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This isn't my first baby—but I still need your support more than ever

The truth is, no matter how old my children are, no matter how independent the big ones get, no matter how "put together" I may appear, I humbly share that I am not always managing this very well all on my own. Please know I still need you.

This isn't my first baby—but I still need your support more than ever

"Please know I still need you." Sometimes I whisper these six words under my breath after you've walked away or after we hang up from a phone call.

There are nights where I cry myself to sleep holding these feelings in, and there are early mornings where I start my day feeling stressed the second my eyes open, and am simply thinking it. And sadly, there are other times I feel so alone and helpless and expect you to read my mind and know I need your help.

Please know I still need you.

Yes, I'm a seasoned mom—I have four children. I am pretty sure I could change diapers with my eyes closed at this point. I have (fortunately and unfortunately) become the most progressive and talented multitasker around. There are moments when I'm cooking dinner, responding to a work email, quizzing a kiddo on their times tables, getting another one off their time out, taking my turn in Candyland, and nursing a baby at the very same time.

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It's a lot.

Do I deserve a pat on the back? No. I'm just doing what I need to be doing to survive and to ensure that everything that needs to get done, well... gets done.

All I want you to realize is that I still need you. I need my people, my friends, my fellow moms, my village.

With my first few babies, I think I was too proud to accept help. I put pressure on myself to think that since these were MY children that this was MY job and MY sole responsibility. So maybe that's why I felt I should have declined your offer to hold the baby while I napped? Why was I so foolish to think I couldn't have used—moreso even deserved—just 30 minutes to rest?

What I wouldn't give for you to offer your help now—with dinner or dishes or watching the kids for one hour while I slipped out to get groceries alone. What I wouldn't give for just One. More. Offer.

Please know I still need you.

Moms are superheroes no matter how many children we are taking care of. C-section or vaginal delivery, breastfed or bottle fed, married or single—we all are simply doing our best We go down in flames every single day trying to meet the high standards of the "Superhero Mom" cape that has been bestowed on us.

But the truth is, no matter how old my children are, no matter how independent the big ones get, no matter how "put together" I may appear, I humbly share that I am not always managing this very well all on my own.

Please know I still need you.

There are some days that it's all I can do to get everyone to bedtime, days where I feel like I'm drowning, days where I want to take the cape off—without guilt—and hand it over to you for a short while.

The tiny nap.

The hour grocery shopping trip.

And yes, even selfishly a few hours out with my partner or girlfriends to regroup and remember who I am, before I was given this title of mom.

I need that. I need you. I desperately want to be given a short window of time so that I am able to miss my babies and wake up or come back to them refreshed.

Please know I still need you.

As I'm about to bring my fifth baby into this world (and I'll be doing it as a single parent this time), I have let the majority of this pregnancy be coupled with frustration and fear. I have felt incredibly alone throughout the busy days of meeting the needs of four young children and running a business and feeling the constant, increasing weight of the world upon my shoulders.

I force myself to take deep breaths in and foresee a loving village around me that will be there. I am going to graciously accept help from my friends who have already offered to be an extra set of hands to snuggle the baby when I need to run out or to have my older kids over for a playdate when they need to release some pent-up energy.

I want to be enough for my children. I also want to have enough left over to sustain myself. I want to be able to do it all and do it flawlessly, but the truth is... I can't.

It's been said that behind every successful woman is a group of other successful women who have her back. But the truth is, behind every happy and thriving child is a village of family members, friends, neighbors, teachers, and coaches who are supporting and molding and helping even in the smallest of ways.

Yes, I believe with every fiber in my body that it takes a v i l l a g e.

Please know I still need you.

Because I do. I really do.

This is how we’re defining success this school year

Hint: It's not related to grades.

In the ever-moving lives of parents and children, opportunities to slow down and reflect on priorities can be hard to come by. But a new school year scheduled to begin in the midst of a global pandemic offers the chance to reflect on how we should all think about measures of success. For both parents and kids, that may mean putting a fresh emphasis on optimism, creativity and curiosity.

Throughout recent decades, "school success" became entangled with "academic achievement," with cases of anxiety among school children dramatically increasing in the past few generations. Then, almost overnight, the American school system was turned on its head in the spring of 2020. As we look ahead to a new school year that will look like no year past, more is being asked of teachers, students and parents, such as acclimating to distance learning, collaborating with peers from afar and aiming to maintain consistency with schooling amidst general instability due to COVID.

Despite the inherent challenges, there is also an overdue opportunity to redefine success during the school year by finding fresh ways to keep students and their parents involved in the learning process.

"I always encourage my son to try at least one difficult thing every school year," says Arushi Garg, parenting blogger and mom of a 4-year-old. "This challenges him but also allows me to remind him to be optimistic! Lots of things in life are hard, and it's important we learn to be positive during difficult times. Fostering a sense of optimism allows kids to push beyond what they thought possible, like biking without training wheels or reading above their grade level."

Here are a few mantras to keep in mind this school year:

Quality learning matters more than quantifying learning

After focusing on standardized measures of academic success for so long, the learning environment this next school year may involve more independent, remote learning. Some parents are considering this an exciting opportunity for their children to assume a bigger role in what they are learning—and parents are also getting on board by supporting their children's education with engaging, positive learning materials like Highlights Magazine.

As a working mom, Garg also appreciates that Highlights Magazine can help engage her son while she's also working. She says, "He sits next to me and solves puzzles in the magazine or practices his writing from the workbook."

Keep an open mind as "school" looks different

Whether children are of preschool age or in the midst of high school, "going to school" is bound to look different this year. Naturally, this may require some adjustment as kids become accustomed to new guidelines. Although many parents may wish to shelter our kids from challenges, others believe optimism can be fostered through adversity when everyone is committed to adapting to new experiences.

"Honestly, I am yet to figure out when I will be comfortable sending [my son] back [to school]," says Garg. In the meantime, she's helping her son remain connected with friends who also read Highlights Magazine by encouraging the kids to talk about what they are learning on video calls.

Follow children's cues about what interests them

For Garg, her biggest hope for this school year is that her son will create "success" for himself by embracing new learning possibilities with positivity.

"Encouraging my son to try new things has given him a chance to prove that he can do anything," she says. "He takes his previous success as an example now and feels he can fail multiple times before he succeeds."

There's no denying that this school year will be far from the norm. But, perhaps, we can create a new, better way of defining our children's success in school because of it.

This article was sponsored by Highlights. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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