A modern lifestyle brand redefining motherhood

Let me be honest: I don’t buy much into gender stereotypes.

Beyond the reality that my two sons have male parts and testosterone coursing through their veins, I try not to read too much into their sex. One of my boys loves quietly reading books and coloring pictures. The other loves screaming, running and punching things. They’re both mine, born 18 months apart. Both completely unique individuals. As far as I’m concerned, they’re both ‘all boy.’

So when I call myself a boy mom, I’m not so much talking about the gendered toys or stereotypes—no, it’s not that at all.

What I wasn’t prepared for in my new identity as a boy mom was how having sons would connect me with men in a whole new way.

That’s the thing about becoming a parent—it truly transforms how you see the world.

Growing up as a girl, I always saw boys as “the other.” The feminist in me read stories about male privilege and the glass ceiling, and saw men as part of the problem. As a female, I saw men in some ways as antagonistic—keeping women out of power, leadership and even sacred spaces. I knew men, but I never identified with boys and men.

Until I became a mom.

Just like those men who say that becoming a father changed how they saw (or objectified) women, I, too, have felt my view on the male species change because of the gifts of my sons.

I first realized how motherhood had changed me when watching a news story about a police officer who had been shot and killed while on patrol. The local news station interviewed his mother, as they often do, in a brief soundbite about her son. After sacrificing his life in the line of duty, his mom spoke 8 seconds on the air—an almost insultingly short slice of his precious life.

In the past, I would have watched the report and thought, “Oh wow, that’s so sad,” and swiftly moved on. But that night—with my 9-month-old firstborn son sleeping in the bedroom next door—a deep, gut-level emotion washed over me. Tears filled in my eyes. A lump swelled in my throat. That poor man. That poor mother. That police officer was her baby.

That police officer was her baby.

I was equally surprised to discover the sweet affection I suddenly felt towards awkward, pre-teen boys. Full of acne and hormones, awkwardness and aspiration, I recently watched these unsure teens meander their way through our town and felt a powerful maternal instinct. In only a handful of years, my baby will be one of these creatures: a sweaty, crush-obsessed, boy-turning-into-a-man. I can’t help but look at these 14-year-old boys and smile. They are somebody’s baby.

Those teenage boys are somebody’s baby.

I saw an old man in the coffee shop last week. His hands shook as he fumbled to bring his coffee cup to his lips. He kept to himself, aiming to maintain as much independence as he could muster with his cane by his side to guide his gait. His mother is most likely not here anymore. But he had a mother. And she loved him fiercely. And now he has to go through life without her. Until the end of her days, he was her baby.

That old man was somebody’s baby.

My husband is a wonderful man and father. But becoming a parent has taught me that good men don’t just show up fully formed—they are molded and pushed and nurtured in hundreds of thousands of small and large ways. He’s a wonderful husband now, but he’ll always be his mother’s baby. And I am so grateful for the good man she raised.

My husband will always be her baby.

Some day, my boys won’t have their sweet little voices and soft little bodies. They’ll be large and limb-y, too busy for me and in a rush to meet up with their friends and maybe, to meet girls. Thinking of their angel faces with facial hair makes me laugh—and cry.

My boys will always be my babies.

But my little boys will some day—sooner than it might seem—become men. Big, strong men with responsibility and expectations. With people looking up to them, and burdens weighing them down. With cultural notions of masculinity to accept or reject. With the opportunity to be tender or heroic. With their own conceptions of what it means to be a “good man.”

And the world desperately needs more good men.

It’s an honor to help guide, raise, anchor and launch my little men along the way.

But no matter how big my sons get, they’ll always fit perfectly inside my heart.

Those men will always be those mothers’ sweet sons.

And I will always feel a warmth and depth of connection with men around the world, because of these darling boys of mine.

And they will always be my babies.

Who said motherhood doesn't come with a manual?

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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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