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In honor of all the beautiful mothers I know and love, I thought I’d share a real life story, a little segment I’m calling True Confessions.


You know what I’m talking about. I think. I hope? Maybe not. Maybe you will finish reading this and decide I’m not fit to write about anything having to do with mothering. You decide.

True Confession #1:

Not long after moving into our new home, in a new neighborhood, we added a new baby to our life with a 21 month old. This new baby was adorable and snuggly and had an amazing ability to sleep for 90 minutes increments and projectile spit up every time she ate.

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My Grace is a love. She was an exhausting baby.

Soon after our move into our “real house to be real adults” our neighborhood had a volunteer day. We decided to attend, in hopes of meeting new neighbors and to do good deeds to earn us a “good neighbor” label. That Saturday morning, we arrived, me with an 8 week old in her little pouch, a toddler running amuck, husband with shovel in hand. Ready to be helpful. Everyone there was planting flowers—I think—honestly I can’t recall; I had about 4 hours of interrupted sleep the night before. And about the same for the nights before that.

Tucker, Grace, and I lasted about 15 minutes before we headed back home, clearly more of a hindrance than a help. My husband stayed, helped, and presumably got labeled good neighbor or at least good man.

Later that week, said good man was traveling for business. Or maybe just at work late. I don’t remember. Again—I had been getting 90 minutes intervals of sleep for weeks, and sleep deprivation destroys both the spirit and the memory.

What I do remember, clearly, is that I was trying to make dinner. Nothing elaborate, just put some foods together to feed my people. I remember Grace had been crying on and off all day, I remember Tucker had one of those needy days—babies crawling on me all day long. Our two dogs had been barking incessantly, probably the sound of which had caused Tucker a sleepless afternoon. It was one of those days I was about to lose it. Crying and barking and “mamamamamammaamama” all day long. By 5 pm, I poured myself a glass of wine.

And then the dogs went bananas. Beserker. Completely nuts. But I was too tired to look for the root cause. I decided to start yelling STOP, as if that would calm it down. At this point, Tucker, nearly two , decided to start screaming, all the noise too much for his sensitive little being, his body went into sensory overload—which resulted in his own cacophony of screams and tears.

I snapped.

Not at Tucker. Not at Grace. At the dogs. I started yelling, ferociously and rather insanely, That’s it! I can’t take it anymore! That’s enough. That’s enough! That’s ENOUGH!

At that moment I noticed what the dogs were barking at. There were people at the door. Not just any people—the kind older couple who lived down the street, the ones in charge of the neighborhood volunteer day. But they were no longer at the door. They were walking away.

Rational Catherine took over, and opened the door. Wanting to appear normal, I decided to open the door and call out to them. Trying desperately to portray myself as a good mom. A nice mom. At least not a raging lunatic. Hi—I’m sorry, I didn’t hear you.

Oh that’s ok, they quickly said, eyes looking at anything but me. You’re busy.

Suddenly I looked at myself and saw what they saw. What this older man and his wife, coming on a mission of goodwill—to thank my husband for helping, these new neighbors of ours—what they saw at this particular moment.

They saw me —disheveled and crazy, with giant dark circles under my eyes, baby in one hand, glass of wine in the other (because why not be known as the neighborhood lush?), crying toddler standing in the background, dogs barking, food burning on the stove, and the leftover vibration of enough ENOUGH!

These nice people were sliding away, trying to avoid further contact with me.

I was embarrassed. This one moment was this family’s vision of me, as a mother, when in truth, I really was so much more. Looking back, I don’t know why I even tried to participate in the world as a normal human during those times. I mean. I had an infant who LITERALLY DIDNT SLEEP and a toddler who had a drastic sleep regression, wanting to be with us and her every time she was up, which was all the time. I was a walking zombie.

And I kept trying to put on this face, this mask that said “I got this. I’m awesome. I’m a great mom.”

Often times I was. But sometimes, pieces of me were aching. Crying for attention.

Meanwhile, I wanted to appear kind. Gentle. Sweet. Patient. And people everywhere were telling me to enjoy every moment, I would never get it back, so I felt guilty for being so tired. The guilt and the exhaustion and the wish to be better—those were some of my toughest moments, and I felt badly for having them.

My overly sensitive self was then worried about what these people thought of me. Would they think I was terrible? Would they call Child Protective Services on me? When I shared my worries with my husband he reassured me. No. You aren’t a bad mom. You had a bad moment.

I realized, after some thought, that they weren’t walking away because they were scared. They were walking away because they knew. They knew that feeling of being so tired, so overwhelmed, so not YOURSELF, that absolutely irrational thoughts and feelings come flying out of your mouth. I think they had been there. Or at least I pretend they’ve been there. That’s the only way I can make eye contact with them now, as I see them at least once a week on our family walks.

This experience made a deep and lasting impression on me. Not so much at embarrassed I was, but at the idea that mothers do so much. And at any given moment, the moment people witness might be the worst moment of a mother’s day, a mother’s week, or a mother’s career as a mother. Now, when I see a mom grabbing a child by the arm in the grocery store, hissing stop. that. right. now I know there’s more behind the picture. When another mother comments “helpfully” to me that “He seems a little old for you to be carrying him,” I let it slide, instead of lashing out at her. Other people don’t know what any other mother’s day (or child’s day) was like, or what any other person may be going through. I’ve been that mom, seen for one moment of irrational sleep deprived insanity, not for the millions of moments I’ve been gentle, kind, and all the things I always wish to be.

Mothers, I salute you. Cheers to the moments that get photographed for their poetic beauty, and cheers to the moments when you open the door, looking completely unhinged, drinking wine, holding babies, and screaming at the top of your lungs. Neither of these moments defines you as mother. You are always so much more.

I look forward to sharing with you episode #2 of True Confessions. The day I screamed and ran from the house (into the back yard), came back in to find my young son, eyes more worried than they should have been, comforting his little sister. Don’t worry. Mommies always come back. They have to. They really have to...

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Is there anything cuter than adorable hairstyles on kids? We love when little ones look put together and a chic hairstyle is the icing on a cake.Mamas have upped their game and are delivering trendy, inspo-worthy looks beyond basic ponytails.

We get that creating no-fuss hairstyles (preferably ones that don't require toddlers sitting more than 10 minutes) isn't exactly stress-free and shelling out cash for a stylist isn't something we'll spring for. But we're all about easy styles that we can practically create with our eyes closed. Say hello to getting out the door faster! To be fair, there are a few here that are a tad complicated, so you'll want to screenshot them and share with your mama friend who is a master stylist.

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To help you nail the best kid hairstyles, we've compiled a list of 41 cool hairstyles for little ones from Instagram:

Pigtail buns

This classic style never gets old. If you're concerned about it being too light, loosen it up a bit by adding volume at the roots.






Criss-cross braids

Add a touch of style to a traditional braid.






Top knot

When rushing and don't have time, just throw up their hair in a top bun.



Side braided ponytail

After a few hours on the playground, braids tend to end up on the side of their heads, so why not create it into a style?



Cornrows

We're not going to front—cornrows are tough to create. But if you can get it, it's a style that will last weeks. Need help? Check out these YouTube videos.






Waterfall braids

To add a little more pizazz to a regular braid, braid hair on the side and loosen it a bit at the root.




Triple buns

A bun is probably the easier hairstyle a mama can create, but throw in a dash of style by adding two more bun. Create the look by securing buns from the top of the head to the nape of the neck.








Bun + bows

Add a bow for instant fun.









Lifestyle

When the Coronavirus (COVID-19) started making headlines in early 2020 the expert advice was simple: Don't panic.

This week the CDC warned that the outbreaks of the virus will very likely happen in the United States, but it's important to know that officials still don't want parents to panic, they just want us to be prepared.

"We are asking the American public to prepare for the expectation that this might be bad," the Director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, Dr. Nancy Messonnier, told reporters during a news briefing Tuesday. "It's not so much of a question of if this will happen anymore but rather more of a question of exactly when this will happen," Dr. Messonnier said.

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It is totally normal to read this and be concerned mama, but there are several things we need to unpack before we let our anxiety overwhelm us.

Here is what you need to know about the Coronavirus response in the United States:

Top doctors are preparing for this

As the virus has spread rapidly overseas America's top doctors have been monitoring the situation. In not quite two months' time 80,000 people have contracted the illness and fewer than 3,000 of those people have died.

In the U.S., 53 cases have been confirmed (most of those were passengers on the Diamond Princess cruise ship that was quarantined off the coast of Japan or people who caught the virus while traveling overseas). There have only been two cases of person-to-person transmission on U.S. soil, according to the CDC.

The CDC has more than 1,000 professionals working on the response to this virus, including physicians, nurses, pharmacists, epidemiologists, veterinarians, laboratorians, communicators, data scientists and modelers.

"CDC staff members are working with state, local, tribal, and territorial health departments and other public health authorities to assist with case identification, contact tracing, evaluation of persons under investigation (PUI) for COVID-19, and medical management of cases; and with academic partners to understand the virulence, risk for transmission, and other characteristics of this novel virus," the agency states on its website.

And while there have been delays in implementing Coronavirus testing measures in the Unites States, experts are working to resolve issues and make testing more efficient. As the New York Times reports, the health and human services secretary "told a Senate panel that federal and local health departments will need as many as 300 million masks for health care workers."

In other words, the experts in the United States are preparing to fight this virus and they want the American public to be prepared, too.

This could impact school, work and daily life

That's why the CDC is telling us to get ready, not to cause panic or anxiety but just to set the expectation that life could be disrupted by this virus. "Now is the time for businesses, hospitals, communities, schools and everyday people to begin preparing," Dr. Messonnier said Tuesday.

She says schools may have to close or otherwise adjust to an outbreak and students may have to start doing tele-schooling online. She also wants businesses to start preparing to hold meetings remotely rather than in-person and to encourage telecommuting during any outbreak. Community activities like sports and church may also have to be canceled or modified.

As the New York Times reports, "Scientists don't know who is most susceptible to the new coronavirus. Children seem less likely to be infected. Middle-aged men seem to have been disproportionately infected, according to some studies."

This could be really disruptive for families

It is true that the scenario Messonnnier is outlining could be really disruptive for families. No one wants this to happen, but if it does have to happen it's a good thing we are getting the heads up.

Here are some steps you can take to prepare for possible interruptions to daily life:

  • Talk to your workplace about any plans it has for operations during an outbreak.
  • Speak to your child's school or childcare provider about how it plans to operate in a worst-case scenario.
  • Ask your doctor for an extra prescription of any medications your family needs, just in case an outbreak makes going to the pharmacy not possible.

Here's how to protect yourself + your family from the Coronavirus

The CDC does not recommend that we all go buy face masks. Face masks are only recommended for people "who show symptoms of COVID-19...[and] health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility)."

Instead, here's what we can all do to avoid the illness, according to the CDC:

  • "Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe."

We know this is serious and kind of scary, mama. But please, don't panic. Know that pandemic experts are working to keep your family safe. According to the CDC, the "National Institutes of Health (NIH) and their collaborators are working on development of candidate vaccines and therapeutics for COVID-19."

On Tuesday, President Trump said the coronavirus is "very well under control in our country" and "is going to go away." The health experts who work for the government are doing everything they can to prove the President right, but they do want the public to be ready in case it doesn't go away as fast as he (and all of us) would like.

News

For nine months, your mother was all you knew.

Before I held you in my arms, your mother held you and never let you go.

Before I sacrificed time for you, your mother gladly sacrificed her body.

Before I consoled you when you were upset, your mother consoled you with just the beat of her heart.

Before I comforted you when you were restless, your mother comforted you with just the sound of her voice.

Before I could do anything for you, your mother gave everything for you.

Your mother is the reason I hold you today.

Before you were even a twinkle in my eye, you were in your mother's heart. Your life, your safety, and your very existence depended on her. Something I'll never be able to repay.

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It will take a long time for you to understand the weight, the depth and the immeasurability of your mother's love for you. But someday, when you have children of your own, you will understand what I now see so clearly.

So, I'll hold you tight. But I'll hold your mother tighter because my love for you grows the more I understand the measure of a mother's love.


This essay was previously published here.
Life

What would bath time be without rubber duckies? Probably not as much fun—but also a whole lot cleaner, according to a study published in the journal Biofilms and Microbiomes.

That's because it turns out those squeaky toys are far from squeaky clean thanks to “potentially pathogenic bacteria" in four out of the five bath toys examined by researchers.

For the study, Swiss and American researchers looked at the biofilm communities inside 19 bath toys collected from random households as well as six toys used in controlled clean or dirty water conditions. They found that all of the examined bath toys “had dense and slimy biofilm" on their inner surfaces. What's more, 56% of the real-use toys and all of the dirty-water toys had fungi build up. ?

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Although the researchers note exposure to bacteria and fungi may have some benefits, the strong existence of grime in bath toys is still concerning. They note, “Squeezing water with chunks of biofilm into their faces (which is not unexpected behavior for these users) may result in eye, ear, wound or even gastro-intestinal tract infections."

Besides tossing all your bath toys, what can parents do?

The researchers say more experimental work is needed. But, for starters, it doesn't hurt to remove water from the toys after usage or give them a good, regular dunk in boiling water. The researchers also said they would like to see more regulations on the polymeric materials used for many bath toys.

There is, however, one simple solution—it just comes at the cost of rubber duckie's squeak. “In fact, the easiest way to prevent children from being exposed to bath toy biofilms is to simply close the hole," the researchers say of toys like this water-tight duck. “But where is the fun in that?"

[A version of this post originally appeared April 13, 2018. It has been updated.]

News
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