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A letter to my son's future stepmom

To the other woman in my son's life,

There is a chance you may never see this. I'm writing because I'm struggling with the concept of another woman being in my child's life. This is not what I imagined when I had a child—I didn't think I'd only get to see him part-time or that there would be another mother figure in his life.

But this is my reality. And there are a few things I would like to say.

Please do not meet my child until you feel like this relationship with his father has longevity. My son is a sensitive soul and becomes attached to others easily. He will like you, he will want to spend time with you and if you aren't fully prepared for that, then please do not push to enter into his life. He would be sad if you were to leave and it would be confusing to him that another person has come and gone from his life.

He's really amazing, so you would probably be sad, too.

Because this isn't my son's fault. He had to learn early on that things don't always work out the way you think or necessarily want them to. The magic of his parents being together and growing up in an "intact" household is gone.

He will be different from some of his classmates and may even experience bullying because of this. My son feels things deeply—his outbursts or tearful frustrations could be due to a number of different things. All I ask from you is your empathy and compassion.

Please be gentle with him.

I will never speak badly of you to my child—you have my word. In turn, I hope that you will never speak badly about me either. You have only heard one side of the story and it is important to remember there are always two sides.

I'm sure everything you've heard about me has not been the most flattering. But regardless of what has been said, I deserve to be respected and I promise to do the same for you. This may not always be easy, but if there is respect involved—it can be easier.

I will always be my son's mother. I carried this little person inside of me for nine months, went through a challenging delivery to bring him into this world, and spent many sleepless months feeding him, nurturing him and rocking him while he cried. I have held him through numerous illnesses and reassured him before two different surgeries. I've been there through it all—every diaper, bump, bruise, and development.

I have cried tears of frustration when his little body tried to fight a fever and there was nothing I could do, tears of fear when he was wheeled into the OR, and tears of sadness when my not so little boy went off to his first day of kindergarten.

This in no way diminishes the role that you can play in his life as another person who loves and supports him. I truly believe that the more people that love a child, the better off that child is.

Someday I hope we can be friends. I really mean that. I want to demonstrate to my son that growing up in separate households doesn't mean there has to be contention; that we can get along and share in his life and milestones. That we can be at his sporting events standing side-by-side cheering him on or at his chorus concert waving enthusiastically to him while he stands on the stage.

I know this may just be a fantasy and this friendship may never be, but I can only hope that for my son's sake we can make this work. I'm in, if you are.

So if you made it this far, thank you. Thank you for being another person in my son's life that will support and love him without pause and without question. It means a lot to all of us.

Sincerely,

A mama who's trying to do her best

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Without camps and back-to-school plans still TBD, the cries of "I'm bored!" seem to be ringing louder than ever this summer. And if you're anything like me, by August, I'm fresh out of boxes to check on my "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys.

With that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite wooden toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

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