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I’ve had this post written and rewritten almost every day since August but I didn’t want to put it out there because it sounded like bragging. I hate bragging. And none of it sounded true, you know? What she said about me. Or maybe it sounded truer than anything I’d ever heard. Either way, Kevin has been so good lately, until this morning. This morning I don’t care what it sounds like. I’m the woman she said I am. I don’t care what anyone thinks. I have a bite mark on my left hand, all my cereal bowls are broken, and in an hour or so I’ll have a large and painful bruise on my back, so here goes.

I don’t go to Shoprite anymore. I know – it’s very sad. It’s like the end of an era, but I got the Target red card and morphed, instantaneously, into a complete loser. You can get everything there! In addition to steak and soy milk I got age defying eye cream and underpants yesterday! And I saved five percent on all of it by using my redcard!!! Loser. That’s me. Loser.

Anyway …

I hadn’t been to Shoprite all summer but one day Kevin says out of the blue, “We go Shoprite?”

Totally random.

“You want to go to Shoprite?” I asked.

“Yeah go Shoprite get cookie.”

As I glanced at him in the rear view mirror he made what we call the “boo boo lip” with begging hands. It was hysterical. So even though it was 6:30 and I had work to do, I gave in and said OK.

I noticed her the moment I walked in. She clapped eyes on me, and started walking toward me like a long lost friend. She had to have been in her 80s and my first thought was “She has mistaken me for someone she knows,” so I accepted her outstretched hands in mine with an apology already prepared in my head.

“Where have you been?” she asked.

“Ma’am I am so sorry I think you must have me confused with someone else?”

“Not at all I’m not THAT old. You’re the girl with all the beautiful redheaded children. And one of them is handicapped.”

“Yes he’s here with me. He’s over at the bakery getting a cookie. And just so you know ma’am, no one uses the term ‘handicapped’ anymore. I’m only telling you because it’s considered offensive and I don’t want anyone to take you the wrong way.”

“Did I offend YOU?”

“Not at all.”

“Thank goodness. Everyone your age seems to be offended all the time about everything, it’s nauseating. When did everyone get so sensitive?”

“I’m not really sure.”

“Well, honestly where have you been I haven’t seen you in ages. You know I started doing my shopping on Sundays despite those terrible crowds just so I could watch you.”


Oh yes. You’ve come so far and I’ve so enjoyed watching it all.”

“I don’t think I understand.”

“I remember the first time I saw you. You were so sad. You had all three of those beautiful redheads in one cart and I can remember thinking ‘Where is she going to put the food?!’ And then, how can anyone with such beautiful children look so sad? And then I saw him.”

At this point Kevin returned from the bakery.

“He pointed at something,” she continued her recollection, “and you, you said no and he started banging his head against the handle of the shopping cart and the girls started crying it was just awful to watch. Awful. And I can remember thinking ‘For God’s sake just give him what he wants how can you just let him harm himself that way.’ And you put your arm against his head so he couldn’t hurt himself but still you must have known he was going to behave that way when you said no so why did you say no? All those people were staring at you and you acted as if they weren’t even there. Do you remember that day?”

“I do,” I answered.

“Awful, just awful. Does he still do that?”

“No he hasn’t harmed himself in years.”

“I thought, ‘That poor woman will probably never leave the house again and best she shouldn’t with a child who behaves that way it’s dreadful.’ But the following week there you were! I was amazed. I thought, ‘Is this woman insane? Is she out to make some sort of spectacle of herself? I mean really that poor boy it’s sick it’s just sick what she’s doing parading him around like that. Why not keep him home to do the shopping I know she has a husband this just isn’t necessary.’ And at that exact moment your boy started screaming and he screamed the whole shopping trip. I must have passed you a dozen times and there he was screaming and slapping at you and everyone’s staring and again it was as if no one was there you just kept shopping. It went on like that for close to a year!”

“Was it that long?” I wondered out loud.

“Oh yes, longer I think. I thought you were insane. And then one day I was here with Phyllis – she passed on years ago, kidneys went, she drank like a fish. And I said, ‘Oh that woman is here again I think she’s insane why doesn’t she keep that poor boy at home. I would say she’s doing it for the attention but you know she doesn’t seem to notice all the people staring at her. One time he started banging his head against the cart and the whole store went silent you could hear a pin drop.’ And you know what Phyllis said, she said, ‘I think she’s doing it on purpose.’ And I said, ‘Of course she’s doing it on purpose but why? She could leave him at home for goodness sake or just shop in the evenings when no one’s here but she’s here every Sunday when the crowds are so awful attracting all this attention and for what purpose really?’ And Phyllis said, ‘Because it’s hard.’ Now mind you by this point Phyllis had started drinking in the afternoons so when she said that I thought, ‘Oh for God’s sake Phyllis it’s only 10 a.m. but then she followed it up with, ‘I think she’s purposely bringing him out at the worst possible time because it’s hard. It’s hard for him and it’s hard for her. I think you’re wrong about her. I think she knows everyone is staring at her and she knows exactly what everyone thinks of her. I think she’s embarrassed and afraid and probably depressed but she’s choosing to subject herself to this and you, the people judging her, because it’s very hard and maybe she thinks if she can do it she can do anything. Maybe she thinks if SHE can do anything, HE can do anything.'”

And then she started to cry.

“I thought she was drunk,” she continued. “She was always drunk towards the end, but you know she was right. She was right about you. I’ve watched you every Sunday all these years and she was right about you. It’s a shame she didn’t live to see it.”

And then I started to cry.

“We called you ‘the Shoprite lady,'” she said. “Towards the end, when she got very sick I’d go visit Phyllis in the hospital. She thought we were back in high school, kept asking about that beatnick she used to date, Harry Stevens. Anyway, in those few moments of a clarity she’d ask me, ‘How’s the Shoprite lady?’ And I’d catch her up on all your shenanigans. I’d tell her, ‘Oh Phyllis you should have seen it last week he knocked down an entire display of Christmas cookies and then started throwing them at her. He hit some poor woman in the back of the head! And the Shoprite lady is apologizing, and the woman is saying don’t worry it didn’t hurt meanwhile the girls are trying to pick up the cookies and the little boy is rolling on the floor like he’s been shot screaming “sorry!”‘ And you know what Phyllis said? She said, ‘He talks now?'”

By now this poor woman is sobbing so we had to move to the cafeteria and sit down.

“That was my Phyllis,” the old woman went on. “She only ever saw what really mattered. Everyone in that store including me was watching your boy thinking, ‘What is wrong with that woman her boy is completely out of control!’ but Phyllis, Phyllis would’ve been thinking, ‘He talks now. Isn’t that wonderful.'”

It got quiet again.

“She was my best friend. I’ve tried so hard, watching you all these years to see you the way Phyllis would have. A few days after she died I saw you here and your boy was stumbling like he’d just learned to walk. He had bruises all over and he kept ramming into everything like he was drunk. I thought, ‘What is going on he never walked like that before?’ Honestly he must have fallen a dozen times but he never cried: just got back up and kept trying to walk. And again everyone is staring at you like you’re a child abuser and I’m thinking, ‘Stop drawing all this attention to yourself and put him in the cart for God’s sake.’ But then I thought, ‘I see a boy falling because he can barely walk and his mother isn’t helping him she’s just letting him fall and bang into things. What would Phyllis see?’ And suddenly I realized the leg braces were gone. The leg braces were gone and you were allowing him to learn how to walk without them. So I don’t know where you’ve been shopping but you must come back. I’ve missed you terribly because when I see you, my Phyllis isn’t gone.”

“Wow. Okay,” I said.

“Oh wait I’m moving to Florida next week you can shop wherever you want.”

“Oh thank God. Now that you’re moving to Florida, thank god I can keep shopping at Target. Did you know you can save five percent with your redcard?”

“Oh my. Does it have to be red? I think all my credit cards are blue.”

“Um, well, it’s kind of a long story but thank you. Thank you for telling me about Phyllis.”

“You know what she would say?”


“She’d say isn’t it wonderful that the Shoprite lady was gone for so long. You never would have found the courage to tell her about me if you hadn’t missed seeing her so much.”

So here I am guys. Writing this post, watching my left hand swell, feeling the pain in my back, staring alternately at this blank computer screen and the broken remains of my cereal bowls and it suddenly occurs to me: “What would Phyllis be thinking?” She’d be thinking, “isn’t this wonderful?” Do you even remember the last time he bit you: No. Do you remember the last time he broke something: No. And once upon a time these violent rages came out of nowhere, totally unpredictable, but this one was so obviously the result of him not getting enough sleep. And it stinks that he hurt you but if he hadn’t you might not have taken notice of just how far you have come.

Also, they sell cereal bowls at Target. Five percent off with your red card.

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We spend a lot of time prepping for the arrival of a baby. But when it comes to the arrival of our breast milk (and all the massive adjustments that come with it), it's easy to be caught off guard. Stocking up on a few breastfeeding essentials can make the transition to breastfeeding a lot less stressful, which means more time and energy focusing on what's most important: Your recovery and your brand new baby.

Here are the essential breastfeeding tools you'll need, mama:

1. For covering up: A cute nursing cover

First and foremost, please know that all 50 states in the United States have laws that allow women to breastfeed in public. You do not have to cover yourself if you don't want to—and many mamas choose not to—and we are all for it.

That said, if you do anticipate wanting to take a more modest approach to breastfeeding, a nursing cover is a must. You will find an array of styles to choose from, but we love an infinity scarf, like the LK Baby Infinity Nursing Scarf Nursing Cover. You'll be able to wear the nursing cover instead of stuffing it in your already brimming diaper bag—and it's nice to have it right there when the baby is ready to eat.

Also, in the inevitable event that your baby spits-up on you or you leak some milk through your shirt, having a quick and stylish way to cover up is a total #momwin.

2. For getting comfortable: A cozy glider

Having a comfy spot to nurse can make a huge difference. Bonus points if that comfy place totally brings a room together, like the Delta Children Paris Upholstered Glider!

Get your cozy space ready to go, and when your baby is here, you can retreat from the world and just nurse, bond, and love.

3. For unmatched support: A wire-free nursing bra

It may take trying on several brands to find the perfect match, but finding a nursing bra that you love is 100% worth the effort. Your breasts will be changing and working in ways that are hard to imagine. An excellent supportive bra will make this so much more comfortable.

It is crucial to choose a wireless bra for the first weeks of nursing since underwire can increase the risk of clogged ducts (ouch).The Playtex Maternity Shaping Foam Wirefree Nursing Bra is an awesome pick for this reason, and because it is designed to flex and fit your breasts as they go through all those changes.

4. For maximum hydration: A large reusable water bottle

Nothing can prepare you for the intense thirst that hits when breastfeeding. Quench that thirst (and help keep your milk supply up in the process) by always having a water bottle with a straw nearby, like this Exquis Large Outdoor Water Bottle.

5. For feeding convenience: A supportive nursing tank

Experts recommend that during the first weeks of your baby's life, you breastfeed on-demand, meaning that any time your tiny boss demands milk, you feed them. This will help establish your milk supply and get everything off to a good start.

What does this mean for your life? You will be breastfeeding A LOT. Nursing tanks, like the Loving Moments by Leading Lady, make this so much easier. They have built-in support to keep you comfy, and you can totally wear them around the house, or even out and about. When your baby wants to eat, you'll be able to quickly "pop out" a breast and feed them.

6. For pain prevention: A quality nipple ointment

Breastfeeding shouldn't hurt, but the truth is those first days can be uncomfortable. Your nipples will likely feel raw as they adjust to their new job. This will get better! But until it does, nipple ointment is amazing.

My favorite is the Earth Mama Organic Nipple Butter. We love that it's organic, and it is oh-so-soothing on your hard-at-work nipples.

Psst: If it actually hurts when your baby latches on, something may be up, so call your provider or a lactation consultant for help.

7. For uncomfortable moments: A dual breast therapy pack

As your breasts adjust to their new role, you may experience a few discomforts—applying warmth or cold can help make them feel so much better. The Lansinoh TheraPearl 3-in-1 Breast Therapy Pack is awesome because you can microwave the pads or put them in the freezer, giving you a lot of options when your breasts need some TLC.

Again, if you have any concerns about something being wrong (pain, a bump that may be red or hot, fever, or anything else), call a professional right away.

8. For inevitable leaks: An absorbing breast pad

In today's episode of, "Oh come on, really?" you are going to leak breastmilk. Now, this is entirely natural and you are certainly not required to do anything about this. Still, many moms choose to wear breast pads in their bras to avoid leaking through to their shirts.

You can go the convenient and disposable route with Lansinoh Disposable Stay Dry Nursing Pads, or for a more environmentally friendly option, you can choose washable pads, like these Organic Bamboo Nursing Breast Pads.

9. For flexibility: A breast pump

Many women find that a breast pump becomes one of their most essential mom-tools. The ability to provide breast milk when you are away from your baby (and relieve uncomfortable engorged breasts) will add so much flexibility into your new-mom life.

For quick trips out and super-easy in-your-bag transport, opt for a manual pump like the Lansinoh Manual Breast Pump .

If you will be away from your baby for longer periods of time (traveling or working outside the home, for example) an electric pump is your most efficient bet. The Medela Pump In Style Advanced Double Electric Breast Pump is a classic go-to that will absolutely get the job done, and then some.

10. For quality storage: Breast milk bags

Once you pump your liquid gold, aka breast milk, you'll need a place to store it. The Kiinde Twist Pouches allow you to pump directly into the bags which means one less step (and way less to clean).

11. For keeping cool: A freezer bag

Transport your pumped milk back home to your baby safely in a cooler like the Mommy Knows Best Breast Milk Baby Bottle Cooler Bag. Remember to put the milk in a fridge or freezer as soon as you can to optimize how long it stays usable for.

12. For continued nourishment: Bottles

Nothing beats the peace of mind you get when you know that your baby is being well-taken of care—and well fed—until you can be together again. The Philips Avent Natural Baby Bottle Newborn Starter Gift Set is a fan favorite (mama and baby fans alike).

This article is sponsored by Walmart. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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Motherly is committed to covering all relevant presidential candidate plans as we approach the 2020 election. We are making efforts to get information from all candidates. Motherly does not endorse any political party or candidate. We stand with and for mothers and advocate for solutions that will reduce maternal stress and benefit women, families and the country.


A viral video about car seat safety has parents everywhere cracking up and humming Sir-Mix-A-Lot.

"I like safe kids and I cannot lie," raps Norman Regional Health System pediatric hospitalist Dr. Kate Cook (after prefacing her music video with an apology to her children."I'm a doctor tryin' warn you that recs have changed," she continues.

Dr. Cook's rap video is all about the importance of keeping babies facing backward. It's aptly called "Babies Face Back," and uses humor and parody to drive home car seat recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

"Switching from rear-facing to forward-facing is a milestone many parents can't wait to reach," Dr. Cook said in a news release about her hilarious video. "But this is one area where you want to delay the transition as long as possible because each one actually reduces the protection to the child."

Last summer the AAP updated its official stance on car seat safety to be more in line with what so many parents were already doing and recommended that kids stay rear-facing for as long as possible. But with so many things to keep track of in life, it is understandable that some parents still don't know about the change. Dr. Cook wants to change that with some cringe-worthy rapping.

The AAP recommends:

  • Babies and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing car safety seat as long as possible, until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their seat.
  • Once they are facing forward, children should use a forward-facing car safety seat with a harness for as long as possible. Many seats are good up to 65 pounds.
  • When children outgrow their car seat they should use a belt-positioning booster seat until the vehicle's lap and shoulder seat belt fits properly, between 8 and 12 years old.

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[Editor's note: Motherly is committed to covering all relevant presidential candidate plans as we approach the 2020 election. We are making efforts to get information from all candidates. Motherly does not endorse any political party or candidate. We stand with and for mothers and advocate for solutions that will reduce maternal stress and benefit women, families and the country.]

Suicide rates for girls and women in the United States have increased 50% since 2000, according to the CDC and new research indicates a growing number of pregnant and postpartum women are dying by suicide and overdose. Suicide rates for boys and men are up, too.

It's clear there is a mental health crisis in America and it is robbing children of their mothers and mothers of their children.

Medical professionals urge people to get help early, but sometimes getting help is not so simple. For many Americans, the life preserver that is mental health care is out of reach when they are drowning.

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg just released a plan he hopes could change that and says the neglect of mental health in the United States must end. "Our plan breaks down the barriers around mental health and builds up a sense of belonging that will help millions of suffering Americans heal," says Buttigieg.

He thinks he can "prevent 1 million deaths of despair by 2028" by giving Americans more access to mental health and addictions services.

In a country where giving birth can put a mother in debt, it's not surprising that while as many as 1 in 5 new moms suffers from perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, more than half of new moms who need mental health treatment don't get it. Stigma, childcare and of course costs are factors in why women aren't seeking help when they are struggling.

Buttigieg's plan is interesting because it could remove some of these barriers. He wants to make mental health care more affordable by ensuring everyone has comprehensive coverage for mental health care and by ensuring that everyone can access a free yearly mental health check-up.

That could make getting help more affordable for some moms, and by increasing reimbursement rates for mental health care delivered through telehealth, this plan could help moms get face time with a medical professional without having to deal with finding childcare first.

Estimates from new research suggest that in some parts of America as many as 14% or 30% of maternal deaths are caused by addiction or suicide. Buttigieg's plan aims to reduce those estimates by fighting the addiction and opioid crisis and increasing access to mental health services in underserved communities and for people of color. He also wants to reduce the stigma and increase support for the next generation by requiring "every school across the country to teach Mental Health First Aid courses."

These are lofty goals with a lofty price tag. It would cost about $300 billion to do what Buttigieg sets out in his plan and the specifics of how the plan would be funded aren't yet known. Neither is how voters will react to this 18-page plan and whether it will help Buttigieg stand out in a crowded field of Democratic candidates.

What we do know is that right now, America is talking about mental health and whether or not that benefits Buttigieg's campaign it will certainly benefit America.

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[Editor's Note: Welcome to It's Science, a Motherly column focusing on evidence-based explanations for the important moments, milestones, and phenomena of motherhood. Because it's not just you—#itsscience.]

If you breastfeed, you know just how magical (and trying) it is, but it has numerous benefits for mama and baby. It is known to reduce the likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis, and cuts the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) by half.

If this wasn't powerful enough, scientists have discovered that babies who are fed breast milk have a stomach pH that promotes the formation of HAMLET (Human Alpha-lactalbumin Made Lethal to Tumor cells). HAMLET was discovered by chance when researchers were studying the antibacterial properties of breast milk. This is a combination of proteins and lipids found in breast milk that can work together to kill cancer cells, causing them to pull away from healthy cells, shrink and die, leaving the healthy cells unaffected.

According to researchers at Lund University in Sweden, this mechanism may contribute to the protective effect breast milk has against pediatric tumors and leukemia, which accounts for about 30% of all childhood cancer. Other researchers analyzed 18 different studies, finding that "14% to 19% of all childhood leukemia cases may be prevented by breastfeeding for six months or more."

And recently, doctors in Sweden collaborated with scientists in Prague to find yet another amazing benefit to breast milk. Their research demonstrated that a certain milk sugar called Alpha1H, found only in breast milk, helps in the production of lactose and can transform into a different form that helps break up tumors into microscopic fragments in the body.

Patients who were given a drug based on this milk sugar, rather than a placebo, passed whole tumor fragments in their urine. And there is more laboratory evidence to support that the drug can kill more than 40 different types of cancer cells in animal trials, including brain tumors and colon cancer. These results are inspiring scientists to continue to explore HAMLET as a novel approach to tumor therapy and make Alpha1H available to cancer patients.

Bottom line: If you choose to breastfeed, the breast milk your baby gets from your hard work can be worth every drop of effort.

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