Janine Manley of Little Rabbit Wears

I’m so, so excited for today’s guest post. Janine Manley of Little Rabbit Wears is the first person I thought to ask when I decided to post some essays on motherhood in honor of Mother’s Day this week. Not only do I love her vintage-inspired girls shop and think she’s pretty fabulous, but I love how open and honest she is about motherhood…

Janine Manley of Little Rabbit WearsI can’t say I’m one of those moms who instantly felt connected with my children in utero. While pregnant, I flopped around and ate carbs and wore my bathrobe like it was on trend. With my first born (son), I worried I wouldn’t know what to do with a little boy and that I would be left out of Daddy and boy fun. I freaked out about having to take care of a “winkie.” Or willy. Whatever. I kind of wished I was having a girl when I shopped for him at Baby Gap and looked at my friends’ Facebook photos of mommy and me tea parties and American Girl store visits.

But, when Jackson arrived on 2/3/11, it certainly didn’t matter one bit that he was a boy. He was simply the most beautiful little thing I had ever seen. I had been proud at times and I had been happy. But, never have I had a moment as sublime as the feeling of having a warm, soft baby burying his head in the crook of my neck while placing my finger in his hand to hold just like I had seen on TV—not caring that he was squishy, or wet, or that he had just come right out of my lady bits. And so began motherhood.

I’ve since become Mommy and sometimes “Mom” and even sometimes “Mother” and Jackson is 4. Today, we are going to visit a preschool we would like him to attend in September. As I sit here and write this, I’m getting a bit teary eyed just thinking about it. I never thought I would be “that Mom.” I can’t believe that everything they said was true about all this—from the moment he grasped my finger to how quickly time flies. He’s learning to ride a bike and roaring like a lion (all. the. time). Instead of worrying about him being a boy in general, I now think about how I can help him to become a great man.

When I get dressed in the morning, I want him to think his mommy is pretty. And when I take a shower and I hug him afterwards, I’m happy when he tells me I smell good. He snuggles me and touches my leg and (still) sucks his thumb and I love that that is comforting to him. I’m that crazy Italian mother who hopes he’ll always talk about how Mom’s cooking is best even when he’s taking an hour to eat his dinner and I want to force feed the little bugger. Is this really me?

When Jen asked me to guest blog about being a momma, I had lots of thoughts churning around in my head that night and tears started to roll onto my pillow. My husband must have heard me sniffling because he asked me what was wrong. I turned to him and looked at my daughter sleeping between us. I stroked her blonde hair and sniffled some more.

“I’ve never wanted anyone to know how much they’re loved as I want them to know it. I want you to know I love you… and Mom and Dad and my sister and everyone. But, I want them to feel it every time I look at them, even when I’m angry. When I hug them, I hope they feel it pouring out of my skin. In September, when he starts school, I want him to see it in my eyes when I say goodbye. I want them to feel it even when they’re sleeping and I’m sneaking kisses and hugs, sitting on their beds marveling at how beautiful they are.”

Motherhood, to me, is the forever wish that my love will carry them and hold them up as they grow up even when they’re down. Hopefully, I will have shown them so much love that they will feel protected by it even when they’re scared. I hope my love will keep them laughing and smiling for as long as humanly possible. I love you, Jackson and Adèle Manley.

Janine Manley is a 36 year old full time French teacher, mama, and small business owner… who should admittedly make more time to be a great wife. She lives in New Paltz, NY with her amazing husband, TJ, and two children, Jackson and Adèle. She is still undecided if she is ready to be finished having babies.

Written by Jennifer Garry
Jen is a freelance writer and girl mom from New York. When she's not knee-deep in glittery crafts and girl talk, you can probably find her sprawled across her couch in the middle of a Netflix marathon with dark chocolate smeared on her face. The struggle is real.