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Working motherhood is hard. That’s also what makes it meaningful.

A few weeks back, I had invited one of my closest friends


and her family over for a home-cooked dinner. She is one of my closest friends,

a stable rock I can always lean on, and a friend who can understand my needs

even before I say them out loud. In short, I am truly blessed to have her love

and friendship in my life.

She kept saying no to my

invitation. She reminded me that I have a little toddler, am pregnant with my

second one, work full-time and part-time in grad school and that I should not

be taking this project on—and if anything, she should be the one cooking for me.

She then kept insisting that I

should order take out or simply meet at her place. I kept insisting, because I

wanted to cook for her and her family and spend time together. In the end, I

won and she came over.

After dinner was all done and my

friend had graciously helped me load the dishwasher and clean up my counter

tops, she came up and had this look of guilt and said to me, “I feel bad I made

you work so hard, look at how tired you are.”

My typical response would have

been, “Oh no, it’s not that much work, I always cook anyway so it’s all good.” It’s

true that most meals on weekends are elaborate and festive in our house, but

this time I said something that required more courage.

“Yes, I am tired and physically exhausted and cannot wait to hit the bed… but I am also equally nourished, nurtured, and joyful with you and your family’s presence.”

We both gave each other a big hug

with gratitude in our eyes for the love we share.

I worked hard that night, but

there was tremendous meaning and joy in cooking for one of my favorite people,

having meaningful conversations, and then cleaning up together.

As I reflected on that

experience, I realized that there are so many times when we work hard because

we want to prove something to someone, please our ego, get something from

someone else, or because society expects us to. Those activities can be purely

draining with very little nourishment.

However, when we work hard from a place that brings meaning and aligns with our values, the effort we put in brings ease and fills up our own hearts and creates more space to give, to contribute, and to live a more meaningful life.

There are so many times when it is much

easier to not do the work that I feel

is needed in my life because it takes effort. And yes, sometimes boundaries are

absolutely needed and I do have nights when I meet friends at a restaurant rather

than having them over.

But, I have also learned that my life is much more

meaningful when I say yes to hard work

with intention and purpose.

It takes more effort to compost than to

throw everything in the trash, it takes more effort to use cloth diapers for my

son and wash them every few days, and it takes more effort to raise 10K for a cause that matters to me.

But in

the end, it fills up my heart, creates meaning, and brings a smile to my face

that allows me to be who I am and bring my best in the world.

As a mother, what do you say yes to and what do you say no to? Are there things that take effort but also bring ease? How can you bring more of those gifts into your life and the lives of others?

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When expecting a baby, there is a lot you can test-run in advance: Take that stroller around the block. Go for a spin with the car seat secured in place. Learn how to use the baby carrier with help from a doll. But breastfeeding? It's not exactly possible to practice before baby's arrival.

The absence of a trial makes it all the more important to prepare in other ways for breastfeeding success—and it can be as simple as adding a few of our lactation aiding favorites to your registry.

MilkBliss chocolate chip soft baked lactation cookies

MilkBliss lactation cookies

Studies have shown the top reason women stop breastfeeding within the first year is because they are concerned about their milk supply being enough to nourish baby. Consider MilkBliss Lactation Cookies to be your secret weapon. Not only are they wholesome and delicious, but they were formulated specifically for breastfeeding moms based on the science of galactagogues—also known as milk boosters. They also come in peanut butter and wild blueberry flavors.

$23

Evereden multi-purpose healing balm

Evereden multipurpose healing balm

Also up there on the list of reasons women stop breastfeeding: the toll the early days can take on nipples. Made from just five ingredients, this all natural healing balm is ideal for soothing chafed nipples, making for a much more comfortable experience for mama as her body adjusts to the needs of a breastfeeding baby.

$20

Lansinoh milk storage bags

Lansinoh milk storage bags

For a breastfeeding mama, there are few things more precious and valuable than the milk she worked so hard to pump—and it's the stuff of nightmares to imagine it spilling out in the fridge. With these double-sealed milk storage bags, you can be assured your breastmilk is safe and sound until baby needs it.

$12.50

Belly Bandit bandita nursing bra

Belly Bandit bandita nursing bra

Nursing a baby is a 24/7 job, which calls for some wardrobe modifications. Because Belly Bandit specializes in making things more comfortable for the postpartum mama, they've truly thought of every detail—from the breathable fabric to the clips that can be easily opened with one hand.

$47

boob-ease soothing therapy pillows

Boob Ease soothing therapy pillows

For nursing moms, duct can quickly become a four-letter word when you suspect it's getting clogged. By keeping these soothing breast pillows in your breastfeeding arsenal, you can immediately go on the defense against plugged milk ducts by heating the pads in the microwave or cooling them in the freezer.

$25

Belly Bandit perfect nursing tee

Belly Bandit perfect nursing tee

A unfortunate reality of nursing is that it can really seem to limit the wardrobe options when you have to think about providing easy, discrete access. But by adding functional basics to your closet, you can feel confident and prepared for breastfeeding on the go.

$59

Bebe au Lait premium cotton nursing cover

Bebe au Lait cotton nursing cover

Nursing in public isn't every mama's cup of tea. But babies can't always wait until you've found a private place to get down to business if that's your preference. That's where a nursing cover comes in handy. This one is made from premium cotton and features a patented neckline that allows for airflow and eye contact even while you're covered.

$36

Lactation Lab basic breastmilk testing kit

Lactation Lab breastmilk testing kit

Curious to learn more about the liquid gold you're making, mama? The testing kit from Lactation Labs analyzes your breast milk for basic nutritional content like calories and protein, as well as vitamins, fatty acids and environmental toxins to help boost your breastfeeding confidence.

$99

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For all the sweating and swimming I do in the summer, it seems illogical for my skin to be as parched as ever. But your mid-thirties (and 2020 in general) don't really seem to follow any rule book, so here we are.

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