A modern lifestyle brand redefining motherhood

My husband, kids, and I were driving home from the park a few weeks ago when my son pointed at his friend’s house. “Is Jack’s daddy staying home today, too?” he asked. I said he probably was since it was a federal holiday and most people didn’t have to go to work.


“Are all the daddies staying home today?” he asked.

“Mmhmm,” I replied, only half paying attention to his question. And then it dawned on me – in his worldview, all daddies go to work and all mommies stay at home to take care of the children. That’s the way it works in our family, as well as most of his friends’ families.

I attempted to explain to him that yes, daddies were staying at home today, but so were some mommies who didn’t typically stay at home. I mentioned to him that in some families the mommy always goes to work and the daddy always stays at home.

“Mmhmm,” he replied – this time, only half paying attention to me.

While my point – that not all families look like ours – might have sailed over his head, it’s a conversation  I want to keep having with my sons.

My family might as well be on the cover of a Land’s End catalog. We’re both white, my husband works in a professional field, and I stay at home and love to knit, bake, and sew. We’re involved in our church, and our two strapping young boys enjoy playing catch in the backyard. There isn’t a golden retriever, but only because my husband is allergic to dogs. We might not have any modeling experience, but our family certainly has that quintessential all-American look about us.

Except for the fact that we really aren’t the all-American family.

Families have evolved over the past several decades, moving farther away from the 1950s Stepford suburban model that my own family still happens to resemble. Fifty years ago, nearly three-quarters of children were born into their parents’ first marriage; today, less than half of children are, with a larger number being born into single parent, cohabitating parents, or re-married households.

Parents today also have fewer children than they did in the 1960s, are older when they have their first child, and mothers now have far more education. But perhaps the most noticeable difference is that more mothers are working outside of the home.

In the 1970s, when record keeping of mothers in the workforce first began, less than half of women with children under the age of 18 worked outside of home. While the media – and our society’s collective memory – has glossed over the fact there was still a sizeable number of working mothers then, the numbers pale in comparison to today’s figures. Now, over two-thirds of moms work outside of the home, and in 40 percent of families, they’re the main breadwinners.

While my own family’s arrangement is certainly on the more traditional side, with my husband bringing home most of the bacon and me doing most of the frying, it doesn’t mean I think it’s the best choice for everyone. I want my kids to understand that, too.

I worry that because my children will grow up thinking the working father/stat-at-home mother family is normal, they will also infer that it is preferable. This isn’t a far jump to make; in fact, 75 percent of Americans don’t think the best situation for children is when a mother works full time outside of the home. Although more women than ever are pursuing careers, our society still raises an eyebrow when mothers drop their kids off at daycare.

Because I do most of my socializing with other stay-at-home moms who are available for playdates during the week, my kids have mostly been exposed to families that look like ours. Occasionally a father might show up for library story hour, but for the most part they live in a women-and-children-only world. With very few examples of different types of families in our day-to-day lives, I have to spell it out for them.

When my son asks if we can go over to Jack’s house on a Wednesday morning, I point out that we can’t, because Jack is at daycare. “His daddy and his mommy go to work, just like your daddy does.”

When we swing by my husband’s office, I tell my kids, “Did you know that Daddy’s boss is a mom? She has kids and she goes to work!”

When my son sees a picture on our fridge of him at daycare, I tell him, “You used to go to daycare when Mommy was at work!”

My overly upbeat observations about women in the workforce are typically met with a “Yeah, okay, Mom” attitude. 

Nevertheless, I feel like they are important to vocalize. Not only do I want my boys growing up to be men who respect women’s career choices, but I want them to know that they have choices, too. Currently, only 16 percent of dads stay at home full time. Only a quarter of those do so primarily to take care of family; the rest staying at home because they’re unable to find work, disabled, retired, or in school.

Being a stay at home parent has been a challenging, rewarding, and satisfying move, and I hope that my boys would see it as an option for them as well.

There are other types of families I hope they will grow up seeing as normal – families with two mommies or two daddies, families with one parent, families with lots of children, families with none, families where the parents’ skin colors might not “match.” But simply being exposed to different configurations isn’t enough for kids to intuitively know that these differences are acceptable, especially when their own family might differ substantially. They need conversations, too, opportunities to ask questions and work out their own feelings. They need to hear it from their parents.

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.

Finding the person you want to spend your life with is never easy, but when you're a parent, there's an extra layer of consideration. You're not just choosing the person you will spend lazy Sundays (and hurried weekday mornings) with—you're choosing the person your children will spend them with, too.

And when that person has children of their own, things get even more complicated. Blending two families isn't easy, but it can be beautiful, as Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez prove.

Each half of this power couple has two children each, and they're doing their best to make their relationship work not just for each other, but for those four children, too.

"We love each other and we love our life together," Lopez recently told People. "I was so loving to his kids and he was so loving and accepting of mine, and they embraced each other right away. [It was] 'I get a new bonus brother and sisters to hang out with all the time and it's nice.'"

A Rod agrees, telling People: "Our kids have become best friends and that keeps us both grounded and appreciative."

Here are five ways J Lo and A-Rod are totally #parentinggoals when it comes to balancing the needs of their blended family.

1.They bring the kids together

Lopez and Rodriguez each spend time with their own children, but they also bring all four kids (Lopez shares 10-year-old twins Maximilian and Emme with her ex, Marc Anthony, and Rodriguez shares daughters Ella, 10, and Natasha, 13, with his ex, Cynthia Scurtis) together for fun family outings, like ice cream dates and basketball games.

Research indicates that about 14% of kids in step families don't feel like they belong in their family, and report that their family doesn't have fun together. By bringing the kids together for fun family times, Lopez and Rodriguez are encouraging a sense of family belonging outside the relationship they have with each of the kids individually. Studies suggest an adolescents' sense of family belonging is linked to their overall well-being. So this ice cream date is actually healthy, in a way.

​2. They consider their children's other parents family, too

If their Instagrams are any indication, Rodriguez and Lopez have a great time hanging out with their blended family, but they understand that their children have other family members, too, and they don't mind hanging out with them.

A recent Instagram post proves Rodriguez considers Marc Anthony #famila, and that's how it should be.

Studies show supportive communication between a parent and their ex-partner's new partner is good for the family as a whole. Likewise, when the relationship between a parent and a stepparent is antagonistic, relationships beyond their own stuffer. It's truly better if a parent's co-parent and their current partner can hang.

3. They’re a united front with their co-parents

Rodriguez considers J Lo's ex family, and he also doesn't forget that (despite legal disagreements) his ex-wife plays a big role in his daughter's lives. So he celebrates their big co-parenting moments, like parent-teacher night.

Lopez, too, celebrates the times she and Anthony get together for their twins' big moments, recently telling Kelly Rippa the two are now in a really great place, and basically best friends. "The kids get to spend time with the two of us more together and see us working together," she said."It's just good for the whole family," says Lopez.

4. They make time for each other without the kids

Having all four kids together at once looks like fun, but hanging out with three 10-year-olds and a teen also sounds like it could be a little exhausting. That's why the couple takes time to unwind, without the kids, when they can.

As J Lo wrote in a recent Instagram post, "it's the lil quiet moments that matter the most."

5. They're doing it their way

Back in April Lopez was asked whether or not she and A Rod would be getting married soon (thanks to a Spanish language single "El Anillo," which is Spanish for "The Ring"), she told People, she's not in any rush, despite the song.

"I've done that before. I'm a little bit more grown up now, and I like to let things take their natural course," she said. "I know people are going to say that… we are really kind of good for each other and are really having the best time, and our kids love each other and all that."

[A version of this story was originally published July 12, 2018.]

You might also like:

If you use U by Kotex tampons, you should check your box before your next period, mama.

Regular absorbency U by Kotex Sleek Tampons are being recalled throughout the U.S. and Canada. According to the FDA, defective tampons have been coming apart when people tried to remove them, "in some cases causing users to seek medical attention to remove tampon pieces left in the body."

The FDA notes that there have also been a "small number of reports of infections, vaginal irritation, localized vaginal injury, and other symptoms."

In a statement on its website, U by Kotex explains that the recall is specific to the U by Kotex Sleek Tampons, Regular Absorbency only. The Super Absorbency or Super Plus Absorbency tampons are not part of the recall.

The recall is for specific lots of the Regular Absorbency tampons manufactured between October 7, 2016 and October 16, 2018.

The lot numbers start with NN (or XM, for small, 3 count packages) and can be found near the barcode on the bottom of the box.

To check if your tampons are part of the recall, type your lot number into this form on the U by Kotex site.


The FDA says if you've used the tampons and are experiencing the following you should seek immediate medical attention:

  • vaginal injury (pain, bleeding, or discomfort)
  • vaginal irritation (itching or swelling)
  • urogenital infections (bladder and/or vaginal bacterial and/or yeast infections)
  • hot flashes
  • abdominal pain
  • nausea or vomiting

If you have a package of the recalled tampons you should not use them and should call Kotex's parent company, Kimberly-Clark at 1-888-255-3499. On its website U by Kotex asks consumers not to return the tampons to stores.

You might also like:

I grew up watching the Fresh Prince of Bel Air so pretty much anytime Will Smith pops up on my Facebook feed, I click. (Also, I happen to live near West Philadelphia, so you know, there's a lot of theme song singing. My husband finds me hysterical.)

Anyway...

The last time I clicked on a Will Smith video, he was telling a story about when he went skydiving. He had made the decision to go with his friends, and then spent the whole night and morning leading up to it terrified, envisioning all the things that could go wrong.

When he was finally up in the plane, the guide explained that they would jump on the count of three. "One… two…" except they push you out on "two" because everyone throws their arms out and stops themselves at "three." So before he knew it, he was flying.

And he found it to be absolutely amazing.

He said, "The point of maximum danger is the point of minimum fear. It's bliss. The lesson for me was, why were you scared in your bed the night before? What do you need that fear for? You're nowhere even near the airplane. Everything up to the stepping out, there's actually no reason to be scared. It only just ruins your day… the best things in life [are] on the other side of [fear]."

Motherhood is skydiving.

If someone came up to you one day and said, "Hey. I have this job for you. You are going to grow a human in your body, kind of like it's an alien. And then that human is going to come out of your body—and that process is really intense. And then the human will be really helpless and you will have to turn it into a fully functioning adult with an important place in this world. Okay… go!"

You'd smile politely and walk run away as fast as you could.

Because if you think about it, the idea of doing all of that—motherhoodis pretty terrifying. The amount of responsibility and work is sort of incomprehensible.

The grand scheme of motherhood is scary.

The thing is, though, that the grand scheme of motherhood is actually made up of millions of tiny moments in which you will be a total boss.

Whether it's a jump-out-of-the-plane moment, or a get-the-toddler-out-of-the-car-seat moment, you will face it with bravery.

Remember, being brave isn't the absence of fear, it's being afraid and doing it anyway.

Being brave is taking a pregnancy test—and seeing that it's positive. Or seeing that it's negative, again.

Being brave is waiting for the adoption agency to call you and tell you that she's here.

Being brave is watching your body change in a hundred ways, and lovingly rubbing your belly as it does.

Being brave is giving your body over to the process of bringing your baby into the world—yes, even if you cry, or complain, or cry and complain. You're still brave. Promise.

Being brave is bringing that baby home for the first time. Oh, so much bravery needed for that one.

Being brave is giving that first bath, going to that first pediatrician visit, spending that first full day at home, alone, with the baby,

Being brave is your first day back at work—or making the phone call to tell them you won't actually be coming back at all.

Being brave is ignoring all the noise around you, and parenting your child the way you know is best for your family.

Being brave is letting go of her hands when she takes her first steps.

Being brave is sitting next to her and smiling when you're in the emergency room for croup—and then sobbing when you get home.

Being brave is bringing her to her first day of school—and going home without her.

Being brave is saying "yes" to her first sleepover and "no" to her first car.

Being brave is hugging her the first time her heart breaks, when your heart might possibly hurt even more than hers does.

Being brave is listening quietly when she tells you she plans to "travel the world."

Being brave is bringing her to her first day of college—and going home without her.

Being brave is watching her commit her life to another person, who is not you.

Being brave is watching her become a mother.

And one day, sweet, brave mama, you'll look back and realize that you just jumped out of an airplane—you raised a child.

All of the things that seemed terrifyingly impossible—you just…do them. One at a time. You will wake up every day a little bit braver than the day before. And before you know it, you can look back on any aspect of motherhood and realize that little by little, you just increased your flying altitude.

Things that was seemed daunting are handled with ease. Ideas that once seemed impossible have become your reality one thousand times over.

So yes, motherhood is incredibly scary. But you are incredibly brave.

One... two... jump!

You might also like:

Here at Motherly, we're all in on pregnant mamas. We love all things pregnancy science: from how a woman's body absorbs her baby's cells, and the effect of breastfeeding on postpartum weight loss. We fawn over the latest + greatest in baby names. And we adore a good celeb baby bump picture.

So we're thrilled for Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, royal newlyweds expecting their first child together in the Spring of 2019.

And recently, when the Duchess presented a British Fashion Award to the designer behind her wedding dress (Givenchy designer Clare Waight Keller) we were not thrilled when headlines suggested Markle "showing off" her bump by cradling it during the awards show.

Here's the deal: When media outlets make note of a pregnant woman whose bump is visible, they often report that the woman is out "flaunting" her belly.

PSA: Pregnant women do not "flaunt" their bodies.

They aren't "showing off their baby bumps."

They're not "taking their bellies out for a day on the town."

They're simply women who are pregnant, going about their daily lives.

This might seem like a small point, quibbling about particular words about pregnancy.

But in reality, acting like pregnant women are "flaunting" their bellies reflects a society that sees pregnancy as a sideshow, rather than a natural part of womanhood. It makes pregnant women feel like weirdos, rather than integral bearers of the future of humanity. It tells women, yet again, that their changing bodies are up for public critique. And it implies to women that the natural changes in their bodies are strange, rather than a normal evolution in life.

So yes, Meghan's baby bump is visible. How exciting for her!

She's not 'flaunting it,' proud mama-to-be though she is.

Meghan Markle is simply rocking her life as a modern woman (and royal), and pregnancy looks amazing on her.

[A version of this story was originally published October 24, 2018]

You might also like:

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.