60+ mamas tell us the *one* thing they wish they had known about newborns

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We have nine months to prepare as we watch our belly grow and feel kicks and movements. But somehow, when babies arrive, we can feel totally clueless (at least the first time around) about the little things newborns do. Maybe you've been around enough babies to know what is coming, or maybe you are changing a diaper for the first time in your life and have no idea where the velcro straps go. We've been there.

We asked #TeamMotherly to share what were the things they didn't know about newborns they wished someone had told them, and we received more than 2,000 responses. Here are some of them:

1. "How your birth plan and postpartum might not be the Disney Fairytale that society makes it out to be, and that it's okay to have all the emotions. There will be people who make you feel bad if you express anything other than 100% happiness." —Lindy A.

2. "That the work is endless, and that sometimes it might take a while for your partner to 'get it' and share the load almost equally, but it'll be amazing when she or he does, and it'll be amazing to see them be as close to the baby as you are." — Michali K.

3. "They gag on mucus right after birth and they pause in between breaths, both of which are terrifying. 😩" —Christen A.

4. "The first night home is the worst." —Kentuckysunshine

5. "Take lots and lots of pictures of yourself with the baby! You'll have 100 photos of baby and dad but not with yourself!!" - Kiran Z.

6. "That it is okay to bottle feed. My oldest was intolerant and had to be switched from breastfeeding to expensive formula at 5 weeks old. I felt like somehow I failed even though he cried hours less and finally gained weight."—FredaMae C.

7. "Anxiety! They said to look out for depression but anxiety was never discussed. I was blindsided."—Ann Ross E.

8. "You will think your newborn is adorable and only gets cuter... But when you look back on those candid newborn photos you will see what everyone else saw, a wrinkly pink alien baby 😂" —Farren R.

9. "That it's okay to have an 'easy' baby! Not every baby is super fussy and a bad sleeper! My son was practically sleeping through the night at 3 weeks old and I was freaking out thinking something is wrong because everyone told me to expect sleepless nights, lots of tears and trouble with breastfeeding but that isn't the case for everyone." —Lexi P.

10. "The importance of skin to skin and the golden hour for those lucky enough to keep their babies with them after they're born ❤️" —Laura T.

11. "So so so much laundry! You'll be amazed at how many loads of tiny tiny clothes, blankets, burp cloths, etc you'll wash!"—Valerie C.

12. "I'm telling you, you can't 'spoil' a baby with cuddles. No matter how many people tell you that you will. Cuddle them, they're only small for a short time ❤️❤️" —Zoe L.

13. "That it is okay to restrict the amount of visitors at the hospital and the first few weeks at home. It's okay to be selfish and want that time to spend as a new family and bonding and getting used to the new baby! My husband and I were so overwhelmed with visitors. I was learning to breastfeed, had just been cut open and had a new baby! Those first few days as so special for the new parents!" —Heather S.

14. "That clipping their tiny nails would be a traumatic event."— Shannon A.

15. "All. The. Poop. Like up the back, out the sides, all over the sheets, in the hair kind of poop and how many onesies would be ruined." —Renee N.

16. "Until you get adjusted to your new life, you will probably cry just as much as they do." —Sarah S.

17. "That you're going to look/feel like a zombie the first 12 weeks until you get used to it. 😬" —Elyse C.

18. "They go through so many changes and will likely have a peak fussiness period around 5-7 weeks but just keep going it get better at 8 weeks. ❤️" —Jera L.

19. "'Success' must be redefined to be realistic. Everyday ask yourself two questions: Is the baby alive and well? Are you alive and well? If you can answer yes to both of those questions... BOOM, SUPER SUCCESSFUL PARENTING STREAK ACTIVATED! The dishes in the sink, laundry in the dryer, and general mess will always be there. Stop letting tasks determine your worth, ladies! Crushing it no matter what the backseat of your car looks like or if you've got some pile of wrinkly sheets on a couch somewhere!" —Melissa S.

20. "A lot, but the weird noises they make, and the quivering, the weird skin rashes like cradle cap or baby acne... I spent the first 6 weeks thinking my child was seizing and developing diseases all to find it's all normal newborn stuff." —Autumn G.

21. "Getting to shower IS your 'break'. The sleep while the baby sleep advice is silly, how feeling out of control emotionally is normal. I could go on and on." —Robin L.

22. "I wish someone taught me how to be assertive towards people who criticized me in that first year; I wish someone had told me how to believe in myself and trust my heart and guts as a new mom. I wish someone had told me that I was courageous strong and that no matter what unfolded to always remember that I am good and will always be good enough for her." —Chele Y.

23. "How afraid you are of holding or even touching your tiny human! I would just stare at my son and think what am I supposed to do with this fragile little creature like why was I allowed to take him home from the hospital?" —Sarah P.

24. "How easily and quickly postpartum depression can sneak up on you with your firstborn. I was able to recognize the signs the second time around and my heart is with every Momma that has ever had to go through it .💜" —Lekeitha W.

25. "It's okay to not feel this unconditional love the first time you see them. It takes time for some people. (But it does eventually happen!) I felt very ashamed of these feelings until I started talking to other moms about it." —Daylen H.

26. "It's okay to ask for help! It's normal to be stressed out. And it's not always possible to 'sleep when the baby sleeps.'" —Britanii H.

27. "How truly gassy they are. My little one would wake up crying in pain due to gas troubles. I felt sooo bad for him!" —Ashlee S.

28. "How lonely it can feel staying home with a tiny baby. Friends and family seem to disappear once you are home from the hospital." —Catrina B.

29. "It's normal for their soft spot to pulse." —Shea H.

30. "Just go topless with lots of nipple cream, get your water and Gatorade, some good shows, and be prepared to sit on a comfy chair all day and night!! Once I knew this was normal, life was so much easier than 'waiting' to get up every five minutes." —Lauren F.

31. "The fourth trimester, how much this little person needs all your time, witching hour." —Janice B.

32. "Wearing them is sanity-saving, and they love it (usually)." —Bridget N.

33. "They don't need A LOT OF STUFF! Most of it is waste of money and just a hype." —Caren A.

34. "That your friends and family will express so much excitement before baby but offer no real help after baby arrives. I didn't fully prepare to do it alone, but that's the way it turned out to be. I wish I'd hired a doula for birth and postpartum." —Dusty S.

35. "The people that bring you food and meals and stay for 20 minutes so you can have a decent shower are the best people ever!" —Georgia E.

36. "That the first week is the hardest! Breastfeeding is hard!" —LaTrease N.

37. "That the whole 'newborns nurse eight times a day, every 3 hours' doesn't apply to all newborns, and that you'll have to schedule your life around feedings for a long while." —Michali K.

38. "How much they want to nurse especially when they are building your supply. So many hours. Nipples were so raw. Also how THIRSTY I'd be and unmotivated to cook." —Rachel K.

39. "I didn't know how hard breastfeeding would be, physically and mentally. Those first 6 weeks it's a full-time job if your baby nurses often and it's really draining. Once you're past that hard stage though it's the best thing ever and so worth it." —Shanielea M.

40. "That they lose that 'newborn' look in just a few weeks. If i have another, I'll say no to the constant visitors and really take those first few weeks in because it was over too fast!" —Megan H.

41. "Forget the normal baby shower gifts someone else will cover that. Get the new mom MAID SERVICE, help her prepare crockpot meals, or even stop by and help do laundry. The daily chores is what I struggled with most in those early months." —Lauren C.

42. "You don't have to enjoy every moment. It's hard!" —Emily G.

43. "How to change your newborn son without getting peed on. After a few weeks in a friend was over and she showed me. I was so thankful!!" —Natalie W.

44. "How helpful the swaddle is! Once we used it correctly sleeping happened way more often." —Rebecca C.

45. "Not necessarily about newborns, but how totally amazing your mommy instinct is once it kicks in. Cant explain it but you'll feel it in your gut when something is wrong and sometimes it will help guide the tough parenting choices. Trust it!" —Jessica H.

46. "They grow up so quickly, and you'll miss the newborn phase. They did tell me, I didn't listen!" —Sarah L.

47."How much of your day is taken up by winding the baby! Used to take so long to get a burp!"— Indy C.

48. "They're a lot easier than toddlers." —Rachel H.

49. "I wish I knew more about safety measure for newborns. I found today that I used to do a few things in a wrong manner. Some mistakes could have been deadly. Thank God my kids are safe and healthy 🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼" —Majida A.

50. "How much of your time is consumed by one little person." —Tosha G.

51. "The witching hour! That period of a few hours every night when they'll most likely want to nurse/eat all the time and just generally be inconsolable. We didn't learn about that until a few weeks into parenthood. 😅" —Tara Q.

52. "That literally everybody around you, from your family and friends, is giving you non requested advices on how to breastfeed, what you should be eating, how to hold or not hold the baby and how to make him sleep. But that at the end of the day the baby is yours and you know him better than anybody else, so just do as you feel like!" — Elisa B.

53. "It's pretty hard to break them! I was so nervous with our baby when she was first born, but they aren't as fragile as they seem and there was no reason to be SO paranoid!" —Dominique M.

54. "Babies can get acid reflux, making sleep very difficult and almost non-existent for baby and parents!" —Alyssa G.

55. "Don't [be mad at] your partner for not doing it your way (albeit the correct, highly-researched way 🤣) by kid #3 you won't care that they mismatched the outfits or gave your kid mashed peas for three meals in a row." — Alexis M.

56. "Yes, they sleep a lot, but it's not always at night. And for some babies, it's never, ever, ever anywhere but someone's arms. I never realized how much time I would spend just holding a sleeping baby and sitting." —Jillian E.

57. "That newborns and babies cry and scream for no apparent reason and it will feel like someone is flushing your intestines out and cutting your heart up with a scalpel and everyone just gives you 'that's The way the cookie crumbles with a baby', but no one tells you how much it hurts your new mothers heart... 😓" —Anita H.

58. "Take turns with your SO (if available/an option) at night so you can get rest. Even if you breastfeed, have your SO burp, change the diaper, and put baby back to bed so you can get more rest." —Jenna S.

59. "You'll be SO tired and yet your heart will be so so full." —Jenna S.

60. "How loud they are when they sleep!" —Mallory D.

61. "They normally don't want to sleep in a bassinet or crib! They want to be snuggled 💜" —Olive M.

62. "That it's okay if you don't bond with your baby immediately. It doesn't mean you are a terrible mother or that you don't love your baby. Some things take time. We had a traumatic delivery and it took me a couple of hours to really fall in love and I know friends where it's taken much longer but it wasn't for want of trying. We now all love our babies fiercely but it took time for some of us. ❤️" —Marissa J.

63. "How noisy they are! The grunting, snuffling, heavy breathing, crying and how their breathing is not regular just to scare the heck out of you at 2am when they decide to hold their breath. 😳" —Vicky B.

64. "The growth spurts, sleep regressions... currently six weeks and she didn't sleep at all last night! And how much coffee I would drink in a day." —Angela H.

65. "They are very in tune with your lifestyle even starting in the womb!" —Niccole A.

66. "That everything is always an experiment! I can't tell you how many things I ordered at 3am to try them out to see what worked best for our baby. Also, that you will need Amazon Prime because you're not leaving the house as quickly as you used to before." —Emily P.

67. "Never understood 'I love you so much it hurts' until I had my babies. It's a love that can't be explained but with that love is a worry I will never worry for anything or anyone the way i worry about my kids. You hear people say all this but you have to have kids to truly feel it." —Amanda M.

68. "Just that it's over way too quickly, so cherish every moment even the stressful ones because they will soon be in school before you know it and then that's it, it's gone... my baby is now an adult and I would love to be able to do it all again." —Ceriann F.

69. "That the newborn phase goes way too fast. 🥰" —Rachel

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Things We're Loving

It was a historical moment for the world and a scary moment for a woman who had just become a mother for the first time. When the Duchess of Cambridge stepped out of the Lindo Wing at St. Mary's Hospital on July 22, 2013, with her new baby in her arms she was happy—but understandably scared, too.

Kate Middleton recently appeared on Giovanna Fletcher's Happy Mum, Happy Baby podcast and when Fletcher asked her about her postpartum debut Kate said she felt a little freaked out when she stepped out with her newborn.

"Yeah, slightly terrifying, slightly terrifying, I'm not going to lie," Kate said.

During the podcast the Duchess opened up about her pregnancy and birth experiences, explaining how much hypnobirthing helped her and that she didn't know whether she was delivering a prince or princess until Prince George was born as she'd opted to be surprised.

She was surprised and thrilled when she met her son, and looked forward to post-pregnancy life after spending her pregnancy quite ill with hyperemesis gravidarum (a seriously debilitating form of extreme morning sickness). She was happy, but was also (very understandably) overwhelmed. In addition to all the pressure new moms feel, Kate had an army of photographers waiting outside the hospital for her.

"Everything goes in a bit of a blur. I think, yeah I did stay in hospital overnight, I remember it was one of the hottest days and night with huge thunderstorms so I didn't get a huge amount of sleep, but George did, which was really great," she explained. "I was keen to get home because, for me, being in hospital, I had all the memories of being in hospital because of being sick [with acute morning sickness] so it wasn't a place I wanted to hang around in. So, I was really desperate to get home and get back to normality."

Kate wanted to get home, but she also did want to share her baby boy with the public who had been so supportive of her young family, she explains.

"Everyone had been so supportive and both William and I were really conscious that this was something that everyone was excited about and you know we're hugely grateful for the support that the public had shown us, and actually for us to be able to share that joy and appreciation with the public, I felt was really important," she shared, adding that "Equally it was coupled with a newborn baby, and inexperienced parents, and the uncertainty of what that held, so there were all sorts of mixed emotions."

"All sorts of mixed emotions."

The now-iconic images of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge exiting the hospital with their firstborn have gone down in history, but so has Kate's bravery that day.

There's been a lot written about whether those pictures put pressure on other moms who might not feel ready for heels and blowouts right after giving birth, but one thing critics of the photos often miss is the positive impact it had on other young women.

Yes, Kate looked beautiful, but she also looked like a woman whose body had just given birth—and the iconic images of her in that polka-dot dress taught a generation of women that the female body isn't an elastic band and that recovering from birth takes time.

"I, myself remember being really surprised when Kate Middleton came out of the hospital holding Prince George," Tina, now a mom herself and a model of postpartum realness in Mothercare's "Body Proud Mums campaign" explained last year.

Tina recalls how Kate's postpartum appearance showed her a reality society hadn't: "She had the baby bump, and I remember being surprised that your belly doesn't just go down after giving birth. I also thought how stupid I was to have ever thought it would. I guess pre-children you just have unrealistic expectations."

Tina wasn't stupid, she just hadn't been shown the truth.

So thank you, Kate, for stepping out of that hospital in 2013, despite being terrified, and showing the world your beautiful baby and your bump.


News

Despite the encouraging growth of free or subsidized preschools in some American cities, the fact remains that preschool and daycare cost about as much as rent in many areas.

But there's some good news, which is that parents who pay for preschool or daycare while they're at work may qualify for a credit that can help you save money on taxes this year. Here's what all parents should know before filing their returns.

Is preschool tuition tax-deductible?

The sum of your child's entire preschool tuition is not tax deductible, but you may be able to get something better than a deduction: a credit called the Child and Dependent Care Credit, worth up to $1,050 for one child and up to $2,100 for two or more kids.

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How do I know if I'm eligible for the Child Dependent Care Tax Credit?

There are a few criteria to be eligible for the Child and Dependent Care Credit:

  • If you have someone take care of your child so you can work or look for work
  • Your child is under the age of 13 at the end of the tax year (no age limit if they are disabled)
  • You must be able to claim your child as a dependent
  • Your filing status must be single, head of household, qualifying widow or widower with a qualifying child, or married filing jointly.

Does preschool tuition count as dependent care?

Yes, it does count if you are paying someone to take care of your child so you can work or look for work. Day camps, such as summer camps and sports camps, count as well, but overnight camps don't.

How much could I potentially get back on taxes for preschool tuition?

If you are able to claim the Child and Dependent Care Credit, you may be able to claim up to $1,050 for one child and up to $2,100 for two or more children.

The great thing about credits is they are a dollar for dollar reduction of your taxes. So if you owe taxes of $1,050 and have one child, you may qualify for a credit of up to $1,050 and wipe out the taxes you owe.

The credit is based on a sliding scale: Depending on your income, your credit is 20%-35% of your childcare expenses up to $3,000 (or $1,050), and 20%-35% of childcare expenses up to $6,000 (or $2,100) for two or more kids.

The bottom line: While this tax credit is unlikely to completely cover your child's preschool tuition for the year, don't miss out on this tax credit if you're paying for preschool or daycare for your child so that you can work. And remember to check your eligibility for other tax credits and deductions for families, including the Child Tax Credit and the Earned Income Credit.
Work + Money

Celestial baby names are flying high right now, and the brightest star of them all? Well, it's actually Luna, the name of the Roman goddess of the moon, and the Latin word for "moon."

At #23 in the US in 2019, Luna's rise has been, well, astronomical ever since it re-entered the Top 1000 in 2003, for the first time in almost a century. That was the year that Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was first published, featuring the kooky but courageous Luna Lovegood.

The once-unique baby name has since been picked up by stylish celebrity parents such as Penelope Cruz, Uma Thurman and John Legend, and now ranks in the Top 100 in at least 18 other countries, including Australia, Chile, Denmark, France, Italy, Norway and Slovenia.

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But if Luna's meteoric rise to the top of the baby name popularity charts puts you off, here are 100 more magical, moon-inspired baby names to consider.

Baby names that mean moon

Girls' names that mean "moon" include a multitude of attractive Turkish names containing the element ay, meaning (you guessed it!) "moon." These range from rising international star Ayla to popular picks like Miray, Belinay and Aysima, which are all in the current Turkish Top 50 for girls.

Boy names that mean "moon" include dozens of dynamic Japanese names like Michika, Reito and Tsukio, which can all be formed from different kanji combinations to give various moon-related meanings.

Moon-inspired girl names

  1. Aruna: This pretty Japanese name, which can mean "moon love" (depending on the kanji characters used), is a perfect underused alternative to popular A-sandwich choices like Aria and Aurora.
  2. Esmeray: A beautiful Turkish name with the evocative meaning of "dark moon", which might appeal to lovers of rapid riser Esme.
  3. Lusine: Also spelled Lucine or Lusineh, this sophisticated Armenian choice could make for an unexpected route to Lucy or Lou.
  4. Mahina: A moon goddess in Hawaiian mythology, whose attractive name literally means "moon" in the Hawaiian language.
  5. Sasithorn: This poetic word for the moon is also used as a name in its native Thailand, pronounced "sah-see-TAWN". Sweet short form Sasi also means "moon".

And here are a few more of our favorite lunar names for girls from around the globe:

  1. Adzumi
  2. Aysel
  3. Channary
  4. Hala
  5. Indu
  6. Livana
  7. Lua
  8. Mahrukh
  9. Miray
  10. Neoma
  11. Orana
  12. Quilla
  13. Runa
  14. Saran
  15. Sihana
  16. Tsuki
  17. Vinterny
  18. Volana
  19. Zira
  20. Zulay

Moon-inspired boy names

  1. Ainar: This strong-sounding Kazakh name is actually unisex, meaning "male moon", "fire moon" or "pomegranate moon" (what a great image!).
  2. Isildur: A literary lunar name from J.R.R. Tolkien's legendarium, in which it belongs to a heroic king.
  3. Jerah: A rare Biblical boys' name with a contemporary sound, which could make for a great underused alternative to the likes of Noah and Jeremiah.
  4. Mani: Properly spelled Máni, this energetic mini name belongs to the personification of the moon in Norse mythology.
  5. Vikesh: A strong and striking Hindu name which is fairly common in India, but virtually unknown elsewhere.

And here's a selection of other great moon names for boys from around the globe:

  1. Asaki
  2. Aydemir
  3. Badar
  4. Chanchai
  5. Dal
  6. Ehaan
  7. Hilal
  8. Iyar
  9. Kamer
  10. Koray
  11. Luan
  12. Mahan
  13. Maziar
  14. Naito
  15. Nantu
  16. Qamar
  17. Rakesh
  18. Rua
  19. Zoro
  20. Zunair

Galactic moon names

We recently reported on the rise of planetary baby names, as well as of mythological names relating to the heavens, like Apollo and Zephyr: Greek gods of the sun and the west wind, respectively.

But how about the names of other moons? There are some stellar options out there, mostly drawn from myth, legend and literature—right on trend, but rarely used.

Galactic moon-inspired girl names

  1. Amalthea: A moon of Jupiter, named for the goat (or goat-keeper) who raised the infant Zeus. It would make a lovely longer form for the fashionable mini-name Thea.
  2. Calypso: A fun-filled name with a lively rhythm and musical links to the West Indies. Callie and Cleo could make for great nicknames.
  3. Leda: The name of the beautiful mother of Helen of Troy in Greek mythology is surprisingly underused, despite its simple, international appeal: it was given to just 17 baby girls in 2018.
  4. Thebe: Far rarer than Phoebe, but with the same light and simple sound, Thebe is another moon of Jupiter.
  5. Skathi: This tiny moon of Saturn is named for Skaði, the Norse goddess of winter and archery.

And here are a few more appealing faraway moon names for girls:

  1. Anthe
  2. Belinda
  3. Bianca
  4. Carme
  5. Cressida
  6. Despina
  7. Elara
  8. Galatea
  9. Helene
  10. Io
  11. Larissa
  12. Mab
  13. Miranda
  14. Ophelia
  15. Pandora
  16. Perdita
  17. Rhea
  18. Rosalind
  19. Thalassa
  20. Titania

Galactic moon-inspired boy names

  1. Ariel: This handsome Hebrew name may have become far more popular for girls in the US, thanks to a certain Little Mermaid, but it's a truly unisex choice in Israel: #4 for boys and #23 for girls in the last year on record (2016).
  2. Fenrir: The name of a monstrous wolf in Norse mythology, and of an evil werewolf in the Harry Potter books—but if Wolf itself can catch on…
  3. Hyperion: One of the Titans in Greek mythology, Hyperion lends his majestic name to another of Saturn's moons.
  4. Narvi: Also spelled Narfi, this quirky Norse mythology name belongs to the father of Nótt, the personification of the night.
  5. Umbriel: A moon of Uranus, named (along with Ariel and Belinda) for a character from Alexander Pope's The Rape of the Lock. The name was probably inspired by Latin umbra "shadow."

And here are more magical moon names for boys from myth and legend:

  1. Aegir
  2. Atlas
  3. Caliban
  4. Ferdinand
  5. Francisco
  6. Janus
  7. Loge
  8. Neso
  9. Nix
  10. Oberon
  11. Pan
  12. Prospero
  13. Proteus
  14. Puck
  15. Sao
  16. Stephano
  17. Surtur
  18. Titan
  19. Trinculo
  20. Ymir

This post by Emma Waterhouse was first published on Nameberry

Learn + Play

My son is terrified that he might win his school's reading contest. If he does, he'll be invited, with the other winners, to attend a special lunch at a local Chinese food restaurant. My son loves books. He hates Chinese food. In fact, he hates pretty much any food that isn't chicken fingers, french fries, ketchup, bagels and cream cheese, or cereal. Occasionally he'll eat a jam sandwich but only if the jam isn't homemade. He'll eat apples, but only Red Delicious. And carrots. Raw.

I know what you're thinking. I let our child dictate the menu for the entire household based on his sugary and basic likes. Except I don't. I just have a very picky eater.

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His fussiness over food has been something I've struggled with. I devoured articles on picky eaters and followed their advice to the letter. Did you know that if you present picky eaters with a certain food an average of 17 times they will finally try it because it seems "familiar"? Except he didn't.

I tried sneaking "good" food into what he would eat. Bran muffins harbored shredded zucchini. Pizza sauce hid pureed carrots. Chocolate cake was made moist with pumpkin. I felt like a cheater. And still, it didn't work. This kid has olfactory skills that would shame drug-sniffing dogs – assuming the drugs smelled like broccoli.

I model good eating. A plate loaded with organic veggies aside whole-wheat pasta, for example. Homemade bread teeming with hemp seed. Even my "bad" food is good—biodynamic wine and homemade tortilla chips.

Nope. He had none of it.

I felt inferior to friends whose toddlers nibbled shrimp or requested sushi with an adorable lisp. I envied their breezy sophistication. Their worldly and open-minded kids. I feared a life that precluded ever taking my son to a restaurant that didn't offer a kids' menu. I imagined the future people who would never date him, joking with their friends about his love of "nuggets." I imagined the jobs he wouldn't get because the executives, over lunch, would conclude he couldn't think outside the box, given that his food was served in one.

But most of all, I worried about what my son's narrow appetite said about me.

I was pedestrian. Parochial. Predictable. Picky.

It's with that realization that I was able to abandon my mission to convince, cajole, bribe, trick or otherwise coerce my child into eating food he refuses.

I ate pizza for the first time on my 19th birthday. Tried lasagna in my second year of college. And finally indulged in spaghetti and meatballs when, at 23, I was poor, studying in France and ordered the cheapest—and most recognizable—thing on the menu. I was 25 before I tried any type of ethnic food. Twenty-eight before I ate lobster. I still don't eat ketchup. Or mayonnaise. Or mustard. I'm not just anti-condiment. I also won't touch fish with their eyes intact. Liver. Tongue. The list goes on and on.

My own childhood menu consisted of bologna sandwiches (white bread, thank you very much). Saltines. Boiled potatoes. I ate hamburgers, plain. Chicken (white meat only) with no skin or sauce, broiled. Iceberg lettuce and carrots. Occasionally I would eat an apple. My brother refuses to accept I've ever been a child since I didn't eat peanut butter, "the official food of childhood," he points out.

What changed? Well, I grew up. Moved away from home. Spent time in another country renowned for its food. On my own, I began to experiment. To try, just a nibble. With no one taking inventory of what went into my mouth, I felt freer to explore and draw my own conclusions.

I'm beginning to believe my son will follow a similar path. Just the other day he tried red pepper. "Yuck," he said.

Will he someday meet me for sushi? I doubt it.

But I don't like sushi anyway.

Life
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