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#MeToo.

You've probably seen these words on your social media feeds over the last couple of days. I have too. By friends from all over, of all ages, from all different kinds of people.


I posted these words too.

This “me too” movement started out with a simple tweet:

“If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote 'Me too' as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.”

Writing “Me too” would signify that sexual harassment or assault has impacted your life.

I have been sexually harassed in more than a few situations over the course of my life.

When I was a teenage girl walking down the street with friends as men beeped and called out to us, making me feel gross, and even more uncomfortable with my changing body than I already felt.

When I was in college and had too much to drink and felt like I couldn't get out of a situation I was in with a man, even when all I wanted to do was get away.


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When a good friend, who I trusted, broke that trust in a way I don't even feel comfortable writing about—hurting me, confusing me, causing me anger.

When I sit here and think about times in my life when I've been sexually harassed, unfortunately, many examples come to mind. And so many other women, women we all know, have their own stories.

My mother is a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. My sister is a rape survivor. We've shared stories with one another of unwanted kisses and come ons, of weird texts and messages online.

It kills me that my mother, sisters, friends have had to deal with these disgusting, unspeakable, heartbreaking acts.

And these are only a handful of women I know about. Just because one woman feels comfortable enough sharing her story doesn't mean the woman next to her doesn't have her own story, hidden away.

I feel okay with talking about this stuff to some degree. I'm more confident in speaking up for myself. I am married to and loved by a good man who makes me feel safe and beautiful. But when I think about what I've been through, and what my mother and sisters have been through—and then about my three beautiful, innocent, joyful daughters—I'm terrified.

I can't let them grow up in a world where they're scared of men.

I don't want them to grow up in a world where they feel like they have to let inappropriate behavior slide because “that's how the world works.”

I can't have the “boys will be boys” mentality exist in our world.

I don't ever want them to feel like they have to use their looks to get ahead—I want them to understand the beauty of their intelligence, their creativity, their imagination.

So what can I do? What can I do for my girls, and for my nieces and nephews, on a daily basis so that they grow up in a world where women and men are equal, where they never have to accept unwanted sexual advances, where they feel safe?

I can start by teaching them about body safety. That their body—and all of its parts—belongs to them. That they never have to kiss or hug someone if they don't want to. That they are in charge of their body, but that mommy and daddy are also here to help protect them. And listen to them. And believe them.

I can teach them that other people's bodies are theirs, and we need to respect that. We can talk about things like how you can't touch or hit or bite another person's body. Or if you want a hug from someone, you need to ask.

I can model respectful behavior to other adults and children who I come into contact with on a daily basis so they see what that looks like firsthand.

I can model body confidence by never complaining about being “fat” or how my clothes don't look good on me. I can show them what feeling secure, confident and beautiful looks like by believing it myself.

I can teach them about the words “no” and “stop”—how to use them and what to do when someone else uses them. If they don't like what someone is doing, or they don't want a hug or kiss from someone—I want them to be empowered enough to use those keywords. If someone is asking them to stop or saying no to them—I want them to understand that their behavior stops immediately or they do not proceed with say, a hug or a kiss, even if they really want to.

I can show them what a loving relationship looks like. My husband and I can model what respect, trust, kindness, and deep love looks like so they see how to treat people they want to be in romantic relationships with (and vice versa.)

I don't want my children to grow up in a world where sexual assault and harassment is a regular part of people's lives. I don't want it to be something they have to worry about. I want to shield them from the ugliness of the world.

I am writing “me too” so my children don't have to.

When I was expecting my first child, I wanted to know everything that could possibly be in store for his first year.

I quizzed my own mom and the friends who ventured into motherhood before I did. I absorbed parenting books and articles like a sponge. I signed up for classes on childbirth, breastfeeding and even baby-led weaning. My philosophy? The more I knew, the better.

Yet, despite my best efforts, I didn't know it all. Not by a long shot. Instead, my firstborn, my husband and I had to figure it out together—day by day, challenge by challenge, triumph by triumph.

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The funny thing is that although I wanted to know it all, the surprises—those moments that were unique to us—were what made that first year so beautiful.

Of course, my research provided a helpful outline as I graduated from never having changed a diaper to conquering the newborn haze, my return to work, the milestones and the challenges. But while I did need much of that tactical knowledge, I also learned the value of following my baby's lead and trusting my gut.

I realized the importance of advice from fellow mamas, too. I vividly remember a conversation with a friend who had her first child shortly before I welcomed mine. My friend, who had already returned to work after maternity leave, encouraged me to be patient when introducing a bottle and to help my son get comfortable with taking that bottle from someone else.

Yes, from a logistical standpoint, that's great advice for any working mama. But I also took an incredibly important point from this conversation: This was less about the act of bottle-feeding itself, and more about what it represented for my peace of mind when I was away from my son.

This fellow mama encouraged me to honor my emotions and give myself permission to do what was best for my family—and that really set the tone for my whole approach to parenting. Because honestly, that was just the first of many big transitions during that first year, and each of them came with their own set of mixed emotions.

I felt proud and also strangely nostalgic as my baby seamlessly graduated to a sippy bottle.

I felt my baby's teething pain along with him and also felt confident that we could get through it with the right tools.

I felt relieved as my baby learned to self-soothe by finding his own pacifier and also sad to realize how quickly he was becoming his own person.



As I look back on everything now, some four years and two more kids later, I can't remember the exact day my son crawled, the project I tackled on my first day back at work, or even what his first word was. (It's written somewhere in a baby book!)

But I do remember how I felt with each milestone: the joy, the overwhelming love, the anxiety, the exhaustion and the sense of wonder. That truly was the greatest gift of the first year… and nothing could have prepared me for all those feelings.

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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I was blissfully asleep on the couch while my little one was occupied elsewhere with toys, books and my partner. She got bored with what they were doing, escaped from his watch and, sensing my absence, set about looking for me. Finding me on the couch, nose-level, she peeled back my one available eyelid, singing, "Mama? Mama? ...You there? Wake UP!"

Sound familiar? Nothing limits sleep more than parenthood. And nothing is more sought after as a parent than a nap, if not a good night's rest.

But Mother Nature practically guarantees that you are likely to be woken up by a toddler—they're hardwired to find you (and get your attention) when you're "away."

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