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I brought my third daughter home from the hospital three weeks ago. And just as my heart proved its insane and wonderful ability to expand when I had my second daughter, my heart proved its power again—it is currently full of what feels like all the love in the world.


As mothers our hearts are fragile, yet strong.

They're open and exposed.

They're full and fierce.

I am a sensitive person and I have always felt things very deeply. But as a mama, the feelings I have for and about my children are deeper and more raw than anything I've ever felt before.

Parenting and protecting these little ones can often leave me feeling overwhelmed.

I'm overwhelmed with love.

I'm overwhelmed with worry.

I'm overwhelmed with joy.

I'm overwhelmed with fear.

I'm overwhelmed with awe.

I want to hold on to every single minute of motherhood. But at the same time, I want to move past the scary, boring and lonely ones.

These feelings come from the deepest love imaginable, yet can sometimes make me feel like I'm going crazy.

I can go from wanting to pull my hair out with frustration and exhaustion at bedtime, to wanting to wake my kids up because they're so cute and I miss them while they sleep.

I can go from forcing myself to calm down and take deep breaths after I ask my daughter to put her shoes on for the fifth time, to melting into a pile of mush five seconds later while listening to her tell her little sister she's “so cute” and that she loves her.

I can go from crying because it's been a hard day and no one's listening and I don't know how I'm going to make it to the end of the day, to hugging and kissing on my kids because they worked together to color me a beautiful rainbow picture.

These feelings are nonsensical.

Irrational.

Up and down.

All over the place.

And totally perfect.

Perfect because they're real and they're the truth of motherhood.

So to the mother who feels like she can't make sense of this wide range of wild feelings, I want you to know—I'm that mama, too.

To every mother who wants to bottle up the smell of your newborn to keep and sniff whenever you want because you cry thinking about the day that'll go away—I'm that mama, too.

To every mother who wants to sit and stare at your new baby's face for hours and hours and not fold laundry or wash dishes, because you can't believe you made this gorgeous human—I'm that mama, too.

To every mother who is exhausted at their 3 a.m. nursing wake up call but so, so, so happy—I'm that mama, too.

To every mother whose heart basically has palpitations when you watch your partner hold your child, swaddle them and change their diaper—I'm that mama, too.

To every mother who feels like she might explode with excitement while watching her child take their first steps (while sweating because trying to catch it on video is very stressful)—I'm that mama, too.

To every mother who wants to jump and scream and clap with pride and joy when they see their child kick a soccer ball at their first practice—I’m that mama, too.

To every mother who wants to give herself a hug when she checks on her sleeping children post-bedtime because today was a tough-as-nails day and now in the still of the dark night, she wonders if she was enough, did enough—I'm that mama, too.

To every mother who wants to squeeze her babies tight when they do something amazing like use manners in public or introduce themselves to a new friend without prompting—because they actually are listening to some of the things we say—I'm that mama, too.

To every mother who doesn't want those toddler curls to ever disappear or be chopped away, who never wants to forget watching the I-just-learned-how-to-run bounce/run/waddle, who wants to tuck that toddler giggle in her pocket forever—I'm that mama, too.

To every mother who leaves a parent teacher conference beaming with pride, wanting to do cartwheels to the car because her child is “kind and helpful and confident”—I'm that mama, too.

To every mother who wants to freeze time and keep her babies small forever—I'm that mama, too.

When you have a child, your heart cracks wide open.

So when you wonder if your heart can take any more, feel any more, hold any more love—know that your wide open heart can handle and hold more than you give it credit for.

It's all part of the magic of motherhood.

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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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