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What Happened When I Refused to Let My Son Tell Me How to Wear My Hair

For more than six months, my toddler has told me he doesn’t like it when I wear my hair up. I wrote about it last summer, when the comments first began and considered it back then to be an annoying but endearing obsession he’d get over by September. He didn’t get over it.

As soon as I swept my hair up into a ponytail or a bun, my son could see nothing else. He had to tell me, “Mommy, I don’t like your hair like that.” Sometimes he’d say it with a smile. Sometimes he’d be close to tears within seconds. Other times he said it like a freaky mechanical child doll. When I’d finally let it down again, his only response, every time, was overt relief.

“I like your hair like that, Mommy,” he’d say, as though letting my hair down just saved him from imminent death.  

This has gone on for several seasons now, but more notably, through an election and through the start of a new presidency during which women are being told to do or not do certain things with their bodies.

I don’t like to be told what to do with my body, and that includes my hair. I don’t want to raise children who think it’s acceptable to tell anyone what to do with his or her body, especially if it has nothing to do with them. So every time my son tells me he doesn’t like what I’m doing with my hair, it has felt more and more like an opportunity and experiment in resistance – my own minor, but concerted at-home version. 

I’m pretty psyched to tell you that, as of last night, the dam broke. Turns out, fellow parents, that resistance is NOT futile.

I struggled at first to find the right language to express why I didn’t want my son to tell me what to do with my hair. “I don’t care what you think I should do with my hair,” I’d say. “I don’t care what you do with your hair,” I’d try. “We don’t tell other people what to do with their hair or their bodies, right?” I’d offer, the answer totally obvious.

My son would just purse his lips at me.

I’d stare right back at him.

These showdowns felt both sweet and hostile. Neither of us wanted to back down, both of us cared what the other thought and felt, but were trying to prove a point. Man, it was intense!

No one told me how resolute toddlers can be, how sure of themselves, and how aware they are of what gets under their parents’ skin. But toddlers are definitely all of those things. Sometimes I think they fight – like certain people in Washington – for the glory of it. They fight because it feels good to wield their small, but mighty, power.  

Our battles followed the same script all through December. In the winter, I wear my hair down for warmth most days, so the battles have been fewer.

Until this week, when something different came out of my mouth. I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me earlier…maybe because it didn’t feel big enough or important enough, and everything feels important now, in light of the shift in public figure role models for our kids. So for the first time, I made our fight not about me, but about us, about the kind of humans we are and the kind we want to be.  

“No,” I said, “We don’t say mean things to people. We only say nice things to people. You can say, I like your hair like that, but you can’t say you don’t like it. That’s just not nice. And we don’t do that.”

My son got quiet and focused for a minute. And I wasn’t sure what he’d taken in because, within 30 seconds, he was asking me to read a book to him about tacos while he drew pictures of various Beatles on his Magna Doodle.

The next morning at breakfast, my husband dove into the fray. “No,” he corrected our tiny opining roommate, “What you can say is, Mommy, you can wear your hair however you want. THAT is what you can say.”

I don’t know if it was the actual things we said, or that we just didn’t stop calmly resisting him, but last night at dinner, he made it known that he’d heard us. I sat down, hair up high on top of my head, daring a certain someone to get after me.

That someone looked right into my eyes, appeared to take a breath, a steadying breath, and said blithely, “Mommy. You can wear your hair however you want.”

He quickly looked down at his plate, smirking, proud of himself, I think.  

“Thank you,” I said, from the depths of my heart, my hand on his arm and tearing up because I was proud of him, too. But I may be a little prouder of my own unwillingness to back down on something that feels so symbolic and important right now.

“You can wear your hair however you want, too.”

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When you become a parent for the first time, there is an undeniably steep learning curve. Add to that the struggle of sorting through fact and fiction when it comes to advice and—whew—it's enough to make you more tired than you already are with that newborn in the house.

Just like those childhood games of telephone when one statement would get twisted by the time it was told a dozen times, there are many parenting misconceptions that still tend to get traction. This is especially true with myths about bottle-feeding—something that the majority of parents will do during their baby's infancy, either exclusively or occasionally.

Here's what you really need to know about bottle-feeding facts versus fiction.

1. Myth: Babies are fine taking any bottle

Not all bottles are created equally. Many parents experience anxiety when it seems their infant rejects all bottles, which is especially nerve wracking if a breastfeeding mom is preparing to return to work. However, it's often a matter of giving the baby some time to warm up to the new feeding method, says Katie Ferraro, a registered dietician, infant feeding specialist and associate professor of nutrition at the University of California San Francisco graduate School of Nursing.

"For mothers returning to work, if you're breastfeeding but trying to transition to bottle[s], try to give yourself a two- to four-week trial window to experiment with bottle feeding," says Ferraro.

2. Myth: You either use breast milk or formula

So often, the question of whether a parent is using formula or breastfeeding is presented exclusively as one or the other. In reality, many babies are combo-fed—meaning they have formula sometimes, breast milk other times.

The advantage with mixed feeding is the babies still get the benefits of breast milk while parents can ensure the overall nutritional and caloric needs are met through formula, says Ferraro.

3. Myth: Cleaning bottles is a lot of work

For parents looking for simplification in their lives (meaning, all of us), cleaning bottles day after day can sound daunting. But, really, it doesn't require much more effort than you are already used to doing with the dishes each night: With bottles that are safe for the top rack of the dishwasher, cleaning them is as easy as letting the machine work for you.

For added confidence in the sanitization, Dr. Brown's offers an incredibly helpful microwavable steam sterilizer that effectively kills all household bacteria on up to four bottles at a time. (Not to mention it can also be used on pacifiers, sippy cups and more.)

4. Myth: Bottle-feeding causes colic

One of the leading theories on what causes colic is indigestion, which can be caused by baby getting air bubbles while bottle feeding. However, Dr. Brown's bottles are the only bottles in the market that are actually clinically proven to reduce colic thanks to an ingenious internal vent system that eliminates negative pressure and air bubbles.

5. Myth: Bottles are all you can use for the first year

By the time your baby is six months old (way to go!), they may be ready to begin using a sippy cup. Explains Ferraro, "Even though they don't need water or additional liquids at this point, it is a feeding milestone that helps promote independent eating and even speech development."

With a complete line of products to see you from newborn feeding to solo sippy cups, Dr. Brown's does its part to make these new transitions less daunting. And, for new parents, that truly is priceless.

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Jessica Simpson celebrated her baby shower this weekend (after getting a cupping treatment for her very swollen pregnancy feet) and her theme and IG captions have fans thinking this was not just a shower, but a baby name announcement as well.

Simpson (who is expecting her third child with former NFL player Eric Johnson) captioned two photos of her shower as "💚 Birdie's Nest 💚". The photographs show Simpson and her family standing under a neon sign spelling out the same thing.

While Simpson didn't explicitly state that she was naming her child Birdie, the numerous references to the name in her shower photos and IG stories have the internet convinced that she's picking the same name Busy Philips chose for her now 10-year-old daughter.

The name Birdie isn't in the top 1000 baby names according to the Social Security Administration, but It has been seeing a resurgence in recent years, according to name nerds and trend watchers.

"Birdie feels like a sassy but sweet, down-to-earth yet unusual name," Pamela Redmond Satran of Nameberry told Town and Country back in 2017. "It's also just old enough to be right on time."

Simpson's older kids are called Maxwell and Ace, which both have a vintage feel, so if Birdie really is her choice, the three old-school names make a nice sibling set.

Whether Birdie is the official name or just a cute nickname Simpson is playing around with, we get the appeal and bet she can't wait for her little one to arrive (and her feet to go back to normal!)

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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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