tube of mascara is dried out, don't write it off as a lost cause. Simply soak the sealed tube in warm water to loosen up the mascara — or add a drop of a multi-purpose saline solution into the tube. That should do the trick until you have time to buy a replacement. (But let's face it: You're a mom. It's okay if you're tired.)

3. Keep coconut oil handy

Coconut oil isn't just for the kitchen. From a DIY hair mask to an in-a-pinch lip balm or naturally removing makeup at the end of the day, coconut oil's cosmetic hack-list is long. For summer, we especially like adding a thin swipe of organic extra virgin coconut oil to the cheekbones at the end of the makeup routine for a bit of an extra glow.

4. Multitask while deep conditioning

If your hair needs a bit of TLC, consider applying a natural, paraben-free deep conditioner before doing chores around the house or even a short workout. By working up a bit of a sweat, the conditioner will set even better before you rinse off in the shower.

5. Start your hair care routine the night before

As you work to find your new normal morning routine, it can help to simply reschedule a task or two—like hair. If you shower the night before, get a jumpstart on your look by blowdrying, straightening or even braiding it for loose waves in the morning.

6. Even out your skin tone

Between multiple wake-ups during the night and wavering hormones, complexion issues can become a thing for most mamas. Thankfully, the hack for managing that is as simple as finding a great foundation that goes on smoothly and doesn't cake or crack through a morning of momming. Scope out the ingredient list for naturally nourishing components like coconut oil, shea butter or beeswax — and skip the stress (and the return process if the shade doesn't match) by going for something that easily blends with most skin tones.

7. Find brands your feel great about

As a mom, you might find yourself considering bigger life questions: Are my cosmetics safe for pregnancy and breastfeeding? Are they helping the world my children will grow up in? Can I trust the ingredients and mission? Pro tip: read the ingredients on all your personal care products, memorize the ones you want to avoid, and look for third-party certification to ensure the product is actually what it says it is. When you find a brand that walks the talk, you're going to want to be loyal.

8. When in doubt, go for a bold lip

With happy hours swapped for play dates, your daily routine may look a bit different than it used to. But who says you have to leave your personal style behind? If you've always been a fan of makeup and going a bit glam, keep going for it, mama! The extra 60 seconds it takes to apply lipstick or whatever else gives you a bit of pep in your step is well worth it.

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

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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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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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