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I wasn't a baby person until I met my baby

Being uninterested in other people's toddlers doesn't mean you won't be a great mom to yours. We're often reminded to embrace people's differences and not put them in boxes, so why don't we do the same for moms?

I wasn't a baby person until I met my baby

Before becoming a mom, I'd never been a can-I-hold-your-baby person.

I preferred babies at a safe distance where I could admire their chubby cheeks without causing a meltdown. Chihuahuas in tote bags were much more my speed than infants in Baby Björns. Meanwhile, my closest girlfriends jumped at the chance to scoop up a newborn. Even my husband was a natural with a tiny human in his arms, but I was a nervous wreck.

Supporting an infant's wobbly neck without disturbing their angelic slumber wasn't my idea of fun. The fact that these small creatures could go from perfectly happy to terribly upset within seconds repelled me. I appreciated their squishy thighs and heartwarming giggles (who doesn't love a baby laugh?), but I appreciated giving them back to their parents even more.

Needless to say, I hadn't yet caught baby fever, but assumed I would one day.

A few lives ago on a plane to Cabo for a bachelorette party, a friend of mine said she couldn't imagine me as a mom. "You just don't strike me as the maternal type," she said, to which I responded with a shrug and a sip of lousy in-flight chardonnay.

Maybe she was right.

Though I never caught baby fever in the traditional sense, I'd always dreamed of experiencing pregnancy and creating a family of my own. However, I'd skip over the baby part and go straight to elementary school—reading bedtime stories, hanging indecipherable artwork on the fridge, and watching my wee one scamper to class wearing a tiny backpack.

So during my pregnancy with my son, I felt, in a word, inadequate. If I couldn't handle a baby who I could quickly (and carefully) hand back, how would I deal with a newborn of my own? Would I know the right way to hold him for the first time, or console him in the middle of the night? What if I didn't love him instantly?

I made a concerted effort to become a baby person before he arrived. Luckily, my social circle was teeming with tots, and I had plenty of opportunities to stretch out my arms and fake it 'til I made it. Though exposure therapy taught me that you can't break a newborn by simply holding them (phew!), it hardly turned me into Mary Poppins.

Before I knew it, my son was born. The first time I laid eyes on the mysterious being who'd been kicking me in the ribs for a good month, a surge of confidence (probably adrenaline) rushed through me. When they placed him in my arms, I felt completely calm. Whether I truly was calm, or merely resigned to the exhaustion of labor, the fear I'd been harboring drifted away.

Despite lactation challenges, raging hormones and zero sleep in the days postpartum, my maternal instincts finally kicked in. When my hours-old son cried in the recovery room, I didn't hesitate to lift him out of the bassinet and quiet him with a "sh, sh, sh." I showed my husband how to thread his fragile head through a onesie (even though I'd never done it before), and angled him against my knees so I could study his tiny, beautiful face.

Now he's almost 5 months old, and I can carry him in one arm while I empty the dishwasher with the other. I can tell the difference between his cries and know exactly where to squeeze his squishy thighs to make him giggle. I have to remember to put him down from time to time, because holding him, as it turns out, is my favorite thing in the world.

Being maternal doesn't look the same for everybody. It doesn't always mean cradling newborns with gusto or squealing at the sight of tiny toes. It doesn't require knowing the (very minimal) lyrics to "Baby Shark" or "The Fire Truck Song." Being uninterested in other people's toddlers doesn't mean you won't be a great mom to yours. We're often reminded to embrace people's differences and not put them in boxes, so why don't we do the same for moms?

I recently received a lovely compliment followed by a question: "You're so great with your baby, how do you know what to do?"

My answer was, "You don't."

[This piece was originally published on Apparently.]

14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

$40

Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

$120

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

$179

Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

$100

Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$33

Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$88

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These kids dishes don’t look like kids dishes

And that's exactly why my toddler loves them. ❤️

My 4.5-year-old is, let's say, spirited in his opinions. He very clearly knows what he wants and doesn't want (oh to have the confidence of a stubborn preschooler!). And what he doesn't want right now is anything that looks too babyish. "That's for babies," he'll say if I give him anything with primary colors or looks too miniature. He doesn't want the baby fork and spoon, he wants what grown-ups use. He doesn't want the baby plastic cups and plates, he wants the glass and ceramic ones.

Well, you can see where this is going.

I had to find something that would satisfy his "not a baby" opinions but still not shatter to pieces if he accidentally drops it on the floor. I had to find him something that's made for kids but doesn't feel made for kids.

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20 baby names that mean miracle—and will never go out of style

In these extraordinary times, we could all use some small miracles.

Meaningful baby names will never go out of style. Whether you decide to name your newborn after a beloved family member, or are simply searching for a name that reflects the journey that led you to parenthood, whatever you choose will stick with you for the rest of your—and your child's—life.

Almost every parent, at some point, refers to their child as a "miracle," though the meaning of the word itself might differ depending on who you're talking to. Miracle is a beautiful word that can double as a name, but there are many other thoughtful baby names to choose from if you're considering giving your baby a name that suggests an extraordinary event, a gift from above or a rare wonder.

Whether you're looking for a familiar name with a miraculous history, such as Aaron, or you're searching for a unique name that means "rare miracle," such as Ender, there are so many choices for both girls and boys that are equally as meaningful as they are interesting. Choosing a baby name with the special meaning of "miracle" is a signal of hope and optimism—and in these extraordinary times, we could all use some small miracles.

Putting a unique twist on a beautiful classic isn't hard with these baby names that mean "miracle."

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