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During pregnancy, we anxiously await our little squash’s first kicks. We stare at the screen during ultrasound appointments to catch the first glimpse of our little pea’s beating heart.

At birth we await that first cry. During those precious beginning days, we marvel at the way they learn to feed, cry for demands, even open their eyes. From the moment we pee on that stick, we await their first accomplishments.

As they get older, our kids’ milestones get more momentous as they become little people with genuinely amazing personalities. They learn to smile, coo, crawl, sit up, use a spoon, chew food, walk, talk, the list could fill the page. We document these achievements ad nauseam on social media sites so all of our friends from high school know our child can poop.

We brag to all the moms at the playground that our little love can eat peas, goes potty on the toilet, or has achieved the holy grail – sleeping through the night. We constantly want for our mini-me’s to meet their next big development mark so that we can be proud of them.

No one feat, however, for me, was more eagerly anticipated than my little Bugga ditching his crib and becoming a big boy.

Compared to others, my little love had fallen behind. I mean, after the age of one, the steady stream of giant braggables seem to slow. While I still noticed steps in his development every day, the biggies, like potty training and moving into a toddler bed, just weren’t happening. 

Months passed and my little Bugga was turning three. He loved his crib. He didn’t see it as the prison some feel confined to. He didn’t attempt to escape,  he didn’t beg to get out of it — in fact, he loved his sleep, 13 hours a night, with a two-hour nap (I know, pardon the brag). We were blessed with a kid who didn’t yearn for the freedom I so wanted him to want.

Strapped with guilt that we were babifying our eldest son, and due to the urging of family and friends, I decided the crib needed to go. What better timing than when we began potty training him. I was looking to be the envy of the playground — big boy bed and potty trained in three days. HA.

At first, my little love embraced his newest milestone. He grabbed his Handy Manny tool set and donned his construction hat as he helped daddy make his crib into his big boy bed. He gladly handed over his diapers to his little bro and pulled those “undywear” on with a sense of pride that I hadn’t seen since he decided to take his first steps. I beamed. I documented. I bragged.

He initially took to these changes the same way he takes to everything: acceptance with little complaining. But what I assumed would be something he’d love soon became his (and our) biggest nightmare.

If the jack-in-the-box nap times and the full hour it took to get our little gem to bed at night weren’t enough, within a few weeks, we were starting to really fail at potty training boot camp (which might have been the most devastating to my washing machine). The list of poor behaviors exhibited by our normally happy-go-lucky kid started alarming most of those who knew him. 

It didn’t take long to realize my nugget was suffering. While he didn’t complain, all the signs I needed were screaming at me. His sudden mood swings, his exhaustion, his accidents. He was riddled with anxiety over being rushed into a rite of passage he didn’t ask for, and quite frankly wasn’t ready to handle.

So, I took a deep breath, looked the naysayers in the eye, and manned up for my little boy. Once again he donned his construction hat, grabbed his tool kit, and helped daddy reassemble his crib.

We didn’t move backward, we didn’t call him a baby, we didn’t bring back the diapers. I called it like it was: he liked his crib. He liked the comfort and safety it brought him at night. He liked the feeling of security it wrapped him in as he slept. It was his room. It was all he knew, and he wasn’t ready to give that up. And I told him, that was okay.

He went back to sleeping soundly. His behaviors returned to normal. He reestablished mastery in all things potty. He moved right along, continuing to meet each new milestone with boundless energy.

Our children achieve such astounding feats. In this act of pushing mine, I learned that it’s not about our bragging rights, it’s about theirs. And no matter how fast or slow, they all get to the imaginary finish line in this fictional race of childhood.   

Like all proud parents, I continue to brag about Bugga’s accomplishments, but have stopped anxiously awaiting the next. I know he will get to them when he is ready, not a minute faster, and instead of wasting my precious moments waiting, I am restfully sleeping since he went back into his crib.

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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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