A modern lifestyle brand redefining motherhood

By the time my children were old enough to avoid my watchful eye, I was already worn from battle against a master of war. My opponent invaded me, planting counterfeit cognitions and exploiting vulnerabilities bequeathed to me from generations past.

They detonated when triggered and, upon implosion, destroyed joy and disintegrated achievements. I’ve surrendered to attritional attacks levied by generalized anxiety and succumbed to blitzkrieg strikes of panic. Buried in the rubble were a million lost opportunities and fractured memories.

When I learned about clinical anxiety, how it is both inherited and learned, I vowed to win the war before it carried over into my children’s lives.

Whenever I read about people who transformed their anxiety into productivity, I felt shamed by my pain and wondered why it only crippled me. Its propaganda convinced me my written words were empty, and my spoken words clumsy and unworthy of listeners.

In adolescence, anxiety kept me off sports teams and away from dances. But no matter how severe the battles of my youth, they paled in comparison to the brutal assaults I experienced as a father. Although I have shifted the tide of battle, anxiety spits its spoils in my face when I think of the joy of which I’ve been robbed.

Catastrophic thoughts plagued me upon my children’s birth, so I helicoptered from their infancy on. I shadowed every move – withheld toys I feared would lodge in their throats and gave two-minute baths so they never drowned. I was years away from diagnosis and not yet medicated; ripe conditions for anxiety to declare war.

Irrational thoughts whispered to me during routine days, but they screamed during trips to the Jersey shore where, as a child, I garnered memories roaming beaches and boardwalk planks. I desired something similar for my kids. Shore days should be ice cream stained chins and screams of delight echoed from whirlwind rides. I hoped to experience those delights again through my children, but was foiled by suspicions of poison ice cream and visions of mangled bodies on rides.

Trapped between hope and fear, I acquiesced when my kids asked to go, knowing they deserved to not be restricted by my ghastly thoughts. They shouted names of arcade games and treats while I fought to keep the dread down. Feeling certain of horrors to come and wondering from which direction they would strike, I envisioned an 18-wheeler two lanes over hitting us and exploding on impact. As our car lay on its back in my mind, I emerged from black smoke through a shattered window and left behind the charred remains of my children.

Had I opened my mouth to thank our toll collector, the lump in my throat would have fallen to the road. My kids were aware I always drove the speed limit, but as they whined, they could never know I drove slower to ensure a less powerful impact from an inevitable crash.

When we arrived at the amusement park, Emily and Aedan sprinted toward a food stand whose vendor, I was certain, would serve them old stale pretzels with jagged edges that would lacerate the insides of their throats. I suggested, instead, they eat the fruit I packed and drank bottled water. Of course, they protested and added hamburgers to their list wish, while I grimaced at the thought of tainted beef. I longed to see their smiles as they chewed, but turned away.

Once I saw they had not been poisoned, I zeroed in on the size of their bites and adequacy of their chewing, convinced they would choke. While they sipped sodas, I watched calories barnacle to their bellies and diagnosed them with childhood obesity. After the last gulp, they pined for rides as I insisted they should hold off for fear they would vomit if spun at high speed. Anxiety buried joy under miles of sand and snickered while I dug for it.

As my children raced toward ticket booths, I approached with caution. I handed over money and suggested they purchase their tickets, rationalizing that it gave them a sense of independence, but knowing I was cleansing my hands of a bloody affair. They charged the tilt-a-whirl or roller-coaster as I crept behind and tried to imagined their bliss as I braced myself for cataclysm.

When they boarded and buckled in, I burned the images of their sticky faces into my memory, believing I would never see them alive again. I asked if they were positive they wanted to go through with it, and they answered with eye rolls in unison.

When the death trap buckles clicked and the machine commenced its twists and turns, I slammed my eyes shut as Emily is ejected toward the ocean depths. I saw Aedan dangling by a snagged foot, his head smashing against the cars around him, his blood painting the clouds. I avert my eyes toward the beach, but the ocean is bloodied, too, and Emily is an apparition on the water with a Teddy clutched close where I should be.

Shaking my head, I honed in on the ecstatic screams of safe children who were not mine, stared at seniors licking lemon ice. When the ride stopped, my kids hopped off and ran toward me with smiles wrapped around their faces. I waited for one of them to puke from motion sickness. I endured this through many rides and multiple trips because happy childhood memories are a birthright.

When it was time to leave at sundown, I felt exhausted without ever having exerted myself physically. But as I listened to their backseat recounts of the day, I sensed victory was mine.

Soon after I tucked them in their beds and thanked them for the day they’d given me, I hit the Xanax and Zinfandel to foster accord in my mind. Sailing to sleep, I glued Emily and Aedan’s smiling faces in my mental scrapbook and enjoyed the day in retrospect. I had found a way to shepherd my thoughts carefully and not let them run frenzied throughout the amusement park – a strategy to ensure my children saw a safe and secure world through me.

Anxiety has cost me a chunk of joy as a parent, but I’ve been compensated by my children’s quiet minds. I have shown them what a safe world looks like and refused to allow my war to rage on through them. I may have teetered on the brink on many occasions, but reason won out in the end. There is enough authentic chaos around us. No need to scar our kids with imaginary terrors.

I could not have received greater confirmation of victory than when my daughter flew to Paris on a school trip and my son joined his high school football team. They have surpassed what I accomplished in adolescence, and will continue to do so in adulthood.

I, meanwhile, can revel in my victory over a vanquished enemy.   

Who said motherhood doesn't come with a manual?

Subscribe to get inspiration and super helpful ideas to rock your #momlife. Motherhood looks amazing on you.

Already a subscriber? Log in here.

When you're feeding multiple kiddos and figuring out meals for your own lunch and dinner, it can be difficult to find options that fit the bill for everyone. Our secret? Great kitchen gadgets and basics that make meal planning a breeze.

From the Instant Pot (yes, it's *totally* worth it!) to a cast iron pan, we rounded up some of our favorite kitchen basics every parent needs in their kitchen.

Make sure to add them to your cart today before Prime Day ends at midnight PT!

Ninja blender

Okay, so you might already have a blender—but you don't have a Ninja. It does everything from crushing ice for cocktails to pureeing baby's food and making hearty smoothies for everyone else. We love the sleek design that won't be an eye sore on any countertop.

Ninja Blender, Amazon, $49.99 (regularly $86.95)


You might also like:

When model Mara Martin was one of 16 finalists selected to walk in the 2018 Sports Illustrated Swim Search show, she was thrilled to fulfill a lifelong dream. And when she woke up the day after the show to see that she and her baby daughter had made headlines around the world, she was thrilled all over again.

Martin breastfed her 5-month-old daughter Aria while walking in the runway, and the story spread quickly.

"It is truly so humbling and unreal to say the least," Martin wrote in an Instagram post Monday. "I'm so grateful to be able to share this message and hopefully normalize breastfeeding and also show others that women CAN DO IT ALL! But to be honest, the real reason I can't believe it is a headline is because it shouldn't be a headline!!! My story of being a mother and feeding her while walking is just that."

SI Swimsuit Editor MJ Day says the breastfeeding moment wasn't planned in advance, but it worked out wonderfully. Day was speaking with the models backstage when she noticed Aria was peacefully nursing away. Having breastfed her own two children, Day recognized this as a powerful moment in the making, according to SI Swimsuit.

"I asked Mara if she would want to walk and continue to nurse. She said 'Oh my gosh, yes! Really? Are you sure?', and I said absolutely! I loved the idea to be able to allow Mara to keep nursing and further highlight how incredible and beautiful women are," Day explained.

Martin hopes that her moment in the spotlight can help other mamas feel comfortable nursing when and where they feel like it, but she doesn't want to overshadow some of the other women who took part in the show.

"One woman is going to boot camp in two weeks to serve our country," she wrote. "One woman had a mastectomy (@allynrose), and another is a cancer survivor, 2x paralympic gold medalist, as well as a mother herself (@bren_hucks you rock) Those are the stories that our world should be discussing!!!!"

And thanks to Martin's powerful motherhood moment, now, people are.

You might also like:

Dear Jeff Bezos and all who have anything to do with Amazon Prime Day,

I just want to start by saying—I know you are trying to be helpful. I love you all for that. I honestly do. But, you are kind of making me feel a lot of pressure today. Like, in a good way, but also, in an anxious way.

Let me explain…

On any given day, as a mother to three children, I have a certain level of anxiety. While it's not constant, I do have my anxious moments. Why? Because there are various versions of the following: Me asking my two older daughters to get their shoes on what feels like 500 times as I am changing my 9-month-old's very, very, very messy diaper while I am trying to figure out what I can throw on to wear in about five seconds while I am repeating brush your teeth, brush your teeth in my head so I, in fact, don't forget to brush my teeth.

Not even to mention the mental load that weighs on my mind every single day. Remember to flip the laundry, fill out the school forms, cancel that appointment, reschedule this appointment, order more diapers, figure out what we're having for dinner, squeeze in a shower, lock the basement door so the baby can't get down the stairs, find better eczema cream for my middle daughter, get more sunscreen...the list goes on and on and on.

But then you Amazon Prime Day me and I'm having a lot of feelings about that.

Because you're reminding me of things I need to order, to think about, to be on top of more.

The little potty that's on sale reminds me that I need to step up my potty training game for my 2-year-old. That super cute dollhouse reminds me that I need to think about my daughter's first birthday in two months (WHAT!). That face mask reminds me that I need to remember to wash my face before bed because I forget waaaay more than I remember which is terrible.

But then I realize, these deals are going to save my mental load by fixing my life. Right?

Like, I never knew I needed an Instant Pot until you told me it was only $58. Now I am scouring Pinterest for meals I want to prep in my own. THIS POT IS THE TICKET TO GETTING MY LIFE IN ORDER.

Do we need more plates and cups for the kids? I mean really they only probably need about two plates and two cups each but YES. Yes I do need more cute kids kitchenware. THESE PLATES ARE THE TICKET TO BEING A GOOD MOM.

What would I do if I had five Echo Dots? I don't know, but let's find out because they're only $29! THESE DOTS ARE THE TICKET TO EFFICIENCY.

If I order a Vitamix at 30% off, I know I'll lose the baby weight. Think of all the smoothies I'll mix up! I mean, I just lost a pound even thinking about the smoothies that thing can whip up. THIS VITAMIX IS THE TICKET TO A SEXY BOD.

Buying this trendy, floral dress will step up my mom style significantly. THIS DRESS IS THE TICKET TO KEEPING MY COOL.

Okay, then after I add all the fixers to my cart, I realize… I have 99 things, but necessity ain't one.

I mean, I have everything from waterproof band-aids to bras to dresses for myself and my kids to an alarm clock and books. I basically feel like Oprah—You get an Audible subscription! You get an Audible subscription!—but instead of these products magically being paid for by Queen O herself, the money is coming from my bank account, which is a lot less fun of a game, TBH.

And if I am being honest, I don't need much help with my order-things-from-Amazon-and-pretend-it's-being-paid-for-with-Monopoly-money game as I am quite often coming home to an Amazon package wondering what it could be, opening it with the enthusiasm of a kid on Christmas morning—even though I am the exact person who ordered whatever is inside of that Amazon box.

But today, on Amazon Prime Day, you tempt me with all the deals. And yes, my anxiety, blood pressure and adrenaline rise. And yes, my bank account might temporarily decrease—BUT if we are being fair, with the savings I'm getting on things I would buy anyway, I am basically making our account increase overall. Right?

And while these things aren't going to make me skinnier, or cooler, or more put together—I'm okay with that. I am doing a pretty good job on my own. But some of them will actually help my life in a few different ways at a reasonable price, and I am grateful for that—for real.

Now, Bezos, please end this 404 error nonsense and let me purchase all the things!

Thank you for all the savings and excitement,

Mamas everywhere

You might also like:

Usually when celebrities post swimsuit photos on Instagram they don't exactly look like your average beach-going mom, but former Bachelorette (and mom of two) Ali Fedotowsky posted a series of bikini photos on Monday that are both beautiful and relatable.

"This might be my most vulnerable post on Instagram ever," she wrote in the caption for the photos which show a postpartum belly that looks like a real postpartum belly.

"At the end of the day, I know it's important to be open and honest about my postpartum body in hopes that it helps even one person out there who is struggling with their own body image," Fedotowsky (who just gave birth to her second child in May) wrote.

In the first photo of the series she's wearing a sarong around her stomach, but in the second and third photos Fedotowsky reveals the kind of stomach many mamas sport: It's not perfectly taut, she's not showing off any abs, but it is definity beautiful.

"If you swipe to see the second photo in this post, you see that my body has changed. My skin around my stomach is very loose and stretched out, I'm 15lbs heavier than I used to be, and my cup size has grown quite significantly," Fedotowsky writes.

The photos are a sponsored post for Lilly and Lime Swimwear (a line made for women with larger busts) but that doesn't mean it wasn't brave. In fact, the fact that it's an ad makes it even more amazing because research shows that when advertising only shows us bodies that don't look like our own, women become "generally more dissatisfied with their body and appearance".

Ali Fedotowsky

On her blog Fedotowsky notes that a lot of comments on her previous Instagram posts have been followers remarking how slim she looks, or how much they wish they looked like she does postpartum. By dropping that sarong and showing her tummy Fedotowsky is showing other mothers that there is nothing wrong with their own.

"While I appreciate the positive comments, you guys are always so good to me, I keep trying to explain that I'm just good at picking out clothes that flatter my body and hide my tummy," she wrote on her blog.

"I bounced back pretty quickly after I gave birth to Molly. But things are different this time and I'm OK with that. I'm learning to love my body and embrace how it's changed. I hope I get back to my pre-pregnancy shape one day, but that may never happen. And if it doesn't, that's OK."

Ali Fedotowsky

It is okay, because our bodies are more than our swimsuit selfies. They the vessels that carry us through life and carry our children and provide a safe, warm place for those children feel love.

Loose skin is a beautiful thing.

Thanks for keeping it real, Ali.

You might also like:

  • Tia Mowry's honest post about her post-baby body is what every new mama needs to see 👏
  • Hilary Duff shares how pregnancy changed her body–and her confidence
  • J. Crew's new line with Universal Standard is size-inclusive—and we're here for it 🙌
Motherly provides information of a general nature and is designed for educational purposes only. This site does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.Your use of the site indicates your agreement to be bound by our  Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. Information on our advertising guidelines can be found here.