What I want my friends without kids to know

Yes I’m exhausted. And yes, I’ve never been happier. 

What I want my friends without kids to know

To my dear friends without kids yet—

From the moment you found out I was pregnant, you celebrated. You asked if we were planning on having a baby, what gender I was hoping for. You asked how I was feeling and if strangers really do touch my belly without asking. You bought me an adorable onesie and repeatedly assured me that I was the cutest pregnant woman you’ve ever seen. You supported me the best you knew how and I am so, so grateful.

And I know you had questions that felt super personal but you were dying to know. Ones about my body:

What does your stomach look like? Are you getting stretch marks? How about your boobs—why do pregnant women complain about them so much? Why are you waddling? Are you scared of losing your pre-baby body?


And ones about my heart:

Are you scared of labor? Are you scared of all the lack of sleep that’s about to happen? How about the fact that your life isn’t about you anymore? Are you bummed to be losing all your free time to a routine that revolves around a baby? Are you sad that your weekends aren’t weekends anymore? Will you be one of those moms who complains about being so busy, but then I catch you saying you fell asleep at 7:45 last night? How can you be “so busy” if that’s when you go to bed?

How do you feel, knowing life as you know it is about to end?

You didn’t ask them, probably because you are polite, kind, and didn’t know if I would get offended. But I know you thought about them, because you are human and curious. Because I had the same ones before I became a mom.

So, I’ll answer them now.

Yea, my body went nuts. I was exhausted at the beginning—the most tired I’ve ever felt. As exhaustion gave way to a growing belly, I would pause when I felt the flutter of my daughter’s kicks. It would make my heart do the same, even as I felt uncomfortable most days (and nights).

Every ounce of energy and resource that was once “mine” was redirected to forming my daughter.

It was the beginning, the very beginning, of my heart, my mind and even my body starting to prioritize another life above my own.

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So stretch marks will come and your hips get a little wider and you look in the mirror and wondering if you’ll ever feel normal again. Even when people gush over “the cute little bump you have”—you feel like a whale. It seemed like my boobs would hurt if I just looked at them the wrong way. I guess going from lying dormant to milk-machine status is a painful transition. And they were getting huge—which would have been great if I were still in 9th grade, wishing my boobs were bigger. Instead, they were just joining the rest of my body as it swelled.

You have moments of wondering if you’ll ever be pretty again or if your spouse finds you attractive anymore. My moments would come looking at the cute clothes in the windows of the boutiques in my little corner of Chicago. A pang of sadness would go through my heart - because a.) I didn’t know if I would look cute in a fun little sundress ever again and b.) I also knew that the days of lingering in those boutiques with no outside responsibilities were numbered.

What’s left of my pregnancy is a faint line that runs vertical on my belly.

And a slightly softer everything. While I didn’t get stretch marks this time, I very well could earn a few with the next one. Every woman is different. And every woman thinks about it. Sure, when I see a Victoria’s Secret ad, I wish I had her body. But then I remember that a lot of her body is computer-generated and manipulated. And I want to assure you—you really do embrace the body you have after a baby. You grow to respect it so much because it housed and formed and held the little life that you now get to hold with your arms, not your womb.

It’s the beginning, the very beginning, of demonstrating to your children that we are so much more than our bodies.

The beautiful thing about pregnancy is that it gets you ready for labor.

And there’s no poetic meaning behind that statement—all the fear I had about labor was swallowed up by cankles, heartburn, and hugeness. You really don’t care that you are naked in front of strangers who are getting a front-row view to. . . everything. I just wanted the baby out and I didn’t freaking care how it happened.

I almost passed out while I was pushing.

The doctor made me hold my breath and push to the count of 10, three times over, before giving me a moment to rest. She saw me growing weak so she had me breath oxygen in between sets. The thing I did not expect is how it felt like I was going to burst a blood vessel on my face. Or, how strong I could be when I was so very tired. And then the words rang out—“She’s here!” The most beautiful sight and sound filled the room—my daughter and her cries.

It was the beginning, the very beginning, of throwing regard of my own fear and pain out of the window for the sake of my baby.

There’s this weird thing that happens with time, post-birth. It warps and bends and blurs. Sleepless nights leave you feeling fuzzy. Baby blues can make a morning feel like an eternal loneliness. Postpartum can make you wonder if it will take 3 years before you will fit into your favorite pair of skinny jeans again.

Then you blink and your baby is 6 months old. 9 months old. 1 year. And from what I hear, it’s only a few more blinks and she’s off to college.

And so yes—I do miss impromptu trips to brunch where it doesn’t take 30 minutes to get out of the door. Sometimes I get really sad that we can’t make plans on the weekends because the baby is asleep by 7pm. Date nights are now a mini mortgage payment into our marriage, since we have to pay for dinner and the babysitter. It would be great to go get a quick workout in without having to plan logistics with my husband. I’m weary most days of the week because, from the moment I’m awake until I go to bed, I’m working. Changing diapers, prepping food, managing my team at work, snuggling my daughter, catching up with my husband, giving baths, cleaning up. Free time, me time? It was once a common occurrence and has evolved to a rare luxury.

But before you jump to the conclusion that all I’m doing is complaining—let me add one thing.

Becoming a mom was the beginning, the very beginning of learning the following statement in the core of my soul: Sacrificial love is not real unless the sacrifice meant something to you.

I said goodbye to a lot when we brought our daughter home. A lot of things ended, and if you are like me, you’ll miss them. Sometimes you’ll miss them a lot. But all the things you trade in are just that—things. Precious things, yes. But sleep, money, time and even my body? They are fleeting anyways.

Yes I’m exhausted. But yes, I’ve never been happier.

These new beginnings—the forever things—will be the love you have for your spouse and your baby. It’s learning that your heart wasn’t at its fullest capacity to love until its beat was beating for the both of you and its rhythm was the constant sound of “mommy’s here” for 40 weeks.

It’s the strength and resolve that is born in your heart when you become a mom.

It’s the fact that you are bringing a tiny human into your home to love and cherish and raise.

I get to show my baby girl how lovely the sky looks at sunset, how good it feels to wiggle her toes in the sand, how to be kind and bold and brave as she grows up.

That kind of humbling, amazing opportunity?

You won’t trade it for the world.

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This year many of us have a tighter budget than usual given (looks around) everything that has happened. Coupled with the uncertainty of what Halloween might look like, many of us are reluctant to spend money on brand new costumes that our kids will outgrow by next year. I get it. But I also know that many, like me, love Halloween so much. I thought about skipping the celebration this year, but that just feels like too big of a disappointment in an already disappointing year.

That's why I started looking into alternative costumes—something my kids will be able to wear once the clock hits November, and maybe even hand down to siblings and cousins in the coming years. At the same time, I'm not a DIY person, so I wanted outfits that didn't require any sewing or hot glue. Last year I attempted using one to build my son's Care Bear costume, and of course, I burnt my hand.

So with some creativity (and the brainpower of my colleagues), we came up with these costumes that are both fun and practical, made with items that your children will be able to (and want to!) wear year around:

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They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

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Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.


Balance board

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Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!


Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.


Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.


Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.


Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.


Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.


Vintage scooter balance bike

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Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.


Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.


Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.


Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

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Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.


Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.


Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.


We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.


All the things that were left unsaid during the first presidential debate and why it matters

What parents need to know about President Trump's first debate against Joe Biden.


[Editor's note: Motherly is committed to covering all relevant presidential candidate plans as we approach the 2020 election. We are making efforts to get information from all candidates. Motherly does not endorse any political party or candidate. We stand with and for mothers and advocate for solutions that will reduce maternal stress and benefit women, families and the country.]

Parents in America have been living in survival mode for half a year now. Mothers are depleted and burned out, but most plan to use some of their precious-little energy to vote in the upcoming presidential election. According to a recent survey by Peanut, 93% of moms will be voting on November 3.


The "mom vote" will be very important in this election. The Democratic Party is counting on moms who are angry with President Donald Trump, while a Republican PAC called Moms for Safe Neighborhoods hopes its 30-second ad is scary enough to convince suburban moms to re-elect the sitting president.

But this election isn't about mom rage versus maternal fear. It's about looking forward to a future where both are reduced. That is what America's moms really want, and need.

The two men vying for the leadership of America would do well to remember that, and should be paying more attention to the issues that impact families every day.

On Tuesday night when they took the debate stage for the first time, President Trump and Joe Biden talked about a lot of topics (sometimes at the same time), but they missed some real opportunities to talk to American mothers.

Here's why that matters:

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