A modern lifestyle brand redefining motherhood

Recently a good friend confided in me that she was struggling with being “just a mom.” With four children, one of which has special needs, this stay-at-home mother is anything but “just a mom.”

The conversation provided me with the opportunity to speak into her life. As a stay-at-home mom of four myself, I can relate. I bet you can, too.

I have also struggled with being “just” a mom. Honestly, sometimes I still do. Sure, I have other titles: wife, homeschool teacher, part-time freelance writer. But it’s the “mom” title that always gets to me most.

Perhaps you find yourself struggling to put dinner on the table and get a shower on the same day. Maybe you’re fishing toys out of the toilet or picking peas out of ears. It is on those days that you realize the phrase “well-behaved toddler” is an oxymoron.

Or maybe you’re a little farther along on the parenting spectrum. Pre-teens and teenagers are just as capable of making us want to scream. But we don’t lest the neighbors hear us and call the cops. Or our children have us committed. Whichever comes first.

Doubts and longing

I think we intrinsically know that motherhood is a noble calling, yet we feel so lacking, so incompetent, so unqualified.

Do our children ever hear or take to heart anything we say? So often we feel as though we’re wasting our time, our energy, our sanity.

Break up a sibling squabble. Administer discipline. Discuss proper responses to anger. Repeat as needed—and it will be needed. On and on it goes, day after day, year after year.

We wonder if anything we say matters. (It does.) We worry we’re raising the next “Breaking News” headline. (Maybe, but perhaps it’ll be good breaking news; stranger things have happened). We hope there’s more to life than this. (There is. It’s a matter of perspective.)

You long for a clean house, a clean car, and clean kids—and not necessarily in that order. Clean anything feels like a dream, a distant memory that you just can’t grasp.

You may have laundry scattered in every room of the house, school backpacks threatening to obliterate the kitchen counter, and wads of crumpled up paper strewn about the living room floor (okay, that last one may just be me and my own doing as a writer with blockage).

But you also have some pretty awesome kids. So do I. Let’s be honest: Even on their worst day—and ours—we wouldn’t trade our kids for the world. I would not, however, be opposed to swapping for a day or two. Just saying.

All kidding aside, we know our kids are a gift—sometimes we just lose sight of the fact. They are precious. And, oh, so unique. Why else would I receive a rock for Mother’s Day? (Yes, I actually did. “Mommy, it’s so beautiful. Just like you.”)

Your kids love you. They really do. If you’re anything like me you haven’t been to the restroom by yourself in the last five years, minimum. That’s how much your kids love you.

Mom moments

The fact that my idea of a perfect meal is one that someone else cooked doesn’t make me a bad mom. The fact that you removed your kids’ bedroom doors so they can’t be slammed doesn’t make you a bad mother either. (I’m actually warming up to that one; just not sure how I can effectively preserve my sanity if I can’t banish my kids behind closed doors from time to time.)

As a mom there are moments you may feel invisible. You may even wish you were invisible—this alone would afford some bathroom privacy.

Child No. 1: “Where’s Mom?”

Child No. 2: “I don’t know. Hey! Why’s the toilet seat lumpy?!”

Okay, the whole invisible mom thing is a bad idea.

The problem with labeling ourselves “just a mom” is that a label doesn’t define who we really are. In an age where value is often determined by how many Facebook “friends” we have, being a mom seems so common, so unimportant. But truly, we know better.

You may or may not have a college degree—my friend and I don’t, but we can kiss boo-boos like nobody’s business. No one can kiss your child’s boo-boos like you can Ph.D. or not. Don’t let the world define parenting success for you.

Roll with it

As moms, it’s important that we learn to roll with it. Sometimes life has a different plan for the day than we do. And that’s okay. Really. The fact that you don’t check off every item on your to-do list isn’t going to affect the world’s equilibrium or change your child’s future.

When I look in the mirror, I see a mom who doesn’t have it all together. Maybe you see the same; maybe you think you’re “just” a mom. Let me tell you what I told my friend and what I tell myself during these mirror moments: “You are not ‘just’ a mom. You are so much more.” Receive it. Believe it. Repeat it daily if necessary.

Let me encourage you moms out there: We are not just survivors—we are conquerors. Those other moms out there that seem to have it all together? It’s just an illusion.

People wear masks; they portray what they want you to see, what they want to be in their own minds. What a blessing we could be to one another if we would remove the masks and be real, openly sharing our struggles and encouraging one another.

As a mother, I fall short. Every. Single. Day. I argue with my children, yell at them, and otherwise behave in ways I swore I never would. I compare myself to other mothers and wonder if I’ll ever measure up.

More than enough

We moms certainly have plenty. Plenty to do. Plenty to worry about. Plenty of people wanting our time and attention.

But we are given plenty more. Plenty of grace. Plenty of strength. Plenty of love to cover a multitude of mistakes.

We don’t need gifts on Mother’s Day—unless of course you really do want to start a rock collection. Perhaps all we really need is a fresh perspective on the gifts that we’ve already been given.

Motherhood is nothing short of an adventure. Too often though, we see it as a mind-numbing, thankless job where the proverbial empty nest gets better looking every day. But it really is okay to take five minutes to sit in your car with your iPod plugged in and sing at the top of your lungs. In fact, I recommend it.

Every day will not be Disneyland. There will be trials, even pain. But these are the moments in which we grow the most.


We’ve all heard the advice, “Enjoy your children. They grow up so fast.” And just as we’re thinking, “Not fast enough,” they really do grow up right before our eyes. One day they’re cruising the backyard in a battery-operated Jeep and the next day they’re lapping the block in a real Mustang; or if they’re like my daughter, a cheap Cavalier. So the advice stands. Enjoy them.


Delight in the beautiful gifts you have been given. Rejoice in their uniqueness. Embrace them while you can.

Looking back over the last nineteen years since my first daughter was born and then three more following her, I shudder to think what my life would have been without them. I just cannot imagine a life where they do not exist.

Motherhood isn’t about status or labels. It isn’t about raising angelic Einsteins. It’s about the love of family and being the mom you were created to be. “Just” a mom? I don’t think so.

Who said motherhood doesn't come with a manual?

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Going back to work after having a baby is hard. Regaining your footing in a world where working mothers are so often penalized is tough, and (just like most things during the postpartum period) it takes time.

The challenges we face as working women returning from a maternity leave can be so different from those we faced before, it can feel like we're starting over from scratch. But mothers will not be deterred, even if our return to the working world doesn't go exactly as planned.

We are resilient, as Serena Williams proved at Wimbledon this weekend.

She lost to Angelique Kerber in the final, just 10 months after welcoming daughter Alexis Olympia and recovering from a physically and emotionally traumatic birth experience.

Williams didn't get her eighth Wimbledon title this weekend, but when we consider all the challenges she (and all new moms) faced in resuming her career, her presence was still a huge achievement.

"It was such an amazing tournament for me, I was really happy to get this far!" Williams explained in an emotional post-match interview.

"For all the moms out there, I was playing for you today. And I tried. I look forward to continuing to be back out here and doing what I do best."

The loss at Wimbledon isn't what she wanted, of course, but Williams says it does not mean there won't be wins in her near future.

"These two weeks have showed me I can really compete and be a contender to win grand slams. This is literally just the beginning. I took a giant step at Wimbledon but my journey has just began."

When asked what she hopes other new moms take away from her journey, Williams noted her postpartum recovery was really difficult, and hopes that other moms who face challenges early in motherhood know that they don't have to give up on whatever dreams they have for themselves, whether it involves working or not.

"Honestly, I feel like if I can do it, they can do it. I'm just that person, that vessel that's saying, 'You can be whatever you want to be.' If you want to go back to workand to me, after becoming a mom, I feel like there's no pressure to do that because having a child is a completely full-time job," she said.

"But to those that do want to go back, you can do it, you can really do it."

Thank you, Serena. You may not have won, but this was still a victory.

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Since baby Crew became the newest member of Chip and Joanna Gaines' family three weeks ago, his proud parents have been keeping the world updated, sharing sweet snaps of their youngest and even giving us a glimpse into his nursery.

Now, Chip Gaines is showing off a pic that proves there is nothing cuter than a floppy, sleepy baby.

"My heart is full..." the proud father of five captioned the photo he posted on his Instagram and Twitter accounts.

Earlier this week Crew's mama shared how she gets him so sleepy in the first place, posting an Instagram Story showing how she walks around the family's gardens on their Waco, Texas farm to lull her newborn boy to sleep.

The couple are clearly enjoying every single moment of Crew's babyhood. As recently as 7 days ago Chip was still sporting his hospital bracelet. Joanna says with each child he's worn his maternity ward ID until it finally wears off. We can't blame Chip for wanting to make the newborn phase last as long as possible.

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It was a changing table must-have a generation ago, but these days, many parents are forgoing baby powder, and now, the leading manufacturer of the sweet smelling powder was dealt a big financial blow.

Johnson & Johnson was just ordered to pay almost $4.7 billion to 22 women who sued, alleging baby powder caused their ovarian cancer.

A St. Louis jury says the women are right, but what does The American Academy of Pediatrics say about baby powder?

It was classified "a hazard" before many of today's parents were even born

The organization has actually been recommending against baby powder for years, but not due to cancer risks, but inhalation risks.

Way back in 1981 the AAP declared baby powder "a hazard," issuing a report pointing out the frequency of babies aspirating the powder, which can be dangerous and even fatal in the most severe cases.

That warning didn't stop all parents from using the powder though, as its continued presence on store shelves to this day indicates.

In 1998 Dr. Hugh MacDonald, then the director of neonatology at Santa Monica Hospital and a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Fetus and Newborn, told the Los Angeles Times "Most pediatricians recommend that it not be used," adding that the consensus at the time was that "anybody using talcum powder be aware that it could cause inhalation of the talc, resulting in a pneumonic reaction."

Recent updates

A 2015 update to the AAP's Healthy Children website suggests the organization was even very recently still more concerned about the risk of aspiration than cancer risks like those alleged in the lawsuit. It suggests that parents who choose to use baby powder "pour it out carefully and keep the powder away from baby's face [as] published reports indicate that talc or cornstarch in baby powder can injure a baby's lungs."

In a 2017 interview with USA Today, Dr. David Soma, a pediatrician with the Mayo Clinic Children's Hospital, explained that baby powder use had decreased a lot over the previous five to eight years, but he didn't believe it was going to disappear from baby shower gift baskets any time soon.

"There are a lot of things that are used out of a matter of tradition, or the fact it seems to work for specific children," he said. "I'm not sure if it will get phased out or not, until we know more about the details of other powders and creams and what works best for skin conditions—I think it will stick around for a while."

Talc-based baby powder is the kind alleged to have caused ovarian cancer in the lawsuit (which Johnson & Johnson plans to appeal), but corn starch varieties of baby powder are also available and not linked to increased cancer risks as alleged in the case.

Bottom line: If you are going to use baby powder on your baby's bottom, make sure they're not getting a cloud of baby powder in their face, and if you're concerned, talk to your health care provider about alternative methods and products to use on your baby's delicate skin.

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In the days since a The New York Times report revealed a resolution meant to encourage breastfeeding was blocked by U.S. delegates at the World Health Assembly, breastfeeding advocates, political pundits, parents, doctors—and just about everyone else—have been talking about breastfeeding, and whether or not America and other countries are doing enough to support it.

The presidents of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians say the controversy at the World Health Assembly reveals that mothers need more support when it comes to breastfeeding, while others, including The Council on Foreign Relations, suggest the national conversation needs more nuance, and less focus on the "breast is best" rhetoric.

The one thing everyone agrees on is that parents need more support when it comes to infant feeding, and in that respect, the controversy over the World Health Assembly resolution may be a good thing.

In their joint letter to the editor published in the New York Times this week, the presidents of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians, Dr. Colleen Kraft and Dr. Lisa Hollier urge "the United States and every country to protect, promote and support breast-feeding for the health of all women, children and families."

The doctors go on to describe how breastfeeding "provides protection against newborn, infant and child infections, allergies, asthma, inflammatory bowel disease and sudden infant death syndrome," and note the health benefits to mothers, including reduced risks for "breast cancer, ovarian cancer, diabetes, hypertension and heart disease.

"Helping mothers to breastfeed takes a multifaceted approach, including advancing public policies like paid family leave, access to quality child care, break time and a location other than a bathroom for expressing milk," say Kraft and Hollier.

Certainly such policies would support breastfeeding mothers (and all mothers) in America, but some critics say framing the discussion around domestic policy is a mistake, because the World Health Assembly resolution is a global matter and women and babies in other parts of the world face very different feeding challenges than we do here at home.

In an op-ed published by CNN, Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, an adjunct senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations suggests the laudable goal of breastfeeding promotion can backfire when mothers in conflict-riddled areas can't access formula due to well-meaning policy. Lemmon points to a 2017 statement by Doctors Without Borders calling for fewer barriers to formula distribution in war-torn areas.

"International organizations like UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO) promote breastfeeding ... and provide infant formula, but only by prescription. We believe that distributing infant formula in a conflict situation like Iraq is the only way to avoid children having to be hospitalized for malnutrition," Manuel Lannaud, the head of Doctors Without Borders Iraq mission wrote.

The various viewpoints presented this week prove that infant feeding is not a black and white issue, and policy debates should not be framed as formula versus breast milk—there is more nuance than that.

A recent study in the Journal of Pediatrics found opting to supplement with formula after first breastfeeding improves outcomes for infants and results in higher rates of breastfeeding afterward, and while the benefits of breastfeeding are numerous, they are sometimes overstated. Another recent study published in the journal PLOS Medicine found breastfeeding has no impact on a child's overall neurocognitive function by the time they are 16. Basically, parents should not be shamed for supplementing or choosing to use formula.

This, according to Department of Health and Human Services says national spokesperson Caitlin Oakley is why the HHS opposed the original draft of the breastfeeding resolution at the World Health Assembly (although critics and the initial NYT report suggest the United States delegation were acting in the interests of infant formula manufacturers).

"Many women are not able to breastfeed for a variety of reasons, these women should not be stigmatized; they should be equally supported with information and access to alternatives for the health of themselves and their babies," Oakley said in a statement.

That's true, but so is everything the presidents of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians presented in their op-ed, and that's why the U.S. should support breastfeeding policy.

Here's another truth: This is an issue with many perspectives and many voices. And we need to hear them all, because all parents need support in feeding their babies, whether it's with a breast, a bottle or both—and we're not getting it yet.

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