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So, You Want to Have Kids: A One-Sided Story of Preparing for Parenthood

Before you wander into lifelong parenthoodery, here are some things to consider (that maybe you’ve been told, maybe you haven’t):


There’s no such thing as being “ready”

You can’t be ready for something you can’t know. There is no ready. There is only the decision to have a child or not to have a child. That’s all the preparation you can possibly possess.

Having a pet is as much preparation for a child as watching the moon landing prepares you to be an astronaut

So don’t say it, don’t believe it, and punch anyone that does (I’m kidding, of course, don’t punch anyone, why would you take that seriously?!? We also happen to currently have 3 dogs and 2 cats – not counting the 8 animals that have died during our 20-year marriage; so I do know what it’s like to own pets before and after kids, but again these are just my opinions. You are welcome to disagree and write your own list on why owning a pet is exactly like having a child).

For fathers, the pregnancy phase doesn’t have the same hormonal, physical, or psychological effects

You will see your significant other get larger, frequently sleep, get sick, and eventually become virtually immobile, but it’s mostly just waiting and watching. It’s normal not to feel excited about having a baby. Just don’t say that out loud.

For mothers, tell your significant other what you need them to do – because we have no idea what we’re doing

Foot massages, back massages, an ear to listen, or going on late night errands to get pickles or BBQ ribs – tell us what you need and want. It’s literally the only way we can be of use. You are having a unique experience we can’t understand. We won’t have the same bonding you will have, so make us feel useful by allowing us to help you in any way we can.

You will never be so excited and exhausted in your entire life as the day your child is born

After you meet your baby and everything gets cleaned up, (because Jesus Lord it’s a mess of sights, sounds, and smells you can’t fathom), you will settle into a nonstop barrage of tests, temperature taking, nursing, paperwork, burping, questions, diaper checking, visitors, crying, and awkward moments of adjusting to this new tiny being that is now yours to raise. You won’t sleep for more than two hours during your entire hospital stay.

Newborns are boring

Don’t get me wrong, they’re cute, but boring. I’m afraid you may think I mean that boring is bad. It’s not. Boring is perfect. Newborns just sleep, (sporadically and horribly), cry, and eat when they aren’t sleeping, and poop in between. Imagine if they could walk, talk, and eat cheeseburgers right when they were born? Boring is what you want.

Once your newborn is “sleep trained,” you won’t be

Your newborn will wake up every two hours for six months. Then move on to waking up every 6 hours for the next 6 months. By the time they are sleeping through the night, they’ll have trained you to not be able to sleep for more than four hours at a time.

Parenting doesn’t happen all at once

Luckily for you, newborns have very simple needs. They aren’t born talking, walking, and challenging your very existence at every moment. It’s hard to screw anything up first few months. Other than them almost rolling off the changing table. Not that that’s ever happened to us.

Once they crawl you will wish they would stop

You won’t be able to place them down and know they’ll stay put. And after crawling is walking, followed by running, mixed with lots of falling. So much falling.

You will get poop on you

No matter how careful you are, you will get poop on you. It’s not like the poop of a 63-year-old man. But it’s still poop. In fact, at some point, you will clean poop out of a bathtub. It’s far more difficult than you’d think.

It will take an extra 45 minutes to get out the door, no matter where you’re going or how long you plan to be gone

Diapers, bottles, clothes, blankets, wipes, butt cream, formula, pacifiers, toys, that one special stuffed animal, portable playpens (which are highly overrated), and the thing you always forget and will have to go back to get. If you have more than one child, you will have to get ready 24 hours in advance.

Get comfortable with repetition. Get comfortable with repetition. Get comfortable with repetition.

You will read the same books over and over (and you will memorize them, I still know “Goodnight Moon” by heart, 14 years later), watch the same shows over and over, listen to the same music over and over, play the same games over and over. So choose your books, shows, music, and games carefully.

Finding a babysitter is tantamount to buying a house

You’re competing with hundreds of other parents who are also trying to find that perfect babysitter, and you will have to pay for it. But it’s worth it. It’s your damn child. Don’t be cheap. And if you’re lucky enough to have family watch your child, please understand not all of us are so lucky, so please don’t act so shocked if we can’t go somewhere without at least four weeks notice.

Strangers will give you unsolicited advice

This advice will be completely comprised of horror stories that will scare you into staying indoors forever. It will always be dispensed while you wait in line for something – at the grocery store, DMV, or Chipotle. Yes, I’m well aware of the irony in that statement.

Other parents will make you feel as if you’re doing everything wrong

Other people aren’t you and their kids aren’t your kids. No one gets it all right, and no one gets it all wrong. Parents who share (on Facebook) that their kids are amazing, awesome, perfect, and every moment is a blessing, are lying (by omission) to make themselves feel better. Don’t take it personally.

The best game you can ever play is “Sleeping Giant”

Let me explain. When your child is young you will do lots of playing that involves dolls, dressing up, and pretending. You will eventually get very tired of it. So I suggest you play what I call “Sleeping Giant”, where you lie down, pretend to sleep, and your child will attempt to sneak up on you without you waking up. All you have to do it snore, pretend to wake up, lunge forward to grab them (wherein they scream and run away), and go back to sleeping. You’re welcome.

Every six months your child will switch from easy, fun, and awesome to a complete asshole

This cycle continues for years and years and years. At present my oldest child is 16, and it’s still true.

Your child will hate you

It’s fine. They will curse you under their breath. They will call you names. They will wish you were dead. You’ll be tempted to take it personally. Don’t. If they hate you, you’re doing something right. Your goal isn’t to do things so your child likes you. Your goal should be to create a person who has the ability to make wise decisions, the confidence to stand for their convictions, and the humility to admit their mistakes (and many other things, but I’m not writing a book here).

If you thought you were done with school, think again

You will have to help your child with homework and you will have forgotten everything you ever learned. Also, you will be tempted to “help” your kids with their projects – and by “help” I mean “do” – please don’t, despite the fact that most parents do and lie about it. (You’ll see a perfectly constructed solar system that you’re supposed to believe was done by a kindergartener. The parent won’t shut up about how amazed they are at their kid’s talent: “No I didn’t help him, he’s just so gifted.” But you’ll know, especially because that same kid just ate a booger).

Don’t succumb to the pressure of extra-curricular activities

As your child gets older, the world of after school activities will overcome your life. While it’s important to have your child do and learn things outside of school, don’t become so obsessed with having them participate in these that you’re forcing them into a world of responsibilities. They’re a child. Think of all the things you have to do as an adult, why does a child have to the same pressures and stresses as you? Let them be a kid.

Your kids will push you to the limit of your self-control and patience

Often you will fail, and you will feel like the worst human being alive. It happens to all of us throughout our kids’ lives, from two to 18 years old. Be quick to apologize (not just to your child, but yourself as well).

Discipline isn’t as scary as it sounds

Let’s be clear: my wife and I are not experts on disciplining our children, but I think we’ve learned a few things. Be consistent, follow through, say “no” (and mean it), be an adult (don’t let your emotions guide your actions), let the punishment fit the crime, offer occasional mercy, say you’re sorry (because you will fail at all the above).

There will be a last time you pick your child up

I heard this said once, and it affected me powerfully. Don’t merely be present with your kids, don’t just “cherish” it (whatever that really means), actively observe and participate because at some point it’ll be the last time they crawl, the last time you give them a bath, the last time they hold your hand.

There is no salary, no promotions, no vacation days, no evaluations. Being a parent is not about you at all

If you have the slightest hesitation about the long sacrifice that is parenthood, please don’t have a child. Having a child is not a requirement. It might seem like there isn’t anything positive about parenthood, but that’s because you need to adjust your expectations about parenthood.

If you want to feel good about yourself, volunteer your time helping others. Parenthood isn’t about making yourself feel good. Parenthood is not about your child becoming your identity. Parenthood is about creating a nurturing environment for your child so that they will transform into a functional adult who, (you hope) will make the world a better place. If you do this, there will come a day when your child becomes your friend.

This piece was originally published on Medium.

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If you use U by Kotex tampons, you should check your box before your next period, mama.

Regular absorbency U by Kotex Sleek Tampons are being recalled throughout the U.S. and Canada. According to the FDA, defective tampons have been coming apart when people tried to remove them, "in some cases causing users to seek medical attention to remove tampon pieces left in the body."

The FDA notes that there have also been a "small number of reports of infections, vaginal irritation, localized vaginal injury, and other symptoms."

In a statement on its website, U by Kotex explains that the recall is specific to the U by Kotex Sleek Tampons, Regular Absorbency only. The Super Absorbency or Super Plus Absorbency tampons are not part of the recall.

The recall is for specific lots of the Regular Absorbency tampons manufactured between October 7, 2016 and October 16, 2018.

The lot numbers start with NN (or XM, for small, 3 count packages) and can be found near the barcode on the bottom of the box.

To check if your tampons are part of the recall, type your lot number into this form on the U by Kotex site.


The FDA says if you've used the tampons and are experiencing the following you should seek immediate medical attention:

  • vaginal injury (pain, bleeding, or discomfort)
  • vaginal irritation (itching or swelling)
  • urogenital infections (bladder and/or vaginal bacterial and/or yeast infections)
  • hot flashes
  • abdominal pain
  • nausea or vomiting

If you have a package of the recalled tampons you should not use them and should call Kotex's parent company, Kimberly-Clark at 1-888-255-3499. On its website U by Kotex asks consumers not to return the tampons to stores.

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I grew up watching the Fresh Prince of Bel Air so pretty much anytime Will Smith pops up on my Facebook feed, I click. (Also, I happen to live near West Philadelphia, so you know, there's a lot of theme song singing. My husband finds me hysterical.)

Anyway...

The last time I clicked on a Will Smith video, he was telling a story about when he went skydiving. He had made the decision to go with his friends, and then spent the whole night and morning leading up to it terrified, envisioning all the things that could go wrong.

When he was finally up in the plane, the guide explained that they would jump on the count of three. "One… two…" except they push you out on "two" because everyone throws their arms out and stops themselves at "three." So before he knew it, he was flying.

And he found it to be absolutely amazing.

He said, "The point of maximum danger is the point of minimum fear. It's bliss. The lesson for me was, why were you scared in your bed the night before? What do you need that fear for? You're nowhere even near the airplane. Everything up to the stepping out, there's actually no reason to be scared. It only just ruins your day… the best things in life [are] on the other side of [fear]."

Motherhood is skydiving.

If someone came up to you one day and said, "Hey. I have this job for you. You are going to grow a human in your body, kind of like it's an alien. And then that human is going to come out of your body—and that process is really intense. And then the human will be really helpless and you will have to turn it into a fully functioning adult with an important place in this world. Okay… go!"

You'd smile politely and walk run away as fast as you could.

Because if you think about it, the idea of doing all of that—motherhoodis pretty terrifying. The amount of responsibility and work is sort of incomprehensible.

The grand scheme of motherhood is scary.

The thing is, though, that the grand scheme of motherhood is actually made up of millions of tiny moments in which you will be a total boss.

Whether it's a jump-out-of-the-plane moment, or a get-the-toddler-out-of-the-car-seat moment, you will face it with bravery.

Remember, being brave isn't the absence of fear, it's being afraid and doing it anyway.

Being brave is taking a pregnancy test—and seeing that it's positive. Or seeing that it's negative, again.

Being brave is waiting for the adoption agency to call you and tell you that she's here.

Being brave is watching your body change in a hundred ways, and lovingly rubbing your belly as it does.

Being brave is giving your body over to the process of bringing your baby into the world—yes, even if you cry, or complain, or cry and complain. You're still brave. Promise.

Being brave is bringing that baby home for the first time. Oh, so much bravery needed for that one.

Being brave is giving that first bath, going to that first pediatrician visit, spending that first full day at home, alone, with the baby,

Being brave is your first day back at work—or making the phone call to tell them you won't actually be coming back at all.

Being brave is ignoring all the noise around you, and parenting your child the way you know is best for your family.

Being brave is letting go of her hands when she takes her first steps.

Being brave is sitting next to her and smiling when you're in the emergency room for croup—and then sobbing when you get home.

Being brave is bringing her to her first day of school—and going home without her.

Being brave is saying "yes" to her first sleepover and "no" to her first car.

Being brave is hugging her the first time her heart breaks, when your heart might possibly hurt even more than hers does.

Being brave is listening quietly when she tells you she plans to "travel the world."

Being brave is bringing her to her first day of college—and going home without her.

Being brave is watching her commit her life to another person, who is not you.

Being brave is watching her become a mother.

And one day, sweet, brave mama, you'll look back and realize that you just jumped out of an airplane—you raised a child.

All of the things that seemed terrifyingly impossible—you just…do them. One at a time. You will wake up every day a little bit braver than the day before. And before you know it, you can look back on any aspect of motherhood and realize that little by little, you just increased your flying altitude.

Things that was seemed daunting are handled with ease. Ideas that once seemed impossible have become your reality one thousand times over.

So yes, motherhood is incredibly scary. But you are incredibly brave.

One... two... jump!

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There's so much noise.

All. The. Time.

It feels like it's 24 hours, 7 days a week.

There's whining, crying, chatting, banging, tapping, scratching, singing, buzzing, yelling, snoring, crunching, schlopping, chewing, slurping, stomping, clapping, singing, laughing.

There's sound machines with crashing waves coming at me around every corner. There's a baby (doll) crying, and then my real baby crying. There's toys going off even when no one is playing with them.

There's requests, questions, demands, negotiations, plans, adventures, stories, performances—at all times.

There's ringing phones, alarms going off, voicemails, television theme songs (Daniel Tiger, I'm looking at you), Moana and Sing soundtracks playing. There's random loud videos playing when you're scrolling through Facebook and think you have your phone on silent.

I even hear things when there's nothing to be heard. Like the baby crying when I'm in the shower and she's sleeping. Like a bang from someone falling when everyone is fine. Like Imagine Dragon's 'Thunder' when it's not even on but it's stuck in my head because my daughter has requested to play it over and over and over.

At times, it makes me feel like I am going crazy. Like my brain doesn't work because I can't think clearly because the noise is all-encompassing.

This noise, paired with the never-ending, running-forever list of things to do in my head is one of the areas of motherhood that is hard for me. Really, really hard. It triggers my anxiety more than anything else does.

Sometimes, I just want to sit in silence. Alone. Not listening to anything or anyone.

Sometimes, I just want to hear myself think.

Sometimes, I just want the whining to stop.

Sometimes, I just want the brain fog to go away and never come back.

But what I've realized is that this is part of motherhood. Of my journey. Because, I have three children and it's never going to be quiet.

I need to get used to the noise, embrace the noise and know when I need to step back and take a break from the noise.

And I am used to the noise on some level.

I function fairly well on a daily basis getting work done and to-do lists checked off and taking care of my (loud, but wonderful) children. When all of the noise is overwhelming me, I've gotten into the habit of taking deep breaths and focusing on my task at hand.

It's not perfect, but it's something.

And I can definitely embrace the noise—especially the lovely noises of childhood.

Because when I think about it—is there anything better than hearing my 4-year-old belt out 'Thunder'?

Is there anything better than hearing my 2-year-old giggle uncontrollably?

Is there anything better than hearing the coos of my 3-month-old?

Is there anything better than hearing one of my daughters say "I love you, Mama"? Or "See you later, alligator"?

Is there anything better than hearing cheers from my kids to celebrate their siblings' accomplishment? ("Lucy went potty! Yay!")

Is there anything better than hearing your preschooler say "sh-sh-shhhhh" over and over to soothe her newborn sister like she sees her parents doing?

No, nothing is better. Not even silence.

But there will be days when it feels like it's too much. And I just want to say—

It's okay.

It's okay to want to sit in silence.

It's okay to look forward to the quiet that nighttime offers.

It's okay to admit to ourselves that sometimes the noise is too much.

And it's normal.

Our brains can only handle so much at one time. So, be gentle on yourself, mama. I know I'm trying.

I am learning to recognize when I need to step back and take a break from the noise.

I stay up late sometimes to enjoy the quiet—to listen to my thoughts.

I wake up early sometimes—to meditate and look inward.

I plan "me time" outside of the house—to spend time with myself and decide on choosing noise or not.

I hop in the shower when my husband gets home—to hand over the noise for a while and enjoy only the sound of rushing water.

There are moments of motherhood that challenge me—mind, body and soul. The constant noise is one of them. But these challenges will never beat me. I love being my children's mother too much.

So on the days when the noise is taking over, know that you're not alone. And know that peace and quiet is potentially just a shower away.


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This past year, I was diagnosed with depression. I was fighting what I believed to be a stubborn case of PPD. I thought things would get better as my baby grew, when I wasn't postpartum anymore. I was in denial, not receiving any kind of help, and definitely not getting any better.

Finally, I sought out help from a doctor and was diagnosed with clinical depression and am now receiving treatment. Part of this treatment involved visiting with a therapist for the first time in my life in hopes of combating the powerful force of negativity that has insidiously planted itself inside my mind.

I learned something significant in that meeting: that my thoughts were caused by something that was physically going wrong inside of my brain. Deep down, I believed I had been allowing the darkness—that it, too, was my fault. I found hope in that meeting, the hope of rewiring my brain.

I now know there are steps I can take to change how I think, to find the true me again. That is why I am going to take better care of myself this year. In fact, that's the only resolution I care to make.

My therapist advised me to do an exercise that's proven difficult for me. I literally have positive affirmations about myself taped to my bathroom mirror. My sarcastic side really fights this. I envision that I'm wearing a colorful collared shirt or sweater combination (a la Stuart Smalley) as I repeat these mantras to myself. The truth is they're a powerful counterbalance to the way I normally think about who I am.

Most people struggle with this at one time or another. I think we could all benefit from practicing a little self-love.

So for this year, I resolve not to make any resolutions about losing weight. I am at a healthy weight, and although I would love to re-lose the 10 pounds I lost when I began depression medication, I will instead resolve to replace the negative thoughts I have about my body with healthy ones.

My critical observations regarding my body began very early for me, as they do for most women. It may take some time, but I'm going to work on appreciating my body for what it can do, instead of worrying about how it appears to others.

I resolve to be the best mom I can be. And that is only possible when I work on taking better care of myself. For many years, I've devoted myself completely to my children, believing it was best for them. But you can't pull water from an empty well, and this past year my well went dry.

I resolve to take more breaks, indulge in some mental health days, and spend more quality time with my family.

Society is hard on mothers, so I'm going to pull a Taylor Swift, and "shake it off." I will ignore the negative commentators who feel compelled to troll my writings. I will look to the positive instead of dwelling on the negative.

I will support and seek to uplift other mothers. We should be each other's biggest fans, not harshest critics. I will stand up for those who are belittled, judged, or misunderstood.

I resolve to let go of past mistakes and less than perfect parenting moments. I will seek to learn from the past instead of dwelling on it. I will work on treating myself with more kindness, moving forward in hopes that my three boys will learn from my example and speak kindly toward themselves.

I will continue my treatment—even the daily affirmations—and be patient with my progress.

So here's to a new year and a new way of thinking, to not giving up, and to practicing kindness that begins from within.

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