Gifts for Dad ➔

There were many things for which I was not prepared when they laid my first baby on my chest six years ago.

While I knew I would love my daughter, I couldn’t have known how deep it would go. I knew I would change as a person, but I didn’t realize how much I would blossom. I knew I would love seeing my husband as a father, but I didn’t realize JUST. HOW. FULL my heart would be seeing our little girl toddler-waddle to the door when she realized her daddy was home from work.

I also knew I’d be tired, but I didn’t realize how heavy the exhaustion could feel. I knew I would give a lot of myself as a mother, but I didn’t realize how hard it would be to figure out who was still left. I knew I would no longer be free to come and go as I pleased, but I didn’t realize how lonely it could be spending so much time within the walls of my house.

There were moments during those times when I was angry that no one warned me about the hard stuff.

That no one followed up their, “Motherhood is the most amazing journey you’ll go on,” with a “but just so you know, you might lose yourself, you might want to give up and you will feel alone at times.”

Maybe that would have made it feel less painful during the lows. Maybe I would have felt more “normal” when I started to feel sad and off-balance. Maybe I wouldn’t have been filled with fear when the “you’re not cut out for this” voices ran through my head. 

Or maybe it would have robbed me of my own journey.

Because now that I’m finding myself back on steady ground, I know I needed to go through that journey of discovery on my own.

Because every single pit in my stomach, every tear on my face, every fear I had, every time that I felt alone, every cry-for-help phone call I made to a friend, and every single worry I felt . . . 

MEANT something.

It had a purpose with it I wouldn’t have been able to fully embrace had I tried to prepare myself for it . . . or . . . if I had let someone else’s experience do the preparing for me.

Because there was something about the surprise of it all . . . the suddenness of it all . . . that forced me to dig into the deepest parts of myself and learn how to find balance and discover my strength.

I had to learn how to insert positivity in seemingly hopeless situations. I had to learn how to adapt. I had to learn how to save enough love for myself after giving so much of it to my children. I had to feel the lows in order to appreciate the beautiful joys. I had to identify the people who truly cared for me and those who didn’t.

And while I wished all of that pain away when it was happening, today I feel grateful it did . . . and grateful for the people who gave me the space to navigate my own way.

I’m often conflicted about my answer when expecting/new moms ask me questions about motherhood.

Because our lives are different. Our children are not the same. Our experiences in life are independent of each other, making us handle joys and struggles differently. 

So I usually choose to tell her THAT.

That her journey will be a unique one. That there’s no way I, or any other mother can FULLY help her prepare for what’s to come.

But most importantly, I will tell her I will be in her corner the whole way. 

What I won’t tell her? I’ll be asking her questions to try to see if she’s silently struggling. I’ll be offering her support even when she says she doesn’t need it. I’ll bring her food when she tells me it’s not necessary.

And if she comes to me with a struggle? It will be THEN I will share my story . . . so she knows she is not alone. 

But I will let her walk her path the way so many people did for me.

And while I will feel sadness knowing she may be going through the tough stuff, I also know that means she’s finding her strength.

And I know I’ll be there to hold her hand when she needs to borrow some of mine.

I also knew I’d be tired, but I didn’t realize how heavy the exhaustion could feel.

Brea Schmidt

Brea Schmidt is a writer, speaker and photographer who aims to generate authentic conversation about motherhood and daily life on her blog, The Thinking Branch. Through her work, she aims to empower people to overcome their fears and insecurities and live their truth. She and her husband raise their three children in Pittsburgh, PA.

Even When I Fail, I Hope You Feel My Love

In: Motherhood
Drawing of mother holding toddler, black-and-white photo

I am sorry for the days I am not enough—the days I am short on attention or tempered for reasons that don’t matter as much as you matter.  I am not always living in the moment. I am mulling over the past or worrying about the future. I am sorry for not letting go sooner of things I can’t control and sometimes missing the beauty of you, right in front of me.  I apologize for the days I let exhaustion or circumstances get the best of me. If it gets the best of me, it gets the best of you....

Keep Reading

“God, Please Put a Baby in Mommy’s Belly. Amen.”

In: Loss, Motherhood
Little girl praying by bed

“God, please put a baby in Mommy’s belly. Amen.” She’s added it to her prayers every night for the past year. Woke up two weeks ago. Didn’t feel well.  Dark positive pregnancy test Shock. Joy. Excitement.  Thank you, God. We’ve all wanted this for so long. My husband jumps up and hugs me. He’s so happy, maybe even more than me, if that’s possible.  Three more positive tests over the next week to double-check. More excitement with each definite positive. A Christmas baby. Pure joy.  A few unusual symptoms. Shrug them off. Telling a few people but not too many,...

Keep Reading

If Only My Mother Were Still Here

In: Grief, Motherhood
Mother and daughter on beach at sunset

My strongest memory of my momma is more of a feeling than a memory. I can see myself standing in the bright kitchen of our big yellow house looking up at my beautiful momma surrounded by sunlight. I think she was handing me a glass of saltwater for a sore throat. But the feeling is what I remember in the most detail . . . I felt safe and loved, known and seen.   I knew that even if I didn’t know what I needed, she would always know. A hug, a song, a gentle nudge of confidence, a silly kitchen...

Keep Reading

Find the People Who Will Root for You

In: Friendship, Kids, Motherhood
Empty sports field, color photo

My son participated in tryouts out for a new travel soccer team at the end of a recreational fall soccer season one chilly evening in November. He has been playing recreational soccer since he was three years old when we started with the local club. He has been asking about joining a travel team since kindergarten. In recent seasons, I watched him struggle in the recreational league. I watched him wanting a little bit more in the sport as he developed his passion—he was ready to grow.  We knew he loved soccer, and it was something he had always wanted...

Keep Reading

There’s Just Something about a 4-Year-Old

In: Child, Kids, Motherhood
4 year old girl smiling outside

There’s just something about a 4-year-old. The way their bubbly laughs and sweet little faces still have some traces of babyhood while they’re transforming into more and more of their own unique person right before your eyes.  The way they ask questions about everything under the sun, listen wide-eyed to your clumsy answers, and believe every single word you say. It’s so innocent (and scary) the way they believe absolutely anything you tell them—just because you’re “mommy.”  The way their still-a-little-chubby hand finds yours. And the way they still come running to you for a hug and kiss when they’re hurt. Or...

Keep Reading

No Man in a Girl’s Life Holds More Influence than Her Dad

In: Kids, Marriage, Motherhood
Father and daughter on amusement ride, color photo

As I sat outside Walmart watching my husband of nearly 16 years walk in with my 9-year-old daughter to buy me a box of tampons, I realized how blessed I am.  This is real life. Not only does he not care about running into the store and picking up these items, he asks our girls if they want to join him, and they use this time to talk. They talk about real-life—about growing up, changing bodies, what tampons are even for, how they can wait years and years before they need to start dating, how he will be waiting outside...

Keep Reading

I May Not Earn a Paycheck but My Work Is Worthy

In: Motherhood
Mother and son unloading dishwasher, color photo

I remember getting a paycheck once.  I chose direct deposit, and I’d review my monthly bank statements with no surprises. I knew how much I needed for my bills, and I knew when I had a little extra to spend. I knew I was getting compensated for all those hours I put in, and it felt good to earn a living. But that all changed when my husband and I decided I’d quit my full-time job to stay at home full time to raise our children.  RELATED: God Gave Me the Heart of a Stay-at-Home Mom All of the sudden,...

Keep Reading

You Don’t Raise Your Babies to Be Little Forever, but I Thought I’d Have More Time

In: Kids, Motherhood, Teen, Tween
Little boy peeking over wooden fence, color photo

I can see the yellow blur of the school bus passing in front of my window. Soon my little boy will excitedly burst through the front door with his picture of a giraffe from art class. His big brown eyes will meet mine as I get a toothless “I missed you, Mom” grin. He will tell me everything he had on his tray for lunch, recount the whole soccer game at recess, and share all about that hilarious thing his friend said on the bus. He will then sit on my lap as he takes each school paper out of...

Keep Reading

Being the Mother of an Athlete Means Learning to Let Go

In: Motherhood, Sports
mom watching sports game

This is my post. Has been for years. I’ve held this spot sacred, watching you play for so long. Yet as you grow older, I find myself mourning the day I‘ll finally have to give it up. I’ve worn a path here, pacing back and forth with worry. I’ve packed the earth here, jumping up and down with excitement. I’ve found friends here, locking arms so tight that they’ve become bonded like family. I’ve made room in my heart for teammates here, cheering as if they were my own children. I’ve learned to respect, to love, and to offer grace here,...

Keep Reading

My Little Girl Has Big, Brave Dreams

In: Kids, Motherhood
School paper with little girl's handwriting, color photo

My 6-year-old daughter wants to be a soldier.   When we heard from the ultrasound tech that we were having another girl, that was not exactly the career path that popped into our heads.   There’s something absolutely terrifying knowing your child wants to do something big like this. I’m sure I’d be petrified if I had a son with the same ambition, but there’s something extra scary about it being your little girl. There’s something weighty about raising a daughter who wants to be a soldier. But honestly, it’s not a surprise at all. RELATED: God Has Filled Your...

Keep Reading

 5 Secrets to Connect with Your Kids


Proven techniques to build REAL connections