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Blended baby: Learning to love your partner’s family background

One of the best things about having a baby with someone you love? Your little bundle of joy is lucky enough to be half you and half your partner—whether by nature, nurture, or both.


When you look into those big twinkly eyes, you may just catch a glimpse of your better half. Of course, your little one won’t just inherit beautiful peepers…every cultural custom, tradition, and practice of your partner and accompanying family comes with the decision to have a baby with this person.

Whether you share the same cultural background, or are from different sides of the world, every family is different. Every family is “blended”.

Having two families involved in caregiving can be wonderful. Our little ones are exposed to new ideas, learning opportunities, and of course, twice as much love!

That’s not to say that melding two unique family perspectives is always a walk in the park.

As mothers, we usually have an internal sense of what cultural traditions will or will not work for our families. However, we may not fully understand how strongly our feelings are on these matters until a cultural discrepancy occurs and our inner “mama bear” revolts.

Since every situation is brand new for first-time mothers, the learning curve is steep.

We may have images in our heads about baby’s first holidays or first birthday traditions, and when we have a culturally blended family, there may be unexpected bumps along the road.

For instance, you may find yourself screaming internally as you watch your mother-in-law spoon feed your infant rice porridge at the tender age of two months because that’s what she did when your husband was a baby.

Try not to reach across the table and slap the spoon out of her hand, even though that’s what you really want todo. But, as the protective mama bear, it is okay to be firm in your stance.

In most cases, family members (of any culture) are not maliciously going against your parenting wishes, but are simply doing what they did during their days as parents.

When you blend cultures and backgrounds ,there will likely be some misunderstanding, miscommunication, or conflict surrounding child rearing practices and customs.

Just remember, as the parent, whatever you say (no matter how crazy it may seem to others) is the final word.

You are the boss!


If you don’t want your child to eat porridge until six months, stand by your decision—no matter how unpopular.

Say politely but firmly, “I’d really appreciate if you would wait until six months to introduce rice porridge. It is very important to me and I hope you’ll respect my wishes.”

Everything is new (and often overwhelming) when you are a new mother. Your new role as mama is like putting on a gorgeous pair of new shoes that you have lovingly, achingly anticipated for nine (okay, ten) months.

When you put them on for the first time, these exquisite shoes are a bit stiff and slightly uncomfortable because you haven’t walked many miles in them yet. Over time, they will see rain, snow, hills, and off-the-beaten-paths as your children take you places you would never have dreamed.

After a few years, your feet will slide effortlessly into your “mama shoes” without a second thought. They become lovingly worn-in, comfortably soft, and ultimately your favorite thing to wear every day.

For any co-parenting partnership, I would recommend that you fiercely protect any cultural custom that is critical to you and be flexible with the rest.

In my family, if something is crucial to me or my husband and the other parent doesn’t care, we always respect the wishes of the parent who has the strong preference. If there are two strongly opposing preferences, we will compromise or may decide to celebrate both customs.

Being faced with new (or seemingly unorthodox) family traditions can be challenging even for the most open-minded mama.

One thing to keep in mind? Your little one is fortunate to be showered with unique customs from diverse backgrounds and will grow to deeply understand two family backgrounds in relation to one another—and more importantly, how two individuals from different backgrounds can come together to love each other because of their differences.

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Summer heat has a way of making the house feel smaller, more congested, with less room for the air to circulate. And there's nothing like the heat to make me want to strip down, cool off and lighten my load. So, motivation in three digits, now that school is back in, it's time to do a purge.

Forget the spring clean—who has time for that? Those last few months of the school year are busier than the first. And summer's warm weather entices our family outdoors on the weekends, which doesn't leave much time for re-organizing.

So, I seize the opportunity when my kids are back in school to enter my zone.

I love throwing open every closet and cupboard door, pulling out anything and everything that doesn't fit our bodies or our lives. Each joyless item purged peels off another oppressive layer of "not me" or "not us."

Stuff can obscure what really makes us feel light, capable and competent.

Stuff can stem the flow of what makes our lives work.

With my kids back in school, I am energized, motivated by the thought that I have the space to be in my head with no interruptions. No refereeing. No snacks. No naps… I am tossing. I am folding. I am stacking. I am organizing. I don't worry about having to stop. The neat-freak in me is having a field day.

Passing bedroom doors, ajar and flashing their naughty bits of chaos at me, it's more than I can handle in terms of temptation. I have to be careful, though, because I can get on a roll. Taking to my kids' rooms I tread carefully, always aware that what I think is junk can actually be their treasure.

But I usually have a good sense for what has been abandoned or invisible in plain sight for the lack of movement or the accumulation of dust. Anything that fits the description gets relegated to a box in the garage where it is on standby—in case its absence is noticed and a meltdown has ensued. Crisis averted. Either way, it's a victory.

Oh, it's quiet. So, so quiet. And I can think it all through…

Do we really need all this stuff?

Will my son really notice if I toss all this stuff?

Will my daughter be heartbroken if I donate all this stuff?

Will I really miss this dress I wore three years ago that barely fit my waist then and had me holding in my tummy all night, and that I for sure cannot zip today?

Can we live without it all? All. This. Stuff?

The fall purge always gets me wondering, where in the world does all this stuff come from? So with the beginning of the school year upon us, I vow to create a new mindset to evaluate everything that enters my home from now on, so that there will be so much less stuff.

I vow to really think about objects before they enter my home…

…to evaluate what is really useful,

...to consider when it would be useful,

...to imagine where it would be useful,

...to remember why it may be useful,

…to decide how to use it in more than one way,

... so that all this stuff won't get in the way of what really matters—time and attention for my kids and our lives as a new year reveals more layers of the real stuff—what my kids are made of.

Bring it on.

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In the moments after we give birth, we desperately want to hear our baby cry. In the middle of the night a few months later it's no longer exactly music to our ears, but those cries aren't just telling us that baby needs a night feeding: They're also giving us a hint at what our children may sound like as kindergarteners, and adults.

New research published in the journal Biology Letters suggests the pitch of a 4-month-old's cry predicts the pitch they'll use to ask for more cookies at age five and maybe even later on as adults.

The study saw 2 to 5-month olds recorded while crying. Five years later, the researchers hit record again and chatted with the now speaking children. Their findings, combined with previous work on the subject, suggest it's possible to figure out what a baby's voice will sound like later in life, and that the pitch of our adult voices may be traceable back to the time we spend in utero. Further studies are needed, but scientists are very interested in how factors before birth can impact decades later.

"In utero, you have a lot of different things that can alter and impact your life — not only as a baby, but also at an adult stage," one of the authors of the study, Nicolas Mathevon, told the New York Times.

The New York Times also spoke with Carolyn Hodges, an assistant professor of anthropology at Boston University who was not involved in the study. According to Hodges, while voice pitch may not seem like a big deal, it impacts how we perceive people in very real ways.

Voice pitch is a factor in how attractive we think people are, how trustworthy. But why we find certain pitches more or less appealing isn't known. "There aren't many studies that address these questions, so that makes this research especially intriguing," Hodges said, adding that it "suggests that individual differences in voice pitch may have their origins very, very early in development."

So the pitch of that midnight cry may have been determined months ago, and it may determine part of your child's future, too. There are still so many things we don't know, but as parents we do know one thing: Our babies cries (as much as we don't want to hear them all the time) really are something special.

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For many years, Serena Williams seemed as perfect as a person could be. But now, Serena is a mom. She's imperfect and she's being honest about that and we're so grateful.

On the cover of TIME, Williams owns her imperfection, and in doing so, she gives mothers around the world permission to be as real as she is being.

"Nothing about me right now is perfect," she told TIME. "But I'm perfectly Serena."

The interview sheds light on Williams' recovery from her traumatic birth experience, and how her mental health has been impacted by the challenges she's faced in going from a medical emergency to new motherhood and back to the tennis court all within one year.

"Some days, I cry. I'm really sad. I've had meltdowns. It's been a really tough 11 months," she said.

It would have been easy for Williams to keep her struggles to herself over the last year. She didn't have to tell the world about her life-threatening birth experience, her decision to stop breastfeeding, her maternal mental health, how she missed her daughter's first steps, or any of it. But she did share these experiences, and in doing so she started incredibly powerful conversations on a national stage.

After Serena lost at Wimbledon this summer, she told the mothers watching around the world that she was playing for them. "And I tried," she said through tears. "I look forward to continuing to be back out here and doing what I do best."

In the TIME cover story, what happened before that match, where Williams lost to Angelique Kerber was revealed. TIME reports that Williams checked her phone about 10 minutes before the match, and learned, via Instagram, that the man convicted of fatally shooting her sister Yetunde Price, in 2003 is out on parole.

"I couldn't shake it out of my mind," Serena says. "It was hard because all I think about is her kids," she says. She was playing for all the mothers out there, but she had a specific mother on her mind during that historic match.

Williams' performance at Wimbledon wasn't perfect, and neither is she, as she clearly states on the cover of time. But motherhood isn't perfect either. It's okay to admit that. Thanks, Serena, for showing us how.

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There are some mornings where I wake up and I'm ready for the day. My alarm goes off and I pop out of bed and hum along as I make breakfast before my son wakes up. But then there are days where I just want 10 more minutes to sleep in. Or breakfast feels impossible to make because all our time has run out. Or I just feel overwhelmed and unprepared.

Those are the mornings I stare at the fridge and think, Can someone else just make breakfast, please?

Enter: make-ahead breakfasts. We spoke to the geniuses at Pinterest and they shared their top 10 pins all around this beautiful, planned-ahead treat. Here they are.

(You're welcome, future self.)

1. Make-ahead breakfast enchiladas

www.pinterest.com

Created by Bellyful

I'd make these for dinner, too.

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