Thus, we bring you The 2016 Motherhood Product Guide of The Perpetual You!

Image by Victoria gloria

Image by Victoria gloria

Stage 1: Mama-To-Be

Your body is changing and your emotions are along for the ride.  Depending on the day (or trimester), you might be sick, exhausted, in pain, worried, or brimming with energy and possibility. Roller-coaster doesn't begin to describe all that you've been through, nor what you've left to go through yet.  Speaking of which: if this is the moment you've been waiting for, why is it taking so long?

You have a special connection with the little one inside of you that no one around you understands. Some days, you're so full of love, it spills over into everything you do: painting the walls that perfect shade, folding the millions of onesies just right, lining up the heirloom blankets and booties one last time.  You're eager, but nervous.  Excited even while exhausted.

You lie awake at night, dreaming & planning; from nursery colors to naming conventions to neatness concerns, all of this matters because your baby matters. She isn't just the reason you can't sleep or why you're back hurts or the cause of your heartburn and swollen feet.  She is the future--all of your hopes and dreams rolled up into a tiny ball that you'll soon get to hold in your arms.  How is it possible to love someone so much when you haven't even met them yet?  

the mama-to-be desires to nest and be nurtured. 

Go ahead and spoil her -- let her know how much she is loved!

image by victoria gloria

Stage 2: Mom & Baby

Your child is the newest thing in your life and you hardly know what to do with her.  You're adjusting to a change in schedule, as well as hormonal changes galore!  You are constantly "on" and you're learning to put someone else's needs before your own.  At least once a day, it hits you: another person's life depends on you. Wow.

As your baby grows, you begin to settle into your role as mother.  Your views on the world might change. Your views on motherhood will change. (You appreciate your own mother so. much. more.) Your opinion on whether babies should wear socks; um, who cares! Is she fed? Is she warm? Is she sleeping more than crying? Check, check, check. Then you are doing a fabulous job. But you will never figure out why some days fly by and others feel like a lifetime.

Will the dishes ever be clean again? (Probably not).  Will the laundry basket ever be empty? (Nope!) Are you doing anything right? (You most certainly are.). You can't see the bigger picture nor can you live in the moment. Life, right now, is about giving 100%.  But some days you also get to receive: a beautiful smile, an extra long mama nap, or a snuggle that touches you in your soul. That's when the giving becomes effortless, when motherhood becomes fulfilling-- just as you knew it would.

When buying for a Mama with an Infant, self-care is the way to go!

gifts that encourage and support her in her new special role will be much appreciated.

image by victoria gloria

Stage 3: Mom of Young One(s)

Where did this ball of energy come from? This roly-poly, topsy-turvy firecracker. She never sits down, which means neither do you.  Except for those times when she gets so engrossed in menial activities that you wonder if you'll ever arrive anywhere on time again.  Your child has her very own identity, one that reveals itself more every day. She is part baby, part savant, and ALL copycat.

Your child listens, watches, repeats. So you adjust your language & change your habits.  You begin to think of her future as a human being - how will she impact the world? You begin to place her in a generational cycle. You realize that her eyes remind you of your grandmother's.  The relationship grows stronger every day as you both lose yourself in the business of play. You cook, clean, run, throw, read, nap, pillow fight, braid hair, teach, learn, and love.  

And one glorious night, she sleeps -- all the way through, until the sun comes up.  And one day she goes to preschool and waves happily when you say good-bye.  You begin to re-claim some time to yourself, to find your identity again.  You volunteer or join a book group, have a date night or girls night out.  You remember what it was like to have interests other than your child.  You are now in a role even harder than motherhood alone - you must blend: mothering, then life, then mothering again.

The mother of a toddler is blending her individual life and her life as mommy.

spoil her with gifts that are gorgeous but not too fussy (or delicate!).

IMAGE BY JENNIFER WENZEL, www.jenniferwenzelphotography.com

Stage 4: Mother of a Tween or Teen
Your child has a distinct personality & schedule; her own needs, wants, dislikes, and non-negotiables. She may be "like" you but she is no longer a MINI-you. Transitions may be more constant as she changes to be like her friends (or just to be different from you!) or because she just changes her mind so often! Overall, life is easier, though.  You have a good portion of your day back to spend the way you want, whether working or catching up on all the fun things you've missed over the past few years.

At the same time, you desire more than ever to be close to your child; to have her need you. Separation is healthy, but that doesn't make it easy.  You busy yourself in activities, or get involved in her school to be close by.  You lend support, listen when she needs you to, and watch in wonder as she does amazing things. 

At the end of the day, you're still as exhausted as a new mom. Maybe you fall asleep reading, trying to get one more minute of "me" time in.  Maybe you lie awake planning a new way to sneak into your child's life.  She still needs you, you know that much.  (But does she know how much you need her?!)

the Mom in this stage of life deserves to have as much fun as her kids are having!

Give her something unexpected that she might not think to buy for herself.

image courtesy of flicker

Stage 5: Mom with a Kid in College

For close to two decades, this human being has needed you practically every single day. Now, she's ready to go out into the world. You may be feeling like your "chance" to parent is over or you may be welcoming the break from 24-hour-responsibility (read: worry).  You're proud of her and scared for her. You wonder: did you do enough? Is she really ready to make her own choices?

You spend some days wrapping up care packages and text messaging for test scores.  Other days find you embracing this new freedom. You can sing along to the radio without anyone telling you to sshhh. You can have a late night out and not worry about how much the babysitter is costing you or whether your kids are behaving. And hey--how good does it feel to drink an entire cup of coffee without being interrupted? Pretty darn good.

You are in a major life change, but you're going through it with grace.  You make sure your child comes home on occasional weekends.  You "like" what she shares on Facebook.  And you reserve judgment when she makes a decision you might not have made.  Sure, it's up to her whether or not she goes to class or sleeps the day away; but you know that--most days--she's learning, growing, experiencing, sharing.  She's engaging with the world, exactly what you've always wanted for your child.

The "suddenly free" mom is prime for gifts that honor her shift in focus.

Look for sophisticated gifts that encourage her to break out of the "mom" mold.

image by victoria gloria

Stage 6: Mother Whose Child is Grown Up

Your child isn't growing -- she's GROWN.  You've withstood the test of time, the perils of adolescence, the years of carrying around "spares" and snacks.  You're happy because you know you did a good job.  Your child isn't a copy of you, but you respect each other's differences.  She even taught you a thing or two!  And then came the day she brought newness into your life once again. Let the freedom of grandmothering begin!

You may be pursuing a hidden passion, long shoved under the other "necessary" activities, or you may be relaxing by the pool every day, enjoying some much-deserved downtime.  Still, there are brief moments--a flutter in your stomach--when you long to be in the muck once again. Can it really be over? You pinch yourself, halfway hoping it doesn't hurt and you're going to wake up to the baby crying in the next room. 

Your work now is to relieve the parents when needed.  To listen when your daughter--the mother, now--calls to ask questions, share good news, or vent frustration  You want to give her advice, to rescue her the way you wish someone would've rescued you at times.  But you hold back - only affirming, applauding, or sending love and strength her way.  She will come into her own, just as you did.  Mothering, living, blending, and growing.

The mom who is or will soon become grandma deserves more than we could ever give her.

Show her how much you value her influence and advice with a custom token of respect.