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Dear white moms,

You are my friends. You are my sisters.

We are the same in more ways than we are different, but there are a few things that I need you to know.

I have three black boys. They are the sweetest and most amazing humans I've ever met. They are incredibly intelligent, creative, artistic, caring, thoughtful, compassionate, friendly, and respectful. These aren't just the characteristics of my three black boys, but of black boys all over America.

My heart aches when I think of anyone not being kind to my children. I so desperately want them to be treated fairly, and to be able to live their normal lives in peace. I want them to be comfortable and confident in their own skin. I want them to reach every single dream they have and to live safe lives where no one tries to bring harm to them because of the color of their skin.

I need your help.

I so desperately need you to have conversations with your children about racism. Racism isn't always blatantly expressed. It can be very passive and subtle through messages conveyed in our culture. These types of messages have been communicated throughout our entire lives, with their true intent often going unnoticed.

As parents, you can completely change this through intentional conversations.

You see…I grew up in a predominately white area, and attended a small conservative Christian School. The amount of racism and ignorance I dealt with from white privileged children was tremendous. I learned to be very passive in my friendships, and to not make anyone feel uncomfortable.

As my peers spoke, I could hear their parents' voices loudly above their own. I could hear the messages from dining room tables and living rooms, and could see values they were being passed down. They hadn't interacted with other black children; I was the one and only real friend they ever had.

I was called horrible names; no one was allowed to date me. This was not because they didn't like me, but because of their parents saying "NO". I wasn't even allowed in one of my close friend's house until her parents felt I was "safe." My stories could go on and on.

I grew up not seeing many black actors in TV or movies, unless they were supporting roles or slave movies. The only black people I saw on the news were associated with reports that dehumanized and villainized.

I grew up in a generation that has still remained pretty racially separated. We can't afford to hand that down to our kids.

So please…

Talk to them about racism. I hate the conversations I have to have with my boys about it. They are extremely heartbreaking. It's difficult to explain to them reasons some people won't like them, think they are scary, or even try to harm them because of the color of their skin.

Please, talk to your kids, so together we can make the world better for all of our children.

Teach them to stand up to injustice whenever they see it. Teach them compassion, kindness, and love. Teach them not to passively ignore or avoid the trials of others, but to always stand up for what is right. Teach them the TRUTH and don't sugar coat it or encourage your kids to be color blind. "Color Blind" creates passivity.

Watch what you say and what they hear. Be careful watching shows in your home that vocalize harmful comments about racial differences, economic status…or even racially harmful political commentary. I need you to listen carefully for those messages. Make sure you aren't supporting them in conversation or in things you allow around your children. I need you to be careful of how you speak about minorities, making sure you are valuing them the way you value your white counterparts.

Your children need to hear that you enjoy shows that feature black characters & movie actors. They need to hear that you listen to music with artists that look different than you (more than just hip-hop), and that you read books by black authors.

Your kids need to have positive minority experiences in their own homes and churches. It is important they see that you are intentionally building friendships with minorities and regularly have them in your home. Look to befriend black moms. If you wouldn't say it to a white friend, don't say it to a black friend. Simply treat them the same. Your kids will do this as they see you model that behavior.

All of these things will shape and develop your children's world-views. These intentional acts will change how they view entire groups of people because interaction with different people will be intertwined in their lives. Your children will see them as their peers and appreciate all of their many similarities while embracing their differences.

We are the same as mothers. We don't want our kids to be bullied. We want them to live successful lives. We want people to give them grace, and love. We want them to make great decisions. We want people to be kind to our kids. We want to protect them. We want their childhoods to be magical, and to set them up for the best lives possible.

Your children are part of the hope I have for the world to change.

Your children are the next generation and the children my boys will grow up with. If you can model inclusive attitudes, and ideas that one race is no better than another, then you will raise kind-hearted children. They won't automatically label any kids as "threats", "incompetent", or "thugs" just because of the color of their skin.

The hope is when they see my kids, they will see their hearts, amazing personalities, and make judgments in a fair way…after getting to know them.

People always ask me how I instill confidence with all this negativity that comes at them…Jesus. They love Jesus. We love Jesus, and I pray this post will encourage you to make a difference in your children's lives, in our children's lives, and in this next generation so the world will truly be a better place.

If you see one of my sons at night with a hoodie on…they are probably cold. Don't act fearful. Smile at them when you see them at the store. Say "Hello." When they come to your home, welcome them with love, and no awkwardness or weird questions. Just treat them the same as you would any other children in your home. Judge them on their character, not on their looks. Always assume the best, not the worst. Shower them with kindness and love.

And you will truly make the world a much better place.

With so much love for you,

Jehava

Originally posted on WonderOak.

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Who said motherhood doesn't come with a manual?

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Finding the person you want to spend your life with is never easy, but when you're a parent, there's an extra layer of consideration. You're not just choosing the person you will spend lazy Sundays (and hurried weekday mornings) with—you're choosing the person your children will spend them with, too.

And when that person has children of their own, things get even more complicated. Blending two families isn't easy, but it can be beautiful, as Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez prove.

Each half of this power couple has two children each, and they're doing their best to make their relationship work not just for each other, but for those four children, too.

"We love each other and we love our life together," Lopez recently told People. "I was so loving to his kids and he was so loving and accepting of mine, and they embraced each other right away. [It was] 'I get a new bonus brother and sisters to hang out with all the time and it's nice.'"

A Rod agrees, telling People: "Our kids have become best friends and that keeps us both grounded and appreciative."

Here are five ways J Lo and A-Rod are totally #parentinggoals when it comes to balancing the needs of their blended family.

1.They bring the kids together

Lopez and Rodriguez each spend time with their own children, but they also bring all four kids (Lopez shares 10-year-old twins Maximilian and Emme with her ex, Marc Anthony, and Rodriguez shares daughters Ella, 10, and Natasha, 13, with his ex, Cynthia Scurtis) together for fun family outings, like ice cream dates and basketball games.

Research indicates that about 14% of kids in step families don't feel like they belong in their family, and report that their family doesn't have fun together. By bringing the kids together for fun family times, Lopez and Rodriguez are encouraging a sense of family belonging outside the relationship they have with each of the kids individually. Studies suggest an adolescents' sense of family belonging is linked to their overall well-being. So this ice cream date is actually healthy, in a way.

​2. They consider their children's other parents family, too

If their Instagrams are any indication, Rodriguez and Lopez have a great time hanging out with their blended family, but they understand that their children have other family members, too, and they don't mind hanging out with them.

A recent Instagram post proves Rodriguez considers Marc Anthony #famila, and that's how it should be.

Studies show supportive communication between a parent and their ex-partner's new partner is good for the family as a whole. Likewise, when the relationship between a parent and a stepparent is antagonistic, relationships beyond their own stuffer. It's truly better if a parent's co-parent and their current partner can hang.

3. They’re a united front with their co-parents

Rodriguez considers J Lo's ex family, and he also doesn't forget that (despite legal disagreements) his ex-wife plays a big role in his daughter's lives. So he celebrates their big co-parenting moments, like parent-teacher night.

Lopez, too, celebrates the times she and Anthony get together for their twins' big moments, recently telling Kelly Rippa the two are now in a really great place, and basically best friends. "The kids get to spend time with the two of us more together and see us working together," she said."It's just good for the whole family," says Lopez.

4. They make time for each other without the kids

Having all four kids together at once looks like fun, but hanging out with three 10-year-olds and a teen also sounds like it could be a little exhausting. That's why the couple takes time to unwind, without the kids, when they can.

As J Lo wrote in a recent Instagram post, "it's the lil quiet moments that matter the most."

5. They're doing it their way

Back in April Lopez was asked whether or not she and A Rod would be getting married soon (thanks to a Spanish language single "El Anillo," which is Spanish for "The Ring"), she told People, she's not in any rush, despite the song.

"I've done that before. I'm a little bit more grown up now, and I like to let things take their natural course," she said. "I know people are going to say that… we are really kind of good for each other and are really having the best time, and our kids love each other and all that."

[A version of this story was originally published July 12, 2018.]

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If you use U by Kotex tampons, you should check your box before your next period, mama.

Regular absorbency U by Kotex Sleek Tampons are being recalled throughout the U.S. and Canada. According to the FDA, defective tampons have been coming apart when people tried to remove them, "in some cases causing users to seek medical attention to remove tampon pieces left in the body."

The FDA notes that there have also been a "small number of reports of infections, vaginal irritation, localized vaginal injury, and other symptoms."

In a statement on its website, U by Kotex explains that the recall is specific to the U by Kotex Sleek Tampons, Regular Absorbency only. The Super Absorbency or Super Plus Absorbency tampons are not part of the recall.

The recall is for specific lots of the Regular Absorbency tampons manufactured between October 7, 2016 and October 16, 2018.

The lot numbers start with NN (or XM, for small, 3 count packages) and can be found near the barcode on the bottom of the box.

To check if your tampons are part of the recall, type your lot number into this form on the U by Kotex site.


The FDA says if you've used the tampons and are experiencing the following you should seek immediate medical attention:

  • vaginal injury (pain, bleeding, or discomfort)
  • vaginal irritation (itching or swelling)
  • urogenital infections (bladder and/or vaginal bacterial and/or yeast infections)
  • hot flashes
  • abdominal pain
  • nausea or vomiting

If you have a package of the recalled tampons you should not use them and should call Kotex's parent company, Kimberly-Clark at 1-888-255-3499. On its website U by Kotex asks consumers not to return the tampons to stores.

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I grew up watching the Fresh Prince of Bel Air so pretty much anytime Will Smith pops up on my Facebook feed, I click. (Also, I happen to live near West Philadelphia, so you know, there's a lot of theme song singing. My husband finds me hysterical.)

Anyway...

The last time I clicked on a Will Smith video, he was telling a story about when he went skydiving. He had made the decision to go with his friends, and then spent the whole night and morning leading up to it terrified, envisioning all the things that could go wrong.

When he was finally up in the plane, the guide explained that they would jump on the count of three. "One… two…" except they push you out on "two" because everyone throws their arms out and stops themselves at "three." So before he knew it, he was flying.

And he found it to be absolutely amazing.

He said, "The point of maximum danger is the point of minimum fear. It's bliss. The lesson for me was, why were you scared in your bed the night before? What do you need that fear for? You're nowhere even near the airplane. Everything up to the stepping out, there's actually no reason to be scared. It only just ruins your day… the best things in life [are] on the other side of [fear]."

Motherhood is skydiving.

If someone came up to you one day and said, "Hey. I have this job for you. You are going to grow a human in your body, kind of like it's an alien. And then that human is going to come out of your body—and that process is really intense. And then the human will be really helpless and you will have to turn it into a fully functioning adult with an important place in this world. Okay… go!"

You'd smile politely and walk run away as fast as you could.

Because if you think about it, the idea of doing all of that—motherhoodis pretty terrifying. The amount of responsibility and work is sort of incomprehensible.

The grand scheme of motherhood is scary.

The thing is, though, that the grand scheme of motherhood is actually made up of millions of tiny moments in which you will be a total boss.

Whether it's a jump-out-of-the-plane moment, or a get-the-toddler-out-of-the-car-seat moment, you will face it with bravery.

Remember, being brave isn't the absence of fear, it's being afraid and doing it anyway.

Being brave is taking a pregnancy test—and seeing that it's positive. Or seeing that it's negative, again.

Being brave is waiting for the adoption agency to call you and tell you that she's here.

Being brave is watching your body change in a hundred ways, and lovingly rubbing your belly as it does.

Being brave is giving your body over to the process of bringing your baby into the world—yes, even if you cry, or complain, or cry and complain. You're still brave. Promise.

Being brave is bringing that baby home for the first time. Oh, so much bravery needed for that one.

Being brave is giving that first bath, going to that first pediatrician visit, spending that first full day at home, alone, with the baby,

Being brave is your first day back at work—or making the phone call to tell them you won't actually be coming back at all.

Being brave is ignoring all the noise around you, and parenting your child the way you know is best for your family.

Being brave is letting go of her hands when she takes her first steps.

Being brave is sitting next to her and smiling when you're in the emergency room for croup—and then sobbing when you get home.

Being brave is bringing her to her first day of school—and going home without her.

Being brave is saying "yes" to her first sleepover and "no" to her first car.

Being brave is hugging her the first time her heart breaks, when your heart might possibly hurt even more than hers does.

Being brave is listening quietly when she tells you she plans to "travel the world."

Being brave is bringing her to her first day of college—and going home without her.

Being brave is watching her commit her life to another person, who is not you.

Being brave is watching her become a mother.

And one day, sweet, brave mama, you'll look back and realize that you just jumped out of an airplane—you raised a child.

All of the things that seemed terrifyingly impossible—you just…do them. One at a time. You will wake up every day a little bit braver than the day before. And before you know it, you can look back on any aspect of motherhood and realize that little by little, you just increased your flying altitude.

Things that was seemed daunting are handled with ease. Ideas that once seemed impossible have become your reality one thousand times over.

So yes, motherhood is incredibly scary. But you are incredibly brave.

One... two... jump!

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Here at Motherly, we're all in on pregnant mamas. We love all things pregnancy science: from how a woman's body absorbs her baby's cells, and the effect of breastfeeding on postpartum weight loss. We fawn over the latest + greatest in baby names. And we adore a good celeb baby bump picture.

So we're thrilled for Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, royal newlyweds expecting their first child together in the Spring of 2019.

And recently, when the Duchess presented a British Fashion Award to the designer behind her wedding dress (Givenchy designer Clare Waight Keller) we were not thrilled when headlines suggested Markle "showing off" her bump by cradling it during the awards show.

Here's the deal: When media outlets make note of a pregnant woman whose bump is visible, they often report that the woman is out "flaunting" her belly.

PSA: Pregnant women do not "flaunt" their bodies.

They aren't "showing off their baby bumps."

They're not "taking their bellies out for a day on the town."

They're simply women who are pregnant, going about their daily lives.

This might seem like a small point, quibbling about particular words about pregnancy.

But in reality, acting like pregnant women are "flaunting" their bellies reflects a society that sees pregnancy as a sideshow, rather than a natural part of womanhood. It makes pregnant women feel like weirdos, rather than integral bearers of the future of humanity. It tells women, yet again, that their changing bodies are up for public critique. And it implies to women that the natural changes in their bodies are strange, rather than a normal evolution in life.

So yes, Meghan's baby bump is visible. How exciting for her!

She's not 'flaunting it,' proud mama-to-be though she is.

Meghan Markle is simply rocking her life as a modern woman (and royal), and pregnancy looks amazing on her.

[A version of this story was originally published October 24, 2018]

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