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As soon as my sons were born, the sports paraphernalia started trickling in; a soft basketball to toss around, a onesie embroidered like a baseball uniform. My husband talked excitedly about when the boys would be old enough to play t-ball and about coaching their basketball teams. Sports were a part of his childhood which he looked upon fondly, and he could not wait to share his enthusiasm.

Sports have always been a regular feature on our TV, but after the kids came along, I started to notice a change in what we were watching. There was a little less football, and a lot more women’s soccer. “Look, guys,” my husband would point out as our toddlers ran around the living room, “do you see the women playing soccer? Look how far they can kick the ball!”

I asked him about it later. “Well,” he replied, “It’s important to me that they see women in athletics, too.”

When you have young children, you’re tasked with educating them about the world. But more often than not, we teach them about the world as we think it should be, rather than as it is. As parents, we tell them to be kind and to share, even though we know that they will grow up and begin to see inequalities around them. We tell them boys and girls can be anything they want to be when they grow up, but eventually they will start to notice a pattern – the faces on the classroom poster of U.S. Presidents are all men, the pictures on our money are all men, the names they memorize in history class are mostly men. Their elected representatives, the CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, and sports heroes? Men, men, men.

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With the Olympics, however, comes a unique opportunity to show children a different side to the story. When women take the field (or the track, pool, or court) they are not on the sidelines or mere footnotes to the bigger story. They are front and center showing the world that women do not have to be pretty, quiet, or demure if they don’t want to be – they can be strong, fast, and powerful, too.

This image is as important for our boys to see as it is for our girls. I grew up in the 90s, in the days of “Girl Power!” when parents told their daughters that nothing could hold them back. But then as the girls in my generation got older, we entered the workforce and still bumped into glass ceilings, were paid less than men for the same jobs, and realized balancing a career and family wasn’t always a simple task. Raising feminist girls wasn’t enough, it’s time to start raising feminist boys, too.

As it happens, our family life looks fairly traditional. My husband goes to work, and I stay at home to cook and care for the children. He enjoys watching sports, and I enjoy knitting while he watches sports. This is a balance that works for us, but we want our children to know that just because our family works a certain way, other families may look different and that is perfectly fine.

Children, however, have a tendency to normalize what they see and become skeptical of what is unfamiliar. So we try to give them new perspectives when we can. Watching women power down the track isn’t the only way to help familiarize them with strong women in leadership roles, but it certainly is a fun one.

I want my boys to grow up with role models of both genders. If girls jumping into the pool this summer can admire Michael Phelps and his world record number of medals, then my sons can look up to Alex Morgan and Carli Lloyd when they step on to the soccer field. If we act like men’s sports are for everyone to enjoy, but women’s sports are just for young girls to watch, we reinforce the message that we have been fighting for centuries, that women are somehow inferior.

The truth is, even the athletic community has a lot of catching up to do in this area. The U.S. Women’s Soccer Team, which won the World Cup in 2015 were  paid $2 million, while a year before the men’s team was given $9 million despite losing in the round of 16. This summer, women will have fewer opportunities to win gold medals than men at the Olympics in Rio, which features 169 events for men and only 137 for women.

Women’s sports, however, do not deserve to be seen as second rate. Not only do they provide great entertainment, they inspire young athletes of both genders. When one of the Olympians competing this summer is a young woman who swam to Greece’s shore while pushing a broken down boat full of fellow Syrian refugees to safety, it’s laughable to think that women’s sports don’t have anything to contribute.

When my husband starts talking about signing the boys up for soccer next spring, his goals are not to win every game, or to start grooming a future pro (although, should it turn out that way, I’m sure he wouldn’t complain). Parents introduce children to sports as a way to teach them about the importance of being healthy and active, teamwork, and setting goals to reach. Women’s sports can teach these values to both boys and girls, just as well as men’s sports can.

So while college football and NBA basketball are still regular fixtures at our house, when we’re looking for something to do on a spring Saturday, we will happily take the boys to watch a college softball game. If my son asks me what hurdling is, I’ll search YouTube for “women’s hurdling” and show him the results. When the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team plays in Rio, you can bet we are all cheering them on.

The benefits to young women playing sports are numerous – it reduces the risk of osteoporosis, breast cancer, and depression. But I believe there are benefits to my sons as well, in seeing our family and, this summer, our entire country, cheer on strong women. I hope this will teach them that it is okay to root for and support people who might be different from them, and that doing so will cost them nothing.

As our boys grow up, I know that we have many conversations ahead of us about what it means to view and treat women as equals. I’m not even sure if this early exposure to women’s sports will end up being a game-changer. But I know this – last summer, as we watched the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team win game after game in the World Cup, I caught my son running furiously around the house, yelling, “I’m a lady! I’m a lady!”

“Hey honey, what do you think a lady is?” I asked him, trying to hide a giggle.

He stopped briefly and turned to me, “It’s someone who runs really fast,” he answered before taking off again.

“Yup,” I said. “That sounds about right.”

That’s the impression I want him to have for a good, long time.

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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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