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Mom, I honestly don't know how you raised five kids. I really don't. I have three children (as you are well aware) and sometimes it feels like I have 30 children. So does that mean it felt like you had 50 children when we were little…?


I don't know how you gave birth five times.

I don't know how you kept track of five children at the store. Or at the ballpark. Or at the library. Or anywhere, TBH.

I don't know how you changed So. Many. Diapers in your lifetime.

I don't know how you signed us all up and carted us all around to basketball, softball, soccer, Irish-step-dancing, friend's houses, and after-school student council meetings.

I don't know how you got us all dressed and ready for church every single Sunday.

I don't know how you managed five very different personalities and five different levels of hormones and tantrums and disagreements and feelings.

I don't know how you dealt with all the noise that five children can bring (let's just say we did our fair share of fighting and bickering.)

I don't know how you made time for friendship, staying involved in your best girlfriends' lives. There was always so much to do with us and for us—I truly applaud you making time for your girls. Now that I'm a mom too, I'm so glad you did. I know it's not easy.

I don't know how you brushed and styled four daughters' hair 'do's. And you had to put rollers in our hair for Irish-step-dancing competitions! How?!

I don't know how you got us all dressed and off to the mall to meet Santa and get our picture taken. I don't know how you got five Easter baskets and treats to fill them down to Florida or South Carolina when we were visiting grandparents. I don't know how you remembered, every year, to make us birthday ribbons with the right number of candy or gum taped on to match how old we were.

I don't know how you packed for all of us when we went to visit our cousins in Ireland. I don't know how you painted little shamrocks with "The Mescall Trip To Tipp" above them for us to all wear on the plane together. I don't know how you took us to the Bronx Zoo or Adventureland every year without a major panic attack about losing one of us.

I don't know how you've listened to all of our many wild ideas and creative stories that came out of our imaginations (without looking bored!). Maybe you felt bored sometimes, but honestly, we couldn't tell if you were.

I don't know how you've attended five weddings to watch your children marry the loves of their lives without totally losing it.

Even though I don't quite know these things, what I do know is that you're amazing. And that you've taught me so much. That you've given me so much. That you mean so much to me.

You've given birth five times yourself, and you've been at six of your daughter's births. You've supported us, prayed for us, and cheered us on.

You've kept track of all of us so well that you never lost any of us. (That I know of…) And you've been there for us through the ups and downs of teenage years into adulthood so much so that you never let us lose ourselves either.

You've probably changed a million of your five children's diapers, yet you still offer to change my children's diapers.

You've modeled for us a strong sense of faith. And even though we were often late for church (not due to you at all, but due only to the rest of us), you got us there. The spirituality I have today, that I share with my children, is largely due to you.

You've given us the gift of each other. The friendship I share with each of my four siblings is invaluable. I'm so lucky to count them as part of my village.

You've shown patience and a wonderful sense of humor throughout our lives. Sure you may have yelled a time or two (😉), but you've always been an open door, allowing us to come to you with anything we've needed to. And you've always been able to make us laugh.

You've kept your friends high on your list of priorities for years and years. So much so that your friends from over 30 years ago are still your dear friends today. My strong, long-lasting female friendships are because I've learned from you.

You've had to brush so many knots out and endure so many "that hurts, Mom!" curler-taking-out tears, but you've always cared for us so lovingly. You let us climb into bed with you when we were scared. You have held our hands when we've needed it most. You've held our babies when we've needed a break. You've dried our tears when there was no one else who could. You've hugged away so much pain and doubt—five children's worth in fact.

You've probably (unfortunately) had to go through So. Much. Stress with holiday planning and vacation magic making and packing and traveling hours upon hours on road trips. But, Mom? You and Dad have given us the best memories of adventures growing up. They were never boring and they were always worth it.

You've heard at least 100 different book ideas from me, let alone all the other ideas you've heard from my siblings, too. You have never doubted that I could write and would write and that's something I will never, could never forget. Every time I shared an idea, you were right there saying—"You better write that down for the book one day!"

You've married off all five of your children. And… okay, okay, you may have "lost it" a little each time (I mean, weddings are emotional), you did so with grace and enthusiasm. You love our partners as if they were your own children and that means the world to us.

So, Mom, I need to say this.

You birthed five babies, then parented us through toddlerhood, taught us through childhood, helped us through teenage life, guided us through college and beyond, and essentially raised five successful, happy adults.

Thank you.

You are really, really impressive.

Oh and—should I go for number four, or just keep it at three? Tell me the truth.

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Summer heat has a way of making the house feel smaller, more congested, with less room for the air to circulate. And there's nothing like the heat to make me want to strip down, cool off and lighten my load. So, motivation in three digits, now that school is back in, it's time to do a purge.

Forget the spring clean—who has time for that? Those last few months of the school year are busier than the first. And summer's warm weather entices our family outdoors on the weekends, which doesn't leave much time for re-organizing.

So, I seize the opportunity when my kids are back in school to enter my zone.

I love throwing open every closet and cupboard door, pulling out anything and everything that doesn't fit our bodies or our lives. Each joyless item purged peels off another oppressive layer of "not me" or "not us."

Stuff can obscure what really makes us feel light, capable and competent.

Stuff can stem the flow of what makes our lives work.

With my kids back in school, I am energized, motivated by the thought that I have the space to be in my head with no interruptions. No refereeing. No snacks. No naps… I am tossing. I am folding. I am stacking. I am organizing. I don't worry about having to stop. The neat-freak in me is having a field day.

Passing bedroom doors, ajar and flashing their naughty bits of chaos at me, it's more than I can handle in terms of temptation. I have to be careful, though, because I can get on a roll. Taking to my kids' rooms I tread carefully, always aware that what I think is junk can actually be their treasure.

But I usually have a good sense for what has been abandoned or invisible in plain sight for the lack of movement or the accumulation of dust. Anything that fits the description gets relegated to a box in the garage where it is on standby—in case its absence is noticed and a meltdown has ensued. Crisis averted. Either way, it's a victory.

Oh, it's quiet. So, so quiet. And I can think it all through…

Do we really need all this stuff?

Will my son really notice if I toss all this stuff?

Will my daughter be heartbroken if I donate all this stuff?

Will I really miss this dress I wore three years ago that barely fit my waist then and had me holding in my tummy all night, and that I for sure cannot zip today?

Can we live without it all? All. This. Stuff?

The fall purge always gets me wondering, where in the world does all this stuff come from? So with the beginning of the school year upon us, I vow to create a new mindset to evaluate everything that enters my home from now on, so that there will be so much less stuff.

I vow to really think about objects before they enter my home…

…to evaluate what is really useful,

...to consider when it would be useful,

...to imagine where it would be useful,

...to remember why it may be useful,

…to decide how to use it in more than one way,

... so that all this stuff won't get in the way of what really matters—time and attention for my kids and our lives as a new year reveals more layers of the real stuff—what my kids are made of.

Bring it on.

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In the moments after we give birth, we desperately want to hear our baby cry. In the middle of the night a few months later it's no longer exactly music to our ears, but those cries aren't just telling us that baby needs a night feeding: They're also giving us a hint at what our children may sound like as kindergarteners, and adults.

New research published in the journal Biology Letters suggests the pitch of a 4-month-old's cry predicts the pitch they'll use to ask for more cookies at age five and maybe even later on as adults.

The study saw 2 to 5-month olds recorded while crying. Five years later, the researchers hit record again and chatted with the now speaking children. Their findings, combined with previous work on the subject, suggest it's possible to figure out what a baby's voice will sound like later in life, and that the pitch of our adult voices may be traceable back to the time we spend in utero. Further studies are needed, but scientists are very interested in how factors before birth can impact decades later.

"In utero, you have a lot of different things that can alter and impact your life — not only as a baby, but also at an adult stage," one of the authors of the study, Nicolas Mathevon, told the New York Times.

The New York Times also spoke with Carolyn Hodges, an assistant professor of anthropology at Boston University who was not involved in the study. According to Hodges, while voice pitch may not seem like a big deal, it impacts how we perceive people in very real ways.

Voice pitch is a factor in how attractive we think people are, how trustworthy. But why we find certain pitches more or less appealing isn't known. "There aren't many studies that address these questions, so that makes this research especially intriguing," Hodges said, adding that it "suggests that individual differences in voice pitch may have their origins very, very early in development."

So the pitch of that midnight cry may have been determined months ago, and it may determine part of your child's future, too. There are still so many things we don't know, but as parents we do know one thing: Our babies cries (as much as we don't want to hear them all the time) really are something special.

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For many years, Serena Williams seemed as perfect as a person could be. But now, Serena is a mom. She's imperfect and she's being honest about that and we're so grateful.

On the cover of TIME, Williams owns her imperfection, and in doing so, she gives mothers around the world permission to be as real as she is being.

"Nothing about me right now is perfect," she told TIME. "But I'm perfectly Serena."

The interview sheds light on Williams' recovery from her traumatic birth experience, and how her mental health has been impacted by the challenges she's faced in going from a medical emergency to new motherhood and back to the tennis court all within one year.

"Some days, I cry. I'm really sad. I've had meltdowns. It's been a really tough 11 months," she said.

It would have been easy for Williams to keep her struggles to herself over the last year. She didn't have to tell the world about her life-threatening birth experience, her decision to stop breastfeeding, her maternal mental health, how she missed her daughter's first steps, or any of it. But she did share these experiences, and in doing so she started incredibly powerful conversations on a national stage.

After Serena lost at Wimbledon this summer, she told the mothers watching around the world that she was playing for them. "And I tried," she said through tears. "I look forward to continuing to be back out here and doing what I do best."

In the TIME cover story, what happened before that match, where Williams lost to Angelique Kerber was revealed. TIME reports that Williams checked her phone about 10 minutes before the match, and learned, via Instagram, that the man convicted of fatally shooting her sister Yetunde Price, in 2003 is out on parole.

"I couldn't shake it out of my mind," Serena says. "It was hard because all I think about is her kids," she says. She was playing for all the mothers out there, but she had a specific mother on her mind during that historic match.

Williams' performance at Wimbledon wasn't perfect, and neither is she, as she clearly states on the cover of time. But motherhood isn't perfect either. It's okay to admit that. Thanks, Serena, for showing us how.

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There are some mornings where I wake up and I'm ready for the day. My alarm goes off and I pop out of bed and hum along as I make breakfast before my son wakes up. But then there are days where I just want 10 more minutes to sleep in. Or breakfast feels impossible to make because all our time has run out. Or I just feel overwhelmed and unprepared.

Those are the mornings I stare at the fridge and think, Can someone else just make breakfast, please?

Enter: make-ahead breakfasts. We spoke to the geniuses at Pinterest and they shared their top 10 pins all around this beautiful, planned-ahead treat. Here they are.

(You're welcome, future self.)

1. Make-ahead breakfast enchiladas

www.pinterest.com

Created by Bellyful

I'd make these for dinner, too.

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