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Today I was sad. So, to cheer myself up, I did what any other totally sane person would do: I dug my wedding dress out of the attic and wore it while I made dinner.


It barely fit. My four pregnancies have changed my body in ways that would have terrified 24-year-old-blushing-bride-me. Thanks to all of that exuberant drinking and dancing we did late into the night on that fateful Valentine's Day in 2004, my dress was also covered in wine stains and missing half of its buttons. BUT—it still made me feel pretty in a way that my regular mom evening-wear of bleach stained yoga pants and a t-shirt just can't match.

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Maybe more importantly, it got me thinking of that younger version of me who wore this dress so earnestly all of those years ago with the courage only naiveté and late morning champagne could provide.

What would she think of me now? Or of this life that I live so messily and love so much and fail at so often? Would she be proud? Or would she be a little embarrassed of me like I am of her (mostly because she was so incredibly unprepared for all of the huge ways her life was going to change in the next decade).

What would I say to that blissfully ignorant blushing bride now?

Easy. This: YOU HAVE NO IDEA.

Walking down the aisle is the easy part. Right after that is easy, too. You will celebrate—by drinking and eating and dancing—then drinking and dancing some more. It won't be hard yet.

Tomorrow, your body will ache from all the dancing. You will hold your plane ticket to Key West in your hand that now wears a wedding band. You'll head south where you will sip fruity drinks on a big boat and wax philosophical about the perfect kids you'll have together and the dizzying career heights you'll achieve.

Your collective future together will spread in front of you both like a open book. It likely will be the biggest turning point of your whole life.

Then you will come home and make babies and have babies and life will be different. Your husband and you will grumble at each other in the middle of the night about whose turn it is to get the baby—both with bags under your eyes that you're still much too young to have. Anxiety of new motherhood may creep into your life and your marriage will experience uncomfortable periods of time as you both try to figure out this new life together—with some bouts lasting longer than others.

You may wonder if you two will make it...

But you will make it. You will fall so incredibly, deeply in love with your babies that it will make you fall in love all over again with your husband. The two of you will make this magical life together in a big old creaky house that feels like home in a way that nothing else ever has. You will learn to sleep in a big king-sized bed filled with throw pillows and four kids in between you and still, somehow, you will touch.

Still, you should know that sometimes you will break because having this family is like walking around with your heart wide open which makes you more vulnerable than you ever were before. You will ache and fall on your knees with the force of prayer—praying so hard that your family will always stay safe.

Then you will get back up.

You will change diapers and do laundry and make and buy and clean up food until it feels like you do nothing else, and you will go to your therapist and say, "What is the point of all this?" And he will advise, “The Buddha would say: Chop wood, carry water. So maybe for you, it's: Change diaper, make mac and cheese." You will go home that night and, after everyone falls asleep and the house is blissfully silent, you will suddenly burst into laughter because you actually get it.

Years from now—if you are really, really lucky—you will stand in your kitchen in an old wedding dress, you and your rock of a husband with the swirling chaos of children around you, and he will say to you, “Honey, this mac and cheese is amazing." And even though you suspect he's lying (because it came out of a box and is made from orange powder), you'll take the compliment because that's what you do for each other.

“Thanks, babe. It must be the dress," you'll answer back. 😉

This post originally appeared on the author's blog.

Back when my husband and I were creating our wedding registry, it was a fun, low-pressure opportunity to select some new dishes and linens. After all, I knew a thing or two about stocking my home and making the "wrong decision" with thread count was the only thing that posed any risk to my sleep at night.

Fast-forward a few years to when I created a baby registry before the birth of my first child—and I found the experience to have a much steeper learning curve. Unlike those sheets, it felt like a bad swaddle or bassinet selection would be catastrophic. Unsure of what to expect from motherhood or my baby, I leaned heavily on advice from friends who already ventured into parenthood. (Starting with their reminders to take deep breaths!)

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Now a mom of three little ones under the age of four, I'm happy to be in a position to pass along some baby registry wisdom.

Go shopping with a veteran parent

As first-time parents, my husband and I barely knew the difference between a bouncer and a swing, let alone what specific features we would want. So when a mom friend recommended we head to Walmart to build my registry together—because she found them to carry the trendy brands she loved AND make registering a breeze during her pregnancy—I leapt at the chance.

By walking through the aisles together and actually getting to see the products, I was much more confident in my registry selections. Thanks to that quick, in-store tutorial from my friend, I understood exactly how to match a perfect infant car seat with an extra base and stroller—which is something I would have been clueless about on my own.

Include items at a variety of price points

When it comes down to it, a registry is really a wish list. So, while I had a personal budget for a stroller if it had to come out of my own pocket, this was an opportunity for me to ask for the stroller of my dreams. And, wouldn't you know it? A few family members went in on it together, which made a bigger price tag much more manageable.

At the same time, it's nice to include some of the smaller ticket items that are absolutely essential. I can't even begin to tell you how grateful I was to skip buying my own diapers for those first few weeks. (With super cute patterns, these are also surprisingly fun to give, too!)

Think about the gifts you would like to give

The first time I bought a mom-to-be a gift after my own child was born, I knew immediately what to look for on her registry: a diaper bag backpack, which I had come to have very strong opinions about after battling falling straps with my first diaper bag. This allowed me to feel like I had a personal touch in my gift, even if I brought one pre-selected by her.

I also appreciate it when my friends clearly incorporate their style into their registry choices, like with adorable baby outfits or nursery decor—and there's no sweeter "thank you" than a picture from a friend showing your gift in use.

Ask for things to grow with your child

Even though it's called a baby registry, there's no need to limit yourself to gifts to use before their first birthday. (To this day, I still have people who attended my baby shower to thank for the convertible bed that my oldest child sleeps in!) Knowing that, I would have included more options with long lifespans into my registry—namely, a baby carrier that can be used during the newborn months, baby months and well into the toddler years. A well-designed baby carrier would have saved my back from serious pain because it would have allowed me to comfortably and ergonomically carry my toddler as she made her way into the 25lb+ club. One brand that's designed to grow with your baby and accommodates 7-45 pounds (up to about four years old) and offers both inward and forward-facing positions is Ergobaby. With several different design and style options, you can easily find one that caters to your parenting needs. From an all-in-one carrier, like the Omni 360, that grows with baby from the newborn stages into the toddler years or a newborn-specific carrier, like the Embrace (and don't worry you can later upgrade to a carrier for an older baby, I recommend the 360 Carrier). The best part? All ergonomic designs are supportive and comfortable for both baby and parent, offering extra lumbar support with breathable, lightweight mesh styles. Everyone (even grandparents!) can get a kick out of babywearing, which is a nice and welcomed break for parents. Having one of these on my registry would have certainly made those first few years so much easier.

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.

This article was sponsored by Ergobaby. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.


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