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Usually it’s me but this time, it was my husband. I had to sit back and watch the carnage.


It all started because our daughter wanted to learn jazz.  She had been playing piano for almost a decade but only classical music. Yes, she’s 12. The short version of the story is her three-year-old self wanted to be like her big brother but what started as sibling rivalry, turned into a love affair with music.

So, we found her a jazz piano teacher and let’s just say it wasn’t a great fit.

After listening to my husband complain for the umpteenth time about this new teacher, I replied, “If you don’t like it, you fix it. I don’t have the bandwidth right now.”

So he did.

He did his research online and found a music school instead of a music teacher. He looked at all the prerequisites. Yup. Looked at the calendar. Yup. Looked at the price and location. Yup. Yup.

He even did a quick check-in with me. He explained what he found, and I replied, “Sounds great!”

At the first drop-off, they only started to get a whiff that something was amiss when they strolled past the bar near the front entrance.

He had failed to notice that he signed her up for an adult class.

My 12-year-old, 4’7” daughter was asked to take a seat next to the 6’8” Chinese grad student eating a footlong sub. They exchanged smiles – his full of food; her’s strained. On her other side was a studious Latino male undergraduate rushing to finish a homework assignment.

To my daughter’s credit, or maybe because she was a shined deer in the headlights, she sat down at her keyboard and waved goodbye to her papa.

When my husband picked her up he tried to make jokes, and told me later that “it sorta worked,” but when she walked in and saw me, she burst into tears.

“I can’t do this! I don’t belong there.”

But she did belong there. She understood the teacher’s material. Even at 12 years old, she had all the credentials. The teacher welcomed her warmly and had no problem with the age discrepancy. He even approached her and told her that he had started taking jazz at age 12, too.  “Well done,” he had said.

All of this went out the window because she was different. She was uncomfortable. She was completely intimidated. She had the most raging case of impostor complex I’d ever seen. 

This wasn’t surprising since feeling very different (race, gender, education, age) often triggers this complicated emotion. I was surprised, however, that it wasn’t reserved for us adults.

Amy Cuddy, author of the book “Presence: Bringing your Boldest Self to your Biggest Challenges,” says, “It’s not simple stage fright or performance anxiety; rather, it’s the deep and sometimes paralyzing belief that we have been given something we didn’t earn and don’t deserve and that at some point we’ll be exposed.”

I wasn’t ready to let her quit. There’s a difference between giving up and knowing when you’ve had enough. I’m okay with quitting, but we don’t give up just because things are hard. 

I needed to help her puff out her chest and strut into that class every week. Well, okay – maybe that wouldn’t happen, but I did want to help her look past her physical differences and embrace her talent. 

Dr. Pauline Rose Clance, the researcher who coined the phrase “impostor complex,” said, “If I could do it all over again, I would call it the impostor experience, because it’s not a syndrome or a complex or a mental illness. It’s something almost everyone experiences.”

I’ve been there. You’ve been there. Famous people have been there:

Maya Angelou: “I have written 11 books, but each time I think, ‘Uh-oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out.'”

Kate Winslet:  “[I would] wake up in the morning before going off to a shoot, and think, I can’t do this; I’m a fraud.”

We needed to be careful how we boosted her confidence. We did not want to sound insincere like SNL’s Stuart Smalley and dole out empty praise, “You’re good enough, you’re smart enough, and doggone it, people like you.”

The key, according to a 2011 research review, is to address the specific worry areas such as “…worries about whether they’re respected, whether their teachers think they’re dumb, whether they belong – and precisely, briefly, without stigmatizing them or singling them out, give them messages that can remove those barriers,” Dr. David Scott Yeager says, who co-authored the study with Gregory Walton.

Their work with middle and high school students has been extremely successful in increasing grades, lowering drop-out rates, and improving mental well-being for as long as three years.

So our family talked about this a lot. We talked too much, according to my daughter. However, we don’t regret it, and I secretly doubt she does either.

We reiterated that she deserved to be in this class. She had the same base as everyone else – nobody else in the class knew jazz, either. And when she put in extra practice work until she was sure she wouldn’t “embarrass herself,” we reminded her of her work ethic and ability to go toe-to-toe with those “grown-ups.”

But in the end, never doubt the importance of a teacher, boss, or leader. My daughter said, “I still have self doubt, but the teacher helped me the most.”

Joyce Roché, the author of Empress Has No Clothes, says, “Leaders need to understand important triggers of impostor feelings – race, class, gender, education, sexual orientation are some big ones. If you are not creating a culture that values the authentic self, you are not going to get it.”

Indeed. Now when she walks into the classroom, instead of only seeing tall, intimidating grown-ups, she sees one warm and welcoming teacher.

And that is what has made all the difference.

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Ah, back to school time. The excitement of a new year for our kids and the impossibly busy schedule for their mamas. Anyone else get to the end of the day and think, "What did I even DOOO today, and why am I so exhausted?" 🙋

Luckily, finding a system to help you plan out your days can help reduce stress and improve your overall quality of life—which we are all for.

Here are eight planners we love that'll quickly take you from "What is happening?!" to "Look what I did!"

1. Day Designer

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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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A new school year is looming and while a lot of parents are looking forward to seeing their kids take the next steps in their education, many of us are not looking forward to getting everyone back into a weekday morning routine.

Mornings can be tough for kids and their mamas. One of our favorite celebrity mamas, Kristen Bell, does not deny that mornings with her daughters, 5-year-old Lincoln and 3-year-old Delta, aren't easy at all.

"It's miserable," Bell recently told POPSUGAR. "It's awful no matter who's doing what. And I'll tell you right now, the 3- and 5-year-old aren't doing jack."

Anyone who has ever tried to wrangle a preschooler out of their pajamas, to the breakfast table, then into their school clothes and backpack at seven o'clock in the morning knows exactly what Bell is talking about. She says some days are better than others, but it's hard to know what level of kid-induced chaos you're gonna wake up to on a weekday.

"It depends on their emotional stability, it depends on their attitude toward each other, toward life," Bell told POPSUGAR. "It depends on their developmental stage."

Luckily, Bell has got some backup. She's been open about how she and her husband, Dax Shepard, practice a tag team approach to parenting, and sometimes, Bell gets a chance to tap out of the morning routine. Unfortunately, Shepherd's later schedule means it doesn't happen as often as she would necessarily like.

"I don't want to say that I do more mornings than he does, but if you were to check the records, that's probably what you'd find," she told POPSUGAR.

If, like Bell, you're really not feeling mornings with the kids, there are a few things you can try to make things a little easier on yourself, mama.

1. Change the conversation

Instead of saying "hurry up" or "get in the car, right now,"try to mix up your vocabulary a bit.

If there's a need for speed, remind the kids that it's time for "fast feet" or that you're racing to the car.

If you're feeling overwhelmed, you might consider sharing that with your kids. Let them know that mama's got a lot to do this morning and that it would be a huge help if they could make sure their water bottle is in their backpack.

2. Make breakfast ahead of time

If cereal isn't your jam or your kids need something hotter, and more substantial in the morning, cooking up breakfast can be a major hurdle on hectic mornings.

Check out these Pinterest perfect make-ahead morning meals, like breakfast enchiladas or egg muffins, and make mornings a bit easier on yourself, mama.

3. Bring some Montessori into your mornings

Help your kids take control of their AM destiny by bringing some limited choices (like clothing) into the morning routine and allowing for natural consequences (like having to settle for an apple in the van because they missed breakfast) but also allowing for fun with mom.

"Try doing something simple, with clear boundaries, such as reading two books before it's time to start the morning routine. If they're ready early, you can spend more time together, which is also a great natural incentive," writes Montessori expert Christina Clemer.

Here's to a less stressful AM routine for Kristen Bell and the rest of us mamas. Just because it feels miserable today doesn't mean it will be tomorrow. There is hope, Kristen!

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It was a year ago when I was pregnant, parenting a highly-spirited preschooler and also working a full-time job while trying to maintain a part-time side business when I got to the point of I have had enough.

I can't remember exactly what the trigger was, but like most times, it wasn't just one thing but a build-up over time that culminates in a massive meltdown.

You see, I was not getting much appreciation or validation for all of my contributions. This was a time when my partner, too, was working full-time and in graduate school two evenings a week. It was stressful for everyone, but, as the wife and mother, I carried the family through it by tending to the little details: the pick-up and drop-offs, the shopping, the cooking, all the minutiae of everyday life.

So, after perseverating on my laundry list of seen and unseen responsibilities, I decided to sit down with pen and paper and make a "day in the life" list from wake-up to bedtime that showed my partner exactly what my day entailed—a day that supported two other people in the house and one in the oven.

Even I was surprised to see all of the things listed out in 15-minute increments. On paper, it actually looked even worse than it felt. I thought to myself about how much physical, mental and emotional energy I expend in this hectic season of our lives. And I didn't regret it for a minute.

However, back to my original complaint…I still wanted to be validated for it. I needed to be seen for both the implicit and explicit tasks and expectations in my day-to-day.

So I handed my list over to my husband, expecting him to be awakened to the fact I was indeed working in overdrive and for him to be grateful for all the ways that I take so many burdens off of him so that he can be successful in school and his career.

Instead of that, his response almost put me into a state of shock. He read over the list and then said, "I know. You are Superwoman."

His words, like kryptonite, left me speechless. Part of me knew that his intent was for this to be a compliment, but it felt so invalidating. It completely missed the mark, and instead of leaving me feeling appreciated, I felt less understood.

Superheroes have innate superpowers that I imagine they use with ease. In fact, they are expected to use their powers and perhaps that is their sole purpose. No one ever looks to a superhero and asks, "Do you need a break?" And as a feminist, I sure as heck believe women are strong and powerful. But the idea of being labeled a "superwoman" did not feel empowering.

I already know I am efficient, capable, strong and fierce. But, I am also fatigued, sometimes overworked and underappreciated, and worst of all expected to be the one that keeps it together for everyone else.

What I learned about through my research of who Superwoman really is was this: her powers always wear off by the end of the story. Turns out these so-called "superpowers" really are temporary. That I can relate to.

I am only human and there are days and weeks where I feel on top of the world, days where I can manage it all with ease. I can be up all night nursing a baby, take both kids to school, and show up on time for a 9:00 am meeting with a French pastry I baked from scratch. I can push through the exhaustion and demands every day…until I can't.

And it's not just my spouse who uses this label. I have well-meaning girlfriends who have also tossed the term out there as if it was meant to be a feather in my cap.

When things get tough, I appreciate the texts of support my girlfriends send me. Even when they are far away, it's nice to know someone cares when everyone in your house has the stomach flu while your partner is out of the country. It's comforting to be able to share the ups and downs of trying to balance a career with a growing family.

But when the text comes in and says something like, "I don't know how you do all that. You are a supermom!" I feel like there should be an auto-reply that says, "Connection lost."

The thing is, I don't want to be elevated to superhero status for living my life. It is not heroic and it's probably not too far off from what every other devoted partner and mother provides their family. But, this is what I think we need, what we are starving for. We need someone to say, "How are you doing?" or, "What have you done lately to care for yourself?" or, "Thank you for all that you do and who you are."

Those are the kinds of words that let me know I am seen and make me feel validated when I am working the hardest. They let me know that the people I love the most see me, and not a cape.

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