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While usually we're being quaint and adorable like a Norman Rockwell painting come to life, there are a few other things that get us from WHYGODWHY in the morning to Netflix o'clock at night.


We clean things so they can be destroyed right exactly before you drop by. I don't mean to brag, but my kids are capable of making my house a major health code violation in ten seconds flat. Sometimes I think about posting pictures of what my house looks like when it's clean—just for reference.

Welcome to my home. Here is a picture of what my house looked like one time last week. It could also look like this more often if I had 47 maids and manservants.

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Due to a current cash flow problem, we have had to reduce our Downton Abbey staff size.

Please come back in 25 years to see it like this again.

Thank you.

We are always smelling things. Pillows. Clothes. Carseats. Butts. My life is just a game of: Where and what is that horrible smell? Did something die? Did someone poop? Is that a piece of pizza under there??

I just need you to know that I KNOW about the smell. Okay?

There's only one thing worse than being stinky, and that's being unknowingly stinky.

I am not that girl.

I have been trying to solve this mystery since Tuesday.

I appreciate your patience.

We take family photos and hang them on the wall so that we can live vicariously through those happy… and remarkably clean people.

Look at them, aren't they precious?

Laundry. We are literally always doing laundry.

Step 1: Wash load.

Step 2: Forget.

Step 3: Smell load.

Step 4: Hmm. Smells fine. Dry load.

Step 5: Smell dry clothes.

Step 6: Dammit.

Step 7: Re-wash and dry.

Step 8: Pull out dry clothes to fold “later" and throw them on your bed.

Step 9: Forget until you go to bed. UGH.

Step 10: Throw clothes on floor.

Step 11: In the morning have children run through clothes until you can no longer tell what is clean.

Step 12: Throw pile back on bed because you cannot even.

Step 13: Repeat until you die.

We are keeping people alive.

We are just saving lives, one pair of adult scissors at a time.

Delivering the children. To school, from school, to birthday parties, to dance, to sports…

I'm just a girl, sitting in a minivan… praying you don't ask me to get out.

These Lorelei Gilmore shorty shorts did not anticipate leaving the vehicle. I brought the kids and they are dressed. I can not guarantee any other kinds of hassles or formalities such as bras, pants, or shoes.

The kitchen counter. We all have our one thing that makes us feel like we might be in control. Mine is my kitchen counter. Kids engaging in WWF wrestling? Toddler screaming while being permanently velcroed to my calf? It ACTUALLY being cloudy with a chance of meatballs?

I do not care if the heavens have opened and giant chili cheese dogs are bouncing off my front porch.

I can't control everything—but I can control one thing, and that is my kitchen counter. If you need me, I will be wiping it down for the 102nd time today.

Feeding people. I serve up three meals a day so that people can cry, fall on the floor in convulsions, and agonize over which is better: my cooking, or starving. Then they choose starving… because my food is just. That. Bad.

Insert eternal eye roll.

And then the Lord gave us wine. Thank you, Lord.

Grocery shopping. I am making moral decisions at the grocery store.

Do I spend my life savings on organic and feel very good about my healthy and conscientious choices?

Or…

Do I fill my cart with hormones and pesticides and feel like a money-saving boss?

Life is so complicated.

I cope by buying mostly organic and hitting up Dairy Queen on the way home for lunch… because balance.

We are not searching for unsolicited advice.

Things you can do instead of give me advice:

Clean my minivan.

Get me a Roomba that eats toys.

Pour me a coffee.

Tell me I'm pretty.

That is all.

We are not judging you.

You know what I don't have time for?

Judging.

I do not care if your kid eats fruit snacks or cucumbers. I don't care if you homeschool or are a working mom. I just don't even care.

I don't care if you don't want kids or are on the career track. I say more power to you—and please, while you're up there, break a few glass ceilings for my girls, would ya?

I don't think my life is harder or that I'm some sort of martyr. I think that this is exactly what I chose to do. And sometimes it is hard, because that is the nature of things that matter. Just like any great dream, it is worth the cost.

Things worth believing in are also worth fighting for. Sometimes that looks like hard work and sacrifice.

These kids—they are my dream.

And I believe in them 100%.

You do you, my friend.

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When I was expecting my first child, I wanted to know everything that could possibly be in store for his first year.

I quizzed my own mom and the friends who ventured into motherhood before I did. I absorbed parenting books and articles like a sponge. I signed up for classes on childbirth, breastfeeding and even baby-led weaning. My philosophy? The more I knew, the better.

Yet, despite my best efforts, I didn't know it all. Not by a long shot. Instead, my firstborn, my husband and I had to figure it out together—day by day, challenge by challenge, triumph by triumph.

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The funny thing is that although I wanted to know it all, the surprises—those moments that were unique to us—were what made that first year so beautiful.

Of course, my research provided a helpful outline as I graduated from never having changed a diaper to conquering the newborn haze, my return to work, the milestones and the challenges. But while I did need much of that tactical knowledge, I also learned the value of following my baby's lead and trusting my gut.

I realized the importance of advice from fellow mamas, too. I vividly remember a conversation with a friend who had her first child shortly before I welcomed mine. My friend, who had already returned to work after maternity leave, encouraged me to be patient when introducing a bottle and to help my son get comfortable with taking that bottle from someone else.

Yes, from a logistical standpoint, that's great advice for any working mama. But I also took an incredibly important point from this conversation: This was less about the act of bottle-feeding itself, and more about what it represented for my peace of mind when I was away from my son.

This fellow mama encouraged me to honor my emotions and give myself permission to do what was best for my family—and that really set the tone for my whole approach to parenting. Because honestly, that was just the first of many big transitions during that first year, and each of them came with their own set of mixed emotions.

I felt proud and also strangely nostalgic as my baby seamlessly graduated to a sippy bottle.

I felt my baby's teething pain along with him and also felt confident that we could get through it with the right tools.

I felt relieved as my baby learned to self-soothe by finding his own pacifier and also sad to realize how quickly he was becoming his own person.



As I look back on everything now, some four years and two more kids later, I can't remember the exact day my son crawled, the project I tackled on my first day back at work, or even what his first word was. (It's written somewhere in a baby book!)

But I do remember how I felt with each milestone: the joy, the overwhelming love, the anxiety, the exhaustion and the sense of wonder. That truly was the greatest gift of the first year… and nothing could have prepared me for all those feelings.

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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I was blissfully asleep on the couch while my little one was occupied elsewhere with toys, books and my partner. She got bored with what they were doing, escaped from his watch and, sensing my absence, set about looking for me. Finding me on the couch, nose-level, she peeled back my one available eyelid, singing, "Mama? Mama? ...You there? Wake UP!"

Sound familiar? Nothing limits sleep more than parenthood. And nothing is more sought after as a parent than a nap, if not a good night's rest.

But Mother Nature practically guarantees that you are likely to be woken up by a toddler—they're hardwired to find you (and get your attention) when you're "away."

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