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In 1996, when we were both 22, my husband, Curry, and I hiked the nearly 500-mile Colorado Trail from Denver to Durango. I had very little backpacking experience, but I’d always wanted to disappear into the wilds of my home state.


A year out of college, with few job prospects, we figured a two-month hike would be a good way to cement our new and mostly long-distance relationship – and put off adult responsibilities a while longer.

That hike proved to be the hardest thing I had ever done. My pack was heavy. My boots gave me blisters. My shoulders hurt. It rained. It hailed. It snowed. I got lost. My journal entry after the first day was simply, “Ouch.” I whined. I moaned. I cried. But still I hiked, and Curry stuck with me.

Eventually we finished the trail, got married, had kids, built a house, got jobs, and took on those dreaded adult responsibilities.

A couple years ago, exactly 20 years later, I got it in my head to go back and hike the trail again, this time with our three sons in tow. It took some time to convince Curry and the kids that we should do it, but they came around. So last summer, we spent the 20th anniversary of our first Colorado Trail trek hiking it again with the boys, ages 11 (twins) and 15.

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Again, hiking 500 miles was hard. I was 20 years older, with 20 more years worth of wear-and-tear on my joints, and 20 (okay, a lot more than 20) pounds more weight on my body. In some ways, though, hiking the trail was easier the second time around.

Our packs were much lighter, thanks to a revolution in lightweight backpacking gear. We hiked earlier in the season and so had longer days and better weather. Twenty years of a casual yoga practice had improved my balance, so I didn’t fall into every stream I crossed. But the biggest reason the hike was easier this time I attribute to being a mom, which has greatly improved my ability to handle discomfort and adversity.

I know gross from gross

Anyone who’s ever gone backpacking can tell you it’s disgusting. You have to dig a hole in the ground and poop in it, sometimes several times a day, depending on your diet and your body’s reaction to the water you drink. You go days, sometimes weeks, without a shower, while sweating profusely all day, every day.

If you’re hiking in the west, you likely have to camp in and collect drinking water from cow- or sheep-infested areas. All anyone wants to talk about, other than food, is flatulence, feet, and feces. But it’s pretty hard to gross out a mother. I have been through childbirth, during which nine out of the 10 bodily fluids oozed from my body while I crouched naked in a room full of strangers.

I have been the target of projectile baby poop and spit-up. I have woken up with my child’s vomit in my hair and cleaned up matching slug-trails of spinach-souffle-colored diarrhea left behind by a pair of crawling babies with an intestinal virus and inadequate diapers. Backpacking’s got nothing on motherhood in the gross department.

My pain tolerance has increased

Five years after hiking the CT, I gave birth to a nine-pound, sunny-side-up baby. Four years later, I carried twins to term and underwent a c-section. Nothing can be as painful as pushing out a child the size of a bowling ball or recovering from abdominal surgery.

So even though that second hike hurt every inch of my middle-aged body, I carried on with more strength and grace than I had 20 years earlier. Even when I developed shin splints and every step of a 19-mile day felt like I was banging my shin into the sharp edge of a coffee table, I knew I would make it through and come out the other side stronger.

Everything’s temporary

There’s an old saying in Colorado, and probably some other states, too: “Don’t like the weather? Wait five minutes, it’ll change.”

This goes double for parenting. When my first son was a baby, I thought I might actually spend the rest of my life breastfeeding and changing diapers. But as the years went by, I came to realize that the only constant in parenting is change. Whatever feels especially annoying or difficult or wonderful about my child at any given time will likely be replaced in a week or a month or a year with a different trait or challenge.

This has helped me develop more equanimity as a mom. Knowing it won’t last, I’m more tolerant of the difficult side of my kids and more appreciative of the great stuff. During our hike, this understanding helped me persist in the face of bad weather, steep climbs, and physical discomforts. It also helped me appreciate the magnificent views, gorgeous wildflowers, and the quiet solitude of the wilderness.

I’m more compassionate

Being a mom has helped me to see the world from other people’s points of view, from my own children to other parents to random strangers. This has made me more understanding and forgiving of everyone, including myself.

My 1996 trail journal depicts a young woman frustrated with the difficulties of the trail, and frustrated with herself for not being stronger, braver, faster, and for not having a more meaningful, life-changing, spiritual experience.

I now look back at that woman and feel a surge of compassion. She did have a life-changing experience; she just couldn’t see it for what it was yet. She was strong and brave in ways that someone more naturally muscular or athletic wouldn’t need to be.

I still experienced frustration on the trail last summer, with myself and with my family. And while I handled that frustration with varying degrees of maturity, it didn’t translate into a desire to pack it up and quit the trail, like it had 20 years earlier. I persisted and, eventually, understood and forgave myself and my family members for the difficulties.

Parents spend a lot of time reading books and articles about how we can become better parents. We rarely stop to think about the ways that parenting itself helps us become better people, or how the skills and traits we develop can improve our experience in other areas of life – even an endeavor as seemingly unrelated as hiking 500 miles.

Who said motherhood doesn't come with a manual?

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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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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

    After quite a wait (he was born last week) Kim Kardashian and Kanye West have finally revealed their baby boy's name and it isn't what the internet was expecting.

    While Kim had previously hinted at the name Robert, after her late father and her brother, the couple went with a name that makes sense given Kanye's new Sunday Services.

    Baby number four for the Kardashian-Wests is called Psalm West, his mom announced via Instagram.

    Psalm is the fourth child for Kim and Kanye, who are already raising 5-year-old North, 3-year-old Saint and 1-year-old Chicago.

    Welcome to the family Psalm!

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    News
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