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It was nearly 9 p.m. when I got a text from my son who had decided, last minute, to come home from college for the weekend with his friend. A polar vertex had descended on the whole northeast and I was already headed up to bed. I stared at the text with a mixed set of emotions. Sure, it would be nice to see him. But leaving so late at night? That never seemed like a good idea.


At 9:45 p.m. I heard the chime of another text. Their car had broken down in Baltimore. They were in the midst of solving the problem and had pulled off to a side road to call a tow truck. But, in the meantime, he wanted me to know that he was not coming home now. And that it was cold in the car.

“Are you wearing a coat?” I asked.

He was not. I thought back to all those mornings that I sent him to school without nagging him to eat breakfast, wear a jacket, or remember his homework. I believed in letting kids learn through natural consequences. I believed that actually experiencing a little hunger or cold would be a better motivator than any nagging on my end, that my kids had to learn certain lessons themselves so that they would be memorable. I wanted them to learn to depend on themselves.

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On some accounts, it failed to take hold. When they were little, some of the consequences were barely noticed. Recess at school was only 20 minutes and often, on frigid days, they didn’t go out at all. If they missed breakfast at home, lunch was at 11 a.m. If they forgot their homework the penalties were minor. Maybe it meant they would get a slightly lower grade or stay in for recess. They could survive without a coat, breakfast or homework.

By 11 p.m. the tow truck had still not come. They were still cold. He admitted to me, on the phone, that he never took it seriously when his grandfather scolded him about his lack of jacket-wearing in winter and asked, “what happens if the car breaks down?”

I sighed on the phone, relieved they were not on the highway when the natural consequences of poor choices finally kicked in. There are some things that are hard to teach as a parent, especially when the goal is to protect. I had never provided the experience of being stranded in a broken-down car, nor did I ever want to.

I faced the dilemma head-on this past spring when we got his brother honeybees for his birthday. He was turning 17 and appreciated things with purpose. However, he also suffered from pollen allergies and sneezed through the entirety of every single spring. For eight weeks each year, he was barely recognizable.

When a bravado appeared in him during a particularly allergic early April, I started to get worried about our decision to get him bees.

“I am going to walk into that hive and just smear myself with the honey when I get those bees,” he said between sneezes. He had long-known about the research that eating local honey can reduce allergies. It appeared that he was planning to take things one step further. I imagined him covered in bees, overcome with multiple stings.

When the day came to pick up the bees and transfer them to the waiting hives, I was apprehensive. The bee suit was still in the packaging and my son was still telling me about how relatively tame these bees were and how he wouldn’t be needing any protection. Where he saw non-threatening bees, I saw a still-developing teenage brain.

He mixed up the sugar water as I chopped potatoes for dinner. I thought about how, in one more year, he would be going to college and facing other decisions and risks. In one short year, I would not be able to intercede.

As he headed out to the wooden hive in the back I decided to follow from a distance and watch him spray them with the sugar water.

“It calms them down,” he said.

I looked a little closer and they were still actively trying to escape. Not a calm bee in sight. He sprayed them some more and tapped the container against the ground.

“They will fall to the bottom,” he said as he inspected closer.

I looked as well. Not too many bees on the bottom.

He followed the protocol one more time. I could tell that he was getting ready to take off the lid and dump them in the hive. I thought longingly of the bee suit in the garage. I struggled to not interfere. I struggled with my own belief in natural consequences and where to draw the line. He knew the risks. He had done the research. But still I was uncomfortable.

My eyes were intently focused on his hand as tried to pull off the lid, my heart pounding as buzzing grew louder. The bees knew something was up. Once the top was off, there would be no turning back. The bees would be everywhere. I spotted a split-second hesitation in his fingers as I held my breath, my own heart pounding. My mother’s instinct took hold more powerfully than I could control. I yelled to him something about the woman who sold the bees: “She said they swarm after trips in the car.” I was lying out of my own desperation to protect.

He stood up. Our primal instincts clashed – my need to parent and his need to be unafraid, to grow up. He let out a sigh, the sigh I knew meant he was about to take pity on my worry.

“Go get the bee suit,” he said with resignation to his younger brother.

His brother and I zipped him in as he muttered about my annoying interference. But, for that moment, I didn’t care. He headed back to the bees and fully released them. I watched as the bees, now freed, covered the white of his suit, swarming around him. I thought of his bare arms and legs under the white cloth. I wondered what would have happened had I not intervened.

Back in the house I resumed making dinner. A few minutes later he came in. A bee had stung him on his eyelid when he took off the bee helmet.

“It doesn’t hurt,” he said.

“Get some ice from the freezer,” I replied, grateful for the honeybee that stung him, the one that proved me right.

A month later I would again be grateful; this time for a set of railroad tracks that knocked off a muffler on my oldest son’s car. He would learn how to secure it with a coat hanger at midnight. My words, “please don’t drive so late at night” would suddenly carry more weight. And I would be reminded again that sometimes life is a more effective teacher than a parent. Even when it is hard to watch.

Even when it stings.

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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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Learn + Play

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

dyson vacuum on sale

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

mommy and me matching jumpsuits

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

mommy and me matching denim set

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

Old navy mommy and me matching dresses

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

mommy and me matching shoes

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

matching striped oxford shirts

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

pink chicken matching garden dress

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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