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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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By: Justine LoMonaco


From the moment my daughter was born, I felt an innate need to care for her. The more I experienced motherhood, I realized that sometimes this was simple―after all, I was hardwired to respond to her cries and quickly came to know her better than anyone else ever could―but sometimes it came with mountains of self-doubt.

This was especially true when it came to feeding. Originally, I told myself we would breastfeed―exclusively. I had built up the idea in my mind that this was the correct way of feeding my child, and that anything else was somehow cheating. Plus, I love the connection it brought us, and so many of my favorite early memories are just my baby and me (at all hours of night), as close as two people can be as I fed her from my breast.

Over time, though, something started to shift. I realized I felt trapped by my daughter's feeding schedule. I felt isolated in the fact that she needed me―only me―and that I couldn't ask for help with this monumental task even if I truly needed it. While I was still so grateful that I was able to breastfeed without much difficulty, a growing part of me began fantasizing about the freedom and shared burden that would come if we bottle fed, even just on occasion.

I was unsure what to expect the first time we tried a bottle. I worried it would upset her stomach or cause uncomfortable gas. I worried she would reject the bottle entirely, meaning the freedom I hoped for would remain out of reach. But in just a few seconds, those worries disappeared as I watched her happily feed from the bottle.

What I really didn't expect? The guilt that came as I watched her do so. Was I robbing her of that original connection we'd had with breastfeeding? Was I setting her up for confusion if and when we did go back to nursing? Was I failing at something without even realizing it?

In discussing with my friends, I've learned this guilt is an all too common thing. But I've also learned there are so many reasons why it's time to let it go.

1) I'm letting go of guilt because...I shouldn't feel guilty about sharing the connection with my baby. It's true that now I'm no longer the only one who can feed and comfort her any time of day or night. But what that really means is that now the door is open for other people who love her (my partner, grandparents, older siblings) to take part in this incredible gift. The first time I watched my husband's eyes light up as he fed our baby, I knew that I had made the right choice.

2) I'm letting go of guilt because...the right bottle will prevent any discomfort. It took us a bit of trial and error to find the right bottle that worked for my baby, but once we did, we rarely dealt with gas or discomfort―and the convenience of being able to pack along a meal for my child meant she never had to wait to eat when she was hungry. Dr. Brown's became my partner in this process, offering a wide variety of bottles and nipples designed to mimic the flow of my own milk and reduce colic and excess spitting up. When we found the right one, it changed everything.

3) I'm letting go of guilt because...I've found my joy in motherhood again. That trapped feeling that had started to overwhelm me? It's completely gone. By removing the pressure on myself to feed my baby a certain way, I realized that it was possible to keep her nourished and healthy―while also letting myself thrive.

So now, sometimes we use the bottle. Sometimes we don't. But no matter how I keep my baby fed, I know we've found the right way―guilt free.


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


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If there's one item that people claim is *so* worth the price-tag, it's a Dyson vacuum. The cordless tools have become essentials in homes, cleaning up messes quickly, all without the hassle of a cord.

If you've avoided purchasing one because of the high cost, you're in luck! They're having a sale on Amazon right now. Some of the most popular vacuums and air purifiers are up to 40% off.

Dyson Cyclone V10 Lightweight Cordless Stick Vacuum Cleaner, $379.99

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Arguably the most popular of the Dyson family, and marked down 20%.

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Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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Beyoncé's new Netflix documentary Homecoming hit the streaming service today and gives us an honest look at how difficult her twin pregnancy was.

"My body went through more than I knew it could," she says in the film, revealing that her pregnancy with Sir and Rumi was a shock right from the beginning, and the surprises kept coming.

In the film she reveals that her second pregnancy was unexpected, "And it ended up being twins which was even more of a surprise," she explains.

Homecoming: A Film By Beyoncé | Official Trailer | Netflix

The pregnancy was rough. Beyoncé developed preeclampsia, a condition that impacts about 5 to 8% of pregnancies and results in high blood pressure and the presence of protein in the mother's urine. Preeclampsia poses risks to both the mother and the baby. People who are pregnant with multiples, like Beyoncé was, are more at risk to develop preeclampsia, and the only real cure for the condition is to give birth, which proved to be another medical challenge for Beyoncé.

"In the womb, one of my babies' hearts paused a few times so I had to get an emergency C-section," she shares in the film.

Thankfully, Beyoncé made it through her extremely difficult pregnancy, but the physical challenges didn't end there. The road to rehabilitation for the performer was difficult because, as she explains, she was trying to learn new choreography while her body was repairing cut muscles and her mind just wanted to be home with her children.

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"There were days that I thought I'd never be the same. I'd never be the same physically, my strength and endurance would never be the same," Beyoncé recalls.

We know that becoming a mother changes us in so many ways, and in Homecoming, Beyoncé shows the world the strength that mothers possess, and rejects any ideas about "bouncing back."

Becoming a mother is hard, but it is so worth it, and Beyoncé isn't looking backward—she's looking at a mother in the mirror and loving who and what she sees. "I just feel like I'm just a new woman in a new chapter of my life and I'm not even trying to be who I was," Beyoncé said in the documentary. "It's so beautiful that children do that to you."

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Warmer weather is finally here, mama—and that means it's time to switch up the family's wardrobes. 🙌 If you love matching with your little, or are determined to *finally* get those family photos made this spring or summer, we're obsessed with these mommy and me matching sets.

Here are some of our favorite mommy and me matching outfits for spring. 😍

1. Ivy City Co Jumpsuits, $42.00-$62.00

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This linen set is perfect for transitioning from hanging out at home to dressing up for days out. Plus, plenty of space for growth!

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2. Madewell x crewcuts Denim Set, $55.00 and up

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We're obsessed with the '90s vibes these sets give. Now to decide which to choose—denim jacket, shorts, or dress?

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3. Old Navy Floral Midi Dresses, $10.00-$22.50

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Nothing says spring quite like florals. The whimsical prints are dainty and the rayon fabric is breathable for those warmer days. Shop mama's version here.

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4. PatPat Matching Family Swimwear, $19.99 and up

matching family swimwear

Match with the entire family with this pinstripe set. We love the one shoulder look, too!

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5. Keds x Rifle Paper Co Sneakers, $44.95-$79.95

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Twin with your little in these embroidered canvas sneakers. Bonus points for a rubber outsole so no slipping. 👏Shop the version for mama here.

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6. Lily Pulitzer Shift Dresses, $58.00-$198.00

Lilly pulitzer matching dresses

Still not sure what to wear for Easter or that summer soirée? Pick up these matching shift dresses for the most beautiful family photos. Shop mama's version here.

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7. Maisonette x marysia Swimwear, $57.00 and up

Mommy and me matching swimwear

These are definitely splurge-worthy, but we can't get over how adorable they pair together.

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8. PatPat Gingham Dresses, $17.99-23.99

mommy and me matching gingham dresses

These will be your go-to pick for every outing this spring and summer.

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9. Old Navy Striped Oxford Shirts, $13.00-$22.00

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A relaxed oxford is a staple in everyone's closet. It's versatile enough to dress up or pair with denim for a more laid back look. Shop mama's version here.

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10. Pink Chicken Garden Dress, $72.00-$198.00

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Whether you have a spring wedding to attend or want something flowy to wear for vacation, we adore these garden dresses. Bonus points for working for maternity wear, too.

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Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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Being a perfectionist has naturally been part of who I was since as long as I can remember. I could blame living in the continental U.S., where perfectionism is highly esteemed, or the family dynamics that come with growing up in a household of five women.

Deep down, though, I think it all really stems from a deep and instinctual longing to be loved, accepted and approved. Whatever the reason, it has never really been a part of me that I considered a problem.

That is, until, I became a mom.

When I had my first child, I did the best I could to keep it all together, to prevent people from seeing how my perfection was being pulled apart at the seams.

A nap schedule was, of course, essential. My son was easygoing and slept through the night like an angel baby. My house was still spotless and I managed to somehow work part-time and keep healthy meals on the table every night, but I did struggle tremendously with breastfeeding.

Since I took this failure as a great assault at my abilities to properly nurture my child, I let mom guilt run rampant over the issue. I decided I would just step up my perfect-parenting game in another way by pumping breastmilk around the clock until my son was around 18 months old.

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For anyone who has ever exclusively pumped, you know it can become total madness and take away the joy of feeding your child.

Managing a toddler was definitely wild, but with my background in pediatrics, I knew how to keep him busy while I kept things "under control." In other words, with just one child, I could still play the part of being perfect. All was fine until I became a mom of two children. It wasn't long after my daughter was born that I realized I needed to start letting go of perfection.

I was living alone in a new city with no help and my husband worked long hours. Managing a 2-year-old and a newborn, all while trying to keep a perfectly clean house and healthy dinners on the table every night, was, to my surprise, impossible in every way. My body was a wreck, not "bouncing back" as it did with my first. My daughter never slept for more than three hours until she was over a year old. She cried for hours on end most nights, as I tried relentlessly to calm her.

I remember bouncing her in her carrier for hours trying to get her to calm down and settle in for sleep. Meanwhile, I was a zombie and my son tore every square inch of the house into pieces. Keeping a naptime schedule was nearly impossible with another child to consider. Dinner was often takeout. There were days when I didn't look in the mirror or have proper clothing on until 5 pm.

The demands of motherhood laughed at my idea of picture-perfect motherhood. Every night I went to bed feeling like I had failed my children. I cried. Oh man, did I cry.

It wasn't long until I came to the realization that if I wanted to be a good mom, that is, to focus on things that are actually important, I had to stop sweating all the small stuff.

Even though I didn't really know how I was relieved that I didn't have to keep up with myself anymore. I had grown so weary of the high standards I had set for myself and those around me. I wanted a way out of the perfectionist trap and to loosen the reigns.

I realized that the most beautiful encounters with my children had been when I decided to say, "Oh, don't worry about it!" (i.e. the house, dinner, naptime schedules, etc). Love and joyful encounters with my children was incomparable to the latter. I knew my children needed me to look at them and not the 3-day- old stain on the dining room floor. The beauty in the moments, when I intentionally chose stillness and gratitude over productivity, was the reason I decided it was time to lay down a life-long pattern of perfectionism and control.

The problem was, I didn't really know where to start. I had been living this way for more than three decades. But I did know that I needed to start somewhere. So I started practicing being imperfect. Just like I had been teaching my 4-year old son. "The only way to get better at something is by practicing," I would tell him.

So, I did. And so I still am, practicing being imperfect.

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