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It’s one of those days – a difficult, disheartening kind of day when the huge pressure of raising a small human creeps up on you unannounced and sucker-punches the optimism right out.


You try to get up. You know you can do it! Your training wheels of parenting are long gone. Hell, you’re a pro now! You should know how to handle the situation. You keep reminding yourself over and over and over again. Yet, your legs seem unable to carry your weight today.

“What’s wrong with me?” you wonder.

“Maybe I should see a doctor. Something’s seriously wrong. Am I depressed?” You quickly dismiss this feeling.

“I am not depressed. I have hope for tomorrow,” you reason. “It’s just this day that’s getting me down. Maybe it’s the weather.”

You brush aside your feelings. You drag yourself through the chores of the day, feigning a meek smile when your five-year-old shows you his magic trick. He knows your heart isn’t in it today. So he cups your face in his tiny hands and stares intently into your eyes before asking you to watch his trick again.

This time, you’re more present. You see his magic trick.

It’s not really a trick. He just hides a rock in his hands and says the rock has vanished. But he sure is funny. So you smile and clap. For a fleeting second, you’re actually smiling. But that moment comes and goes and you’re back in your dark, heavy corner, defeated. You feel guilty for not being more mindful.

This time he lets you be and gets busy with his toys.

Half the day is gone. If only you could just fast forward to bedtime, maybe you will feel better when this gloomy day is over.

“I think I’m sleep deprived. No wonder I’m feeling fatigued. I should try and get some shut eye.” Suddenly the revelation strikes you.

You decide to take the rest of the day off. If only days off in parenting would come a little easier.

You switch on the TV and put a movie for your kid to watch while you rest on the sofa. Instinctively, a sharp arrow of guilt pierces your heart. You hate that you know so many statistics about screen time and their derogatory effects.

Overwhelming guilt seems to be the theme of the day. Your sarcastic-self smiles wryly: “No wonder ignorance is bliss.”

“Knock it off.” You chide yourself. You close your eyes wondering how to shut down the chorus of self-critical voices swimming inside your head.

“Stop ruining this. He is safe. He is happy. That’s all that matters,” you remind yourself.

Thankfully, exhaustion takes over and before long you are in a dreamless half-sleep, partially aware of your five-year-old watching his movie and running round and round in circles.

“Wake up. I’m hungry.” Your picky eater tells you, trying to pry open your eyes. It takes a few seconds to register.

“What time is it?” You jump and sit up straight. Focus! You look at the clock. It is way past your child’s evening snack time.

Another bout of mom-guilt hits you where it hurts the most. “Congratulations! You succeeded in starving a child who NEVER gets hungry.” The judgmental voices in your head are back. You cower in your corner of self-defeat. No, sleep did not succeed in putting a positive spin on your day.

“But you’re a mother. Happy or not, you have to do something about feeding your child.” A little voice rings true in the back of your mind.

You run to the kitchen. The fastest thing you can whip up is instant noodles and milk.

“Instant noodles? You may just as well feed him dirt. That will be more nutritious. Why don’t you have any fruits or eggs?” The guilt attacks are relentless.

Still, you power through and serve him some food. At least your five-year-old seems content. The TV is still on. You try not to calculate the number of hours it has been on so far. You look at the clock again and wonder if you would still have time to take him outside to the park after he is done eating. You don’t feel like it. Your five-year-old doesn’t seem to care one way or the other.

“I wonder what is more difficult – going outside right now or dealing with the guilt later.” You have no clue. But today you feel burned out. You can’t seem to muster enough strength to dress your child and yourself to go out. You give up on that thought. Reflexively, the guilt returns with all its vengeance.

“I just need a moment here.” You say to no one in particular.

You switch off the TV. To your surprise, your five-year-old does not protest. On the contrary, he seems relieved to be freed from the hypnotic grip of the idiot box. He starts playing with his toys again. You feel guilty that you did not switch off the TV sooner.

This is the last straw. You can no longer take it. The sheer burden of mothering in a world and time that has taught you only judgment and no kindness finally gets to you.

You no longer care if your five-year-old turns the house upside down. You go to the bedroom and lie down feeling like the worst parent of the year. Hot tears of anger, sadness, and frustration roll down your eyes.

Before long, your child is by your side. “What’s wrong?” he asks.

At that moment, you wish that your child was not so perceptive. You feign a weak smile. “I just need a minute here.” You tell him.

“Okay,” he says, and lets you be. You’re thankful that he still has no sense of time. A minute might as well be an hour.

Fifteen minutes later, he is back. He does not say anything. He climbs onto the bed. His rests his tiny back on your curved back as you lie still in a fetal position. He just quietly sits with his construction toys and plays. Minutes go by. He doesn’t say a word to you. You feel the need to explain, so you say “It’s nothing. I’m just not feeling well.”

“Oh, you got a fever?” he asks, touching your forehead like the many times he has seen his parents do to him. He picks up the blanket and covers you.

“Let me give you some kisses. That will make you feel much better.” He smothers you with hugs and kisses.

You smile. He smiles. The weight on your chest suddenly seems lighter. “That is KINDNESS.” A tiny hopeful voice in your head says.

Moments later, your husband is back from work.

You didn’t cook any dinner. The guilt tries to stage a comeback. But this time you are stronger. You plainly say, “Sorry, did not cook dinner yet. I don’t know why but I am feeling so exhausted today.”

“Don’t worry. We’ll eat noodles. Are you “exhausted” exhausted or unwell?” Your husband wants to know.

“Not sick. Just tired,” you reply.

“Okay, you rest. Don’t worry about dinner. We boys can take over.” He replies.

“That is KINDNESS.” The hopeful voice seems to have grown bigger. The heavy feeling melts away.

When bedtime arrives, you lie wide awake rewinding the day in your head. You wonder why the hell you were feeling so awful in the first place. You can no longer remember the reason. “Thank god, the day is done. Tomorrow will be better.”

Tomorrow you will do better. You know it. You have always known it. It’s just that every once in a while you forget. So, the next time you’ve backed yourself into a sad corner from the relentless parenting days, remember this: YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

You were never meant to carry the guilt-ridden moments of parenting all by yourself. Because when motherhood brings you down, all you need to do is ask for a moment of kindness. And you shall receive more than you ever hoped for.

Who said motherhood doesn't come with a manual?

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I had big plans to be a "good mom" this summer. There were going to be chore charts, reading goals, daily letter writing practice, and cursive classes. There would be no screen time until the beds were made, and planned activities for each day of the week.

Today was the first day of summer vacation and our scheduled beach day. But here's what we did instead: Lounged in our pj's until 11 am, baked the girl's pick, chocolate chip cookie brownies, started an art project we never finished, then moved to the pool.

It's so easy to be pressured by things we see on social. Ways to challenge our kids and enrich their summer. But let's be real—we're all tired. Tired of chores, tired of schedules and places to be, tired of pressure, and tired of unrealistic expectations.

So instead of a schedule, we're doing nothing this summer. Literally NOTHING.

No camps. No classes, and no curriculums.

Instead, we're going to see where each day takes us. I've dubbed this the "Summer of Me," so workouts and clean eating are a priority for me. And also giving our girls the freedom to pick what they want to do.

We may go to a local pool and check out the swimming programs. And we join the local YMCA. But whatever we do—it will be low key.

It will include family time, too much TV, a few trips, lots of sunshine, some new roller skates, water balloons, plenty of boredom, rest, relaxation, and reading. (Because mama likes to read!)

So if you haven't figured out what you're doing this summer, you're not alone. And guess what? It's OKAY! Your kids will be fine and so will you.

Originally posted on Kristen Hewitt's blog. Check out her post on 30 ways to have fun doing almost nothing this summer.

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In the moments after we give birth, we desperately want to hear our baby cry. In the middle of the night a few months later it's no longer exactly music to our ears, but those cries aren't just telling us that baby needs a night feeding: They're also giving us a hint at what our children may sound like as kindergarteners, and adults.

New research published in the journal Biology Letters suggests the pitch of a 4-month-old's cry predicts the pitch they'll use to ask for more cookies at age five and maybe even later on as adults.

The study saw 2 to 5-month olds recorded while crying. Five years later, the researchers hit record again and chatted with the now speaking children. Their findings, combined with previous work on the subject, suggest it's possible to figure out what a baby's voice will sound like later in life, and that the pitch of our adult voices may be traceable back to the time we spend in utero. Further studies are needed, but scientists are very interested in how factors before birth can impact decades later.

"In utero, you have a lot of different things that can alter and impact your life — not only as a baby, but also at an adult stage," one of the authors of the study, Nicolas Mathevon, told the New York Times.

The New York Times also spoke with Carolyn Hodges, an assistant professor of anthropology at Boston University who was not involved in the study. According to Hodges, while voice pitch may not seem like a big deal, it impacts how we perceive people in very real ways.

Voice pitch is a factor in how attractive we think people are, how trustworthy. But why we find certain pitches more or less appealing isn't known. "There aren't many studies that address these questions, so that makes this research especially intriguing," Hodges said, adding that it "suggests that individual differences in voice pitch may have their origins very, very early in development."

So the pitch of that midnight cry may have been determined months ago, and it may determine part of your child's future, too. There are still so many things we don't know, but as parents we do know one thing: Our babies cries (as much as we don't want to hear them all the time) really are something special.

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When we consider all the skills our kids will need to succeed in the future, what comes to mind? Perhaps creativity, tech skills, or an excellent understanding of math might be at the top of many parents' lists. Social-emotional skills, like empathy, compassion, or the ability to understand another person's viewpoint may not be the ones you thought of right away, but deep down you know they matter.

We've all had those co-workers who didn't know how to listen to our ideas or friends who couldn't compromise with others. We know that in the work world and in our personal life, emotional skills are key to developing and maintaining healthy relationships.

If you are the parent of a toddler, you know that young children are inherently self-centered. It's not some faulty aspect of their character or a misstep of parenting skills. Young children simply do not have the brain maturity to consider another person's perspective or needs just yet—their brain physically is not ready to handle that kind of mental work.

However, child development research shows us that we can do a few things along the developmental path to help foster social-emotional skills in our kids. With a little help from us, our kids' brains can develop with meaningful connections that tune them into the feelings of others.

Here's how:

1. Treat others how you want your kids to treat others.

How we talk to our kids becomes their internal dialogue. We know from research that this goes for emotional skills as well. A recent study showed that when parents talk to their kids more about how other people might be feeling, the kids had better perspective-taking abilities—the ability to see a situation from another person's point of view.

This, of course, is the basis of many emotional skills, especially empathy. Just by talking about another person's feelings, kids begin to develop those crucial brain connections that help them develop empathy.

It's worth pointing out that very young children under ages 3-4 do not have the brain maturity to really understand another person's perspective. They lack a crucial skill that psychologists call Theory of Mind, meaning they can't understand the mind of another person.

However, our urgings and thoughtful phrasing to point out how another person might be feeling can only help them down this developmental path. Then, once their little brain matures, they will be in the habit of hearing and understanding the feelings of others.

2. Model positive emotional behavior in daily life.

It's probably not surprising to learn that how we react to our kids' feelings influences their emotional development. When your child gets upset, do you get angry or ruffled by their big emotions? We are all human, of course, so sometimes our kids' emotions are the exact triggers that fuel our big feelings, too. However, if we can remain the calm in the emotional storm for our kids, their development will benefit. Through modeling emotional regulation, over time our kids will learn how to self-regulate as well.

One study, in fact, showed that toddlers whose parents exhibited anger or over-reacted to tantrums were likely to have more tantrums and negative emotionality by the end of the study. However, the opposite dynamic can happen, too. Parents who model firm, but calm emotional regulation help their kids learn these skills as well.

3. Don’t be afraid to show your emotions.

Many times, we feel that one of our main jobs as a parent is to protect our children from the big, often overwhelming emotions of adults. For instance, we try not to break down crying or become red-faced with anger in front of our kids. It just feels too big for them to handle and perhaps not developmentally appropriate.

As they mature, however, older kids are able to handle a bit more discussion and expression of honest emotions. Have you noticed that kids usually pick up on the fact that you are upset even if you try to hide it? Kids are naturally curious and, many times, very sensitive to the emotional tenor at home. If they are developmentally ready, this can be a good time to have more discussions about emotions and how to handle them.

For example, my 9-year-old is playing a lot of baseball this summer and always wants me to pitch to him so he can practice batting. Now, I am not a very skilled player so my pitches often go off course or are too weak. He had gotten in the habit of correcting my pitching or (more likely) complaining about it every time we played.

After repeated experiences with this, I was not only annoyed but it also sort of hurt my feelings—so I finally told him how I felt. Guess what? His behavior at practice time changed dramatically! The mere fact of him realizing that his mom has feelings too really made him think about his words more carefully.

These types of interaction can become part of your "emotion coaching." It may sound silly but it can make a big impact for kids, especially as they grow older and are more able to really understand the emotional lesson. On some level, it's nice that our kids think we are superheroes, but it's also crucial that they understand that we are still human, with real feelings.

The magic of helping our kids develop empathy doesn't happen in well-planned lessons or elaborate activities. The real magic happens in the small, simple interactions and discussions we have with our kids each day.

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Sometimes it can feel like you never get a minute to even finish a thought—let alone a to-do list. When your day is packed with caretaking, your own needs get pushed back. So when you finally get to lie down at the end of the day, all those thoughts are waiting for you. While we haven't figured out the secret to keeping you from over-analyzing every.single.thing. (sorry, mama!), we do believe you must carve out time for you. Because that rest is just as important—and you've certainly earned it.

XO,

#TeamMotherly

PS: We spoke to Jessica Alba and she gave us the lowdown on why she stopped breastfeeding, and Nordstrom is having their anniversary sale until August 5th. Here's everything we want!

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