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You are nine years old, and Susan the babysitter is sitting in the hallway on top of the heating vent. It’s a cold night in Indiana. And she’s telling a story. Her eyes are wide, and she’s wearing purple lace fingerless gloves. You and your siblings are gathered around her like she’s the shaman of the village, sharing an ancient legend.


“I mean. He was just amazing.” She breathes. “It’s hard to describe.” She raises a purple-laced hand to wipe tears from her eyes, smudging some purple eyeliner. “The concert was just…unbelievable.”

Your sister, who is 14 and the oldest, she pats Susan’s arm in understanding. But you stare at Susan in confusion, eyeing her fringed “Prince and the Revolution” tour sweatshirt. She’s crying because the singer was so good? You can’t make sense of it.

You you’ve seen this on TV before. You’ve seen the old timey footage of women with stiff hair watching the Beatles and then just keeling over like they’ve been stunned with a cattle prod.

But you can’t put the pieces together. They’re sad because the song is so wonderful? But you can sense the heaviness of Susan’s emotions, and it translates to you as an important adult thing to try and understand later.

Later you are ten.

Your sister has turned on MTV. There’s a video of a man with curly black hair. He’s dressed like a pirate and singing about some birds that are crying. Doves, actually. And as you hear this song, and watch this man – something in you shifts.

This is not like the Little River Band mom plays in the van. This isn’t Neil Diamond shouting about “America!” This is different from the songs you sing at school about Jesus under the weight of the wood, and rainbow connections, and meatballs rolling off of the top of spaghetti all covered in cheese.

This is something that hits you low in your stomach. And it fills you with a feeling you have never expereienced before – a feeling like there is something wondrous just out of your reach – and this feeling is somehow both wonderful and terrible all at the same time. Later, you will learn the word “longing.”

You are 12.

In dance class you learn a jazz routine to “Raspberry Beret.” You wear pink tights and swivel your hips in a circle. She walked in through the out door out door…

You buy the Purple Rain CD for the brand new CD player. It’s a large black box the size of a VCR, and it’s connected to a huge amplifier. It’s all tucked onto a shelf in the old-fashioned cedar wardrobe your mom bought when she re-decorated your room with flowered wallpaper and pink carpet.

You open the cupboard doors like you are stepping into a secret world, but there is no lion or witch. Only a Prince. And he is crooning to you about someone named Nikki. And something she’s doing with a magazine. You hold your face in the darkness of the cupboard, and feel the vibrations of the music against your skin, while your stomach flips and twists.

You cut out the lyrics to “When Doves Cry” and hang them on your closet door. Dig if you will the picture. Of you and I engaged in a kiss. The sweat of your body covers me. Can you my darling, can you picture this?

You older sister stops by your room to take back the teal mini-dress you stole from her for your 7th grade dance. You wore it without knowing your sister had scorched a cigarette burn in the back, which your date pointed out to you while you were rocking awkwardly in a slow dance. Your sister scans the room, sees your cut out lyrics and pictures. She rifles through your CDs and spies Prince’s Scandalous Sex Suite, which includes the songs “The Passion”. “The Rapture.” And quite simply: “Sex.” She turns to you. You and your perm and bifocal glasses and braces, and she bursts out laughing.

“You’re into Prince? Hilarious. He a total horn dog, Jo!” She snaps her Big Red gum and laughs her way down the hall. You sit on your bed mortified. Somehow stunned that your selection of “Prince As Favorite Singer” has betrayed your sexual awakening.

You are in your twenties.

And therefore spend a lot of time confused and slightly drunk. You live in New York City. There is a lot of longing. You have been seeing a man for a very long time. A man who is also confused, but rarely as drunk.

You spend many nights away from him, out in bars downtown with your friends. “Little Red Corvette” and “Kiss” come on over the dive bar speakers, and you and your friends take off your pinching work shoes and swirl, laughing, dancing your confusion away, until the bartender shouts at you about his cabaret license and threatens to turn off the music.

One morning you wake up with the man and see a flash on his boxy desktop computer about Prince being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He’s doing a little concert afterwards, in a small venue. You have never seen him live. There haven’t been any opportunities to do so. And your hands shake as you email friends. It is only 7am. And you are harassing them about attending a Prince concert that night. A concert with a hefty price tag, and that doesn’t start until midnight. No one wants to go with you. Not even the man you woke up with. He is a more of a Michael Jackson guy. You decide to go alone.

You get there at 10pm, when the doors open, and you push your way to the front until you are about 20 feet from the stage. Midnight comes and goes. 1 am comes and goes. You are exhausted. Your purse and coat are in a heap at your feet. You chat with the people next to you, who look at your strangely – white girl with no friends in cheap boots. What’s her story?

As the clock ticks to 2am you begin to hate Prince. Fuck this. Where the fuck is he? And then suddenly – there the fuck he is – strutting out in a red tunic that looks like something Nancy Reagan might wear. And somehow still looking like the sexiest creature ever witnessed by human eyeballs. He smirks out at the crowd. Picks up a guitar. And you lose your mind along with everyone else in the room. There are delirious screams. And they’re coming from you.

Suddenly you understand Susan the babysitter. You understand those fainting Beatles women. You are slightly deaf, and you don’t care.

Two hours later he slinks off stage, and you ride home in a taxi at 4am, feeling like you are floating on a magic carpet, your heart pounding in your ears.

You are thirty.

You have met a different man. When you first see him – his blue eyes and shy smile – you feel that familiar longing. But different this time. This time the something wondrous is within reach. The first time you bring him to your apartment, he walks into the living room, and bends down to pick something up.

“Who owns this? You or your roommate?” He asks in his dipping Irish lilt. He is holding up a VHS copy of Prince Purple Rain.

“That’s mine.” You say.

“Ah.” He grins. “Very good.”

Later, you will play “I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man” on a loop. It’s his favorite Prince song. One you had actually forgotten about. When it plays at your wedding four years later, you will be dancing barefoot, and will refuse to go to the bathroom, because that would mean you’d have to stop dancing.

You are in your mid-30s.

It is your son’s first Halloween. You text your mother photos showing her the cut of the purple jacket. The silver sparkle on one of the shoulders. She says sewing the ruffles is tricky.

You order your boy a floppy black wig off Etsy. Cut him a tiny white guitar from cardboard. Paint a faint black mustache with eyeliner. It’s such a great Halloween costume you don’t think you can ever top it, until two years later you dress him in an all sequined jumpsuit as Ziggy Stardust.

When Bowie passes away, you stare at the Halloween photo with a kind of confusing, vertigo sadness. But….how can there be no Bowie?

And then three months later, your phone pings with a text from a friend: “How can there be no Prince?”

Your friend sadly jokes that maybe next year you should dress your kid as a Ninja Turtle or Batman? Maybe leave the world’s musical geniuses alone?

Some musicians are passed down like spirit guides – easing us through the tangle of our years.

You see his face on the news, his purple twisting guitar held aloft, and underneath the photo – a date marking his beginning and end. And you think of Susan the babysitter and her tear-soaked gloves. You think of your big sister popping her Big Red gum – all cinnamon and knowledge.

And you think how some musicians are passed down like spirit guides – easing us through the tangle of our years. You remember your cedar wardrobe, and for a moment you’d like to be lost inside its shadows and songs for one more minute, tucked up in that pink room with the flowers on the walls.

But your three-year old is pulling at you. And so you play “Let’s Go Crazy” for him. Turn it up. And he laughs and runs laps around his train table. Around and around and around.

He doesn’t know the word longing yet.

Who said motherhood doesn't come with a manual?

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I had big plans to be a "good mom" this summer. There were going to be chore charts, reading goals, daily letter writing practice, and cursive classes. There would be no screen time until the beds were made, and planned activities for each day of the week.

Today was the first day of summer vacation and our scheduled beach day. But here's what we did instead: Lounged in our pj's until 11 am, baked the girl's pick, chocolate chip cookie brownies, started an art project we never finished, then moved to the pool.

It's so easy to be pressured by things we see on social. Ways to challenge our kids and enrich their summer. But let's be real—we're all tired. Tired of chores, tired of schedules and places to be, tired of pressure, and tired of unrealistic expectations.

So instead of a schedule, we're doing nothing this summer. Literally NOTHING.

No camps. No classes, and no curriculums.

Instead, we're going to see where each day takes us. I've dubbed this the "Summer of Me," so workouts and clean eating are a priority for me. And also giving our girls the freedom to pick what they want to do.

We may go to a local pool and check out the swimming programs. And we join the local YMCA. But whatever we do—it will be low key.

It will include family time, too much TV, a few trips, lots of sunshine, some new roller skates, water balloons, plenty of boredom, rest, relaxation, and reading. (Because mama likes to read!)

So if you haven't figured out what you're doing this summer, you're not alone. And guess what? It's OKAY! Your kids will be fine and so will you.

Originally posted on Kristen Hewitt's blog. Check out her post on 30 ways to have fun doing almost nothing this summer.

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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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When we consider all the skills our kids will need to succeed in the future, what comes to mind? Perhaps creativity, tech skills, or an excellent understanding of math might be at the top of many parents' lists. Social-emotional skills, like empathy, compassion, or the ability to understand another person's viewpoint may not be the ones you thought of right away, but deep down you know they matter.

We've all had those co-workers who didn't know how to listen to our ideas or friends who couldn't compromise with others. We know that in the work world and in our personal life, emotional skills are key to developing and maintaining healthy relationships.

If you are the parent of a toddler, you know that young children are inherently self-centered. It's not some faulty aspect of their character or a misstep of parenting skills. Young children simply do not have the brain maturity to consider another person's perspective or needs just yet—their brain physically is not ready to handle that kind of mental work.

However, child development research shows us that we can do a few things along the developmental path to help foster social-emotional skills in our kids. With a little help from us, our kids' brains can develop with meaningful connections that tune them into the feelings of others.

Here's how:

1. Treat others how you want your kids to treat others.

How we talk to our kids becomes their internal dialogue. We know from research that this goes for emotional skills as well. A recent study showed that when parents talk to their kids more about how other people might be feeling, the kids had better perspective-taking abilities—the ability to see a situation from another person's point of view.

This, of course, is the basis of many emotional skills, especially empathy. Just by talking about another person's feelings, kids begin to develop those crucial brain connections that help them develop empathy.

It's worth pointing out that very young children under ages 3-4 do not have the brain maturity to really understand another person's perspective. They lack a crucial skill that psychologists call Theory of Mind, meaning they can't understand the mind of another person.

However, our urgings and thoughtful phrasing to point out how another person might be feeling can only help them down this developmental path. Then, once their little brain matures, they will be in the habit of hearing and understanding the feelings of others.

2. Model positive emotional behavior in daily life.

It's probably not surprising to learn that how we react to our kids' feelings influences their emotional development. When your child gets upset, do you get angry or ruffled by their big emotions? We are all human, of course, so sometimes our kids' emotions are the exact triggers that fuel our big feelings, too. However, if we can remain the calm in the emotional storm for our kids, their development will benefit. Through modeling emotional regulation, over time our kids will learn how to self-regulate as well.

One study, in fact, showed that toddlers whose parents exhibited anger or over-reacted to tantrums were likely to have more tantrums and negative emotionality by the end of the study. However, the opposite dynamic can happen, too. Parents who model firm, but calm emotional regulation help their kids learn these skills as well.

3. Don’t be afraid to show your emotions.

Many times, we feel that one of our main jobs as a parent is to protect our children from the big, often overwhelming emotions of adults. For instance, we try not to break down crying or become red-faced with anger in front of our kids. It just feels too big for them to handle and perhaps not developmentally appropriate.

As they mature, however, older kids are able to handle a bit more discussion and expression of honest emotions. Have you noticed that kids usually pick up on the fact that you are upset even if you try to hide it? Kids are naturally curious and, many times, very sensitive to the emotional tenor at home. If they are developmentally ready, this can be a good time to have more discussions about emotions and how to handle them.

For example, my 9-year-old is playing a lot of baseball this summer and always wants me to pitch to him so he can practice batting. Now, I am not a very skilled player so my pitches often go off course or are too weak. He had gotten in the habit of correcting my pitching or (more likely) complaining about it every time we played.

After repeated experiences with this, I was not only annoyed but it also sort of hurt my feelings—so I finally told him how I felt. Guess what? His behavior at practice time changed dramatically! The mere fact of him realizing that his mom has feelings too really made him think about his words more carefully.

These types of interaction can become part of your "emotion coaching." It may sound silly but it can make a big impact for kids, especially as they grow older and are more able to really understand the emotional lesson. On some level, it's nice that our kids think we are superheroes, but it's also crucial that they understand that we are still human, with real feelings.

The magic of helping our kids develop empathy doesn't happen in well-planned lessons or elaborate activities. The real magic happens in the small, simple interactions and discussions we have with our kids each day.

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Sometimes it can feel like you never get a minute to even finish a thought—let alone a to-do list. When your day is packed with caretaking, your own needs get pushed back. So when you finally get to lie down at the end of the day, all those thoughts are waiting for you. While we haven't figured out the secret to keeping you from over-analyzing every.single.thing. (sorry, mama!), we do believe you must carve out time for you. Because that rest is just as important—and you've certainly earned it.

XO,

#TeamMotherly

PS: We spoke to Jessica Alba and she gave us the lowdown on why she stopped breastfeeding, and Nordstrom is having their anniversary sale until August 5th. Here's everything we want!

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