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My kids—gloriously, wondrously, delightfully—think I’m cool.


I dyed my hair blue nearly a year ago and recently I transitioned it to purple. My 6-year-old wasn’t annoyed or embarrassed, like maybe she could have been in another decade. Instead, she picked out purple glasses to match my hair and told me that now all she needs is purple hair to match.

Then, when I, too, chose new glasses for myself—purple and like her glasses—she was beyond ecstatic to be Matchy-Matchy with Mommy. Because I’m still cool.

I’m aware it won’t always be like this. There will be, minimally, a stretch of years in high school where Mom will be anti-cool. I’m not prepared for it, so much as expecting it.

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In the meanwhile, I want to do these 75 things—while I still easily can.

1. Let them in. Let them know and understand who I am, so they hopefully reciprocate as they grow.

2. Cover their soft skin in kisses.

3. Hold them when they cry.

4. Teach them to breathe through emotions that feel too big to handle.

5. Play dolls.

6. Color instead of doing the housework, at least from time to time.

7. Really listen to them when they talk to me, because even the most seemingly small stories they share often have pieces of who they are growing up to be buried inside.

8. Let them practice yoga with me when they want to, even if it means I physically get less out of it.

9. Slow down and let them walk.

10. Teach them to ask for help.

11. Teach them they can do so much on their own.

12. Let them wear the tutu over the sweatpants, even if I think it looks ridiculous.

13. Let them buy a shirt from the boy/girl section so they learn to appreciate their own and others’ gender fluidity.

14. Help them see the fun of rainy days.

15. Put my phone down and look them in the eyes when they talk to me, so I can expect this from them later.

16. Teach them manners, so they can show respect for others and themselves.

17. Laugh at their silly jokes.

18. Remember they are not me.

19. Read tons of books with them.

20. Help with puzzles, even though I’ve never liked puzzles.

21. Say “no” when it needs to be said, even if it’s harder for me in the moment.

22. Say “yes” when it needs to be said, even if it’s harder for me in the moment.

23. Play in the snow.

24. Jump through the sprinkler.

25. Never make them kiss and hug anyone so they learn who is in charge of their bodies—themselves.

26. Enjoy, as much as possible, my constant bathroom companions while they still love my company so much, I can’t even go to the bathroom alone.

27. Sing along to their favorite songs with them since right now they think Mommy has the prettiest voice.

28. Never dismiss what they like, even if it’s “Caillou.”

29. Show them we all have bad days, but that a bad day doesn’t equal a bad life.

30. Show them to look for the hidden happiness that exists within every ordinary day.

31. Watch them dance, and wiggle and move to music in that open way only little kids can.

32. Dance with them.

33. Teach them to work with what they’ve got, not against it. (Like my daughter’s curly hair, for example.)

34. Be positive about my own body with them.

35. Teach them to use the correct words for body parts—like vagina, penis and breasts—instead of crude, or cute, nicknames.

36. Help make potentially stressful mornings of getting everyone ready for the day in a short period of time feel fun and productive by shouting “We did it!” together.

37. Support my husband’s parenting in front of them.

38. Let them remind me how the simplest of life’s experiences—like watching the sun rise from between the trees while we wait for the school bus—becomes incredible with a fresh perspective.

39. Crouch down next to my toddler to watch her be fascinated by a bug.

40. Be a safe place for them.

41. Dress up on Halloween.

42. Get excited about the holidays—remember to share in their enthusiasm rather than seeing the ways holidays can be difficult for adults.

43. Appreciate our differences.

44. Take charge of my own feelings by, for instance, saying “I’m so mad” instead of “You’re making me so mad.”

45. Value kindness.

46. Dye my hair purple. Even though I’m 37. Show them how to take care of our individuality while respecting society as a whole.

47. Celebrate every single birthday.

48. Celebrate every single new laugh line.

49. Stop and look into their eyes and always be appreciative that I get to share their childhoods with them.

50. Maintain my own interests and hobbies as much as possible so they learn to prioritize both self-care and hard work.

51. Show them some goals take daily effort and time to finish, like when I write books or when they practice new skills like reading and writing.

52. Show them where and how the world and people aren’t being treated equally, and teach them to believe we should feel a responsibility to help.

53. Teach them to care for our possessions, but not to place too much value in things.

54. Take time to hug.

55. Tell them how much I love being their Mommy.

56. Show them how much I love being their Mommy.

57. Occasionally take days “off” from social media—without grand announcements—to remember the importance and beauty of “real” life.

58. Eat the birthday cake.

59. Make new traditions for them and our family.

60. Pass down traditions that are meaningful to me.

61. Look with awe at the moon.

62. Be in awe of the seasons.

63. Never stop playing.

64. Expect them to explore their uncomfortable emotions, like anger and sadness.

65. Always have at least one “impossible” dream.

66. Always make a wish on the stars.

67. Celebrate others’ successes with them.

68. Teach our daughters how to admire the beauty of other women rather than be envious of them.

69. Remember what makes us uniquely beautiful, too.

70. Try to see their fears and joys from their youthful perspective and not my own experiences.

71. Teach them to value the strength of their own voices and to balance this with listening to others.

72. Remind them I love them and their company, but I am their parent.

73. Teach them how to disagree while being respectful.

74. Don’t keep everything special and fun for the weekend.

75. Be present with them when it’s hard, when it’s wonderful, and when it’s just another normal day with them while they’re still little.

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There are few kids television shows as successful as PAW Patrol. The Spin Masters series has spawned countless toys and clothing deals, a live show and now, a movie.

That's right mama, PAW Patrol is coming to the big screen in 2021.

The big-screen version of PAW Patrol will be made with Nickelodeon Movies and will be distributed by Paramount Pictures.

"We are thrilled to partner with Paramount and Nickelodeon to bring the PAW Patrol franchise, and the characters that children love, to the big screen," Spin Master Entertainment's Executive Vice President, Jennifer Dodge, announced Friday.

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"This first foray into the arena of feature film marks a significant strategic expansion for Spin Master Entertainment and our properties. This demonstrates our commitment to harnessing our own internal entertainment production teams to develop and deliver IP in a motion picture format and allows us to connect our characters to fans through shared theatrical experiences," Dodge says.

No word on the plot yet, but we're gonna bet there's a problem, 'round Aventure Bay, and Ryder and his team of pups will come and save the day.

We cannot even imagine how excited little PAW Patrol fans will be when this hits theatres in 2021. It's still too early to buy advance tickets but we would if we could!

News

In the middle of that postpartum daze, the sleepless nights, the recovery, the adjustment to a new schedule and learning the cues of a new baby, there are those moments when a new mom might think, I don't know how long I can do this.

Fortunately, right around that time, newborns smile their first real smile.

For many mothers, the experience is heart-melting and soul-lifting. It's a crumb of sustenance to help make it through the next challenges, whether that's sleep training, baby's first cold, or teething. Each time that baby smiles, the mother remembers, I can do this, and it's worth it.

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Dayna M. Kurtz, LMSW, CPT a NYC-based psychotherapist and author of Mother Matters: A Holistic Guide to Being a Happy, Healthy Mom, says she sees this in her clinical practice.

"One mother I worked with recounted her experience of her baby's first smile. At eight weeks postpartum, exhausted and overwhelmed, she remembered her baby smiling broadly at her just before a nighttime feeding," Kurtz says. "In that moment, she was overcome by tremendous joy and relief, and felt, for the first time, a real connection to her son."

So what is it about a baby's smile that can affect a mother so deeply? Can it all be attributed to those new-mom hormones? Perhaps it stems from the survival instincts that connect an infant with its mother, or the infant learning social cues. Or is there something more going on inside our brains?

In 2008, scientists in Houston, TX published their research on the topic. Their study, "What's in a Smile? Maternal Brain Responses to Infant Facial Cues", takes data from the MRI images of 26 women as they observed images of infants smiling, crying, or with a neutral expression.

The images included the mother's own infant alternated with an unknown infant of similar ethnicity and in similar clothing and position. In each image, the baby displayed a different emotion through one of three facial expressions; happy, neutral, or sad. Researchers monitored the change in the mothers' brain activity through the transitions in images from own-infant to unknown-infant, and from happy to neutral to sad and vice versa.

The results?

"When first-time mothers see their own baby's face, an extensive brain network appears to be activated, wherein affective and cognitive information may be integrated and directed toward motor/behavioral outputs," wrote the study's authors. Seeing her infant smile or cry prompts the areas of the brain that would instigate a mother to act, whether it be to comfort, care for, or caress and play with the baby.

In addition, the authors found that reward-related brain regions are activated specifically in response to happy, but not sad, baby faces. The areas of the brain that lit up in their study are the same areas that release dopamine, the "pleasure chemical." For context, other activities that elicit dopamine surges include eating chocolate, having sex, or doing drugs. So in other words, a baby's smile may be as powerful as those other feel-good experiences.

And this gooey feeling moms may get from seeing their babies smile isn't just a recreational high—it serves a purpose.

This reward system (aka dopaminergic and oxytocinergic neuroendocrine system) exists to motivate the mother to forge a positive connection with the baby, according to Aurélie Athan, PhD, director of the Reproductive & Maternal Psychology Laboratory (a laboratory that created the first graduate courses of their kind in these subjects).

These networks also promote a mother's ability to share her emotional state with her child, which is the root of empathy. "A mother cries when baby cries, smiles when baby smiles," Athan says.

While there's a physiological explanation underlying that warm-and-fuzzy sensation elicited by a smile, there may be other factors at play too, Kurtz says.

"In my clinical practice, I often observe a stunning exchange between a mother and her baby when the latter smiles at her. A mother who is otherwise engaged in conversation with me may be, for that moment, entirely redirected to focus on her little one," Kurtz says. "This kind of attention-capturing on the part of the baby can enable and cultivate maternal attunement—a mother's ability to more deeply connect with her infant. The quality of attunement in early childhood often sets the stage for one's relationship patterns in the future."

Whether a physiological response, a neural activation, simple instinct, or the tightening of emotional connection, the feeling generated by babies' smiles is a buoy in the choppy ocean of new parenthood.

And while the first smile may be the most magical by virtue of its surprise and the necessity of that emotional lift, the fuzzy feeling can continue well into that baby's childhood and beyond. It keeps telling parents, you've got this!

[This was originally published on Apparently]

Life

Chrissy Teigen is one of the most famous moms in the world and definitely one of the most famous moms on social media.

She's the Queen of Twitter and at least the Duchess of Instagram but with a massive following comes a massive dose of mom-shame, and Teigen admits the online comments criticizing her parenting affects her.

"It's pretty much everything," Teigen told Today, noting that the bulk of the criticism falls into three categories: How she feeds her kids, how she uses her car seats and screen time.

"Any time I post a picture of them holding ribs or eating sausage, I get a lot of criticism," she explained. "Vegans and vegetarians are mad and feel that we're forcing meat upon them at a young age. They freak out."

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Teigen continues: "If they get a glimpse of the car seat there is a lot of buckle talk. Maybe for one half of a second, the strap slipped down. And TV is another big one. We have TV on a lot in my house. John and I work on television; we love watching television."

Teigen wants the shame to stop, not just for herself but for all the other moms who feel it. (And we agree.)

"Hearing that nine out of 10 moms don't feel like they're doing a good enough job is terrible," she said. "We're all so worried that we're not doing all that we can, when we really are."

The inspiration for Teigen talking publicly about mom-shame may be in part because of her participation in Pampers' "Share the Love" campaign. But even though Teigen's discussion coincides with this campaign, the message remains equally important. Advertising can be a powerful tool for shifting the way society thinks about what's "normal" and we would much rather see companies speaking out against mom-shame than inducing it to sell more stuff.

Calling out mom-shame in our culture is worth doing in our lives, our communities and yes, our diaper commercials. Thank you Chrissy (and thank you, Pampers).

News

Dear fellow mama,

I was thinking about the past the other day. About the time I had three small boys—a newborn, his 2-year-old brother and his 5-year-old brother.

How I was always drowning.

How I could never catch my breath between the constant requests.

How I always felt guilty no matter how hard I tried.

How hard it was—the constant exhaustion, struggling to keep my home any kind of clean or tidy, how I struggled to feed my kids nutritious meals, to bathe them and clean them and keep them warmly dressed in clean clothing, to love them well or enough or well enough.

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Those years were some of the toughest years I have ever encountered.

But mama, I am here to tell you that it doesn't last forever. Slowly, incrementally, without you even noticing, it gets easier. First, one child is toilet trained, then the bigger one can tie his own shoelaces, then finally they are all sleeping through the night.

It's hard to imagine; I really really get it.

It is going to get easier. I swear it. I'm not saying that there won't be new parenting challenges, that it won't be the hardest thing you have ever done in your life. It will be. But it will get easier.

These days, all of my kids get the bus to school and back. Most of them dress themselves. They can all eat independently and use the toilet. Sometimes they play with each other for hours leaving me time to do whatever I need to do that day.

I sleep through the night. I am not constantly in a haze of exhaustion. I am not overwhelmed by three tiny little people needing me to help them with their basic needs, all at the same time.

I can drink a hot cup of coffee. I do not wish with every fiber of my being that I was an octopus, able to help each tiny person at the same time.

I am not tugged in opposite directions. I don't have to disappoint my 3-year-old who desperately wants to play with me while I am helping his first grade bother with his first grade reading homework.

And one day, you will be here too.

It's going to get easier. I promise. And while it may not happen today or even next week or even next month, it will happen. And you will look around in wonder at the magnificent people you helped to create and nurture and sustain.

Until then, you are stronger and more resilient than you can even imagine.

You've got this. Today and always.

Love,

A fellow mama

Life
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