A modern lifestyle brand redefining motherhood

I am to be a wall of strength for my teen daughter, according to this amazing piece of advice in a well-circulated Huff Post blog several months ago. The “Be a Wall” movement stems from the fact that being a teenaged girl sucks almost as much as trying to figure out how to raise one.


Teens rage because they experience copious amounts of pressure, both real and perceived. When they rage, we parents need to suppress our knee-jerk emotional responses of anger and hurt, remaining calm and sympathetic instead. We need to be steadfast in our unwavering love and support, even if it means we bite our tongues so hard they bleed.

We must recognize that their yelling and swearing and stomping is not really directed at us, it’s just life in general. Being a wall of strength and security for them gives them one thing in their life that they can rely on. It gives them the stability to deal with all the other crap.

I shared this article with my husband. He appreciated the sentiments so much that now we use that phrase, “Be the wall,” in whispers when we see the other sinking into the fury and frustration caused by our brilliant and beautiful daughter’s transformation into that hormonal teenaged monster that darkens our days from time to time.

“Be the wall,” he says with an ironic look on his face as my daughter snarls at me because I dared to ask her how she did on her Chem test.

Just yesterday, I made the rookie mistake of saying, “Good morning. How are you today?” to my 15-year-old. This kindness caused instantaneous eye rolls and a snotty head toss accompanied with the tight reply, “Fine.” She stomped away and didn’t speak to me again. My husband was not around so I chanted to myself, “Be the wall.”

I often hear or recite this line as I make many mistakes, like telling her she looks “cute in that top” or I am “proud of her A+ grade average” or that maybe she should “wear pants and not underwear to school.” (Okay, I get that one, but leggings are not pants and anything with a cotton crotch is underwear. Just saying.)

Be the wall.

Today, when I inquired why she randomly shouted a profane exclamation (because I was genuinely concerned), she muttered under her breath, “Shut up.” This is one of those moments when my “Be the wall” mentality crumbles. Rather than being a wall, I kind of want to push her into one.

In those moments, I imagine myself being a decrepit, ancient wall that cannot handle the weight of her need, her displaced anger, and her frustration. I crumble and then disintegrate, inadvertently crushing her.

When this happens, I look to my husband to be the mason, like a super hero who wears painter’s pants and a canvas ball cap with a trowel in one hand and a chisel in the other. (Maybe instead of changing into his superhero clothes in a phone booth he pops into a cement mixer.)

When I explode into a million hurt, angry, incensed, confused, and loving shards that smother my daughter in her emotionally-irrational state, he must swoop in with his magic bonding agent and rebuild our egos and mend our fractured feelings. He must use his words to smooth us over and make us whole and strong. I cannot afford to be condemned because, as much as I want to crush her snotty attitude, I must be there to protect and shield her from the hurts of the world until she is ready to be her own wall.

My mason is a hero with many talents. Sometimes it’s as simple as him changing the subject. Sometimes he defends me. Sometimes he reminds me to consider that she’s tired or hormonal. Sometimes he just removes one of us from the moment. Sometimes I need to whisper to my mason-hero that I want to crush her and we laugh as we chant in unison, “Be the wall.”

My daughter is amazing. I just want to love her, talk to her, know her, help her, and comfort her. At times, it feels like she wants to cling to me and, as she grips and claws at my aging and weakening frame, I try to shore myself up, knowing that she’s not trying to hurt me, she’s just trying to keep herself together.

I remember being her age. I remember wanting a wall and not having one. The circumstances of my parents’ divorce necessitated that I be my own wall or to rely on my equally-broken friends to be my walls.

I want my daughter to know that I’m here for her, that I love her, that I am proud of her, and that I’m excited for all the possibilities her future holds. The older she gets, the more she opens up to me, and the more she seems to recognize and appreciate my support.

Perhaps we’re not going to be so fragile too much longer. Maybe I have patched my crumbling wall well enough that I can withstand her immense need. She is clinging to me less often. She has found her own strength and relies on it more and more.

Mothers and daughters have complicated relationships. I envy my husband’s relationship with my daughter. Maybe I understand her emotions too much. Maybe I know how hard it is to be a girl growing into a woman. Maybe I expect too much of her too soon. I want to have the simple, light-hearted, bantering relationship she has with her dad, but it’s too hard for me to let up and let go. The door to independence is getting too close too fast.

Is she ready? Did I teach her enough? Can I be sure she won’t cling to the wrong walls, the ones covered in poison ivy, if I’m not available when I let her walk through the gateway to adulthood?

Just like when she climbed her first tree or sat on the edge of a wall that guards hikers from the precipice, my body tingles with fear and worry. In those moments, I was right there ready and able to pull her out and drag her to safety or catch her if she fell. I won’t be there at college or at her first job or when she moves into her first apartment. The gravity of my duty to let her go weighs heavily on me. I’m glad my husband is my wall and my mason because, in a few years, I’ll need both.

Who said motherhood doesn't come with a manual?

Subscribe to get inspiration and super helpful ideas to rock your #momlife. Motherhood looks amazing on you.

Already a subscriber? Log in here.

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.

You might also like:

I can vividly remember the last time I remember feeling truly rested. I was on vacation with my family, and my dad and I had started a tradition of going to sleep at 10 p.m., then waking up at 10 a.m. to go for a run. After five days of twelve hours of sleep a night, I remember actually pausing and thinking, "I am truly not at all tired right now!"

That was probably 15 years ago.

Of course, being tired pre-kids and being tired post-kids are two entirely different beasts. Pre-kids, tiredness was almost a badge of pride. It meant you had stayed up late dancing with friends or at a concert with your boyfriend. It meant you had woken up early to hit a spin class before gliding into work, hair still damp from your shower, for a morning meeting. Being tired meant you were generally killing it at life—and I was still young enough that, with a little concealer, I could look like it.

Tired post-kids is a whole other animal.

Tired post-kids means you probably still went to bed at a reasonable hour, but you're still exhausted. Maybe you even slept in past sunrise... but you're still exhausted. You may not have worked out in weeks... but you're still exhausted. And staying out late dancing with your girlfriends? (I mean... is that real life? Was it ever?) Nope, didn't do that. But—you guessed it!—you're still exhausted.

Sometimes I look at my husband and say, "I think if I could sleep for about five days, then I would feel rested again."

But considering the average new mom loses almost two months of sleep in her child's first year of life, even that is probably a low estimate of what I really need.

Because being a mom is exhausting.

It's exhausting always putting someone else's needs above your own. I often find myself actually giving my daughter the food off my plate (because, when you're two, mom's meal must be better even if you're eating the exact same thing).

Or I'll sacrifice sneaking my own nap to lie uncomfortably with her on the couch because it means she sleeps an extra 30 minutes.

Or I'll carry her up and down flights of stairs she is perfectly capable of scaling on her own because, well, she's tired or it's just quicker than nagging her to hurry up all the time.

I often end the day bone-tired, shocked at the physical exertion of just keeping this little person alive.

It's exhausting remembering all the things. The mental load of motherhood is so real, and sometimes I'm not sure it won't crush me.

I schedule and remember the doctor appointments, keep the fridge stocked and plan the meals, notice when my husband is low on white shirts and wash and fold the laundry, add the playdates and the date nights to the calendar, and add any assortment of to-dos to my day because, well, I'm the parent at home, so I must have time, right?

And when I drop one of the thousand balls I'm juggling, I writhe under the guilt of failing at my responsibility.

It's exhausting not getting enough sleep. The sleep gap doesn't end after baby's first year.

Studies have shown that parents lose as much as six months of sleep in their child's first two years of life. That sounds unbelievable at first...but I completely believe it.

Because sometimes I stay up later than I should just to get a few minutes of "me" time. Because sometimes my sleep-trained daughter still wakes up in the middle of the night with a nightmare or because she's sick or for no real reason at all and needs me to soothe her back to sleep.

Because sometimes I'm so busy trying to keep it all together mentally that I don't know how to turn my own brain off to get to sleep. And because sometimes (almost always) my daughter wakes up earlier than I would like her to and the day starts over before I'm ready.

It's exhausting maintaining any other relationship while being a mom. I try not to neglect my marriage. I try not to neglect my friendships. I try to make time for friendly interaction with my coworkers. I try to be there for my congregation. I try to keep all these connections alive and nurtured, but the fact is that some days my nurture is completely used up.

It's exhausting doing all of the above while being pregnant. Okay, this one might not resonate for every mom, but we all know being pregnant is hard. Being pregnant with a toddler? I'm shocked it's not yet an Olympic event. (I'm not sure if we'd all get gold medals or just all fall asleep at the starting gun.)

Most days, I'm so tired and busy I honestly forget that I am pregnant, only to be reminded at the end of the day when I finally collapse on the couch and the little one in my uterus wakes up to remind me. My body is doing amazing things, sure—and I have the exhaustion to show for it.

Of course, I know that this is just an exhausting season of life. One day, one not-so-far-off day, my children will be a bit more grown and be able to get their own breakfast in the morning. One day, they'll actually want to sleep in, and I'll be the one opening their curtains in the morning to start the day (maybe before they're really ready).

One day, they'll always walk up and down the stairs themselves and will stop stealing my food and I'll be able to nap without making sure they are asleep or with a sitter. One day, they won't need me to remember all the things.

And the really wild part? Just thinking about that day makes me miss these days, just a bit.

So, yes, I'm tired. I'm always tired. But I'm grateful too. Grateful I get to have these days. Grateful I get to have this life.

But also really grateful for those days I get to nap, too.

You might also like:

For the first couple years of a child's life, their feet grow so rapidly that they typically need a new shoe size every two to three months (so, no, you're not imagining how many shoes you've been buying lately!).

Fortunately, things tend to slow down as they start walking and hit school age. Even so, it's important to make sure they're wearing the right size for maximum comfort and healthy development.

That's why we teamed up with the experts at Rack Room Shoes for tips on helping the whole family get back to school on the right foot.

1. Get professionally fitted at least once a year.

We love online shopping as much as anyone, but for the health of your child's feet, it's worth it to make at least an annual trip to a store to get them properly sized on a Brannock Device (yep, those old-school sizers you remember as a kid are still the most reliable indicators of foot length and width!). Back to school is a great time to plan a visit to a store with trained associates who can help ensure your little one is getting the right fit.

2. Remember not all feet (or shoes) are created equally.

Most babies have naturally pudgier feet that thin out as they get older, and many kids need a wider or narrower shoe than their peers. Visiting a store and speaking with a trained associate can help you gauge which shoe brand will best suit your child. Once you have that benchmark, shopping online will be easier.

3. Get good closure.

Shoe closure, that is. Nowadays, there's a variety of ways to fasten kids shoes, from slip-ons to velcro to elastic laces. Provide your child with a few options to find the closure that works best for you both.

4. Watch for tell-tale signs your child has outgrown their shoes.

Children will often be the last ones to tell you their favorite shoes are uncomfortable. If your child is tripping or walking funny, it may be time to size up.

5. Try the push-down toe method.

Think your kid has outgrown their kicks? Push down on the toe of their shoe with your thumb to see how much wiggle room they have. The ideal size is to have about half a thumb's width between the tip of the toe and the end of the shoe. (That space equates to about half a size.)

6. Pick a style they'll want to put on. (Here are some of our favorites!)

Most moms know the struggle of getting kids out the door in the morning—the right pair of shoes can help cut down on the (literal) foot-dragging. Opt for a fun style (consider shopping for their favorite color or a light-up design) that they'll be begging to wear every day. (But feel free to buy a second pair that's more your style too!)

You'll love that they're classic converse. They'll love the peek of pink.

Converse Girls Maddie, $44

BUY

7. Don't forget the sneakers.

Whether they're running through the recess or racing in P.E., school-age children need a pair of well-fitting, durable sneakers. Be sure to get them professionally fitted to ensure nothing slows them down on the playground.

8. Understand the size breakdowns.

Expert retailers like Rack Room Shoes break up sizing by Baby, Toddler, Little Kid, and Big Kid to make it easier to find the right section for your child. For boys, there's no size break between kids shoes and men's shoes. Girls, though, can cross over into women's shoes from size 4 (in girls) on—a girl's size 4 is a women's size 5.5 or 6.

Looking for more advice? Step into a Rack Room Shoes store near you or shop online. With a "Buy One, Get One 50% off" policy, you can make sure the whole family will put their best foot forward this back-to-school season. (We had to!)

Who knew Amazon had so many dreamy nursery must-haves? Maybe you have a friend or family member about to have a baby or you're preparing for your new bundle of joy—either way, you can save tons on grabbing some essentials on Prime Day.

We've rounded up our favorite nursery items from basics, like cribs and changing tables, to the essentials you never knew you needed (hint: lots of storage!).

1. 6-drawer dresser

This gorgeous dresser has plenty of space for baby's clothing and accessories—and will transition seamlessly to a big kid room one day. Even better? The top is large enough to be used as a changing table. The shade of white is great for any gender, too!

Dresser, Amazon, $239.99 ($329.99)

BUY HERE

Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

You might also like:


Motherly provides information of a general nature and is designed for educational purposes only. This site does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.Your use of the site indicates your agreement to be bound by our  Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. Information on our advertising guidelines can be found here.