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How parenthood helps your heart to grow "three sizes in one day"

A celebration of one of life's most rewarding (and challenging) experiences.

How parenthood helps your heart to grow "three sizes in one day"
Hey, parents, when was the last time you celebrated YOU? Well, did you know the fourth Sunday of every July is YOURS? It's Parents' Day. Established in 1994 with refreshingly bipartisan support, this day facilitates "recognizing, uplifting, and supporting the role of parents in the rearing of children." The roots of Parent's Day are an outgrowth of Korean Confucianism, where respect for one's elders is a cherished ideal.

In the United States, we widely celebrate Mother's and Father's Day and the time-honored traditions that accompany them. Many of us spend Mother's and Father's Day lavishing our parents and in-laws with well-deserved attention. But the humble Parent's Day remains a small notation on the calendar, barely noticed. This provides a fantastic opportunity for us. The holiday and accompanying traditions are ours for the making and I suggest it is a chance to honor ourselves as parents: an opportunity for our valuable role as parents to be honored in ways that nourish our spirits.

Parent's Day could provide us with the chance to do what we often don't make the time for: celebrating ourselves and our co-pilots on the child-rearing journey.

In honor of Parent's Day, we're cherishing five gifts of parenthood—and sharing five ways to celebrate.

1. Adventure: Kayaking and mountain climbing have nothing on parenthood. This adrenaline rush continues for a lifetime. The terrain is unpredictable, the weather uncertain, and your skills and bravery are tested daily. Think the last true frontier is Alaska? Think again. But in true pioneer style, you grow in courage, fortitude and ultimately, stake a unique and indomitable claim.

How to Celebrate: In true pioneer style, rest from the glorious challenge of it all around a fire. Whether it's a fire pit or chiminea in the backyard, the flames of a barbecue, or a candle lit at dinner; the sparks gets us in touch with the primal need for warmth and light that both comforts and enkindles excitement: a great metaphor for parenthood! The kids can be part of this gathering, or you can enjoy the element of fire as part of a "hot" date night or blissfully alone.

2. An Expanded Heart: Remember the end of Dr. Seuss's The Grinch Who Stole Christmas? Parenthood makes you understand how one's heart can grow three sizes in one day... everyday.

How to Celebrate: In South Korea, Parent's Day (held there on May 8) is a national holiday, widely celebrated. Korean tradition includes giving parents carnations on that day. How about some red carnations, roses, or any red flower purchased for yourself, as a way of honoring the constant unfolding of your heart's petals. Place the flowers on the table for your Parent's Day feast. The flower petals can be saved and dried out to make sachet. The kids can help. Once the flower have passed their prime, separate and dry the petals by placing them on a tray and store in a cool dry place. Days later, the still-fragrant petals can be placed in a special vase, ginger jar or container that serves this purpose each year: as a reminder to the family of your gift to them: a constantly expanding heart.

3. You Build a Tribe: Our society is increasingly alienated from community. The pace of our times is a frantic one, and as our friends, neighbors and extended family struggle to balance work and home, there is less time to spend with us, just as we struggle to make time for them. Emotional isolation is an increasingly painful reality for so many. A true gift of parenthood is that it makes possible a homemade community, one that can be creatively designed to value mutual support, acceptance and joy.

How to Celebrate: Design a new tradition for the family. For example, tying in with the theme of fire and red flowers, wear red together and start a new tradition for your tribe. Tribal people have always been, historically speaking, wonderfully connected to each other through their customs. Make some new ones!

4. The Chance to Begin a New Person's Story: Once upon a time there was a little girl, there was a little boy. That child was born to you, and you responded... with love, with lessons. Little by little, you created the first chapters of a unique and wonderful page-turner: one that breathes and grows! How incredible is that?

How to Celebrate: Honor your family story on Parent's Day by sharing memories with your kids, helping them to know you not only as parents but as the people you were before were parents. Discuss the story you are making together. Tell family anecdotes or create a hands-on activity for the kids through a scrapbook you design together.

5. Leaving a Legacy and Being an Icon: Pop culture is obsessed with the "icon": the popular singer, athlete or star who was unique enough to be larger than life—and adored. But how can the legacy they leave compare with the one you are creating? Make no mistake, you are an icon for your kids and the legacy with which you endow the world is the way you raised them: as kind, honest and loving people who will leave the earth a better place than they found it. Stardom? Fame? Those fleeting glories are mere sparks compared to the enduring fire of parenthood.

How to Celebrate: Give your child something of your own, as part of the ongoing legacy they are bequeathed. It can be a token or treasure from your youth that you pass along to them, or a yearly Parent's Day letter you write them with words of admiration and advice. If you like, make the giving of this gift part of the aforementioned ritual.

Feeling awesome yet? You should be! Just look at all you're achieving. You're an adventurous, loving, tribe-leading, brilliant icon!

And you deserve to celebrate all you've already achieved. Have so much fun.

Annabelle Moseley is an award-winning poet, author of nine books, professor, and speaker. Her most recent book is a double volume of poetry filled with Dramatic Monologues in the voices of notable and notorious Biblical characters, entitled: A Ship to Hold the World and The Marionette's Ascent (Wiseblood Books, 2014). Walt Whitman Birthplace Writer-in-Residence (2009-2010); in 2014, she was named Long Island Poet of the Year. Anna teaches Poetry and Religious Studies and is a Lecturer at St. Joseph's College in New York. She blogs about the interaction between the arts and faith at Desertbread.org and has a forthcoming book about Motherhood and the Arts. Her passions include nature, flamenco music, and above all, being a mom.

These new arrivals from the Motherly Shop are *so* good you need them all

Noodle and Boo, Mushie and Plan Toys—everything you need, mama.

Motherhood is hard work—finding great products and brands to make the journey easier doesn't have to be. Each week, we stock the Motherly Shop with brilliant new products we know you'll need and love from brands and makers that really care.

So, what's new this week?

Noodle and Boo: Holistic baby skin care

Through working with chemists who specialize in natural and holistic skin care, Noodle and Boo has developed exclusive formulas that nourish, replenish and protect especially delicate, eczema-prone and sensitive skin—including laundry detergent. Their signature, obsession-worthy scent—which is subtly sweet, pure and fresh—is the closest thing to bottling up "baby smell" we've ever found.

Mushie: Kids' dinnerware that actually looks great

We're totally crushing on Mushie's minimalist dinnerware for kids. Their innovative baby and toddler products leverage Swedish design to marry both form and function while putting safety front and center. Everything is created in soft, muted colors from BPA-free materials.

Plan Toys: Open-ended toys that last

Corralling and cleaning up the toys becomes less stressful when you bring home fewer, better, more beautiful ones. Plan Toys checks all the boxes. Made from re-purposed rubber wood, they're better for the planet as well.

Not sure where to start? Here's what we're adding to our cart:

Mushie silicone baby bib

Mushie silicone baby bib

There's no going back to cloth bibs after falling in love with this Swedish design. The pocket catches whatever misses their mouths and the BPA-free silicone is waterproof and easy to wipe down between uses.

$13

Mushie kids' square dinnerware plate set

Mushie kids' square dinnerware plate set

We're totally crushing on the soft muted colors that flow with our table aesthetics and the thoughtful high-sided design that helps babies and toddler who are learning to feed themselves.

$15

Noodle and Boo nursery essentials kit

Noodle and Boo nursery essentials kit

Stocked with everything a new mama needs to care for her little one's delicate skin, Noodle and Boo's nursery essentials gift set is the perfect way to create a holistic and natural skin care routine from day one.

$45

Plan Toys doctor set 

Plan Toys doctor set

Ideal for quiet time and imaginative role play, we love the gorgeous planet-friendly doctor kit from Plan Toys. The rubber wood stethoscope, blood pressure cuff, thermometer, syringe and reflex hammer pack up neat and tidy into the red cotton case should they need to dash off on a rescue mission.

$30

Noodle and Boo instant hand sanitizer

Noodle and Boo instant hand sanitizer

Since we're buying and using hand sanitizer by the truckload these days, we're thrilled Noodle and Boo has made one we can feel good about using on little ones who cram their hands in their mouths 24/7. Not only does it kill 99.9% of germs, but it also leaves hands moisturized as well.

$10

Plan Toys natural wooden blocks set

Plan Toys natural wooden blocks set

A toy box isn't complete without a set of blocks—and this set is one of our new favorites. The sustainable, re-purposed wood is eco-friendly, comes at a relatively affordable price point and are certain to last well beyond multiple kids, hand-me-downs and even generations.

$30

Noodle and Boo family fun pack cleansing set

Noodle and Boo family fun pack cleansing set

Because their products were developed for delicate and eczema-prone skin, Noodle and Boo's full line of skin care has become a favorite among those with sensitive skin of all ages. This set is the perfect way to pamper the entire family.

$48

Mushie kids' round dinnerware bowl set

Mushie kids' round dinnerware bowl set

No need to sacrifice safety or design with the sustainable dinnerware from Mushie. Their minimalist, functional dishes are perfect for serving up meals and snacks to your tablemates who might hurl it to the floor at any point. They're made in Denmark from BPA-free polypropylene plastic mamas can feel good about and dishwasher and microwave-safe as well.

$14

Plan Toys geo stacking blocks

Plan Toys geo stacking blocks

The best engaging, open-ended toys are the ones that are left out and available, inviting little (and big!) ones to play. These beautiful gem-like blocks make for addicting coffee table play for the entire family.

$30

Plan Toys wooden green dollhouse

Plan Toys wooden green dollhouse

Energy-efficient design isn't just for grown-up real estate. This green dollhouse includes a wind turbine, a solar cell panel, electric inverter, recycling bins, a rain barrel, a biofacade and a blind that can adjust the amount of sunlight and air circulation along with minimalist furniture we'd totally love to have in our own houses.

$250

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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Products that solve your biggest breastfeeding challenges

Including a battle plan for clogged ducts!

When expecting a baby, there is a lot you can test-run in advance: Take that stroller around the block. Go for a spin with the car seat secured in place. Learn how to use the baby carrier with help from a doll. But breastfeeding? It's not exactly possible to practice before baby's arrival.

The absence of a trial makes it all the more important to prepare in other ways for breastfeeding success—and it can be as simple as adding a few of our lactation aiding favorites to your registry.

MilkBliss chocolate chip soft baked lactation cookies

MilkBliss lactation cookies

Studies have shown the top reason women stop breastfeeding within the first year is because they are concerned about their milk supply being enough to nourish baby. Consider MilkBliss Lactation Cookies to be your secret weapon. Not only are they wholesome and delicious, but they were formulated specifically for breastfeeding moms based on the science of galactagogues—also known as milk boosters. They also come in peanut butter and wild blueberry flavors.

$23

Evereden multi-purpose healing balm

Evereden multipurpose healing balm

Also up there on the list of reasons women stop breastfeeding: the toll the early days can take on nipples. Made from just five ingredients, this all natural healing balm is ideal for soothing chafed nipples, making for a much more comfortable experience for mama as her body adjusts to the needs of a breastfeeding baby.

$20

Lansinoh milk storage bags

Lansinoh milk storage bags

For a breastfeeding mama, there are few things more precious and valuable than the milk she worked so hard to pump—and it's the stuff of nightmares to imagine it spilling out in the fridge. With these double-sealed milk storage bags, you can be assured your breastmilk is safe and sound until baby needs it.

$12.50

Belly Bandit bandita nursing bra

Belly Bandit bandita nursing bra

Nursing a baby is a 24/7 job, which calls for some wardrobe modifications. Because Belly Bandit specializes in making things more comfortable for the postpartum mama, they've truly thought of every detail—from the breathable fabric to the clips that can be easily opened with one hand.

$47

boob-ease soothing therapy pillows

Boob Ease soothing therapy pillows

For nursing moms, duct can quickly become a four-letter word when you suspect it's getting clogged. By keeping these soothing breast pillows in your breastfeeding arsenal, you can immediately go on the defense against plugged milk ducts by heating the pads in the microwave or cooling them in the freezer.

$25

Belly Bandit perfect nursing tee

Belly Bandit perfect nursing tee

A unfortunate reality of nursing is that it can really seem to limit the wardrobe options when you have to think about providing easy, discrete access. But by adding functional basics to your closet, you can feel confident and prepared for breastfeeding on the go.

$59

Bebe au Lait premium cotton nursing cover

Bebe au Lait cotton nursing cover

Nursing in public isn't every mama's cup of tea. But babies can't always wait until you've found a private place to get down to business if that's your preference. That's where a nursing cover comes in handy. This one is made from premium cotton and features a patented neckline that allows for airflow and eye contact even while you're covered.

$36

Lactation Lab basic breastmilk testing kit

Lactation Lab breastmilk testing kit

Curious to learn more about the liquid gold you're making, mama? The testing kit from Lactation Labs analyzes your breast milk for basic nutritional content like calories and protein, as well as vitamins, fatty acids and environmental toxins to help boost your breastfeeding confidence.

$99

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this

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Two weeks. I cannot believe that it has been two weeks since my second son was brought into this world. Two weeks since my husband and I welcomed baby Simon, the final piece of our little family.

But, here is the whopper: It has been two weeks since I have been the mom of a toddler and a newborn. I am now responsible for taking care of two tiny humans.

It absolutely blows my mind how much my life has changed in the last two weeks. It's definitely not all rainbows and unicorns around here, but things are going pretty well. This is me being cautiously optimistic.

What I have done is learned a lot about myself, my kids and my new life in the last two weeks.

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