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Perfect parents don't exist—so why do we keep expecting them to?

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I recently posted a picture to my Instagram Story of my toddler snacking on a frozen (as in still frozen) chocolate chip waffle while watching a cartoon in the middle of a perfectly nice day. I captioned it: "We're all perfect parents until we become one"—and the response from many of my friends was, "Amen."


This was a scene that I didn't expect just years ago: Before I had children, I imagined I would make their meals from scratch and help them develop refined palates from young ages. I planned to limit screen time to occasional family movie nights, when we would sit around and laugh together while eating popcorn. I envisioned we would get out on exciting, stimulating adventures each and every day.

Then I had kids.

And while there are still plenty of homemade meals and screen-free adventures, there are also other days where we "break the rules" and watch too much TV while snacking on too many processed foods.

There's this quote from radio host Matt Walsh I like to remember during the times when I catch myself doing something I swore "I would never do" as a mom: "Parenting is the easiest thing in the world to have an opinion about, but the hardest thing to do."

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Yet, mom-shaming remains pervasive—with some of it coming from non-moms: According to a 2016 survey of more than 2,000 parents by ZERO TO THREE, 90% of moms feel judged with 48% of moms saying they feel negatively assessed by strangers in their communities.

These aren't just numbers and they aren't just us moms being sensitive. They are real issues that, unfortunately, we encounter by going out in the world.

For example, consider the photo of a mom who was looking at her phone rather than her infant while at the airport. The picture went viral soon after it was secretly taken, with people commenting on how "sad" it was she found her phone "more interesting" than her baby. If only they had taken the time to consider the full story: The mom, Molly Lensing, was stranded at the airport for more than 20 hours with her 2-month-old daughter. So, yes, she needed a quick break.

"Anastasia had been held or in her carrier for many hours. My arms were tired. She needed to stretch," Lensing told TODAY Parents about the embarrassment she felt when the picture went viral. "And I had to communicate with all the family members wondering where the heck we were."

The perception of these judgments are also difficult to cope with—especially for new parents. According to the Emotional Experiences of Early Parenthood in Australian Families Project, a number of new mothers were reluctant to take their babies (who are all prone to crying on occasion) in public because of the "pressure to have placid, quiet babies."

It's doubly hard when you aren't prepared for these real-life challenges. As the same study found, "Several mothers and fathers described having set 'high expectations' of themselves as parents, and felt not being able to meet these made their adjustment to early parenthood more difficult. Expectations that men and women had before becoming parents included maintaining a clean and tidy house, being a 'perfect mum', breastfeeding, co-sleeping or focusing their lives on their children."

Maybe it's time we admit we were probably part of the problem before we had kids. Whether silently wondering why parents were letting a kid play on a tablet while waiting for food at a restaurant or tsk-tsking at a toddler's grocery store tantrum, it's easy to see the public scene and make judgments on the private reasons.

But raising children is a lesson in rolling with it, coping and—hopefully—giving ourselves the grace we deserve on those days. Just as important is extending that grace to others. "All parents have bad days, but that doesn't make them bad parents overall," licensed marriage and family therapist Heidi McBain tells Motherly. "Parents are all over the world are doing the best they can do in that moment in time."

That's because while it would be easy enough to see the processed snacks or the moments when a cartoon on the tablet is the MVP of the day and pass judgment, those are just small factors in the big scheme of things. McBain adds, "There is no perfect parent, just parents who love their kids and are doing their best with what they have been given in life."

What matters are those bigger markers of parenting that we do as we always hoped: We love our children fiercely. We allow them to be their unique, wonderful selves. We appreciate both the little moments of joy and big celebrations. And that we support other parents as they do the same.

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If there's one thing you learn as a new mama, it's that routine is your friend. Routine keeps your world spinning, even when you're trucking along on less than four hours of sleep. Routine fends off tantrums by making sure bellies are always full and errands aren't run when everyone's patience is wearing thin. And routine means naps are taken when they're supposed to, helping everyone get through the day with needed breaks.

The only problem? Life doesn't always go perfectly with the routine. When my daughter was born, I realized quickly that, while her naps were the key to a successful (and nearly tear-free!) day, living my life according to her nap schedule wasn't always possible. There were groceries to fetch, dry cleaning to pick up, and―if I wanted to maintain any kind of social life―lunch dates with friends to enjoy.

Which is why the Ergobaby Metro Compact City Stroller was such a life-saver. While I loved that it was just 14 pounds (perfect for hoisting up the stairs to the subway or in the park) and folds down small enough to fit in an airplane overhead compartment (you know, when I'm brave enough to travel again!), the real genius of this pint-sized powerhouse is that it doesn't skimp on comfort.

Nearly every surface your baby touches is padded with plush cushions to provide side and lumbar support to everything from their sweet head to their tiny tush―it has 40% more padding than other compact strollers. When nap time rolls around, I could simply switch the seat to its reclined position with an adjustable leg rest to create an instant cozy nest for my little one.

There's even a large UV 50 sun canopy to throw a little shade on those sleepy eyes. And my baby wasn't the only one benefiting from the comfortable design― the Metro is the only stroller certified "back healthy" by the AGR of Germany, meaning mamas get a much-needed break too.

I also appreciate how the Metro fits comfortably into my life. The sleek profile fits through narrow store aisles as easily as it slides up to a table when I'm able to meet a pal for brunch. Plus, the spring suspension means the tires absorb any bumps along our way―helping baby stay asleep no matter where life takes us. When it's time to take my daughter out, it folds easily with one hand and has an ergonomic carry handle to travel anywhere we want to go.

Life will probably never be as predictable as I'd like, but at least with our Metro stroller, I know my child will be cradled with care no matter what crosses our path.

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

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Sometimes it is hard to put into words exactly what a mother feels when she's in the middle of postpartum depression. That's why artist and author Teresa Wong channeled her feelings into pictures as well in a graphic memoir called Dear Scarlet: The Story of My Postpartum Depression.

Wong put her pen to paper, trying to draw out exactly how she felt after the birth of her first child, Scarlet. And what she felt is so relatable to so many moms.

From the swollen feet and massive hemorrhoids she was dealing with in the hospital after giving birth, to the mental load she carried out of the hospital, Wong's story is the story of so many new mamas.

Told as a letter to her daughter Scarlet, Wong's art shows women dealing with postpartum depression (PPD) they are not alone. It impacts as many as 1 in 7 mothers. It can make you feel like the person in the mirror is unrecognizable, but help is available.

At first, Wong's doctor told her what she was feeling was just the baby blues, but PPD is so much more than that and needs to be taken seriously by doctors, mothers and their partners. If you find Wong's comics a little too relatable, please say something.

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You are not alone, and you can get help. Unfortunately, research suggests that many new mothers who need help don't reach out to get it.

Wong got through her PPD, and now has three children and is a published author. You can get through it too, mama. You just need to let someone know if you are struggling.

Dear Scarlet: The Story of My Postpartum Depression is available on Amazon.

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It's been more than a year since Khloé Kardashian welcomed her daughter True Thompson into the world, and like a lot of new moms, Khloé didn't just learn how to to be a mom this year, she also learned how to co-parent with someone who is no longer her partner. According to the Pew Research Center, co-parenting and the likelihood that a child will spend part of their childhood living with just one parent is on the rise.

There was a ton of media attention on Khloé's relationship with True's father Tristan Thompson in her early days of motherhood, and in a new interview on the podcast "Divorce Sucks!," Khloé explained that co-parenting with someone you have a complicated relationship with isn't always easy, but when she looks at True she knows it's worth it.

"For me, Tristan and I broke up not too long ago so it's really raw," Khloé tells divorce attorney Laura Wasser on the podcast. She explains that even though it does "suck" at times, she's committed to having a good relationship with her ex because she doesn't want True to pick up on any negative energy, even at her young age.

That's why she invited Tristan to True's recent first birthday bash, even though she knew True wouldn't remember that party. "I know she's going to want to look back at all of her childhood memories like we all do," Khloé explained. "I know her dad is a great person, and I know how much he loves her and cares about her, so I want him to be there."

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We totally get why being around Tristan is hard for Khloé, but it sounds like she's approaching co-parenting with a positive attitude that will benefit True in the long run. Studies have found that shared parenting is good for kids and that former couples who have "ongoing personal and emotional involvement with their former spouse" are more likely to rate their co-parenting relationship positively.

Khloé says her relationship with Tristan right now is "civilized," and hopefully it can get even better with time. As Suzanne Hayes noted in her six guiding principles for a co-parenting relationship, there's no magic bullet for moving past the painful feelings that come when a relationship ends and into a healthy co-parenting relationship, but treating your ex with respect and (non-romantic) love is a good place to start. Hayes describes it as "human-to-human, parent-to-parent, we-share-amazing-children-and-always-will love."

It's a great place to start, and it sounds like Khloé has already figured that out.

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If you looked at the recently released list of top baby names from the Social Security Administration and thought, Those aren't popular around here, you're probably right.

While Emma and Liam are the top baby names for the entire country, when we break it down by state, the lists change.

For example, the third most common boys' name in California—Sebastian—is ranked 18 nationally, and Lucy gets the spot 51 overall, but is the fifth most common girls' name in Utah.

Skylar is in the top 5 in Mississippi but way down in the fifties nationally, and Easton is super popular in North Dakota, but is ranked 66th across the country,

Is your name pick in the top five for your state? Check out this list Motherly pulled from SSA data.

Here are the top five baby names for every state in America:

Alabama:

William, James, John, Elijah, Noah

Ava, Olivia, Harper Emma, Amelia

Alaska

Oliver, Logan, Liam, Benjamin, Michael

Aurora, Amelia, Charlotte, Olivia, Sophia

Arizona

Liam, Noah, Sebastian, Benjamin, Oliver

Emma Olivia, Mia, Isabella, Sophia

Arkansas

Noah, Elijah, William, Liam, Oliver

Ava, Olivia, Emma, Amelia, Harper

California

Noah, Liam, Sebastian, Mateo, Ethan

Emma, Mia, Olivia, Isabella, Sophia

Colorado

Liam, Oliver, William, Noah, Benjamin

Olivia, Emma, Charlotte, Evelyn, Isabella

Connecticut

Noah, Liam, Benjamin, Logan, Lucas

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Olivia, Emma, Isabella, Charlotte, Ava

Delaware

Liam, Noah, Mason, Logan, James

Ava, Isabella, Charlotte, Olivia, Sophia

District of Columbia

William, James, Henry, Alexander, Benjamin

Ava, Olivia, Elizabeth. Emma, Charlotte

Florida

Liam, Noah, Lucas, Elijah, Logan

Isabella, Emma, Olivia, Sophia, Mia

Georgia

William, Noah, Liam, Elijah, James

Ava, Olivia, Emma, Amelia, Isabella

Hawaii

Liam, Noah, Elijah, Logan, Ethan

Emma, Isabella, Aria, Mila, Olivia

Idaho

Liam, Oliver, Henry, William, James

Olivia, Emma, Evelyn, Harper, Charlotte

Illinois

Noah, Liam, Oliver, Benjamin, Alexander

Olivia, Emma, Ava, Isabella, Sophia

Indiana

Oliver, Liam, Noah, Elijah, William

Emma, Olivia, Amelia, Charlotte Ava

Iowa

Oliver, Liam, Henry, William, Owen

Harper, Evelyn, Emma, Charlotte, Olivia

Kansas

Liam, Oliver, Henry, William, Mason

Olivia, Emma, Charlotte, Evelyn, Ava

Kentucky

William, Liam, Elijah, Noah, Grayson

Emma, Olivia, Ava, Harper, Amelia

Louisiana

Noah, Liam, Elijah, James, William

Ava, Olivia, Emma, Amelia, Harper

Maine

Oliver, Liam, Owen, Wyatt, Henry

Charlotte, Amelia, Emma, Harper, Olivia

Maryland

Liam, Noah, William, Dylan, Ethan

Ava, Olivia, Charlotte, Emma, Sophia

Massachusettes

Benjamin, Liam, James, Lucas, Wiliam

Emma, Olivia, Charlotte, Sophia, Isabella

Michigan

Noah, Oliver, Liam, Benjamin, William

Olivia, Ava, Emma, Charlotte, Amelia

Minnesota

Henry, Oliver, William. Liam, Theodore

Evelyn, Olivia, Charlotte, Emma, Harper

Mississippi

John, William, Noah, Elijah, James

Ava, Olivia, Emma, Amelia, Skylar

Missouri

Liam, Oliver, William, Henry, Noah

Olivia, Emma, Charlotte, Harper, Ava

Montana

Liam, William, Noah, Oliver, Henry

Harper, Olivia, Emma, Charlotte, Abigail

Nebraska

Liam, Henry, Oliver, William, Jack

Olivia, Emma, Evelyn, Charlotte, Harper

Nevada

Liam, Noah, Sebastian, Elijah, Daniel

Emma, Isabella, Olivia, Sophia, Ava

New Hampshire

Oliver, Jackson, Mason, Liam, Henry

Olivia, Charlotte, Emma, Ava, Amelia

New Jersey

Liam, Noah, Jacob, Michael, Matthew

Emma, Isabella, Olivia, Mia, Ava

New Mexico

Noah, Liam, Elijah, Mateo, Logan

Isabella, Sophia, Mia, Emma, Olivia

New York

Liam, Noah, Jacob, Lucas, Ethan

Emma, Olivia, Isabella, Sophia, Mia

North Carolina

Noah, William, Liam, James, Elijah

Ava, Emma, Olivia, Charlotte, Harper

North Dakota

Oliver, Henry, Owen, Hudson, Easton

Olivia, Emma, Harper, Charlotte, Amelia

Ohio

Liam, Noah, William, Oliver, Owen

Ava, Emma, Olivia, Amelia, Harper

Oklahoma

Liam, Noah, William, Oliver, Elijah

Emma, Olivia, Ava, Isabella, Harper

Oregon

Oliver, William, Benjamin, Henry, Liam

Emma, Olivia, Evelyn, Charlotte, Amelia

Pennsylvania

Liam, Noah, Benjamin, Mason, Michael

Emma, Olivia, Ava, Charlotte, Sophia

Rhode Island

Liam, Noah, Benjamin, Alexander, Oliver

Amelia, Olivia, Emma, Sophia, Mia

South Carolina

William, James, Noah, Elijah, Liam, Mason

Ava, Emma, Olivia, Charlotte, Harper

South Dakota

Grayson, Henry, Liam, Owen, Oliver

Harper, Emma, Olivia, Charlotte, Ava

Tennessee

William, James, Liam, Noah, Elijah

Emma, Ava, Olivia, Harper, Amelia

Texas

Liam, Noah, Sebastian, Mateo, Elijah

Emma, Isabella, Olivia, Mia, Sophia

Utah

Oliver, William, Liam, James, Henry

Olivia, Charlotte, Emma, Evelyn, Lucy

Vermont

Oliver, Liam, Owen, Levi, Benjamin

Harper, Charlotte, Evelyn, Emma, Nora

Virginia

William, Liam, Noah, James, Alexander

Ava, Olivia, Emma, Charlotte, Sophia

Washington

Liam, Oliver, William, Noah, Henry

Olivia, Emma, Evelyn, Amelia, Charlotte

West Virginia

Mason, Liam, Elijah, Grayson, Owen,

Emma, Olivia, Ava, Harper, Amelia

Wisconsin

Oliver, Liam, Henry, William, Logan

Evelyn, Emma, Olivia, Harper, Charlotte

Wyoming

Oliver, Logan, Jackson, Lincoln, Wyatt

Amelia, Emma, Elizabeth, Harper, Olivia

[This post was originally published May 18, 2018. It has been updated.]

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    Alaska

    Olivia, Aurora, Isabella, Sophia

    James, Liam, Wyatt, William, Noah

    Arizona

    Emma, Isabella, Olivia, Mia, Sophia

    Liam, Noah, Sebastian, Alexander, Julian

    Arkansas

    Emma, Olivia, Ava, Harper, Isabella

    Elijah, William, Noah, Liam, Mason

    California

    Emma, Mia, Olivia, Sophia, Isabella

    Noah, Sebastian, Liam, Ethan, Matthew

    Colorado

    Emma, Olivia, Charlotte, Evelyn, Isabella

    Liam, Oliver, William, Noah, Benjamin

    Connecticut 

    Olivia, Emma, Ava, Mia, Sophia

    Noah, Liam, Logan, Jacob, Michael

    Delaware

    Olivia, Ava, Charlotte, Isabella, Emma

    Logan, Noah, Liam, Mason, Michael

    District of Columbia 

    Ava, Olivia, Eleanor, Genesis, Elizabeth

    James, Henry, William, Noah, Jacob

    Florida

    Isabella, Emma, Olivia, Sophia, Ava

    Liam, Noah, Lucas, Elijah, Matthew

    Georgia 

    Ava, Olivia, Emma, Isabella, Charlotte

    William, Noah, Mason, Elijah, James

    Hawaii

    Emma, Olivia, Aria, Ava, Chloe

    Liam, Noah, Mason, Elijah, Logan

    Idaho

    Emma, Olivia, Charlotte, Evelyn, Harper

    Oliver, Liam, William, James, Mason

    Illinois

    Olivia, Emma, Ava, Sophia, Isabella

    Noah, Liam, Benjamin, Logan, Alexander

    Indiana

    Emma, Olivia, Amelia, Charlotte, Harper

    Oliver, Liam, Elijah, Noah, William

    Iowa

    Harper, Emma, Olivia, Charlotte, Evelyn

    Oliver, Liam, Henry, Lincoln, Wyatt

    Kansas

    Emma, Olivia, Ava, Harper, Evelyn

    Oliver, William, Liam, Jackson, Henry

    Kentucky

    Emma, Ava, Olivia, Harper, Isabella

    William, Elijah, Noah, Liam, James

    Louisiana

    Olivia, Ava, Emma, Amelia, Harper

    Liam, Noah, Mason, Elijah, William

    Maine

    Charlotte, Olivia, Emma, Harper, Amelia

    Oliver, Lincoln, Liam, Owen, Wyatt

    Maryland

    Ava, Olivia, Emma, Sophia, Charlotte

    Liam, Noah, James, Logan, Jacob

    Massachusetts

    Emma, Olivia, Charlotte, Sophia, Isabella

    Benjamin, William, Liam, Lucas, Noah

    Michigan

    Emma, Ava, Olivia, Charlotte, Amelia

    Liam, Noah, Oliver, Lucas, Mason

    Minnesota 

    Olivia, Evelyn, Emma, Charlotte, Nora

    Oliver, William, Henry, Liam, Theodore

    Mississippi

    Ava, Emma, Olivia, Paisley, Amelia

    William, John, James, Mason, Elijah

    Missouri

    Olivia, Ava, Emma, Amelia, Harper

    William, Liam, Oliver, Noah, Elijah

    Montana

    Olivia, Emma, Harper, Ava, Charlotte

    James, William, Liam, Oliver, Wyatt

    Nebraska

    Emma, Olivia, Amelia, Charlotte, Evelyn

    Oliver, Liam, William, Henry, Noah

    Nevada 

    Emma, Mia, Isabella, Sophia, Olivia

    Liam, Noah, Elijah, Michael, Sebastian

    New Hampshire

    Charlotte, Evelyn, Emma, Olivia, Amelia

    Logan, Henry, Mason, Owen, Oliver

    New Jersey

    Emma, Olivia, Isabella, Mia, Sophia

    Liam, Noah, Matthew, Michael, Jacob

    New Mexico

    Mia, Sophia, Isabella, Olivia, Ava

    Noah, Santiago, Elijah, Liam, Daniel

    New York

    Olivia, Emma, Sophia, Mia, Ava

    Liam, Noah, Jacob, Lucas, Joseph

    North Carolina

    Ava, Emma, Olivia, Isabella, Charlotte

    William, Noah, Liam, James, Mason

    North Dakota 

    Emma, Harper, Olivia, Amelia, Ava

    Oliver, Henry, Liam, Noah, William

    Ohio

    Emma, Ava, Olivia, Harper, Charlotte

    Liam, Carter, Noah, William, Lucas

    Oklahoma

    Emma, Olivia, Harper, Ava, Isabella

    William, Liam, Noah, Elijah, James

    Oregon

    Emma, Olivia. Sophia, Charlotte, Evelyn

    Oliver, Liam, Henry, Benjamin, William

    Pennsylvania 

    Emma, Olivia, Ava, Charlotte, Sophia

    Liam, Noah, Logan, Benjamin, Mason

    Rhode Island

    Charlotte, Emma, Olivia, Sophia, Isabella

    Lucas, Liam, Noah, Julian, Mason

    South Carolina

    Ava, Emma, Olivia, Charlotte, Harper

    William, Noah, Mason, James, Liam

    South Dakota

    Emma, Olivia, Harper, Evelyn, Nora

    Oliver, Henry, Liam, Noah, William

    Tennessee

    Ava, Olivia, Emma, Amelia, Harper

    William, Elijah, James, Noah, Mason

    Texas

    Emma, Mia, Isabella, Sophia, Olivia

    Noah, Liam, Sebastian, Mateo, Elijah

    Utah

    Olivia, Emma, Charlotte, Evelyn, Hazel

    Oliver, Liam, William, James, Benjamin

    Vermont

    Evelyn, Olivia, Charlotte, Emma, Harper

    Wyatt, William, Oliver, Liam, Noah

    Virginia

    Olivia, Ava, Emma, Charlotte, Isabella

    Liam, William, Noah, James, Benjamin

    Washington

    Olivia, Emma, Evelyn, Ava, Isabella

    Liam, Oliver, Noah, William, Benjamin

    West Virginia

    Emma, Olivia, Harper, Paisley, Amelia

    Liam, Mason, Elijah, Grayson, Carter

    Wisconsin

    Emma, Olivia, Evelyn, Charlotte, Ava

    Henry, Oliver, Liam, William, Logan

    Wyoming

    Emma, Harper, Ava, Avery, Charlotte

    Liam, Wyatt, Carter, James, Logan

    News

    The series is coming to an end but the names George R. R. Martin gave his characters will live on in the classrooms and on the playgrounds of America.

    As we mentioned last week, Game of Thrones inspired baby names graced the birth certificates of thousands of babies born in the United States in 2028. It's no surprise that a popular show influenced parents, but what is surprising is that parents of girls are more likely to choose a GoT name.

    When you take Jamie and Jon out of the equation (because they were always popular way before GoT) the most popular names inspired by the show belong to two strong women: Arya and the Kahlessi.

    As NBC data journalist Joe Murphy first reported, Arya is the most popular Game of Thrones inspired name in America, belonging to 2545 girls in 2018. There were not nearly as many little babies named Daenarys, but her Dothraki title, Khaleesi, comes in second place with 560 baby girls taking that one. There are also 19 girls called Caleesi and 5 little Khaleesies who got an extra 'e'.

    As the New York Times reports, as a name, 'Khaleesi' is more popular than other major pop-culture characters, like Hermoine or Katniss or Tris. Those names never made it into the Social Security Administrations top 1,000 baby names, but in 2017 Khaleesi was ranked 630th and in 2018 it was the 549th most popular baby girl name.

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    That's hundreds of spots higher than the name Brittany (or Britney) or even some more modern, trendy names like Ensley. It's also way, way higher Sansa, which was only given to 29 girls in 2018.

    Even abroad, Khaleesi is a Queen when it comes to baby names. According to the New York Times, it's on the rise in the UK and Scotland, where several parents have created hyphenated versions, including Khaleesi-Destiny, Khaleesi-Grace, and Khaleesi-Marie.

    Tonight the on-screen Khaleesi will meet her fate, but no matter what happens to the Mother of Dragons, plenty of moms have ensured this pop culture icon will live on.

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