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The Unflinching Mother vs. the Unblinking Sentinel

“What was your most harrowing mothering experience?” I heard one mother ask another on the bench next to mine at the playground.


There was a line of strollers in front of us. The kids, mostly toddlers, were on the slide or in the sandbox, sharing well or sharing poorly, while the adults had one eye on them and one on their phones.

My eyes were neurotically fixed on the kids I had brought to the park, and there was a reason for it.

The friend quipped:

“Harrowing? Besides bursting out a little human from my body after spine-splitting labor for one full rotation of the earth?”

They laughed. It wasn’t my question to answer, but I had known my response instantly:

Disneyland. I had one six and one seven-year-old boy by the hand. It was a packed day, so the three of us, hand in hand, weaved through the crowd to get to our rides.

Needing to pull out a map, I let go of their hands for maybe thirty seconds. Once I figured out where we were going, I reached for their tiny palms again. Only one reached back, so I did a 360º scan of my immediate surroundings expecting my other boy to be right there. He wasn’t.

My breath tightened a little – I had seen too many movies with a child disappearing in the span of time it took to look at a watch – but okay, keep calm, this is real life. Real life with real pedophiles who stalk areas concentrated with kids!

I squeezed my grip on the hand I did hold, pulling him this way and that, swinging my panicked head around clusters of vacationers. But my other boy wasn’t there.

He wasn’t anywhere!

My mouth went dry and my vision dimmed. The world – my life – turned black and I couldn’t breathe. Before my body completely shut down, I managed to spot a park security guard and pounced on him, yanking one boy out of two, by the arm.

I must have looked ripe for the asylum with my tear-glazed eyes and dried-out mouth trying to make words. The white-haired guard was calm. He told me that in over fifty years, they hadn’t lost a single child. Whether or not that was true, it had the intended effect and I was able to take a breath and give him a description.

My boy, it turned out, was already waiting at security headquarters. When I burst through the door, a woman security guard was comforting him as he cried.

I wanted to float away with relief; instead, I knelt down in front of him so we were eye-level and told him that letting go of his hand was the worst thing I’d ever done. The guards suppressed smiles at my melodrama but I couldn’t be mad about it since they’d found my boy.

I walked out with two out of two boys, taking their hands, convinced I’d never let go, not even when it was time to put them to bed.

The amount of time it took for all of this to happen was, drumroll – under five minutes.

Five minutes, and the darkest moments of my life.

That was my most harrowing experience,” I wanted to tell the two moms on the park bench, but they hadn’t asked me. Besides, I wasn’t a mother.

I was the babysitter.

I did crafts, made cupcakes, helped with homework, ran baths and read bedtime stories all those times they couldn’t.

I was the temporary mom to all the kids whose actual mothers couldn’t be around, the one who had warm spit-up trail down her chest while burping their infant. The one who gently attached a hairpiece with forty-seven bobby pins to a teenage daughter’s real hair for an Irish dance competition the time her mother was called away on a business trip. The one who cradled a feverish son and placed cold compresses on his forehead. And yes, the one who clapped on every weekend in the family room as twin girls performed their rendition of High School Musical 1, 2 and 3 in their entirety.

“You see,” I wanted to tell the moms on the playground bench, “I may not have burst out a little human from my body, but I know how to be a mother too.”

But did I?

The day my world went black was when I lost a kid – someone else’s – at Disneyland. I couldn’t handle five minutes of high-tension worry.

Yet there they were doing it, year after year, child after child.

Mothers hush their worry of the world because they must. Maybe I wasn’t brave enough to do what they do.

Instead I became a sometimes-mom, keeping my eyes fixed on their kids like an unblinking sentinel. After all, wasn’t that why so many mothers hired me, because I couldn’t bear the idea of unwatched children?

Who said motherhood doesn't come with a manual?

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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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This month isn't just the start of a new year, but the start of a new life for those due in 2019. If you're expecting a baby this year you've got plenty of celebrity company, mama.

Here are some fellow mamas-to-be expecting in 2019:

Alexa and Carlos PenaVega 

The Spy Kids actress and mom to 2-year-old Ocean will soon have to get herself a double stroller because PenaVega and her husband Carlos are expecting again.

"Holy Moly!!! Guys!!! We are having another baby!!!!" captioned an Instagram post. "Do we wake Ocean up and tell him??!! Beyond blessed and excited to continue growing this family!!! Get ready for a whole new set of adventures!!!"

Over on Carlos' IG the proud dad made a good point: " This year we will officially be able to say we have 'kids!' Our minds are blown," he write.

Jessa Duggar and Ben Seewald

In January Counting On Jessa Seewald (formerly Jessa Duggar) announced via Instagram that she is pregnant with her third child with husband Ben Seewald.

We love that she was able to make the announcement in her own time, not worrying about speculation about her midsection. She's been over that for a while.

[Update: January 18, added PenaVega]

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The shape appeals to kids and the organic and gluten-free labels appeal to parents in the freezer aisle, but if you've got a bag of Perdue's Simply Smart Organics Gluten Free Chicken Breast Nuggets, don't cook them.

The company is recalling 49,632 bags of the frozen, fully cooked Simply Smart Organics Gluten Free Chicken Breast Nuggets because they might be contaminated with wood.

According to the USDA, Perdue received three complaints about wood In the nuggets, but no one has been hurt.

The nuggets were manufactured on October 25, 2018 with a "Best By" date of October 25, 2019. The UPC code is 72745-80656. (The USDA provides an example of the packaging here so you'll know where to look for the code).


In a statement on the Perdue website the company's Vice President for Quality Assurance, Jeff Shaw, explains that "After a thorough investigation, we strongly believe this to be an isolated incident, as only a minimal amount of these packages has the potential to contain pieces of wood."

If you have these nuggets in your freezer you can call Perdue 877-727-3447 to ask for a refund.

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