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My parents welcomed me into the world when they were both 24 years old, nowhere near what we consider the midlife crisis age. There are definite challenges with having kids so young, but in the 70s, they were not in the minority. Today, more couples are putting off having kids until their 30s and 40s, and researchers have scrambled to figure out the effects of the delay.


The advantages of waiting have been well-documented, but as I talk to many of the people around me, the downside is also real. Men and women report feeling like something existential is starting to go on in their 30s and throughout their 40s, and there are young children underfoot while mom and dad try to work out these feelings.

The midlife crisis we think of where marriages implode, fast cars are driven, and chaos ensues definitely exist, but what is less talked about is the more toned down but no less difficult version. As Mandy Harvey sums it up pretty well in her song, “Try”: “I don’t feel the way I used to, the sky is grey much more than it is blue.”

This grey doesn’t mean constant unhappiness, but it is a detour from the feelings of easy happiness that dominated our early decades. Researchers say now that older parents aren’t crazy for feeling this. It’s the beginning of the U-curve.

What is the U-curve?

When researchers studied happiness, they found a distinct U-curve, a line that starts high, falls, and then climbs. In early life, people report high levels of happiness, but towards the middle of our 30s and throughout our 40s, they report decreasing happiness until they bottom out in their 50s. This is in line with what we consider the years for a midlife crisis to take place.

However, the saying that’s it’s all downhill isn’t exactly right when talking about aging and happiness. After the early 50s, people report growing steadily happier until they are back to the happiness levels of their early decades, even though they are now staring down their mortality in their 60s and 70s.

Imagine a smile. That’s how they U-curve appears, and those of us nearing the bottom of the curve are concerned.

It’s terrifying to be at the low end, especially because it’s a new feeling and we can’t exactly put our fingers on what is causing it. As author Ada Calhoun points out, there are plenty of reasons for people to be stressed in the middle stage of life, especially now.

Money is a consideration in a way it’s never been before, with college, housing, and other expenses increasing while pay can’t keep up. In the U.S., we have less support when it comes to maternity leave, paternity leave, and childcare. There’s also the phenomenon that Eli J. Finkel explored in his book, “The All-or-Nothing Marriage,” that shows we expect more of our marriages now than any generation before.

No wonder Calhoun worries that this generation will “just have a diagonal line pointed straight to the lower right-hand corner” when it’s all said and done.

However, there’s reason for hope. The U-curve has been found in studies of primates, a remarkable fact that implies this might not be all about our circumstances. Chimpanzees and orangutans who were studied were found to be the unhappiest in the 40s and 50s, showing a pattern of the U-curve similar to humans.

Stressful circumstances don’t help, but there’s hope that we will pull out of the low point since this is not a problem only seen in humans.

Parenting on the way down

The U-curve has the potential to affect everything in our lives, especially our parenting. Even if affairs don’t occur and careers aren’t abandoned, both genders show external manifestations of the stress and identity struggle of this time.

The outward manifestations can be good and bad. A friend of mine says there are definite advantages to her more laid back attitude as a 40-something mom. However, parenting in her 40s means feeling tired pretty much all of the time, and she says she knows her young daughters are aware that she sees parenting as work. It’s hard for her to get the time she needs for herself as a mother, and that makes meditating on identity and fulfillment difficult.

There’s also the fact that midlife causes us to reflect on our options and progress, or lack thereof. In an attempt to offer her kids a happy, stable home, one friend says she feels she might have lost her authenticity because of how limited her choices now are. Her new understanding that she is in the middle of life and time is limited makes that realization hard to cope with, but it’s hard to make changes when young kids will be affected. It can leave parents with a perpetual sensation of being unfulfilled.

As for my kids, having a mom who is descending into the U-curve means they have someone who is capable of a much deeper array of emotions. I’m more comfortable sitting with sadness, frustration, or those just having a blue day because I often deal with those feelings myself.

Unfortunately, they don’t have the mom who is a carefree kind of happy, the kind I was years ago, the kind I imagined being with my kids. Happiness during this time of life can mean hard, intentional work on an ongoing basis, which feels wrong because I can’t pinpoint reasons not to be content.

Appearing ungrateful is a real fear for those of us living in the U-curve. Our first-world problems pale in comparison to most people’s realities, and yet I sometimes plan glow stick dance parties in the living room with my kids just to keep myself from feeling like a cloud is hanging over my head.

When joy is a job

Knowing about the U-curve can help us let go of the shame and guilt we have for experiencing this dive in contentedness. Speaking of his own midlife transition, writer Jonathan Rauch wishes he would have had someone to tell him that what he was going through was normal. He was worried that he might just be a whiner, and he would have been relieved to know that he wasn’t alone in his feelings of discontent. In over 79 countries, evidence of a U-curve during midlife has been found, so no one is going through this in a bubble.

Despite not feeling an intense, easy joy that we can share easily with others, it’s still possible to be good parents. It’s not easy to focus so much on others when we feel like we are living in internal chaos, but it’s doable, and our kids may learn valuable lessons from us during this time.

We can start trying what is apparently working for the older generation: accepting our circumstances as much as possible. Many hypothesize that by our 60s, we are resigned, or we’ve simply learned what’s important and let the rest go. This may be the key to newfound happiness.

This doesn’t mean we don’t strive for what we desire during midlife. It’s just important to try to think of our future selves and what they will value. That may put life into perspective now and help us weather the stormier days.

There’s also making joy intentional. Writer Shauna Niequist says, “Sometimes joy is easy … and sometimes you have to work for it.” Kids can watch us do the work of self-care, meditation, and identity exploration. It’s not awful for them to see us work for what we want, especially if it’s happiness. They learn early that there are seasons of life we have to slog through, but that doesn’t mean giving up.

Taking another page from what Finkel learned researching marriage, we don’t always stay in things because we’re happy. His research found that many people feel their marriages have meaning, so they weather the difficult periods where contentment is less instead of walking away. The same is true of life and pushing through the daily tasks. We trudge through the hard times because our lives have meaning, every day.

Knowing that we’re not alone allows us to fully experience our midlife crisis, or transition, without feeling that there’s no explanation for it. Though we may not know the exact reason these decades seem more difficult than most, we have the U-curve research to show that there’s definitely something going on, and we can embrace that without having parenting guilt over it.

Who said motherhood doesn't come with a manual?

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When model Mara Martin was one of 16 finalists selected to walk in the 2018 Sports Illustrated Swim Search show, she was thrilled to fulfill a lifelong dream. And when she woke up the day after the show to see that she and her baby daughter had made headlines around the world, she was thrilled all over again.

Martin breastfed her 5-month-old daughter Aria while walking in the runway, and the story spread quickly.


"It is truly so humbling and unreal to say the least," Martin wrote in an Instagram post Monday. "I'm so grateful to be able to share this message and hopefully normalize breastfeeding and also show others that women CAN DO IT ALL! But to be honest, the real reason I can't believe it is a headline is because it shouldn't be a headline!!! My story of being a mother and feeding her while walking is just that."

SI Swimsuit Editor MJ Day says the breastfeeding moment wasn't planned in advance, but it worked out wonderfully. Day was speaking with the models backstage when she noticed Aria was peacefully nursing away. Having breastfed her own two children, Day recognized this as a powerful moment in the making, according to SI Swimsuit.

"I asked Mara if she would want to walk and continue to nurse. She said 'Oh my gosh, yes! Really? Are you sure?', and I said absolutely! I loved the idea to be able to allow Mara to keep nursing and further highlight how incredible and beautiful women are," Day explained.

Martin hopes that her moment in the spotlight can help other mamas feel comfortable nursing when and where they feel like it, but she doesn't want to overshadow some of the other women who took part in the show.

"One woman is going to boot camp in two weeks to serve our country," she wrote. "One woman had a mastectomy (@allynrose), and another is a cancer survivor, 2x paralympic gold medalist, as well as a mother herself (@bren_hucks you rock) Those are the stories that our world should be discussing!!!!"

And thanks to Martin's powerful motherhood moment, now, people are.

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Dear Jeff Bezos and all who have anything to do with Amazon Prime Day,

I just want to start by saying—I know you are trying to be helpful. I love you all for that. I honestly do. But, you are kind of making me feel a lot of pressure today. Like, in a good way, but also, in an anxious way.

Let me explain…

On any given day, as a mother to three children, I have a certain level of anxiety. While it's not constant, I do have my anxious moments. Why? Because there are various versions of the following: Me asking my two older daughters to get their shoes on what feels like 500 times as I am changing my 9-month-old's very, very, very messy diaper while I am trying to figure out what I can throw on to wear in about five seconds while I am repeating brush your teeth, brush your teeth in my head so I, in fact, don't forget to brush my teeth.

Not even to mention the mental load that weighs on my mind every single day. Remember to flip the laundry, fill out the school forms, cancel that appointment, reschedule this appointment, order more diapers, figure out what we're having for dinner, squeeze in a shower, lock the basement door so the baby can't get down the stairs, find better eczema cream for my middle daughter, get more sunscreen...the list goes on and on and on.

But then you Amazon Prime Day me and I'm having a lot of feelings about that.

Because you're reminding me of things I need to order, to think about, to be on top of more.

The little potty that's on sale reminds me that I need to step up my potty training game for my 2-year-old. That super cute dollhouse reminds me that I need to think about my daughter's first birthday in two months (WHAT!). That face mask reminds me that I need to remember to wash my face before bed because I forget waaaay more than I remember which is terrible.

But then I realize, these deals are going to save my mental load by fixing my life. Right?

Like, I never knew I needed an Instant Pot until you told me it was only $58. Now I am scouring Pinterest for meals I want to prep in my own. THIS POT IS THE TICKET TO GETTING MY LIFE IN ORDER.

Do we need more plates and cups for the kids? I mean really they only probably need about two plates and two cups each but YES. Yes I do need more cute kids kitchenware. THESE PLATES ARE THE TICKET TO BEING A GOOD MOM.

What would I do if I had five Echo Dots? I don't know, but let's find out because they're only $29! THESE DOTS ARE THE TICKET TO EFFICIENCY.

If I order a Vitamix at 30% off, I know I'll lose the baby weight. Think of all the smoothies I'll mix up! I mean, I just lost a pound even thinking about the smoothies that thing can whip up. THIS VITAMIX IS THE TICKET TO A SEXY BOD.

Buying this trendy, floral dress will step up my mom style significantly. THIS DRESS IS THE TICKET TO KEEPING MY COOL.

Okay, then after I add all the fixers to my cart, I realize… I have 99 things, but necessity ain't one.

I mean, I have everything from waterproof band-aids to bras to dresses for myself and my kids to an alarm clock and books. I basically feel like Oprah—You get an Audible subscription! You get an Audible subscription!—but instead of these products magically being paid for by Queen O herself, the money is coming from my bank account, which is a lot less fun of a game, TBH.

And if I am being honest, I don't need much help with my order-things-from-Amazon-and-pretend-it's-being-paid-for-with-Monopoly-money game as I am quite often coming home to an Amazon package wondering what it could be, opening it with the enthusiasm of a kid on Christmas morning—even though I am the exact person who ordered whatever is inside of that Amazon box.

But today, on Amazon Prime Day, you tempt me with all the deals. And yes, my anxiety, blood pressure and adrenaline rise. And yes, my bank account might temporarily decrease—BUT if we are being fair, with the savings I'm getting on things I would buy anyway, I am basically making our account increase overall. Right?

And while these things aren't going to make me skinnier, or cooler, or more put together—I'm okay with that. I am doing a pretty good job on my own. But some of them will actually help my life in a few different ways at a reasonable price, and I am grateful for that—for real.

Now, Bezos, please end this 404 error nonsense and let me purchase all the things!

Thank you for all the savings and excitement,

Mamas everywhere

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Usually when celebrities post swimsuit photos on Instagram they don't exactly look like your average beach-going mom, but former Bachelorette (and mom of two) Ali Fedotowsky posted a series of bikini photos on Monday that are both beautiful and relatable.

"This might be my most vulnerable post on Instagram ever," she wrote in the caption for the photos which show a postpartum belly that looks like a real postpartum belly.

"At the end of the day, I know it's important to be open and honest about my postpartum body in hopes that it helps even one person out there who is struggling with their own body image," Fedotowsky (who just gave birth to her second child in May) wrote.

In the first photo of the series she's wearing a sarong around her stomach, but in the second and third photos Fedotowsky reveals the kind of stomach many mamas sport: It's not perfectly taut, she's not showing off any abs, but it is definity beautiful.

"If you swipe to see the second photo in this post, you see that my body has changed. My skin around my stomach is very loose and stretched out, I'm 15lbs heavier than I used to be, and my cup size has grown quite significantly," Fedotowsky writes.

The photos are a sponsored post for Lilly and Lime Swimwear (a line made for women with larger busts) but that doesn't mean it wasn't brave. In fact, the fact that it's an ad makes it even more amazing because research shows that when advertising only shows us bodies that don't look like our own, women become "generally more dissatisfied with their body and appearance".

Ali Fedotowsky

On her blog Fedotowsky notes that a lot of comments on her previous Instagram posts have been followers remarking how slim she looks, or how much they wish they looked like she does postpartum. By dropping that sarong and showing her tummy Fedotowsky is showing other mothers that there is nothing wrong with their own.

"While I appreciate the positive comments, you guys are always so good to me, I keep trying to explain that I'm just good at picking out clothes that flatter my body and hide my tummy," she wrote on her blog.

"I bounced back pretty quickly after I gave birth to Molly. But things are different this time and I'm OK with that. I'm learning to love my body and embrace how it's changed. I hope I get back to my pre-pregnancy shape one day, but that may never happen. And if it doesn't, that's OK."

Ali Fedotowsky

It is okay, because our bodies are more than our swimsuit selfies. They the vessels that carry us through life and carry our children and provide a safe, warm place for those children feel love.

Loose skin is a beautiful thing.


Thanks for keeping it real, Ali.

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Amazon shoppers were anxiously awaiting the countdown to Amazon Prime Day, but when the clock struck one, er three, the website went down.

On Monday afternoon shoppers were trying to get their hands on the much-hyped Prime Day deals but instead of low prices, many users just saw 404 errors, continuously refreshing pages, or had issues keeping or adding items to their shopping carts.

CNBC reports shares of Amazon were down during the shopping glitch, and many shoppers took to Twitter and Instagram to discuss how all they could see on Amazon were the dogs who decorate the site's 404 pages.

As cute as the dogs are, shoppers are getting tired of seeing them, so hopefully Amazon gets things back up and running soon. Analysts had projected Amazon would rake in $3 billion dollars this Prime Day. Time will tell how much of that was lost during the great dog picture debacle of 2018.

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