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It all goes by so fast, mama

I can’t stop looking at you. I am trying to burn into my memory what I know will be gone far too soon.

It all goes by so fast, mama

It's Saturday afternoon and the ballgame has been won and celebrated with burgers and shakes. Cleats, bat, glove and uniform are distributed from garage to bedroom—none of it in its proper place—and I am watching you navigate the mac-n-cheese, because, well, you're still hungry.


It takes every ounce of my self-control to let you make it by yourself.

There's the torn box of pasta spilling all over the counter, the prematurely opened cheese packet dusting the stove and floor, and the too little pot full of too much water, contents sloshing all the way to the stove while you turn to me to check that you still have my tacit permission to continue (you didn't really ask, and I really didn't say yes).

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Oh, and there's fire. I mean real fire. A paper towel has caught, having been left a wee bit too close to the burner. So now, in addition to letting you make your own mess, I have to let you put out your own fire. (The metaphor is not lost on me.)

This hurts. And this feels great. And I am not sure I will survive this.

Letting you do things on your own, and letting you grow into yourself, is rife with equal measures pride and fear.

I know these small daily victories may seem minor in the realm of earth-moving marvels, but they add up and fortify your confidence as you troubleshoot your mistakes, learn to rely on your own ingenuity, your own opinion, your own solution, your own course of action.

And I know if I don't allow you to stretch, to stumble, and possibly to catch the house on fire, I risk your resentment when you finally break away to do it on your own anyway.

I know I would lose the chance to provide you with a safe place to try new things—and a soft place to landif things go awry.

I know that if I hold you back, you may be hampered by the resentment that fuels poor judgement—just to prove me wrong—and I unintentionally put you at even greater risk.

I remind myself that these major moments of anxiety for me are really major accomplishments for you—my patience and trust for your new skills making all the difference.

And at this moment, all I want is for you to carry this confidence out into the world, instead of the weight of my worry and desire to keep you little or dependent.

So when you proudly offer me a spoonful of your chalky and undercooked mac-n-cheese, I take the bite and proclaim it edible, kiss you on the forehead and turn around before you see the tears in my eyes—having just wrested one more thing from my tight grip as you continue your march toward young manhood.

It sounds silly and makes us both laugh, but I turn back and say I'm proud of you, before I add, “Oh, and clean the kitchen."

Half-scrubbed pots and more water everywhere, task completed. And suddenly you are asleep. On the couch. In the middle of the day.

This inching toward manhood is so bittersweet—here's that beautiful boy with the formerly-floppy hair that's now shorn close and styled according to your desire, not mine. Here are the limbs that seem to lengthen even as I pull the now-too-small blanket back over your feet, pausing to stand above you and marvel at how much you have changed in a year.

How did this chub-coated kid become so boney, strong and long? How did these feet get to be bigger than mine? How do I now fit under your chin, when you used to fit under mine?

I can't stop looking at you. I am trying to burn into my memory what I know will be gone far too soon, and I quietly bend down to kiss that same cheek that used to nestle up to my breast while you nursed and gave me milky grins.

That same cheek… hot and stained with tears as I left you on the first day of school.

That same cheek… bloody and bruised after you went head first over the handlebars, on a dare.

That same cheek… red with excitement as you ski past me, really fast, to catch up with your cousins down the slope.

That same cheek… moments later, pale with the pain of a broken bone.

That same cheek… stuffed with just. so. much. food.

That same cheek… flushed with the thrill of my 'maybe,' then cold with the fear of my 'yes,' or hot with the anger of my 'no.'

That same cheek… bunched up with broad pride for the victory of a no-hit game.

That same cheek… about to change forever and sprout prickly, sparse whiskers to remind me that even though you still act like a kid, you're not.

I'm grateful that same cheek is still smooth and peachy—still accepting of the kisses I give to land there, not yet rebuffed by the self-conscious awareness that Mom is actually a girl…ew.

And, I am sad for me, for the loss of my little boy. But, I am more happy for you, just waking up to the reality of that huge world out there waiting for you—without me at its center.

I watch as you accelerate toward independence, leaving me and your childhood in the rear view mirror, and all I want to do is put on the brakes, slow it down and enjoy the view. But I am not in the driver seat anymore, and now you have the wheel, and all I can do is let you steer.

And I hope and pray that I have given you all the rules of the road so you can take your journey, so when you've found your lane, you'll remember the way back home.

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

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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I never wanted to be a mom. It wasn't something I ever thought would happen until I fell madly in love with my husband—who knew very well he wanted children. While he was a natural at entertaining our nephews or our friends' kids, I would awkwardly try to interact with them, not really knowing what to say or do.

Our first pregnancy was a surprise, a much-wanted one but also a unicorn, "first try" kind of pregnancy. As my belly grew bigger, so did my insecurities. How do you even mom when you never saw motherhood in your future? I focused all my uncertainties on coming up with a plan for the delivery of my baby—which proved to be a terrible idea when my dreamed-of unmedicated vaginal birth turned into an emergency C-section. I couldn't even start motherhood the way I wanted, I thought. And that feeling happened again when I couldn't breastfeed and instead had to pump and bottle-feed. And once more, when all the stress from things not going my way turned into debilitating postpartum anxiety that left me not really enjoying my brand new baby.

As my baby grew, slowly so did my confidence that I could do this. When he would tumble to the ground while learning how to walk and only my hugs could calm him, I felt invincible. But on the nights he wouldn't sleep—whether because he was going through a regression, a leap, a teeth eruption or just a full moon—I would break down in tears to my husband telling him that he was a better parent than me.

Then I found out I was pregnant again, and that this time it was twins. I panicked. I really cannot do two babies at the same time. I kept repeating that to myself (and to my poor husband) at every single appointment we had because I was just terrified. He, of course, thought I could absolutely do it, and he got me through a very hard pregnancy.

When the twins were born at full term and just as big as singleton babies, I still felt inadequate, despite the monumental effort I had made to grow these healthy babies and go through a repeat C-section to make sure they were both okay. I still felt my skin crawl when they cried and thought, What if I can't calm them down? I still turned to my husband for diaper changes because I wasn't a good enough mom for twins.

My husband reminded me (and still does) that I am exactly what my babies need. That I am enough. A phrase that has now become my mantra, both in motherhood and beyond, because as my husband likes to say, I'm the queen of selling myself short on everything.

So when my babies start crying, I tell myself that I am enough to calm them down.

When my toddler has a tantrum, I remind myself that I am enough to get through to him.

When I go out with the three kids by myself and start sweating about everything that could go wrong (poop explosions times three), I remind myself that I am enough to handle it all, even with a little humor.


And then one day I found this bracelet. Initially, I thought how cheesy it'd be to wear a reminder like this on my wrist, but I bought it anyway because something about it was calling my name. I'm so glad I did because since day one I haven't stopped wearing it.

Every time I look down, there it is, shining back at me. I am enough.

I Am Enough bracelet 

SONTAKEY  I Am Enough Bracelet

May this Oath Bracelet be your reminder that you are perfect just the way you are. That you are enough for your children, you are enough for your friends & family, you are enough for everything that you do. You are enough, mama <3

$35

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

Life

Errands and showers are not self-care for moms

Thinking they are is what's burning moms out.

A friend and I bump into each other at Target nearly every time we go. We don't pre-plan this; we must just be on the same paper towel use cycle or something. Really, I think there was a stretch where I saw her at Target five times in a row.

We've turned it into a bit of a running joke. "Yeah," I say sarcastically, "We needed paper towels so you know, I had to come to Target… for two hours of alone time."

She'll laugh and reply, "Oh yes, we were out of… um… paper clips. So here I am, shopping without the kids. Heaven!"

Now don't get me wrong. I adore my trips to Target (and based on the fullness of my cart when I leave, I am pretty sure Target adores my trips there, too).

But my little running joke with my friend is actually a big problem. Because why is the absence of paper towels the thing that prompts me to get a break? And why on earth is buying paper towels considered a break for moms?

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Life