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Everything is harder with kids. But oh, it’s so much better, too

A recent hike was different because our kids were there. It was so much worse but also a little better.

Everything is harder with kids. But oh, it’s so much better, too

The greatest thing about having a child is putting yourself second in your own life.


— Louis C.K.

Recently, I hiked a trail high above the Pacific Ocean. It was glorious—blue-green water, salty air, sweeping vistas. I breathed deep and counted blessings. My husband and I have neither wealth nor fame nor power, but we have love, purpose, and good kids. I felt lucky.

It was warmer than I anticipated, so before heading up the switchback portion of the trail, I doubled back to my car for sunscreen and a hat. In the parking lot, I hesitated. This day was too amazing to keep to myself. I ventured to the nearby hotel to grab my family.

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Our three children were sitting in the in-room bathtub eating mini-muffins, drinking cider, and watching the Disney Channel. My husband, Ken, was asleep.

“I found an awesome trail!” I chirped.

No one answered.

“Anyone want to hike?”

Still nothing. I stepped in front of the television.

“Mom, I can’t see the TV.”

“Move.”

“Ugh!”

Ken muttered that he would come, but then rolled over and went back to sleep.

That should have been my cue. They were on vacation. They had muffins. Not everything in a family needed to be shared.

Instead, I cajoled, complained, and insisted. Had we traveled all this way to watch TV? Didn’t family time always make us happy?

After you live with folks for a while, you learn their particular kind of crazy. When Ken and the kids realized I was not going to let this drop, they begrudgingly acquiesced. It took nearly ninety minutes, but eventually, everyone was awake, dressed, and sunscreened for the transcendent family outing I had declared. We set off up the hill.

It was strange to be ascending with people so obviously downtrodden.

It was hotter now than when I had originally set out. My formerly energetic pace was quickly slackened by grumbles, quarrels, and literal foot-dragging.

“I’m hot.”

“Walking is dumb.”

“I can’t believe we’re missing ‘Girl Meets World’ for this.”

I should have left them at the hotel. What kind of idiot drags kids out of a bathtub to hike? If and when we ever finished this dirty ramble, they were just going to need another bath. I had desperately wanted to share this sojourn with them, and as soon as we began sharing it, I desperately wanted them to go away.

The kids made me cranky and I made them crankier, and various threats were lobbed regarding the abandonment of the entire business, but we kept trudging forward anyway—me, because I refused to return to the hotel yet again without first climbing this blasted hill, and them, well . . . because they are kids, and kids are prone to follow trails and sidewalks until they end. Shel Silverstein taught us that.

What began as a swift, splendid hike by myself turned into a slow, terrible hike with children. But here’s the thing, it’s actually really hard to stay angry at your kids when:

A. You are exercising.

B. You see beauty.

C. You realize your kids have stopped being angry with you.

For about 11 minutes, our slog became kind of awesome. We reached the summit. We caught a lizard. We followed a secret path and ate wild fennel. We even made it halfway back to the car before everyone fell apart again. Someone had rocks in her shoe. Someone else was angry about his hat.

That’s the funny thing about doing anything with kids. It does not matter where we go—a restaurant, a water park, the bathroom—taking them with us makes the excursion more difficult. It is tempting to avoid outings altogether. That hike was different because our kids were there. It was so much worse but also a little better. I have stood on a mountaintop before. But they never had. I have hiked through blisters and sunburns, discomfort and thirst, and have been rewarded by majesty at the trail’s end. But they never had. I have never summited Everest. At the rate my pants are not fitting, it may not ever be in the cards. But I imagine that the only thing greater than climbing a tremendous peak is enabling someone else to climb it with you. The only thing better than a sunset is a sunset that you share. On such journeys, adventure and purpose meet.

It can be exhausting to teach our kids adventure, but it is more frustrating still to teach them complacency. I want my kids to comfort the broken, defend the weak, and minister to those in need. These are not always natural acts. They require confidence and bravery. And I dare say they begin with simple steps, even rocky, bedraggled, complaint-riddled steps on a hill overlooking the ocean.

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I felt lost as a new mother, but babywearing helped me find myself again

I wish someone had told me before how special wearing your baby can be, even when you have no idea how to do it.

My first baby and I were alone in our Brooklyn apartment during a particularly cold spring with yet another day of no plans. My husband was back at work after a mere three weeks of parental leave (what a joke!) and all my friends were busy with their childless lives—which kept them too busy to stop by or check in (making me, at times, feel jealous).

It was another day in which I would wait for baby to fall asleep for nap number one so I could shower and get ready to attempt to get out of the house together to do something, anything really, so I wouldn't feel the walls of the apartment close in on me by the time the second nap rolled around. I would pack all the diapers and toys and pacifiers and pump and bottles into a ginormous stroller that was already too heavy to push without a baby in it .

Then I would spend so much time figuring out where we could go with said stroller, because I wanted to avoid places with steps or narrow doors (I couldn't lift the stroller by myself and I was too embarrassed to ask strangers for help—also hi, New Yorkers, please help new moms when you see them huffing and puffing up the subway stairs, okay?). Then I would obsess about the weather, was it too cold to bring the baby out? And by the time I thought I had our adventure planned, the baby would wake up, I would still be in my PJs and it was time to pump yet again.

Slowly, but surely, and mostly thanks to sleep deprivation and isolation, I began to detest this whole new mom life. I've always been a social butterfly. I moved to New York because I craved that non-stop energy the city has and in the years before having my baby I amassed new friends I made through my daily adventures. I would never stop. I would walk everywhere just to take in the scenery and was always on the move.

Now I had this ball and chain attached to me, I thought, that didn't even allow me to make it out of the door to walk the dog. This sucks, I would think regularly, followed by maybe I'm not meant to be a mom after all.


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I never wanted to be a mom. It wasn't something I ever thought would happen until I fell madly in love with my husband—who knew very well he wanted children. While he was a natural at entertaining our nephews or our friends' kids, I would awkwardly try to interact with them, not really knowing what to say or do.

Our first pregnancy was a surprise, a much-wanted one but also a unicorn, "first try" kind of pregnancy. As my belly grew bigger, so did my insecurities. How do you even mom when you never saw motherhood in your future? I focused all my uncertainties on coming up with a plan for the delivery of my baby—which proved to be a terrible idea when my dreamed-of unmedicated vaginal birth turned into an emergency C-section. I couldn't even start motherhood the way I wanted, I thought. And that feeling happened again when I couldn't breastfeed and instead had to pump and bottle-feed. And once more, when all the stress from things not going my way turned into debilitating postpartum anxiety that left me not really enjoying my brand new baby.

As my baby grew, slowly so did my confidence that I could do this. When he would tumble to the ground while learning how to walk and only my hugs could calm him, I felt invincible. But on the nights he wouldn't sleep—whether because he was going through a regression, a leap, a teeth eruption or just a full moon—I would break down in tears to my husband telling him that he was a better parent than me.

Then I found out I was pregnant again, and that this time it was twins. I panicked. I really cannot do two babies at the same time. I kept repeating that to myself (and to my poor husband) at every single appointment we had because I was just terrified. He, of course, thought I could absolutely do it, and he got me through a very hard pregnancy.

When the twins were born at full term and just as big as singleton babies, I still felt inadequate, despite the monumental effort I had made to grow these healthy babies and go through a repeat C-section to make sure they were both okay. I still felt my skin crawl when they cried and thought, What if I can't calm them down? I still turned to my husband for diaper changes because I wasn't a good enough mom for twins.

My husband reminded me (and still does) that I am exactly what my babies need. That I am enough. A phrase that has now become my mantra, both in motherhood and beyond, because as my husband likes to say, I'm the queen of selling myself short on everything.

So when my babies start crying, I tell myself that I am enough to calm them down.

When my toddler has a tantrum, I remind myself that I am enough to get through to him.

When I go out with the three kids by myself and start sweating about everything that could go wrong (poop explosions times three), I remind myself that I am enough to handle it all, even with a little humor.


And then one day I found this bracelet. Initially, I thought how cheesy it'd be to wear a reminder like this on my wrist, but I bought it anyway because something about it was calling my name. I'm so glad I did because since day one I haven't stopped wearing it.

Every time I look down, there it is, shining back at me. I am enough.

I Am Enough bracelet 

SONTAKEY  I Am Enough Bracelet

May this Oath Bracelet be your reminder that you are perfect just the way you are. That you are enough for your children, you are enough for your friends & family, you are enough for everything that you do. You are enough, mama <3

$35

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Life

The American Academy of Pediatrics says that newborns, especially, do not need a bath every day. While parents should make sure the diaper region of a baby is clean, until a baby learns how to crawl around and truly get messy, a daily bath is unnecessary.

So, why do we feel like kids should bathe every day?

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