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A month or so ago, it was my turn to put my older son to bed. When we got to the end of the routine, the part where I would tell his brain what kind of dreams it would have and then sing a song with him, he furrowed his brow and feigned tears, demanding his dad do it instead.

When I asked why, he took a breath, then delivered the punch: “Because…Daddy is the best. And you’re not.”

If there is anything I have learned in almost four years of taking care of a small human, it is that parenting can both inflate the ego and then, often seconds later, squash it like a blueberry underfoot.

Because I am a human, albeit a supposedly large and mature one, I bit back tears. Yes, I know he shouldn’t be punished for his feelings or his preferences or the standard issue manipulations associated with this particular developmental leap, however devastating to me all that was. I know my nearly four-year-old kid shouldn’t have to tiptoe around me and my emotions. I know he loves me and thinks I’m the best sometimes, too. (He does, I swear he does.)

But. I couldn’t hide the shock. And I couldn’t hide that I felt like he was actually onto something, that he’d found out what I’d suspected long before I became a parent – that I’m not, in fact, the best.

Since Daddy was putting my son’s brother to bed, I forged onward with a phlegmy and therefore poignant version of “Monday, Monday” – the song he asked for and sung none of with me – then slunk off to take an inventory of exactly why I sucked. (I was running on about five hours of sleep that week, so my brain will appalled me with its resourcefulness.)

To begin, I wasn’t fun with him, was I? I was always reminding my son about all the annoying things, like wearing his hat and cleaning up his toys and eating at least one bite of his breakfast and being gentle with his baby brother, while I whisper-screeched, “THAT’S HIS HEAD CAN YOU OKAY YEAH NO STOP OKAY THAT’S GOOD THANK YOU YOU’RE GREAT WAIT YOU’RE HURTING HIM!”

Come to think of it, I was often with said brother, nursing him, camped out on the couch, talking sweetly to him and not reminding him to do anything. No wonder my older son hated me! I’d been myopic and distracted and thoughtless!

No wonder children in general didn’t gravitate toward me! No wonder I’d been caught looking morose and despondent in family photos for years! No wonder school dances were always a nightmare! My entire life had been an exercise in masking my own melancholy.

I wasn’t fun! I wasn’t the best at all! I was actually maybe THE WORST.

As I questioned all 34 years of my life so far, spiraling with worry like a human fidget spinner, it occurred to me that maybe I was really only good for babies, a decent feeder with reasonably strong arms. In the first couple years of my son’s life, I gave him everything he needed – food, company, goofy storytelling voices, a sympathetic ear, shoulder, back, and hand.

“Isn’t Daddy the best?” I’d tell him. I’d tell him how great his grandparents were, too, his aunts and uncles, encouraging the diffusion of his love while blithely receiving the bulk of it.

Now, thanks to all that cheerleading, I watch from a distance that feels oceanic as my husband entertains him with fart jokes and pratfalls, as his grandparents and aunts and uncles bequeath him all the toys and trinkets he wants, are liberal with the treats, and he, in turn, basks in their adoration.

That night, it felt like there were only so many parts in the play of my son’s life. I’d somehow realized that, for months now, I’d been playing the bad guy (listed in program as: SNAPPY NAG). It felt like there was no space for me to be anything but.

So the next day I called my mom. And my mom told me to, of all things, just enjoy it. He’s giving you an excuse to relax, she said to me. It’s not your job to be his best friend, she reminded me.

My mom didn’t tell me that my son didn’t really mean what he’d said, because she wasn’t worried about that. She told me, instead, that this would pass. She told me to chill. She told me that someday – maybe that very night or the next week or the next year or…well, sometime – he would appreciate who I was. He would love who I was.

Just be you, she said. You’re very lovable, she said.

Listening to my mom tell me these things, listening to her not freak out, listening to her tell me it was fine and I was fine, I saw that she was doing exactly what I needed to do with my son. When had I called her last? Had it been a week, maybe? More? But there she was, when I needed her, calmly assuring me that I was doing a good job.

I could wait it out, too. I could agree with my son, that yeah, his dad is the best, especially at bedtime when I’ve got nothing left. I could do what I’ve done forever and be funny about my pain, groaning about how I am the worst, I’m a real monster, a MOMMY MONSTER, and crack him up.

I could, when he asks for his dad, make a cartoon exit, flinging myself out the door like Road Runner, cracking myself up. I could go snuggle up with my new son and try to live inside of time as it passes stealthily through the moments we spend bathing ourselves in regret.

I could re-cast myself. I could be fun again, my own kind of fun, my own kind of best.

A couple weeks ago, when I wasn’t thinking about it, my husband reported that, as they embarked for school that morning, our son told him he wished I was taking him. When my husband asked why, he said, as if it was obvious, “Because I like her.”

I like her, too.

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When you become a parent for the first time, there is an undeniably steep learning curve. Add to that the struggle of sorting through fact and fiction when it comes to advice and—whew—it's enough to make you more tired than you already are with that newborn in the house.

Just like those childhood games of telephone when one statement would get twisted by the time it was told a dozen times, there are many parenting misconceptions that still tend to get traction. This is especially true with myths about bottle-feeding—something that the majority of parents will do during their baby's infancy, either exclusively or occasionally.

Here's what you really need to know about bottle-feeding facts versus fiction.

1. Myth: Babies are fine taking any bottle

Not all bottles are created equally. Many parents experience anxiety when it seems their infant rejects all bottles, which is especially nerve wracking if a breastfeeding mom is preparing to return to work. However, it's often a matter of giving the baby some time to warm up to the new feeding method, says Katie Ferraro, a registered dietician, infant feeding specialist and associate professor of nutrition at the University of California San Francisco graduate School of Nursing.

"For mothers returning to work, if you're breastfeeding but trying to transition to bottle[s], try to give yourself a two- to four-week trial window to experiment with bottle feeding," says Ferraro.

2. Myth: You either use breast milk or formula

So often, the question of whether a parent is using formula or breastfeeding is presented exclusively as one or the other. In reality, many babies are combo-fed—meaning they have formula sometimes, breast milk other times.

The advantage with mixed feeding is the babies still get the benefits of breast milk while parents can ensure the overall nutritional and caloric needs are met through formula, says Ferraro.

3. Myth: Cleaning bottles is a lot of work

For parents looking for simplification in their lives (meaning, all of us), cleaning bottles day after day can sound daunting. But, really, it doesn't require much more effort than you are already used to doing with the dishes each night: With bottles that are safe for the top rack of the dishwasher, cleaning them is as easy as letting the machine work for you.

For added confidence in the sanitization, Dr. Brown's offers an incredibly helpful microwavable steam sterilizer that effectively kills all household bacteria on up to four bottles at a time. (Not to mention it can also be used on pacifiers, sippy cups and more.)

4. Myth: Bottle-feeding causes colic

One of the leading theories on what causes colic is indigestion, which can be caused by baby getting air bubbles while bottle feeding. However, Dr. Brown's bottles are the only bottles in the market that are actually clinically proven to reduce colic thanks to an ingenious internal vent system that eliminates negative pressure and air bubbles.

5. Myth: Bottles are all you can use for the first year

By the time your baby is six months old (way to go!), they may be ready to begin using a sippy cup. Explains Ferraro, "Even though they don't need water or additional liquids at this point, it is a feeding milestone that helps promote independent eating and even speech development."

With a complete line of products to see you from newborn feeding to solo sippy cups, Dr. Brown's does its part to make these new transitions less daunting. And, for new parents, that truly is priceless.

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

Mamas, if you hire a cleaning service to tackle the toddler fingerprints on your windows, or shop at the neighborhood grocery store even when the deals are better across town, don't feel guilty. A new study by the University of British Columbia and Harvard Business School shows money buys happiness if it's used to give you more time. And that, in turn could be better for the whole family.

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As if we needed another reason to shop at Target, our favorite store is offering some great deals for mamas who need products for baby. Mom life can be expensive and we love any chance at saving a few bucks. If you need to stock up on baby care items, like diapers and wipes, now is the time.

Right now, if you spend $100 on select diapers, wipes, formula, you'll get a $20 gift card with pickup or Target Restock. Other purchases will get you $5 gift cards during this promotion:

  • $20 gift card when you spend $100 or more on select diapers, wipes, formula, and food items using in store Order Pickup, Drive Up or Target Restock
  • $5 gift card when you buy 3 select beauty care items
  • $5 gift card when you buy 2 select household essentials items using in store Order Pickup, Drive Up or Target Restock
  • $5 gift card when you buy 2 select Iams, Pedigree, Crave & Nutro dog and cat food or Fresh Step cat litter items using in store Order Pickup
  • $5 gift card when you buy 3 select feminine care items using in store Order Pickup, Drive Up or Target Restock

All of these promotions will only run through 11:59 pm PT on Saturday, January 19, 2019 so make sure to stock up before they're gone!

Because the deals only apply to select products and certain colors, just be sure to read the fine print before checking out.

Target's website notes the "offer is valid using in store Order Pickup, Drive Up or Target Restock when available".

The gift cards will be delivered after you have picked up your order or your Target Restock order has shipped.

We won't tell anyone if you use those gift cards exclusively for yourself. 😉 So, get to shopping, mama!

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This month isn't just the start of a new year, but the start of a new life for those due in 2019. If you're expecting a baby this year you've got plenty of celebrity company, mama.

Here are some fellow mamas-to-be expecting in 2019:

Alexa and Carlos PenaVega 

The Spy Kids actress and mom to 2-year-old Ocean will soon have to get herself a double stroller because PenaVega and her husband Carlos are expecting again.

"Holy Moly!!! Guys!!! We are having another baby!!!!" captioned an Instagram post. "Do we wake Ocean up and tell him??!! Beyond blessed and excited to continue growing this family!!! Get ready for a whole new set of adventures!!!"

Over on Carlos' IG the proud dad made a good point: " This year we will officially be able to say we have 'kids!' Our minds are blown," he write.

Jessa Duggar and Ben Seewald

In January Counting On Jessa Seewald (formerly Jessa Duggar) announced via Instagram that she is pregnant with her third child with husband Ben Seewald.

We love that she was able to make the announcement in her own time, not worrying about speculation about her midsection. She's been over that for a while.

[Update: January 18, added PenaVega]

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The shape appeals to kids and the organic and gluten-free labels appeal to parents in the freezer aisle, but if you've got a bag of Perdue's Simply Smart Organics Gluten Free Chicken Breast Nuggets, don't cook them.

The company is recalling 49,632 bags of the frozen, fully cooked Simply Smart Organics Gluten Free Chicken Breast Nuggets because they might be contaminated with wood.

According to the USDA, Perdue received three complaints about wood In the nuggets, but no one has been hurt.

The nuggets were manufactured on October 25, 2018 with a "Best By" date of October 25, 2019. The UPC code is 72745-80656. (The USDA provides an example of the packaging here so you'll know where to look for the code).

In a statement on the Perdue website the company's Vice President for Quality Assurance, Jeff Shaw, explains that "After a thorough investigation, we strongly believe this to be an isolated incident, as only a minimal amount of these packages has the potential to contain pieces of wood."

If you have these nuggets in your freezer you can call Perdue 877-727-3447 to ask for a refund.

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