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I Have to See if I Fall Again: Lessons From the Front Lines of the Playground

Until he turned three a month ago, my son had been a notably physically cautious kid. He never climbed out of his crib. He started jumping more than a year after he started walking but he never jumped with abandon. Rather, he jumped like a gymnast practicing a tough dismount even though he was usually jumping off of nothing but a broad patch of flat earth. He did not try to scale furniture in our house, nor did he try to scale any remotely cumbersome playground equipment. He still loves to relax in the sweet plastic womb of a baby swing and be pushed until it gets dark outside.


But a few weeks ago, after my husband took this same son of ours to the playground, they walked in the door to our apartment wired, elated even, by some particularly daring thing he’d done on some particularly bananas sloped ladder. I couldn’t quite understand it, but they’d cracked each other up. My husband was so shocked by this toddler we thought we knew doing something so out of what we assumed was his forever character. It sounded fun and cool and of course, I was super psyched for them (and a bit jealous).

So, on one of New York’s freakishly warm days this March, I took my kid to that same playground where history would, surely and beautifully, repeat itself. And it did! Was that my son on those arching bars? He climbed them about twelve times without a shred of help from me and slid nimbly down the accompanying corkscrew slide that had long frightened him. Yes, I did initially (and possibly involuntarily) bark things like, KEEP LOOKING IN FRONT OF YOU, and, YOU GOT THIS, and, YEAH, proper parenting etiquette be damned. But mostly I watched, flabbergasted by his sudden leap into a new realm of body confidence and dexterity.

Satisfied he’d mastered and conquered the bars, he moved on to what I call the big shaky metal chain ladder. You know what I’m talking about. At two, my son used to attempt a step or two on this ladder and then quickly retreat toward something more stable and low to the ground. But on this day, he climbed to the top! And then he did it again! And then he did it again, and again, and again. And then he did it again and fell, from the very top, all the way to the ground. It was a measured fall, he dropped, then he was straddling one of the footholds, and then he was flat on his back on the rubbered ground, crying.

I scooped him up fast, irritated with myself for not catching him sooner, and held him. I thought, “Well, that’s that, we’ll see this ladder in another year or so.”

But faster than I thought possible, his little body was wriggling its way ground-ward.

“I have to see if I fall again,” he stuttered between sobs, and he stuck his feet into place and started to climb it. AGAIN. “It’s tricky,” he yelled to me, voice shaking, his cheeks still wet.

“Are you okay?” I shouted at him, but he ignored me.

He did not fall again. He made it to the top.

And I can’t stop thinking about it, all of it. I think about the fall, sure, and how it made my stomach drop, but that’s not what stuck. What stuck is the getting up. It’s cliché, I know, but it is the cliché, the one we all tell ourselves with words – when you fall down, the most important thing is to get back up and try again. But I saw it. I watched this thing you remind yourself of all the time happen in real time. I watched this kid of mine actually do the thing that I know many kids do: act, in spite of fear, discomfort, and pain.

I think about his little voice every day, telling me he has to try again. I think about it on the days when I feel like I’ve failed as a parent. I think about it on the days when I’m unsure about what I’m writing, when I’m unsure about my career and all the weird, stuck parts of it. I think about it when I say the wrong things to people. I think about it when I try to kick my legs up into a handstand in yoga class and can’t ever seem to do it. I think about it when I worry that I haven’t made enough noise about everything the president does.

It’s tricky. But I’ll try again.

Who said motherhood doesn't come with a manual?

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Jessica Simpson celebrated her baby shower this weekend (after getting a cupping treatment for her very swollen pregnancy feet) and her theme and IG captions have fans thinking this was not just a shower, but a baby name announcement as well.

Simpson (who is expecting her third child with former NFL player Eric Johnson) captioned two photos of her shower as "💚 Birdie's Nest 💚". The photographs show Simpson and her family standing under a neon sign spelling out the same thing.

While Simpson didn't explicitly state that she was naming her child Birdie, the numerous references to the name in her shower photos and IG stories have the internet convinced that she's picking the same name Busy Philips chose for her now 10-year-old daughter.

The name Birdie isn't in the top 1000 baby names according to the Social Security Administration, but It has been seeing a resurgence in recent years, according to name nerds and trend watchers.

"Birdie feels like a sassy but sweet, down-to-earth yet unusual name," Pamela Redmond Satran of Nameberry told Town and Country back in 2017. "It's also just old enough to be right on time."

Simpson's older kids are called Maxwell and Ace, which both have a vintage feel, so if Birdie really is her choice, the three old-school names make a nice sibling set.

Whether Birdie is the official name or just a cute nickname Simpson is playing around with, we get the appeal and bet she can't wait for her little one to arrive (and her feet to go back to normal!)

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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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