The Secret to Motherhood


It is hot out, and you are so thirsty.  Or maybe it is freezing and the heater is on full force in your house, so the air is super dry. You haven't had anything to drink in the last hour, and you have been hard at work on a new skill and it's wearing you out. You can see your glass of water on the other side of the room. It's up on a shelf too high for you to reach, but luckily your most trusted partner is here and he is much taller. You ask him to please get it for you, but he acts annoyed and leaves the room. Maybe he did not hear you, so you ask louder. He does not return--where did he go? You ask louder, and he comes back and talks to you in a language you do not understand. "It's only been an hour; you can't possibly need a drink yet." What did he say? You become frantic and he gets more frustrated. You truly don't think you are asking for too much--you just need a drink and the person you love the most could give it to you. Why won't he?

In the last month I have had a handful of new mamas reach out to me with questions about how often their babies need to breastfeed. "She would nurse every hour if I let her, but my doctor told me to make her wait two to three hours between sessions." "My baby is six weeks old--shouldn't he be sleeping through the night and not waking to eat by now?" "My aunt told me I am going to spoil my baby by picking her up and feeding her every time she cries, so I have been making her wait until I think she is actually hungry. But then she just screams and takes forever to calm down to nurse and ends up falling asleep instead of eating."

I have a secret I would love to share with you: the baby in your arms or across the room in the swing or upstairs in her crib, that baby is a whole person. I would actually argue that she is more whole than you or I am because she has not yet been broken by the world. The concepts of evil and ill will are completely foreign to her--she has never once tried to manipulate you. Her intentions are pure, no matter how long she has been crying. She is communicating with you in the only way she can right now. You are not spoiling her by responding; you are meeting her needs in the same way you would want someone to meet yours if you were asking for something out of your reach.

I know, Mama, that it feels so heavy to be solely responsible for this little life and even heavier when you are getting conflicting advice from people you feel like you should trust. And sometimes there are nursing issues that are more confusing and complicated and take research and trial and error. But this does not have to be one of them. Feed your baby. Answer her cries. They are cries today, but tomorrow they will be words. And the next day she will climb down from your lap and never return. And the next, she will not ask for anything; she will be out on her own and you will ache to be needed again. She will still have needs, greater and more confusing, but they probably won't include you.

But today you get to be the one to hear and meet all of them, to teach her what fulfillment tastes like so she hopefully grows up and does not settle for anything less. 

Feed your baby. Hold your baby. Wear your baby. As often as she asks you to. That's all she's asking of you today, and compared to your complicated list of things you think you need, she's really not asking for that much. She's not being selfish or spoiled--she's being a human with basic human needs.  

The secret to a fulfilled baby? Fulfill the baby. That's it. 

Playspace Inspiration


We are moving in just under a month, and the playroom is the first space I plan on tackling in our new home. I have been in love with Waldorf education and parenting philosophies since Edie was a baby, and I am so excited to create a beautiful space for the girls to play and learn. We already implement Waldorf ideas when it comes to choosing toys to bring home, so our little collection will be making the move with us. But I never really focused any energy on decorating the room that currently houses Edie's toys because we have been looking to move for a couple of years now. We won't have much of a budget to change things in the rest of the house right away, but the play room is pretty little and I think we can swing it.

Do you have a process you stick to when it comes to choosing and displaying your child's toys? I plan on discussing ours more as we thoughtfully piece the girls' space together. I'm so excited!

(All images via Pinterest)

Love Letter to Myself


Dear Self,

You are doing it. You are living your dream right now in this very season, and you are living it beautifully. The only thing you ever really knew you wanted to be was a mother. Do you see the way your children look at you? Did you hear your toddler shriek with delight when you came home from yoga last night? You were gone just over an hour and she ran to you, hugged your legs and said, "Oh, Mama, you are back! I missed you so much and I made you a pretty picture!" She then handed you a piece of construction paper, but it may as well have been her little heart. When you looked past her, you saw your baby flapping her arms and bouncing up and down beside your husband on the couch, eyes fixed on you in excited anticipation. She knew you were coming for her, because you always do. She was so sure of your dedication to her because you are doing this dream thing so, so well.

Most days you don't look in a mirror, so you don't know how magical you are. I don't mean your gray hair and whatever our culture has to say about it. When your three year old tells you she loves you so much or your littlest holds your face between her tiny hands, allow yourself to feel like the loveliest woman alive. They see you that way. Every time you drop what you are doing to scoop your daughter up and she immediately relaxes in your embrace, see what she sees. You are love to her. You are comfort. She trusts you completely. You should trust yourself.

You kick yourself often for failing to balance raising children and loving your husband. But your intentions are good--you so badly want to know him and foster that unquestionable trust there, too. You mean what you say when you tell him you want to be a team, you just don't always know what that looks like. You are trying, working to break so many introverted, independent habits you didn't even realize you had for the sake of your marriage, and that is incredible. You are willing to grow and change and compromise, and those branches will bear fruit. Keep holding on.

You are honest and your heart is wide open, and it's far too much for some people. That is okay, because after years of bottling and bursting and bottling again, you recognize what your soul needs to heal and grow and you are going after that. You are explaining your struggles to your daughters in a language you hope they can understand, and you are more sure now than the days they were born that they could never do or say anything to make you stop loving them. We struggle and we grow and somewhere in there we often act ugly. You see that now and will carry it with you as they get older and go through their own versions of turmoil. You will still look at them in awe of their loveliness, without condition, as they do for you today.

And you are beginning to see yourself that way, too, and I urge you to keep following that path. It began with your physical body through pregnancy and birth and yoga--what a miracle you are that you can conceive and grow and breathe a new being (or two!) into the world and then rest and heal so you can go on to twist and turn your body in ways that impact your mind so deeply! And you still feed those babies and carry them and wipe them and rock them without a second thought, because your time and energy have become much less consumed by selfish, trivial things. You may have struggled with uncertainty early on (and you probably will again, and again), but that does not make you any less of a natural. You were born to mother. You are doing it. And you are even radiating so much passion for it, you have found ways to support other mamas in nourishing their babies and themselves, too. What a calling, and how fulfilling!

Look down at your baby asleep at your breast--she loves you because you are worth loving, without question. And maybe every so often, walk that sleeping baby in front of the mirror and look at yourself holding her. Allow yourself to feel the rush of love for her, and for yourself as you are the one taking care of her. And keep taking care of yourself, because you are worthy, too.

Happy Valentine's Day,