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I am the mother of a wild girl

I am the mother of a wild girl.

She is almost 5 years old. A terrifying age. Sometimes she acts as though she is only two, sometimes as though she is 13. I am told this is typical but something in my heart tells me it's more than that.

She runs. Her legs pump the grass hard while her thick hair flows in unkempt waves across her face. She twirls, spins, creates worlds all her own. She doesn't sit still, she sleeps very little, she collects bugs and tries to catch lizards, as though they want to be contained like she wants to be contained. Nothing that wild wants a cage. Nothing that wild wants to be held so tight.

Her emotions also run. She feels things so deeply that she will cry when her little sister cries, feel pain when I am hurt, see a baby upset and want to comfort it to happiness. Her face blooms in red splotches, her eyes leak tears, her emotions fall out of her heart, out of her mouth, and onto her sleeve. She isn't old enough to know how to push them back inside. All she knows is to let them escape.

She is so different from me.

I am the mother of a wild girl.

Her tantrums are explosive. Her cries are feral. She has barred her teeth against me, one time biting my thumb so hard she hit bone. She was a year and a half. She has used her fingers like claws and scratched grooves into my skin. She has thrown toys at my face and used her fists on my shoulders and legs. When she succumbs to her emotions and is exhausted, she cannot get out of the space she falls into, a space so full of tears and red splotches on her perfect cheeks and a mouth open wide. Her screams escape pink lips.

I know it is bad when she tells me she cannot breathe.

"Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth," I tell her.

"I can't!" she screams.

"Just try. In through your nose."

"I can't!"

"Out through your mouth."

"I can't!" she says as she tries to sputter out her breath.

"Why are you upset, sweetie?" I ask.
"I don't know!" she says. She often does not know what has made her so upset to the point of being unable to take a breath. It means that I don't know why either. It means that I have to guess as to how I can make it better.

I've been told to validate her feelings, so I do. "It's okay to feel upset. It's okay to cry." I watch my little girl slump into child's pose on her bed as she rubs her face into the bedspread full of purple birds.

I worry I've pushed her too hard with my questions. I worry I've clipped her wings. I worry she will one day hyperventilate and become overwhelmed by a full-blown panic attack. I worry that I'm never going to know what to do to help her through these dark tunnels she finds herself in.

I could eat her up I love her so.

"Can I give you a hug?" I ask.

She nods her head and so I pick her up into my arms and hold her tight. She is so big, 40 pounds and tall like me. She somehow is able to curl herself against my body. Womb tight. She is still crying and screaming, but the sobs began to lessen the longer I hold her. I stroke her brown hair away from the tears on her face. Finally, I learn to say nothing.

I am the mother of a wild girl.

In a world in which women are told to be tame, soft, quiet, I have a little girl who challenges it all. I do not want to dampen her fire, but I do want to teach her how to harness it. How to control it. I wonder if the future holds space for the wild girls to run free. I hope I can carry her far enough to see such a place come to life.

I am the mother of a wild girl.

"Is she always this wild?" the man at the grocery store stops me and asks. The man is older with dark hair seared by streaks of white. He watches my daughter as she runs around the cart and holds on to the sides. He is a generation away and I wonder if he would ask me the same question if I had a boy running through my legs.

I don't know what to say so I smile. "No," I say. "She isn't." I feel instant regret at the dishonesty behind my words, at the way I've hidden behind a lie.

Would my daughter be so ashamed? Never. And so I must learn to speak my truth about who she is and love all of her fiercely.

I am the mother of a wild girl.

I know I'll be asked the same question again because this is the world we live in. Next time, to the aging man in his polo shirt and khaki shorts, to the man who looks differently at my daughter because she cannot be contained and feels that she should, I will tell him that yes. Yes, she is this wild.

And you should hear her roar.

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

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When it comes to getting a good night's sleep, there are many factors that, as a mama, are hard to control. Who's going to wet the bed at 3 am, how many times a small person is going to need a sip of water, or the volume of your partner's snoring are total wildcards.

One thing you can control? Tricking out your bed to make it as downright cozy as possible. (And in these times, is there anywhere you want to be than your bed like 75% of the time?)

I've always been a down comforter sort of girl, but after a week of testing the ridiculously plush and aptly named Snug Comforter from Sunday Citizen, a brand that's run by "curators of soft, seekers of chill" who "believe in comfort over everything," it's safe to say I've been converted.

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Our list of 100 baby names that should be on everyone's list this year includes more choices than in the past of names that are obscure and surprising. That's because there are so many more unusual baby names coming into widespread use and baby namers have become a lot more adventurous.

Expectant parents do not need to be told to move beyond Jennifer and Jason. Their thinking about names has evolved to the point that the most useful thing we can do is offer a large menu of intriguing choices.

Here are our picks for the 100 best surprising + unusual baby names now.


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