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The Tricky Business of Teaching Your Daughter to Value Herself

I was 16 when I started clipping images of wedding trousseaus from Eve’s Weekly, a magazine my mom subscribed to. I knew the exact decor I wanted and the hairstyle I’d sport when I got married. I also knew I would have two kids, two years apart. And that I’d be a stay-at-home mom.

All this, despite the fact that my mom worked full time, I possessed no dolls or kitchen sets, I had a “boy cut,” and my parents were wholeheartedly invested in the idea of me having a career.

Perhaps I wanted do things the “normal” way to spite them. Perhaps I wanted to go against the grain, just because. Perhaps I wanted to right every wrong in their modern marriage and my unique upbringing by sticking with the traditional paradigm.

Perhaps it was just peer and societal pressure: to be one of them; to have the same dreams and aspirations as every other 16-year-old; to feel safe in those choices.

I had always been that kid without any siblings, whose mom never showed up at any events, whose dad lunched with her daily and taught her badminton on the weekends. I was a misfit. And I hated it.

When I entered college, I started growing my nails, painting them, using makeup, paying attention to things like earrings and bracelets. I also discarded any clothes from my previous tomboyish life. No more baggy shirts and rompers. I was all about the graceful, dainty, form-fitting dresses.

My hair kissed the back of my knees and I stopped letting my mom braid it. I’d either let it loose or make a bun. I’d learned how to make soft curls kiss my jawline, accumulated hair accessories like there was no tomorrow and looked every bit the neighborhood version of the Indian Goldilocks.

I had also started hanging out with girls whose parents expected nothing more of them than getting married at the ripe age of 19, so they could have two kids before they turned 22. What an easy life!

“Tormented” by my career-driven parents, locked up in their dreams, I waited for my knight in shining armor to come and sweep me off my feet to domesticated bliss.

And come he did. He was short, chubby, not very bright, and cracked sexist jokes. His idea of the ideal girlfriend was a walking-talking replica of the common matrimonial ads one can find in any Indian newspaper: subservient, docile, charming, and fair. I fell hook, line, and sinker. I wanted to be his arm candy.

He didn’t read books, but I believed I could entice him with the Sherlock Holmes series. He didn’t care for politics, while I was on the current affairs debate team at school. But I didn’t need to have those conversations with him, did I? He was shallow, narcissistic, demeaning to his mom, but those were all qualities of a great male chauvinist! The absolute, complete opposite of my equal-rights-crying effeminate dad. My antithesis.

He was just right for me.

His cousin, my BFF, disapproved, but I was determined. He would be the guy whose children I bore. The clandestine meetings after school, the skipping classes in college, the leaving-home-and-coming-back-with-girlfriends but spending the in-between-time with him at a park. I was giddy.

We weren’t supposed to have boyfriends or girlfriends growing up. Everyone knew everyone else. People had their noses up their neighbors’ business at all times. What I pulled off for three years was nothing short of a miracle!



When mom found out, as inadvertently she would, there was no hysteria. Just a calm, “Call him over. I’d like to meet him.”

They were the most awkward 15 minutes in the history of time. His confident demeanor gone, he looked like a scraggly kid in front of the school principal. She asked him about his aspirations. He had none. She asked what he did in his spare time. He said, “just lie around…”

She asked no more.

I remember silence hanging over our house for the next two days like an ominous lull before the storm. I remember feeling ashamed. I wanted to dig a hole and die in it.

Her lack of histrionics to his complacent attitude had led to a complete erosion of my fantastical plight.

On the third day, she said, “If you don’t value your self, no one else will.”

I hadn’t wanted a self. I had just wanted to belong. To disappear in the ennui of nothingness. To be a ghost.

What I had really wanted was a sense of purpose. I had needed encouragement, not pushing. I had needed my mom to believe in me and let everything else be. I had needed her to see me for the deep-thinking, touchy-feely writer I was, rather than trying to groom me for a high-ranking well-paying management job.

I had needed her to listen, to observe, to guide. I had needed her to recognize and embrace just how different I felt. I had needed for my mom to see I was a little, insecure girl who wasn’t always “just as good as the boys.”

The breakup wasn’t easy. “How dare I?” “Who did I think I was?” “A feminist whore!” But it was fast.

Mom fielded the apologetic calls that came later. And ensured I could focus on what would become the beginning of my writing career.

No one I knew was earning their keep at 21 years old. Not a single girl from my college had her own weekly column in a national daily. Nobody in my social circle was still unmarried.

Yes, I was the odd one out. And I had started taking pride in it. I flourished as a writer, I found my wings.

Now – 20 years later – when I think back to that time, I feel grateful for those experiences. They made me the person and the parent I am today. I feel a tremendous amount of respect for my mom. I understand better the lesson she was trying to teach me that day. A milestone day.

I have a sense now that teenage daughters are a species unto themselves. I realize that my mom was just trying to raise me to be independent and self-sufficient. All she wanted was to see me succeed in life. And happiness would follow.

As it turns out, I am a stay-at-home-mom now to a two-year-old. I married this guy I randomly met online. He wasn’t from our caste. He wasn’t even on the same continent. But through our email and IM exchanges, I found him to be compassionate, intelligent, rational, funny, and caring. Most of all he loved me for the unconventional Indian woman I was.

He helped nurture my dreams. He heard my unsaid thoughts. He fought for me when I wanted to keep my maiden name after marriage. He supported my writing career and, later, my choice to quit it all when I became pregnant. He became the son my parents never had. He didn’t want kids for the longest time until suddenly he did – we did.

Some days as I’m combing my fingers through my daughter’s curls, I wonder what our future holds. If she’ll resent me just as much as I resented my mom. If she’ll ever notice how much of myself I’ve given to her. If she’ll love her father more. If she’ll rebel. If she’ll crash and fall. If I’ll let her fail.

She’s not even two yet and I already see her unique personality shining through: decisive, empathetic, strong-willed, very much her own person. When someone points out how advanced she is verbally or how she knows a lot for her age, I have to stop myself from comparing. I have to stop myself from thinking, “She’s not like the other kids.”

She is who she is.

I tell myself, she isn’t me and I’m not my mom. That we’ll have our own unique challenges. That she’ll need to find her own “self” and learn to value it. That I’ll love her through all the heartbreaks and bad decisions. That I’ll always be her safe place. That she’ll know happiness shouldn’t be a byproduct of anything. That we will ride through all the storms and rainbows with grace, respect, and trust. That we will have our own moments of happiness and despair – our own milestones of trust and letting go.

And somehow the collective consciousness, the shared experiences and accumulated wisdom will complete this cycle of mother-daughter relationships on a high note.


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Anyone who has had a baby with colic knows: It's not easy. But despite how common colic is, the causes have stumped researchers (and parents) for generations. Yet, the fact remains that some 5 to 19% of newborns suffer from colic, or excessive but largely inexplicable crying spurts.

Parents of colicky newborns are often eager for something, anything, that will give their baby comfort. The good news is that while we don't have complete confirmation on what causes colic, we do have generations worth of evidence on how to best manage and treat colic.

1. Use bottles with an anti-colic internal vent system that creates a natural flow

One of the most commonly cited culprits in causing colic is tummy discomfort from air bubbles taken in while bottle-feeding—which is proof that not all bottles are created equally. Designed with an anti-colic internal vent system that keeps air away from baby's milk during feeding, Dr. Brown's® bottles are clinically proven to reduce colic and are the #1 pediatrician recommended baby bottle in the US

Distractions and a supine position while feeding can cause your baby to take in additional air, leading to those bubbles that can bother their tummies. If you notice an uptick in crying after feeding, experiment with giving your baby milk in a more upright position and then keeping them upright for a while afterwards for burping and digestion.

2. Offer a pacifier

If your baby is calm while eating, it may be that they are actually calmed by the ability to suck on something—a common instinct among newborns. Offering a pacifier not only can help soothe colicky babies, but is also proven to reduce the rate of SIDS in newborns, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Some babies have strong opinions about their pacifiers, which is why staying with the Dr. Brown's brand can help you avoid the guessing game: Designed to mimic the shape of the bottle nipples, Dr. Brown's HappyPaci pacifier makes for easy (read: calming) transitions from bottle to pacifier.

3. Practice babywearing

Beyond tummy troubles, another leading theory is that colic is the result of newborns' immature nervous systems and the overstimulation of life outside the womb. By keeping them close to you through babywearing, you are helping ease their transition to the outside world as they come to terms with their new environment.

During pregnancy, they were also used to lots of motion throughout the day. By walking (even around the house) while babywearing, you can help give them that familiar movement they may crave.

4. Get some fresh air

Along with the motion from walking around, studies show that colicky babies may benefit simply from being outside. This is one thing for parents of spring and summer newborns. But for those who are battling colic during cold, dark months, it can help to take your stroller into the mall for some laps.

5. Swaddle to calm their nervous system

Unlike the warm, cozy confinement of the womb, the outside world babies are contending with during the fourth trimester can be overwhelming—especially after a full day of sensory stimulation. As a result, many parents report their baby's colic is worse at night, which is why a tight, comforting swaddle can help soothe them to sleep.

For many parents coping with a colicky baby, it's simply a process of experimenting about what can best provide relief. Thankfully, it doesn't have to be as much of a guessing game now, due to products like those in the Dr. Brown's line that are specifically tailored to helping babies with colic.

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Breakfast is often said to be the most important meal of the day, but in many households, it's also the most hectic. Many parents rely on pre-prepared items to cut down on breakfast prep time, and if Jimmy Dean Heat 'n Serve Original Sausage Links are a breakfast hack in your home, you should check your bag.

More than 14 tons of the frozen sausage links are being recalled after consumers found bits of metal in their meat.

The United States Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service announced the recall of 23.4-oz. pouches of Jimmy Dean HEAT 'n SERVE Original SAUSAGE LINKS Made with Pork & Turkey with a 'Use By' date of January 31, 2019.

"The product bears case code A6382168, with a time stamp range of 11:58 through 01:49," the FSIS notes.

In a statement posted on its website, Jimmy Dean says "a few consumers contacted the company to say they had found small, string-like fragments of metal in the product. Though the fragments have been found in a very limited number of packages, out of an abundance of caution, CTI is recalling 29,028 pounds of product. Jimmy Dean is closely monitoring this recall and working with CTI to assure proper coordination with the USDA. No injuries have been reported with this recall."

Consumers should check their packages for "the establishment code M19085 or P19085, a 'use by' date of January 31, 2019 and a UPC number of '0-77900-36519-5'," the company says.

According to the FSIS, there have been five consumer complaints of metal pieces in the sausage links, and recalled packages should be thrown away.

If you purchased the recalled sausages and have questions you can call the Jimmy Dean customer service line at (855) 382-3101.

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Flying with a 2-year-old and a 5-year-old isn't easy under optimal conditions, and when the kids are tired and cranky, things become even harder.

Many parents are anxious when flying with kids for exactly this reason: If the kids get upset, we worry our fellow passengers will become upset with us, but mom of two Becca Kinsey has a story that proves there are more compassionate people out there than we might think.

In a Facebook post that has now gone viral, Kinsey explains how she was waiting for her flight back from Disney World with her two boys, Wyatt, 2, and James, 5, when things started to go wrong, and the first of three kind women committed an act of kindness that meant so much.

After having to run all over the airport because she'd lost her ID, Kinsey and her boys were in line for security and she was "on the verge of tears because Wyatt was screaming and James was exhausted. Out of the blue, one mom stops the line for security and says 'here, jump in front of me! I know how it is!'" Kinsey wrote in her Facebook post.

Within minutes, 2-year-old Wyatt was asleep on the airport floor. Kinsey was wondering how she would carry him and all the carry-ons when "another mom jumps out of her place in line and says 'hand me everything, I've got it.'"

When Kinsey thanked the second woman and the first who had given up her place in line they told her not to worry, that they were going to make sure she got on her flight.

"The second woman takes evvvverything and helps me get it through security and, on top of all that, she grabs all of it and walks us to the gate to make sure we get on the flight," Kinsey wrote.

Kinsey and her boys boarded, but the journey was hardly over. Wyatt wolk up and started "to scream" at take off, before finally falling back asleep. Kinsey was stressed out and needed a moment to breathe, but she couldn't put Wyatt down.

"After about 45 min, this angel comes to the back and says 'you look like you need a break' and holds Wyatt for the rest of the flight AND walks him all the way to baggage claim, hands him to [Kinsey's husband], hugs me and says "Merry Christmas!!" Kinsey wrote.


It's a beautiful story about women helping women, and it gets even better because when Kinsey's Facebook post started to go viral she updated it in the hopes of helping other parents take their kids to Disney and experience another form of stress-relief.

"What if everyone that shared the story went to Kidd's Kids and made a $5 donation?! Kidd's Kids take children with life-threatening and life-altering conditions on a 5 day trip to Disney World so they can have a chance to forget at least some of the day to day stressors and get to experience a little magic!!"

As of this writing, Kinsey has raised more than $2,000 for Kidd's Kids and has probably inspired a few people to be kind the next time they see a parent struggling in public.

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Ah, the holidays—full of festive cheer, parties, mistletoe... and complete and utter confusion about how much to tip whom.

Remember: Tipping and giving gifts to the people that help you throughout the year is a great way to show your appreciation, but it's never required. Ultimately, listen to your heart (and your budget) and decide what's right for your family.

Here is our etiquette guide to tipping and gifting everyone on your list.


You can decide if you'd like to do a class gift.

  • Ask people to contribute what they can, if they'd like to
  • Sign the gift from the entire class—don't single out the people that weren't able to contribute
  • Idea: a small gift and then a gift card bought with the rest of the money, and a card signed by all the children

...or a personal gift.

  • Amount/value is very up to you—you may factor in how many days/week your child is in school and how much you pay for tuition.
  • Anywhere from $5-$150 has been done.
  • Idea: a personalized tote bag and gift card, with a picture drawn by your child

Babysitters, nannies + au pairs

  • Up to one night's pay for a babysitter
  • Up to one week's pay for a nanny or au pair.
  • Homemade gift from the child

Daycare teachers

  • $25-70/teacher and a card from your child

School bus driver

  • A non-monetary gift of $10-$20 (i.e. a gift card)

Ballet teacher/soccer coach

  • Consider a group gift or personal gift (see teacher gift above)
  • Up to $20 value if doing a personal gift

Mail carrier

  • A gift up to a $20 value, but they are not allowed to receive cash or a gift card that can be exchanged for cash.

UPS/Fed Ex

  • A gift up to a $20 value, depending on the number of packages you get. Avoid cash if possible.

Sanitation workers

  • $10-30 each
  • Make sure you find out if the same people pick up the recycling and the trash—there may be two different teams to think about.

Cleaning person

  • Up to one week's pay

Hair stylist

  • Up to the cost of one haircut/style

Dog walker

  • Up to one week's pay


  • $15-80 each depending on number of doormen


  • You are not required to give your boss a gift. In some instances, it may be inappropriate to do so—so you'll have to think about what seems right for you
  • Never give cash
  • Consider giving an office gift—bring coffee or donuts to the office for everyone, buy an assortment of teas for the staff lounge, replace the microwave that everyone hates, etc
  • Organize an office Secret Santa—it's a great way to boost morale and have fun, without needing to decide who to buy for. (Hint: We love Elftser for easy Secret Santa organizing!)


Hey mama,

It's the time of year again.

You know what I'm talking about. From Halloween to New Years Eve, where all the sweets and treats come out in full force, and it seems like the universe is plotting to take you down.

You may feel overwhelmed by the weight of it all. After all, history has taught you that you can't make it through the holiday season successfully.

Maybe you can't get by without eating all the holiday treats and feeling like a failure. Maybe you end the holidays vowing to be a better person and start the New Year on the latest detox diet. You are all too familiar with the guilt and shame that comes with holiday eating cycle and how this robs you of joy of the season.

You may have managed to contain some element of self-control over the year. Maybe you carefully avoid those treats that you know you can't simply eat one of, or maybe you've skipped dessert and stayed clear from all the sweets. Maybe you've felt like you're doing well on your latest diet and are worried about how this incoming holiday treat wave will sabotage your success.

Whatever you're worried about, the fear is real and paralyzing, taking up that precious mental space as your thoughts are consumed about food and your body.

It may be hard to think about anything else when you mind is controlled by the rules that dictate what you should and shouldn't be eating. Maybe seeing your spouse or kids eat those holiday treats creates more anxiety for you and sends you on the brink of losing your mind as these food issues become all consuming.

But have you ever stopped to ask yourself, where is this fear coming from and why is it controlling your life?

Do you ever feel like a failure at eating because you inhaled that bag of fun-sized candy bars or scarfed through a dessert faster than anyone could say, "Trick or Treat?"

Are you embarrassed that something as normal as food feels like such a struggle?

Does overeating or an emotional eating episode send you on a downward tailspin in self-loathing?

How many times have you stepped on the scale, only to feel miserable about yourself for the rest of the day?

I want to let you in on a secret.

You are not failing, mama.

That desire to eat all the holiday foods or binge on sweets doesn't mean that you've screwed up or that you have no self-control.

You're not a failure for wanting to eat all the things you don't normally let yourself eat or for breaking all the food rules you've set in place to give you more "control."

You don't need more willpower, another diet or more ways to become disciplined.

What you need, sweet mama, is permission.

Permission to eat those foods that you crave every year, like a slice of your Grandmother's special holiday dish or the piece of pumpkin cheesecake everyone's eating at your office party.

Permission to decorate holiday cookies with your kids and actually enjoy eating one too, not pretend like you don't want one, only to eat a plateful once they've gone to bed.

Permission to actually keep food in its proper place, so it's not stealing your joy, energy and mental space.

And you know what?

When you've given yourself permission to eat, including all those sweets and treats that are normally off-limits, they suddenly lose their power over you. And when food doesn't have power over you, you will have freedom to live a life that isn't bound by what you can and cannot eat.

Let me tell you something else: feeling like a failure around food is NOT your fault. It doesn't mean you don't have enough self-control or will power. There is nothing wrong with you.

What's to blame are the abundance of food rules: unrealistic food rules that make you feel unnecessarily guilty for eating or shameful in your body. (i.e: "Don't eat sugar", "Don't eat carbohydrates", "That's not allowed on the diet", "Don't eat anything too high in fat", "Don't eat after 6pm", "Don't eat all day if you're having a big meal at night").

You are not the problem.

Food rules, diets, etc. THAT is what is wrong.

You weren't made to live or thrive under a list of rules of what you should or shouldn't eat. It's not an issue of self-control.

The truth is that trying to follow a diet or a rigid set of food rules is like trying to negotiate with your toddler—you just can't win. And it's not for lack of trying, it's that the rules of the game are created for you to fail. So why try to play a game where the odds are against you?

You can opt-out of diet culture NOW to enjoy a truly peaceful holiday season that doesn't end with self-loathing or a New Year's resolution to diet and start the cycle all over again. Because the truth is, there are no good and bad foods or rules you are have to follow. When you can let go of all those judgments and emotional hang-ups that you've attached to eating, you learn to trust yourself to make your own choices and view food for what is really is - just food.

So choose being present over being perfect with the way you eat (because no such thing exists anyway). Calm the food chaos by giving yourself permission to eat, taste, and celebrate.

Enjoy the treats, if that is what your body is craving. Take back for yourself what all the obscure food rules and dieting have taken away from you all these years. Take in the memories, the flavors of the season - because you deserve it.

This holiday season, commit to putting yourself on a new path, one that doesn't end in self-destruction.

Give yourself permission, not only to eat, but to embrace a new way of living that isn't defined by your body size or what you can or cannot eat.

You can choose food freedom over food rules, and by doing so, you are choosing to live. You are choosing to be present for your children and experience the moments and memories that might otherwise be missed when your mind is imprisoned by food rules.

It's never too late, mama. The time to start is now.

Remember—you are not failing. Start by giving yourself permission today.

Originally posted on Crystal Karges.

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