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I know there are a lot of reasons to be afraid to have children – boys or girls – these days, and at pretty much every other time in history.


I also know that I was born into a great amount of privilege as a white woman. Because my husband is also white, any children I give birth to will inherit that privilege. They will not experience the same world their peers of color will experience. And yet, when and if I have a second child, I am scared to have a daughter.

I’m scared, in part, because the world has not been kind to women, as Margaret Atwood so richly and articulately explained in the New York Times. But it’s not the parts over which I have less control that frighten me the most, not the ever-looming patriarchy or the mean girls (whose meanness is, I fear, propagated by the patriarchy) or the threat of rape or the fear of reporting a rape, though all of this haunts me as I imagine a future second child.

What I’m more scared of is what effect I will have on my daughter, what tangled, unresolved hang-ups, biases, and cruelty I might bring to the raising of a girl – whether consciously or thoughtlessly. I’m scared of all the ways I am unfit to be a mother of a daughter.

I grew up with only a sister, no brothers, and so having a son, as I did three years ago, felt exciting, if totally foreign. I didn’t worry about bringing any emotional baggage to my role as a mother, which was perhaps simplistic and callous of me. The unknown of boyhood felt fresh and new and disconnected from my own struggles with self-esteem and my body. Raising a son seemed far more navigable than the trickiness of female adolescence, which I knew too well.

While I’ve come to understand that it’s more complex than that – that being a person is hard, boy or girl – I do still worry less about all the ways I must be ruining my son. Perhaps that’s gender bias right there. (Perhaps?? Uh, of course it is!) Perhaps that bias has allowed me over the past three years to detach from my self-doubt and adopt a kind of parental swagger that I worry I would not have with a daughter. It’s the possibility of getting in my own way that freaks me out.

Is there time before I have another kid, a female kid, for me to undo my gender bias and be the unencumbered and capable parent I so want to be? Or does being a woman in a world that is not easy on women make that really, really difficult?

I’ve never not wanted to be a girl. But I have felt, since early in elementary school, that being a girl was rife with roadblocks and so many reminders of what you lacked, be it confidence, breasts, strength, coolness, a boyfriend, whatever. I remember failing my lifeguard test because I couldn’t lift the brick from the bottom of the pool. Other girls did it, but I remember feeling so terribly feminine, so failingly feminine that day.

I also remember when my fourth grade male teacher suggested I start wearing a training bra. He was a nice person, very polite, and I’m sure he just wanted me to avoid any unwanted attention. But I’d gotten his attention. It was unpleasant and embarrassing, the having of breasts, the necessity of covering them up.

I remember getting my period at the state fair and having to learn to use tampons early so I wouldn’t have to miss swim practice. I remember taking a three-hour Greyhound bus to Manhattan and reading about the Spartan diets of a handful of very thin New York women with shiny hair and tight pants in an issue of “Harper’s Bazaar” and not thinking, what a bunch of idiots, but thinking, instead, okay, I’ll give that a shot.

All those hazy anecdotes aside, I have been lucky. I have parents who never once told me I looked anything but beautiful. I survived an eating disorder. I had nice, nerdy friends in high school, the kind who allowed me not to sink into my unshakable shyness. Despite and because of my anxieties and insecurities, I like my life and who I’ve grown up to be. But those anxieties and insecurities that surfaced in adolescence still persist and must be talked into submission sometimes – more often than I’d like.

I wish what I’m writing here lead to some kind of answer or resolve…that I’ve figured out that having a daughter might actually not be terrifying, might actually be wonderful, might actually be something I can manage and not entirely screw up and maybe even be good at. But I don’t feel that way yet. I just feel scared.

All I can do is hope that being aware of my fear and my history is some kind of step toward better equipping a daughter to handle being a girl in the world today.

I can also hope I have another son.

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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