A modern lifestyle brand redefining motherhood

I spent the first three decades of my life running away from home. During my teenage years, I bided my time until college. Then in college, I bided my time until adulthood. I managed to come home only for holidays, despite the fact that I went to a university in the city where I grew up. How did I do that? How did I not run into my parents at the park or the grocery store or Parent’s Day, for that matter? Oh right, I told them not to come.


Three weeks after graduation, I found myself living in a tiny studio apartment on the upper east side of Manhattan, far, far away from my Tennessee home. The people were just as nice, but they didn’t rub their niceness all over you. It was personal space in a city crammed for space and it was lovely. I worked hard for almost no pay at a tiny publishing house. I called home on the weekends, closing my eyes and trying to picture the green farmland over the horns and shouts from 86th and Lexington.

Home was a nice idea, but only that, until I had kids. I was 29 years old and 29 weeks pregnant when I had my first child back in Tennessee. I would begin motherhood with a son who would need nurses more than he needed me, a tracheotomy more than he needed me, a feeding tube more than he needed me. It would take 10 weeks to get him home.

When he came home, all I could think was, “I want my mom.” I wanted her more than I’ve ever wanted anyone in my life. So she came. She mothered me while I learned to mother him. She brought me coffee and new onesies that we would promptly take the scissors to, cutting holes in the center for his feeding tube. She filmed his first word, hissed through his speaking valve over the sounds of a Sunday afternoon football game. Whenever she left, it would take me a minute or 30 before I stopped thinking, “Should we be left unsupervised?”

Eventually, my husband and I got the hang of it, the knack for this special needs parenting thing. Eventually our son got his trach and his feeding tube out, and began to eat and breathe and do the baby-thing in a less medical way. As a toddler, he got a wheelchair that took baby-proofing to a whole new level. In all this, my mother was a constant. She was the only trusted babysitter, her with her Chicos outfits and limitless energy that had irritated me as a kid and now mystified me as a mom.

Then I got pregnant with twins. Suddenly our cute bungalow just south of the city with no garage or third bedroom was not enough. Suddenly, the 30 minute drive to my mom’s brick-and-siding home was too much. We sucked it up – moved to the ‘burbs less than a mile from her, and we never looked back.

She is no longer necessary in the way she was necessary when our first son was small and fragile, and every bath or outing felt both dangerous and momentous. She is necessary in a different way. We walk to her house. I sit on her porch swing and we drink cherry limeades while the kids run and roll rampant in her flowers. I make her birthday cakes: lemon with coconut frosting just the way she likes it. She helps me carry my oldest in and out of cars and kisses him just below the ear the way we learned to do in the NICU to get around the wires.

I spent years running away from home, but the ties I didn’t even feel never fell away. When I needed her, my mom pulled me close, me and my husband and our gaggle of children. We are two houses, but we are one home. I’m sure my kids will run away in their own ways to form their circles of independence that I’m not allowed to enter, but when they do, I hope they know I’m not going anywhere. I’ll be there two or 10 years down the line when they come running back.

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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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