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“Again, again, again!” Bee says. We are reading in the bedroom, and I have just finished telling her that she used to say “yellow” was “lellow” and “love” was “yove.” When announcing her favorite color, she’d proudly squeal, “I yove lellow!” and leave all of us grown-ups scratching our heads.

These days, these “again-again-again!” days are tiring, but in the good way. Bee will be four soon. Our days are filled with requests for brownies, requests for story time, requests for the zoo, requests for her own zoo, requests for me to switch jobs to become a zookeeper at her own zoo so she and the monkeys can have ice cream after hours.

“At my own zoo, there will be sea urchins,” she says. “I will measure them. They will weigh 400 minutes.”

We know of the many requirements of a parent’s job. There are sticky banana-coated plates to wash and dirty socks to soak and endless tangles to brush out at day’s end. There is the strawberry-cutting and the hide-and-seeking and the car-seat-buckling. The piggyback-riding and the sheet-tucking and the spill-wiping and the hand-holding. To say nothing of the hand-letting-go.

And then there’s the socializing, the manners, the cultural enrichment outside of Daniel Tiger’s jurisdiction.

In these again-again-again days, for many parents, the pressure is extraordinary. It’s a trap we all fall into, the temptation to measure our child’s progress.(It is, after all, the only way we can measure our own.)

The idea of letting down our kids, of providing them with an environment that is less than perfect, less than ideal, less than the standard—this is crippling for so many. Failing at parenthood means failing at life, doesn’t it?

So we schedule more activities, we buy the best gadgets for the most enriching learning experience. We teach them to play the violin at three and a half, we teach them to read at two, we teach them to speak Mandarin at one.

We pack it all in.

I will measure them.

Throw everything at them and let’s see what sticks, yeah?

They will weigh 400 minutes.

And here we sit, lamenting our lack of balance.

I have heard it said that we are precisely the parents our children need. Some of us will inspire world peace and equal rights for future generations. Some of us might be really good at making cherry cobbler and beds. Some of us may earn Nobel Peace Prizes, and some of us might consider it a win if we don’t sob and scream and threaten bedtime without dinner from 3:30 pm on.

But on the best of days, we can hope that we have everything our children need from us. We have dedication, commitment. We have patience. We have grace. We have forgiveness. We have persistence, forbearance, creativity.

We have everything our children don’t need from us too.

And yet.

We have love.

We have love, we have love, we have love.

It is difficult to be patient when you are late for your 6-year-old’s piano lesson and the toddler wants to put on her shoes “all by my own self!”

It is difficult to offer grace when your preteen leaves his bike in the driveway (again, again, again) and you have a meeting in four minutes.

And it is difficult to accept all of it—the love and the grace and the everything else—when you have failed. When you have swatted a behind and it connected too hard and you had promised yourself you would never parent that way and now there are two sets of tears.

Busyness is a byproduct of our culture. It is the sacrifice we make for our religion of more, for our perfectionist tendencies, for our temptation to overschedule, overinform, overprovide.But the answer is not to lower the expectations we have created. The answer, I believe, is to live up to the expectations we have been created for.

Live up to the expectation that you are what your child needs. That your focus, your time, your attention, your failings—that these are enough. Live up to the expectation that your behaviors are being copied. Your reactions are being noted. Your forgiveness is being accepted. Your shortcomings are being acknowledged, understood, embraced. Your best is being called for.

Live up to the expectation that in these again-again-again times, you are enough.

Do you know the best things in life cannot be measured? Aptitude is not a perfect test score. Balance is not a perfect day planner. Creativity is not a perfect art sculpture.The best things in life cannot be measured, but they can be learned, practiced, honed. In these again-again-again days with children in our homes, there are burning bacon and muddy paws and unrolled toilet paper, and there are yelling and do-overs, there are apologies and redeeming bath bubbles.

And there is great forgiveness, if we’re lucky. Immeasurable forgiveness, if we’re even luckier.

Bee will be four soon. She is still talking of her zoo, of the monkeys and the after-hours ice cream, of the sea urchins and her grandest dreams, her wildest plans.

I know the feeling. These again-again-again days are my grandest dreams, my wildest plans. I do not want to waste them. I do not want to spend this weighty and precious time gritting my teeth in the name of productivity, in the name of pursuit, in the name of perfection.

And if Bee can bring imagination to the suffocating precision of math, of time, of counting and measuring and balancing this great untouchable life?

I will measure them.

Well, perhaps so can I.

They will weigh 400 minutes.

And they’ll be gone in a flash.

This is an excerpt from the book Chasing Slow by Erin Loechner.

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Parents in New Jersey will soon get more money and more time for parental leave after welcoming a baby.

This week New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed off on legislation that extends New Jersey's paid family leave from six weeks to 12.

It also increases the benefit cap from 53% of the average weekly wage to 70%, meaning the maximum benefit for a parent on family leave will be $860 a week, up from $650.

It might not seem like a huge difference, but by raising the benefit from two-thirds of a parent's pay to 85%, lawmakers in New Jersey are hoping to encourage more parents to actually take leave, which is good for the parents, their baby and their family. "Especially for that new mom and dad, we know that more time spent bonding with a child can lead to a better long-term outcome for that child," Murphy said at a press conference this week.

The law will also make it easier for people to take time off when a family member is sick.

Because NJ's paid leave is funded through payroll deductions, workers could see an increase in those deductions, but Murphy is betting that workers and businesses will see the benefits in increasing paid leave benefits. "Morale goes up, productivity goes up, and more money goes into the system," Murphy said. "And increasingly, companies big and small realize that a happy workforce and a secure workforce is a key ingredient to their success."

The new benefits will go into effect in July 2020 (making next Halloween a good time to get pregnant in the Garden State).

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Whether you just need to stock up on diapers or you've had your eye on a specific piece of baby gear, you might want to swing by your local Walmart this Saturday, February 23rd.

Walmart's big "Baby Savings Day" is happening from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at participating Walmarts (but more deals can be found online at Walmart.com already and the website deals are happening for the rest of the month).

About 3,000 of the 3,570 Supercenter locations are participating in the sale (check here to see if your local Walmart is).

The deals vary, but in general you can expect up to 30% off on items like cribs, strollers, car seats, wipes, diapers and formula.

Some items, like this Graco Modes 3 Lite Travel System have been marked down by more than $100. Other hot items include this Lille Baby Complete Carrier (It's usually $119, going for $99 during the sale) and the Graco 4Ever 4-in-1 Convertible Car Seat (for as low as $199).

So if you're in need of baby gear, you should check out this sale. Travel gear isn't the only category that's been marked down, there are some steep discounts on breast pumps, too.

Many of the Walmart locations will also be offering samples and expert demos of certain products on Saturday so it's worth checking out!

Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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Any Schumer has not had an easy pregnancy. She intended to keep working, but if you follow her on social media you know she's been very sick through each trimester.

And now in her final trimester she's had to cancel her tour due to hyperemesis gravidarum, also known as HG. It's a rare but very serious form of extreme morning sickness, and on Friday evening Schumer announced she is canceling the rest of her tour because of it.

“I vomit every time [I] ride in a car even for 5 minutes," Schumer explained in an Instagram post.

Due to the constant vomiting she's not cleared to fly and just can't continue to the tour.

This is not the first time Schumer has had to make an announcement about HG. Back in November, just weeks after announcing her pregnancy, she had to cancel shows and again broke the news via Instagram.

She posted a photo of herself in a hospital bed with her little dog Tati, and spelled out the details of her health issues in the caption. "I have hyperemesis and it blows," Schumer wrote.

Poor Amy. Hyperemesis gravidarum is really tough.

Kate Middleton, Ayesha Curry and Motherly co-founder Elizabeth Tenety are among those who, like Schumer, have suffered from this form of severe morning sickness that can be totally debilitating.

As she previously wrote for Motherly, Tenety remembers becoming desperately ill, being confined to her apartment (mostly her bed) and never being far from a trash can, "I lost 10% of my body weight. I became severely dehydrated. I couldn't work. I couldn't even get out of bed. I could barely talk on the phone to tell my doctor how sick I was—begging them to please give me something, anything—to help."

Thankfully, she found relief through a prescription for Zofran, an anti-nausea drug.

Schumer probably knows all about that drug. It looks she is getting the medical help she obviously needs, and she was totally right to cancel the tour in order to stay as healthy as possible.

We're glad to see Schumer is getting help, and totally understand why she would have to cancel her shows. Any mama who has been through HG will tell you, that wouldn't be a show you'd want front row seats for anyway.

Get well soon, Amy!

[A version of this post was published November 15, 2018. It has been updated.]

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As a military spouse, Cydney Cooper is used to doing things alone. But when she delivered her twin daughters early after complications due to Influenza A, she was missing her husband Skylar more than ever.

Recovering from the flu and an emergency C-section, and trying to parent the couple's two older boys and be with her new infant daughters in the NICU, Cydney was exhausted and scared and just wanted her husband who was deployed in Kuwait with the Army and wasn't expected home for weeks.

Alone in the NICU 12 days after giving birth, Cydney was texting an update on the twins to her husband when he walked through the door to shoulder some of the massive burden this mama was carrying.

"I was typing up their summary as best I could and trying to remember every detail to tell him when I looked up and saw him standing there. Shock, relief, and the feeling that everything was just alright hit me at once. I just finally let go," she explains in a statement to Motherly.

The moment was captured on video thanks to a family member who was in on Skylar's surprise and the reunion has now gone viral, having been viewed millions of times. It's an incredible moment for the couple who hadn't seen each other since Skylar had a three-day pass in seven months earlier.

Cydney had been caring for the couple's two boys and progressing in her pregnancy when, just over a week before the viral video was taken, she tested positive for Influenza A and went into preterm labor. "My husband was gone, my babies were early, I had the flu, and I was terrified," she tells Motherly.

"Over the next 48 hours they were able to stop my labor and I was discharged from the hospital. It only lasted two days and I went right back up and was in full on labor that was too far to stop."

Cydney needed an emergency C-section due to the babies' positioning, and her medical team could not allow anyone who had previously been around her into the operating room because anyone close to Cydney had been exposed to the flu.

"So I went in alone. The nurses and doctors were wonderful and held my hand through the entire thing but at the same time, I felt very very alone and scared. [Skylar] had been present for our first two and he was my rock and I didn't have him when I wanted him the most. But I did it! He was messaging me the second they wheeled me to recovery. Little did I know he was already working on being on his way."

When he found out his baby girls were coming early Skylar did everything he could to get home, and seeing him walk into the NICU is a moment Cydney will hold in her heart and her memory forever. "I had been having to hop back and forth from our sons to our daughters and felt guilty constantly because I couldn't be with all of them especially with their dad gone. It was one of the most amazing moments of my life and I won't be forgetting it."

It's so hard for a military spouse to do everything alone after a baby comes, and the military does recognize this. Just last month the Army doubled the amount of leave qualifying secondary caregivers (most often dads) can take after a birth or adoption, from 10 days to 21 so that moms like Cydney don't have to do it all alone.

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