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My son wasn't invited to the birthday party—so here's what I did

I thought of all the times that I'd felt left out. I could still feel that hollowness settling in my stomach and that heaviness pressing against my chest when I'd find out that friends were doing something I wasn't a part of.

My son wasn't invited to the birthday party—so here's what I did

My little guy stood with his nose pressed against the window in our dining room. I could see the breath marks on the glass appear and reappear as he breathed. Usually, I would have chastised him for getting the glass dirty but that day I just felt sorry for him.

There was a bounce house in the backyard next door and we could both hear the hum of the fan mixed with children's laughter. He gazed out our back window with a pout on his face.

I went through my cabinet of goodies and pulled out Play-Doh, puzzles, board games, anything that could steer his attention from the neighbor's backyard. They were throwing a birthday party for their child and my son wasn't invited.

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"Why don't we build an airport out of Legos?" I said, trying to sound excited.

He huffed and looked at me, "Why wasn't I invited to the birthday party?" He furrowed his brow, dropped his chin, and I heard his voice tremble a little on "party."

I took his hand and guided him to the couch. It was the place where we have all of our discussions. He grabbed one of his diecast airplanes and twirled it around in his hands avoiding eye contact with me.

"I know you're upset that you're not invited to the neighbor's birthday party," I started.

He nodded, confirming my statement.

"But," I stopped trying to protect him with the exact right words, "there are going to be parties and playdates in your life that you will not be invited to."

He slumped over after hearing my harsh words. I messed up. I had always tried to be direct with him but this time, I realized, I was being too direct.

"But what we can do," I continued, "is get in the car and go to that park across town that has the spaceship. We can do something else that's fun." His eyes brightened and he ran to grab his shoes and sweatshirt.

On the way to the park, I thought of all the times that I'd felt left out. I could still feel that hollowness settling in my stomach and that heaviness pressing against my chest when I'd find out that friends were doing something I wasn't a part of. I was on a mission to include everyone in any celebration that my family hosted.

I made sure to send a birthday invite for my son's fifth birthday via email a month in advance. I knew summer was a time for travel and kids were having birthday parties almost every weekend. I was just as excited for my son to spend his special day with his friends as I was to host their parents, as many had become friends of mine.

I received a staggering influx of responses but one really stood out. One of the moms, who was also a friend, replied that she couldn't come because she and a couple of other moms I knew were taking a road trip.

I felt that old, familiar agony in my chest as my stomach dropped. I reread the reply three times and became fixated on it. For a moment, I forgot about all the enthusiastic "yes" replies that I'd just received. My world was reduced to this one "no."

I walked away from my computer, retreated into the backyard, and started to aggressively pull weeds from my garden. The birds were chirping and the sun was out but none of that mattered because it felt like there was a gray cloud over my head.

As I clenched each weed, my mind went round and round trying to figure out why I wasn't invited on the road trip. Was I annoying? Was I a bad friend? Did they even like me? What was it about me that they didn't want on their road trip?

When my husband came home, we discussed the situation. He listened intently and honored my feelings but as the conversation continued, my oldest son entered the room in his Paw Patrol pajamas clutching his baby blue blankie.

"What's wrong?" he inquired.

"Nothing," I responded defensively. "I mean, I'm fine."

He looked at me with a quizzical expression to let me know that I'm a terrible liar.

"I guess," I started. "My friends are doing something together and I wasn't invited."

My son started to smile like he knew the answer and screamed out, "Mom! Who cares? We'll have our own fun."

It took everything in me to not stomp my right foot, clench my fists and tell him that it wasn't fair. But then, I thought of how silly it was to feel insecure and anxious about something that didn't matter in the long run. Let them have their girls trip, I thought. I had a fun birthday party to plan for a wonderful boy.

"You're right," I replied. "We'll have our own fun."

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My first baby and I were alone in our Brooklyn apartment during a particularly cold spring with yet another day of no plans. My husband was back at work after a mere three weeks of parental leave (what a joke!) and all my friends were busy with their childless lives—which kept them too busy to stop by or check in (making me, at times, feel jealous).

It was another day in which I would wait for baby to fall asleep for nap number one so I could shower and get ready to attempt to get out of the house together to do something, anything really, so I wouldn't feel the walls of the apartment close in on me by the time the second nap rolled around. I would pack all the diapers and toys and pacifiers and pump and bottles into a ginormous stroller that was already too heavy to push without a baby in it .

Then I would spend so much time figuring out where we could go with said stroller, because I wanted to avoid places with steps or narrow doors (I couldn't lift the stroller by myself and I was too embarrassed to ask strangers for help—also hi, New Yorkers, please help new moms when you see them huffing and puffing up the subway stairs, okay?). Then I would obsess about the weather, was it too cold to bring the baby out? And by the time I thought I had our adventure planned, the baby would wake up, I would still be in my PJs and it was time to pump yet again.

Slowly, but surely, and mostly thanks to sleep deprivation and isolation, I began to detest this whole new mom life. I've always been a social butterfly. I moved to New York because I craved that non-stop energy the city has and in the years before having my baby I amassed new friends I made through my daily adventures. I would never stop. I would walk everywhere just to take in the scenery and was always on the move.

Now I had this ball and chain attached to me, I thought, that didn't even allow me to make it out of the door to walk the dog. This sucks, I would think regularly, followed by maybe I'm not meant to be a mom after all.


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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

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The American Academy of Pediatrics says that newborns, especially, do not need a bath every day. While parents should make sure the diaper region of a baby is clean, until a baby learns how to crawl around and truly get messy, a daily bath is unnecessary.

So, why do we feel like kids should bathe every day?

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