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Dear Wife,

I’m not good at telling you things. Real things. Things that come from the depths and make their way into your heart and soul.

It’s not that I don’t try to tell you these things. I do. But sometimes my words come out feeling cheap, like I chose the wrong time to tell you or I used the wrong words. I don’t really understand why this is.

You see, I have this great pool of emotion within me that contains all of my deepest feelings for you. But sometimes when I dip down into these waters and try to pour you a cup, all that comes out is a few drops. But not today. Today, I am putting into words how I truly feel about you.

If you’re a wife reading this, I would be willing to bet that your husband feels the same way. Despite what society tells you, we men feel deeply, even if we aren’t always great at showing that emotion to you.

You are beautiful. No, seriously.

There are times when I look at you and think to myself, I’m the luckiest damn man in the world. And I believe it down to the core of who I am. I exude pride because of you. I’m turned on by you. And yet, I know what happens when you look in the mirror. You see someone different than I see.

You’ve been forced into a Photoshop-world of freakish expectations and I grieve the times that you don’t see the bride that I see. I intend to spend my days silencing that judgemental voice with the sound of my own roar that says, “You are beautiful.”

I’m not Mr. Darcy but, damn it, I love you.

I can’t ever compare to Mr. Darcy, Edward Cullen, or any other “perfect” man. But, damn it, I love you with the force of a hurricane and I’ll be damned if I’m seen as less than these men. I may not have beautiful words to say, but I’ll change diapers and take the kids off of your hands until I pass out if it means showing my love for you.

No, you are not crazy. Your life at home really is hard.

I know you. You think that you should feel better, happier, and more content than you really are. But you’re in a tough phase right now at home whether it’s being woken up in the middle of the night or stressing about discipline. I want you to have the freedom to feel exactly how you feel and not put another “should” on yourself.

I see you. I hear you.

Sometimes in the midst of our crazy kid-filled life, we miss each other. I want you to know that I still see you. I see when you’re upset, tired, or bothered by something. I see your frustration when I get home late from work. I hear you when we’re fighting about something (even if I don’t admit it at the time). You – the real, deep you – are not invisible to me.

You need to take time for yourself.

I want you to be happy. The thing is, your happiness comes, in part, from taking care of yourself. Yes, we have needy children but you have to put on your own oxygen mask before you can help other passengers. Take a Saturday morning to yourself or go on a weekend trip with your girlfriends. I’ll be fine with the kids. 

You are my best friend.

You make me laugh. You’ve brought tears to my eyes. I love spending time with you. Anytime I experience something wonderful, something dreadful, or anything in between, you are the one I want to tell.

You are still number one in my life, even with the kids.

It’s easy to spend our time and energy focused on our children. However, I want you to know that my allegiance and my love is to you first, then to our children. Let’s make our marriage great and our children will follow suit.

I’m always going to be here for you.

You should already know this, but I want to say it anyway: if you fall ill and need me to take care of you, I will.

I want to help you.

I know you normally do the laundry and the cooking (and a whole host of other things). Let me help you. Tell me those times when you’re dragging and needing help. I’m here to help relieve you.

Who said motherhood doesn't come with a manual?

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We've had some struggles, you and me. In my teens, we were just getting to know each other. It was a rocky road at times, like when people referred to you as "big boned." I was learning how to properly fuel you by giving you the right foods. How to be active, to keep you strong and in good shape. I wish I knew then what I do now about you and what a true blessing you are. But that's something that has come with the gift of motherhood.

In my 20's, we became more well-acquainted. I knew how to care for you. After I got engaged, we worked so hard together to get into "wedding shape." And, looking back now, I totally took that six pack—okay, four pack—for granted. (But I have the pictures to prove it.)

Now that I'm in my 30's (how did my 30's happen so fast, btw?) with two kids, I'm coming to terms with my new postpartum body.

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If there are two things a mama is guaranteed to love, it's Target plus adorable and functional baby products. Target's exclusive baby brand Cloud Island has been a favorite destination for cute and affordable baby clothing and décor for nearly two years and because of that success, they're now expanding into baby essentials. 🙌

The new collection features 30 affordable products starting at $0.99 and going up to $21.99 with most items priced under $10—that's about 30-40% less expensive than other products in the market. Mamas can now enjoy adding diapers, wipes, feeding products and toiletries to their cart alongside clothing and accessories from a brand they already know and love.

The best part? The Target team has ensured that the affordability factor doesn't cut down on durability by working with hundreds of parents to create and test the collection. The wipes are ultra-thick and made with 99% water and plant-based ingredients, while the toiletries are dermatologist-approved. With a Tri-Wrap fold, the diapers offer 12-hour leak protection and a snug fit so parents don't have to sacrifice safety or functionality.

So when can you start shopping? Starting on January 20, customers can shop the collection across all stores and online. We can't wait to see how this beloved brand expands in the future.

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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Many people experience the "winter blues," which are often worst in northern climates from November to March, when people have less access to sunlight, the outdoors and their communities. Another 4% develops Seasonal Affective Disorder, which is a form of clinical depression that often requires formal treatment.

If you have the winter blues, you may feel “blah," sad, tired, anxious or be in a worse mood than usual. You may struggle with overeating, loss of libido, work or sleep issues. But fear not—it is possible to find your joy in the winter, mama.

Here are eight ways to feel better:

1. Take a walk

Research has shown that walking on your lunch break just three times per week can reduce tension, relax you and improve your enthusiasm. If you are working from 9 to 5, the only window you have to access natural sunlight may be your lunch hour, so head outside for a 20 minute brisk but energizing walk!

If you are home, bundle up with your kids midday—when the weather is often warmest—and play in the snow, go for a short walk, play soccer, race each other, or do something else to burn energy and keep you all warm. If you dress for the weather, you'll all feel refreshed after some fresh air.

2. Embrace light

Research suggests that a full-spectrum light box or lamp, which mimics sunlight, can significantly improve the symptoms of the winter blues and has a similar effect to an antidepressant. Bright light at a certain time every day activates a part of the brain that can help restore normal circadian rhythms. While light treatment may not be beneficial for everyone (such as people who have bipolar disorder), it may be a beneficial tool for some.

3. Plan a winter trip

It may be helpful to plan a getaway for January or February. Plan to take it very easy, as one research study found that passive vacation activities, including relaxing, "savoring," and sleeping had greater effects on health and well-being than other activities. Engaging in passive activities on vacation also makes it more likely that your health and well-being will remain improved for a longer duration after you go back to work.

Don't overschedule your trip. Relax at a beach, a pool, or a cabin instead of waiting in long roller coaster lines or visiting packed museums. Consider visiting or traveling with family to help with child care, build quiet time into your vacation routine, and build in a day of rest, recovery, and laundry catch-up when you return.

4. Give in to being cozy

Sometimes people mistake the natural slowness of winter as a problem within themselves. By making a concerted effort to savor the slowness, rest and retreat that complement winter, you can see your reduction in activity as a natural and needed phase.

Research suggests that naps help you release stress. Other research suggests that when your brain has time to rest, be idle, and daydream, you are better able to engage in "active, internally focused psychosocial mental processing," which is important for socioemotional health.

Make a "cozy basket" filled with your favorite DVDs, bubble bath or Epsom salts, lemon balm tea (which is great for “blues,") or chamomile tea (which is calming and comforting), citrus oils (which are good for boosting mood), a blanket or a favorite book or two. If you start to feel the blues, treat yourself.

If your child is napping or having quiet time in the early afternoon, rest for a full 30 minutes instead of racing around doing chores. If you're at work, keep a few mood-boosting items (like lavender spray, tea, lotion, or upbeat music) nearby and work them into your day. If you can't use them at work, claim the first 30 minutes after your kids are asleep to nurture yourself and re-energize before you tackle dishes, laundry, or other chores.

5. See your friends

Because of the complex demands of modern life, it can be hard to see or keep up with friends or family. The winter can make it even harder. While you interact with your kids throughout the day, human interaction with other adults (not just through social media!) can act as a protective layer to keep the winter blues at bay.

Plan a monthly dinner with friends, go on a monthly date night if you have a partner, go to a book club, get a drink after work with a coworker, visit a friend on Sunday nights, or plan get-togethers with extended family. Research suggests that social interactions are significantly related to well-being.

Realize that given most families' packed schedules, you may need to consistently take the lead in bringing people together. Your friends will probably thank you, too.

6. Get (at least) 10 minutes of fresh air

A number of research studies have shown positive effects of nature on well-being, including mental restoration, immune health, and memory. It works wonders for your mood to get outside in winter, even if it's just for 10 minutes 2 to 3 times per week. You might walk, snowshoe, shovel, go sledding or go ice-skating. If you can't get outside, you might try these specific yoga poses for the winter blues.

7. Add a ritual

Adding a ritual to your winter, such as movie night, game night, hot chocolate after playing outside, homemade soup on Sundays, or visiting with a different friend every Saturday morning for breakfast, can add beauty and flow to the seemingly long months of winter. Research has suggested that family rituals and traditions, such as Sunday dinner, provide times for togetherness and strengthening relationships.

8. Talk to a professional

Counseling, which helps you identify the connections between your thoughts, feelings and behaviors, can be extremely helpful for the winter blues (especially when you are also experiencing anxiety or stress). A counselor can assist you with identifying and honoring feelings, replacing negative messages with positive ones, or shifting behaviors. A counselor may also help you indulge into winter as a time of retreat, slowness, planning, and reflecting. You may choose to use the winter to get clear on what you'd like to manifest in spring.

The opposite of the winter blues is not the absence of the winter blues—it's taking great pleasure in the unique contribution of a time of cold, darkness, retreat, planning, reflecting, being cozy and hibernating. Nurturing yourself and your relationships can help you move toward winter joy.

Weary mama,

You are incredibly strong. You are so very capable.

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