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To my long-distance mom friends who support me from miles away—thank you

We did everything together. So how is it that we’re doing motherhood away from each other?

To my long-distance mom friends who support me from miles away—thank you

If I spend too much time thinking about how far apart we are from each other right now, I’m just going to start crying.


You’re not supposed to live this far away from me.

I got really used to having you next to me (like, literally all the time). You are in pretty much every memory I have of my young life. In fact most of those moments were made memorable because of you—

I was a scared and awkward college freshman. I was unpacking my boxes, hiding my face so no one could see my tears and nervousness, I looked up, quickly and cautiously... and there you were.

You were there to show me that I might actually not have to eat alone for my dreaded first meal in the dining hall.

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You were there to show me that tapestries could be used as a decoration for a dorm wall, a blanket for “movie on the quad” night, and even a skirt when you’re in a bind.

You were there to tell me that hitchhiking our way back to our spring break hotel probably wasn’t a good idea, so we should just walk instead, even though our flip flops were broken. (Thanks for that, btw.)

You were there every time our song came on. Scream-singing loudly right next to me so I didn’t have to be embarrassed.

You were there when he broke my heart. You were so there.

You were there when I finally figured out what I wanted to be when I grew up... again.

You were there when I moved across the country to pursue it.

You were there when I met the one who didn’t break my heart. There for our first date, there when he asked and when I said yes, and there when we said I do.

You were there when we were at the bar and everyone else was drinking vodka, and I was “subtly” drinking cranberry juice, pretending it was vodka. You looked at me with tears in your eyes, because you knew what that meant and because you were so excited to be with me during my pregnancy.

You were there moments after she was born, bringing me my favorite candy and telling me how strong I was.

But now our lives have taken us to different parts of the country—something that a few short years ago would have seemed impossible. “We’re gonna live in the same city forever,” we said, “Our kids are going to be best friends like us,” we said.

We did everything together. Every fun, challenging, dumb, emotional, thrilling, ridiculous thing. So how is it that we’re doing motherhood away from each other? This is the hardest most amazing thing I have ever done, and you should be here, right next to me, doing it with me.

Yet somehow the distance between us doesn’t seem to matter much. Somehow, despite different time zones and different lives, you still manage to inspire, motivate and lift me up every single day.

What I am trying to say, is thank you.

Thank you for listening when I vent, even when it seems like all I ever do is vent.

Thank you for not getting mad at me when it takes way too long to return your call or text. And when we finally do talk, thank you for never making polite chit-chat with me—we dive into conversation as we’ve already been talking for hours, and I love it.

Thank you for helping me pick out date-night outfits via Facetime.

Thank you for always sending me an Evite to your parties, even when you know I can’t come.

Thank you for being genuinely excited when I text you and say, “I think I may have met a new mom-friend here!”

Thank you for sending me the misprinted Christmas card, and saving the perfectly printed ones for your in-laws. I display it with pride.

Thank you for saying "you definitely need that” when I text you pictures of stuff from Target.

Thank you for always being the first one to like my Facebook posts, no matter how silly they are.

Thank you for tagging me in photos of old ladies sitting together in nursing homes and saying, “This is gonna be us one day!”

Thank you for telling me how cute my kids are when I bombard you with photos.

Thank you for asking, “How are you?” and genuinely wanting to know the answer.

Thank you for ugly laughing with me.

Thank you for celebrating my successes as if they were your own... because in so many ways, I could never have had them without you.

We used to spend every waking moment together, and now I can’t even remember the last time I saw you in person. Yet I feel just as close to you today as I did then.

You are my rock. And I promise to always be yours.

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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