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I am sitting on the front stoop, coffee cup in hand, daydreaming about a little cherry-cheeked boy. The one that used to race up the front lawn (world around him be damned) in order to wrap himself in a Mom hug.


He could not get to me – the center of his universe – fast enough.

Breathless over his best kindergarten day ever, he spilled the beans on his older sister misbehaving at recess. Then he handed me a crumpled and creased Mother’s Day picture with a giant heart and “I Love You” spelled with a perfect backwards “L”.

I now watch this same child – I mean man-child (15-year-old to be exact) – saunter past me with nary a glance. I detect a grunt however. I believe it’s in response to my same stupid and annoying question: “How was your day?”

Being ignored fuels the “feeling-challenged” response in me.

I work the crowd like a comedian firing jokes at a non-responsive audience.

“Did the coach say anything in practice today about the line-up for next week’s game?”

“Nope.”

“I like the new logo on your shirt.”

Nearly-imperceptible nod.

We do our Mother-Son dance, this new daily ritual. I talk. You balk. I show interest. You show disdain. I cry when you’re not looking. I think I am in some kind of mourning as if I have lost you. Yet you stand here before me so that makes little sense.

Then again it makes all the sense in the world.

I am clinging obsessively to a past when you cuddled and snuggled and gave me raspberry kisses and memorized “Good Night Moon”; when you climbed into our bed at the first crack of thunder and had me perform nightly bogey man checks. The Tooth Fairy and I had a fabulous relationship. I miss her too! And those Crayola drawings made with those little hands – the ones aging in folders I still cannot part with. Poor Santa was dissed over seven years ago!

It seems an injustice.

I raised you to be a proud and compassionate and independent young man. That is exactly who you are becoming. Instead of celebrating your incredible victory (and mine) I remain steadfastly stuck in the past.

I would appreciate if you would bear with me. When you become a Dad I think you’ll understand.

I am struggling to separate and allow you to test your wings. I am afraid I already know that you can fly. I am scared to death that you will fly far away, and never want to nest again. I guess I want you to stay on the ground for a little while longer. I know it’s selfish to ask you to oblige my mom angst. I have laid out my emotional dilemma. It seems to be of epic proportions.

Perhaps I need counseling. Someone to talk me through raising a teenager.

Wait….

Did you roll your eyes at me just now? Mind if I count that as interaction between us? I mean in order to roll your eyes you must have been listening and that counts for something, right? Your eye roll was accompanied by some mumbled words. We are making progress!

You rummage through the snack drawer.

My mom instinct kicks in. I want to offer you a juice box and some fruit roll ups like the olden days. I leave you to scavenge.

I am left behind in your wake of Oreos and Doritos.

Remind me one more time: When did you stop checking under your pillow for the Tooth Fairy’s change? Why wasn’t I notified?

Our paths cross again in the evening. I remind you it’s time for electronics to be turned off for the night. “Please say goodnight to your friends,” I say. I am still the parent around here and there are rules and this is my house and you need to follow them! I didn’t say any of that although if I had I would have sounded strikingly similar to my mother (minus the electronics remark) who I swore I would never become. Surprise!

In my 3 a.m. wakefulness I decide that a different approach is necessary if we are both to survive your adolescence.

***

The wind whips around and makes the bleachers feel awfully cold today. Look at you out there in your new baseball jersey! My fingers are crossed and I say my silent prayer that you don’t get hurt. Everything else is icing on the cake.

A double!

I am Happy Dancing! Not that you can see of course. I recall the peer pressure lecture. Don’t worry. I will not embarrass you. It’s a silent dance. It takes place in my heart alone.

Game over and the team disbands. I head towards the car. I used to run on the field ten times per game with water and wipes and questions about having to pee. Hugs too! Loads of those.

Are you heading towards me?

Do I hug you?  No – peers might be watching. I pat you on the shoulder and say, “Good game bud!”

I’m way overthinking this.

Whoa, whoa, whoa!!! Did you just kiss me?

“Thanks for coming to my game, Mom. I’ll be home in a little while.”

***

When you were a little kid you ran up the lawn. That’s what you were meant to do. As a teenager you saunter up the front lawn with puffed out swagger. That’s what you are meant to do. It’s about growing up. I don’t have to like it all the time. I do have to accept that it will happen with or without my consent.

You know what? I may surprise you someday. I’ve decided to adopt a new mindset. The little boy I loved happily came home each day. The grumpy teenager I love begrudgingly so.

In the end all that matters is that you still come home and it’s here that I can make all the difference in the world.

This piece originally appeared on Her View From Home.

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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 the 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, it's 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. Crisis averted. Either way, it's a victory.

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

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 that 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

www.pinterest.com

Created by Bellyful

I'd make these for dinner, too.

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