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To my husband: I may not always say it, but—I need you and I’m so grateful for you

I stay up late, pretty much every night, because that’s the time I get to myself. I’m not making any special-request meals for anyone, I’m not forgetting then remembering then forgetting again to put the laundry in the dryer, and I’m not having to figure out the intricacies of our daily schedule.

It’s time for me. To sit in quiet. And hear myself think.

But this means I don’t go to sleep when my husband does. Sure, I may be in bed with him—but he is laying down, going to sleep and I am sitting up with my tea—writing or watching a show or scrolling social media.

The other night as we were saying goodnight, my husband said, “Are you coming to bed, or are you doing your whole tea and phone routine?” He seemed hopeful that I may be putting everything else down—to allow some time to focus on us—to chat and cuddle before we drifted off to sleep.

But, I didn’t. My hot tea and an episode of Scandal was waiting for me. I chose “me” time over “us” time. Again.

I disappointed him—I could hear it in his voice that in his voice as he sighed and turned over, ready to go to bed.

Life as a parent to three children is no joke. Throw in jobs, a house to tend to, bills to pay, schedules to keep up with, choices to make, etc.—it’s hectic. There’s little time left for “us” or “me” because it seems like it’s all about “them” right now.

But, my husband—I want you to know, with every bit of my heart and soul—that I need you.

I need that “How’s your morning going, toots?” text you send me everyday checking in on us. It brings a smile to my face 100% of the time to know you’re thinking of me.

I need your laundry mastery. You average about thirty loads of laundry each weekend. Thank goodness for you. Plus, Martha Stewart’s got nothing on your fitted sheet folding skills!

I need your long, warm hug after a draining day of messes and meltdowns, dirty diapers and dishes.

I need your questions at the dinner table. They make me feel seen and important—like I am an interesting person with things to say other than, “Get your shoes on” 500 times or “Did you really just eat that?” 30 times a day.

I need your company when I have a win. There’s no one else I would rather celebrate with than you. There’s no one else I want to share my success with than you and our girls. You guys are the reason I work hard every day.

I need to see your eyes light up when you look at me and tell me I’m beautiful. I don’t always feel like I deserve that compliment when I’m in a nursing tank top, sweatpants and greasy hair—but I know you mean it, and that helps me to believe it.

I need your hard work and sacrifice. Your commute is long, your job can be stressful, you miss things with the girls during the day—I know it’s not a walk in the park. I see the weight you bare on your shoulders and I just want to lift it for you. I might not always be able to, but I am able to tell you how much I appreciate what you do for us.

I need your dedication to our family. You are a family man and I adore this about you. What do you want to be doing on the weekend? Spending time with us—your wife and daughters. We all have so much fun together and I’m just so glad you enjoy family outings and activities with the kids as much as I do.

I need your friendship. You’re my sounding board, the person who can make me belly laugh like no one else, the one I commiserate with, my #1 cheerleader, the call I want to make when I need to vent. (And you graciously hear me out—thank you.)

I need your continuous determination to turn my cranky moods around. When something is bothering me, you know. I literally can’t hide it from you. Your detective skills are strong and I know I will hear “What’s up? I know something is wrong” continually until the end of time until I just tell you. So I do. And you help me. I need that. I need you to keep doing that.

I need you to “get” me. And you do. I know you’d do anything for me.

And I really want you to know that I am lucky. And grateful. And honored to be your partner.

I may feel like I have to prove to the world that I can do it all, and I may not be great about saying it—but please know that I need you. I want you. I love you.

So guess what’s happening tonight? I’m going to forego catching up on Scandal and I’m going to choose you.

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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 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, is 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 so the crisis can be averted. Either way, it's a victory.

Oh, it's quiet. So, so quiet. And I can think it 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?

For me, 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 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


Created by Bellyful

I'd make these for dinner, too.

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