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Watching my sister unpack her double stroller from her SUV always fills me with a mix of admiration and relief. I love the fact that she’s given me multiple nephews, but I also love that she’s only getting one from me.

My son is an only child, and it’s gonna stay that way. That may sound sad to some, but for my family it’s perfect.

Before becoming pregnant with our son, I always imagined my husband and I would have at least two kids. But pregnancy has a way of changing our bodies, and sometimes, our minds, too.

After trying to conceive for some time, I was elated to get that positive test, but almost immediately I started feeling sick, which kind of robbed me of some of the joy I’d expected. By other people’s standards my pregnancy wasn’t a hard one—I wasn’t considered high risk and I wasn’t hospitalized—but being pregnant was really hard on me.

By the halfway point in my pregnancy, my husband and I decided that we were only going to do this once. It made sense not only when we considered how horrible I was feeling, but when we ran the numbers, too (as somebody who’s felt the crushing weight of student loans upon graduation, saving for college is a priority in my household). Financially and physically, having just one child felt like the perfect fit for us.

We were happy with our decision, but even before my son was born people began asking when we would have another, and most didn’t like the answer.

“Oh, you’ll change your mind,” was the common (and condescending) response.

Even my own doctor fell into that camp.

“When are you going to start trying again?” she asked shortly after my son was born.

“We’re not,” I told her.

“Why not? He’s so perfect?” she said. “Give it time, you’ll want another.”

Colleagues, friends, family members—hardly anyone trusted that we’d thought this through, and everyone had an opinion.

“It’s not right, he needs a brother or sister. He’s going to be lonely.”

“What if something happens to him? You’ll have no other children.”

“Two kids are not that much more expensive than one.”

“Couples like you who only have one child should have to pay higher taxes because you’re not contributing enough future workers to society.” (Yes, someone actually said that.)

I’d grown so accustomed to the negative reactions that when a nurse ended our newborn’s wellness appointment by asking when we were going to start trying again, I braced myself for another negative comment, but her response was perfect.

“That’s great,” she said. “I love it when people recognize what’s right for them.”

Her comment lifted me up and became my motto.

Whenever I felt like someone was judging me for our decision to stop at one, I remembered what that nurse said: I’m recognizing what’s right for us.

I love being a mom of one, but I think I would be overwhelmed and unhappy with two or three. In fact, I know I would be. We stopped at one because we recognized my limits. These days, when people tell me I should have another, I don’t take it personally (I can’t, I’m too busy chasing a 2-year-old). I also have two year’s worth of comebacks saved up for every argument.

Yes, my son will have a different experience than children who have siblings, but he won’t be lonely. He’ll have cousins and classmates and friends.

Yes, something could happen to him, but children aren’t tires—a sibling isn’t a spare.

Yes, having two kids is significantly more expensive than one, especially if you’re putting hundreds of dollars into an education savings account each month.

No, I should not have to pay higher taxes.

Knowing all this, and knowing that my son is my only baby, watching him leave babyhood behind has been hard. When he was 19 months old I took him for his last evening walk in the baby carrier that he was almost too big for.

He fell asleep as I walked, and as I stood at an intersection waiting for the light to change, I felt his warm, heavy little body on my chest and felt a sense of loss, too. I will never feel another baby of mine sleeping on me like that.

For the briefest moment I thought about having another baby to fill up that carrier, but by the time the light changed I was over it. Baby cuddles are great, I thought, but there’s a lifetime of parenting that comes after the cuddles.

“You can put the dog in the Ergo if you miss this. You don’t need another baby,” I thought.

When I watch my sister unload her double stroller and strap everybody in I’m in awe of her ability to do so much at once. She is an amazing mom to multiple children, but I know myself well enough to know that I would be overwhelmed in her place. I’m a great mom to one boy, but I can’t see my body handling another pregnancy or myself handling the stress of parenting two or three kids.

The second seat in my double stroller is reserved for my little dog, and I like it that way.

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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 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, is 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 so the crisis can be averted. Either way, it's a victory.

Oh, it's quiet. So, so quiet. And I can think it 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?

For me, 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 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


Created by Bellyful

I'd make these for dinner, too.

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