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I’m raising a smart aleck, and I’m not happy about it. My 11-year-old son offers flippant responses to important questions and has knee-jerk reactions to benign requests. Despite attempts to curb the sass, he’s becoming a first-class smarty-pants.


I’d like to blame his recalcitrance on the Internet, video games, young adult novels, iPhones, the school system and his entire generation. But the truth is that he comes by it naturally. As one saying goes, “he knows how to push my buttons because I installed them.”

My father tried to prevent the smart-mouthed gene from expressing in me through a combination of his formidable will and the controversial book, “Dare to Discipline,” by James Dobson. Catching a glimpse of Dobson’s 1977 parenting manual used to make me shudder because I knew the principles contained therein were being employed to keep me in my place.

Dr. Dobson’s essential argument is that when a “strong-willed child is allowed by indulgence to develop ‘habits’ of defiance and disrespect during his early childhood, those characteristics will haunt him and his parents for the next twenty years.”

My father decided there would be none of this haunting in our house. As a result, I grew up afraid of him.

Once, when I was about my son’s age, I accidentally knocked over a saltshaker during dinner, and it broke in half. I felt bad, and apologized. My father told me he’d try to fix it. That evening, he went to work in the garage with superglue and a vice grip. The repaired shaker, originally worth no more than $3, was back on the table by the next night’s supper. I couldn’t understand why he’d even bothered with the damn thing.

“Great job, dad,” I said in earnest. “Looks even better than it did before.”

Roaring like a lion, my father accused me of mocking his work, of being an ingrate, of being a disrespectful child. My punishment was to figure out a way to repay him for his time and effort – which he calculated as $400 based on his $200-per-hour income as a neurologist.

Not only did I have to scheme ways to earn that money based on my meager allowance and the pursuit of extra chores, I had to see the work through and provide him with the cash repentance.

I washed dishes, dogs, boats and cars for weeks to pay him back. I became sullen at dinner – scared of my father’s tongue as well as my words. I believe the cost of the saltshaker incident was higher than he ever intended. He wanted to teach me respect, but I learned firsthand how to chastise and belittle as a consequence. I never had the chance to offer a mea culpa throughout the ordeal, nor was I the recipient of any comfort during my sequestration. My mother was under strict orders to let me be.

Forty years later, I find myself monitoring my son for any sign of impertinence. I’m quick to snap if he does.

“I don’t like these beans,” he said recently at dinner. “They taste like rubber bands.”

“You’re lucky you even have food! Remember those children we saw in Cambodia with nothing to eat? Why do I even take you places? We cooked those beans for you with money we earned. Sit up straight, your posture suggests apathy.”

And so it goes. Nature. Nurture. Rinse. Repeat. Attempts at dinnertime subordination get handed down and beget future insubordination. I heard that my grandfather was no joy at supper either, preferring silence to idle banter. He was also known to beat his four sons first thing in the morning to prevent any bad behavior later in the day. I was six when grandpa died of Alzheimer’s disease, and all I remembered from his funeral was that none of his grown boys cried.

After my father’s verbal assault on my innocent remark – one of many examples of his daring discipline (none of which included spanking, thankfully) – I successfully managed to repress even the faintest hint of sassiness in front of him. During my teenage years, however, sarcasm aimed at others became a refuge. I taught myself to hide the pain behind put-down humor.

So what’s my son learning when words fly off my tongue in reaction to words that flew off his? I’m pretty sure it isn’t unconditional love, which is what I feel for him. Nor is it the power of vulnerability, which turned out to be the final lesson of my father’s life.

As he descended into Alzheimer’s disease, all the sweetness, and sensitivity behind my dad’s tough exterior came into play. We held hands a lot, connecting beyond language. Whatever words he could utter were a gift, even if they came out wrong. I felt deep compassion for the suffering my dad endured at the hands of his father, and at the awful dementia that befell them both.

In the end, my deepest respect for my father was born from his greatest moments of weakness. Perhaps this is what I should be passing along to David at dinner, instead of the salt.

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Baby stuff comes in such cute prints these days. Gone are the days when everything was pink and blue and covered in ducks or teddy bears. Today's baby gear features stylish prints that appeal to mom.

That's why it's totally understandable how a mama could mistake a car seat cover for a cute midi skirt. It happened to Lori Farrell, and when she shared her mishap on Facebook she went viral before she was even home from work. Fellow moms can totally see the humor in Farrell's mishap, and thankfully, so can she.

As for how a car seat cover could be mistaken for a skirt—it's pretty simple, Farrell tells Motherly.

"A friend of mine had given me a huge lot of baby stuff, from clothes to baby carriers to a rocker and blankets and when I pulled it out I was not sure what it was," she explains. "I debated it but washed it anyway then decided because of the way it pulled on the side it must be a maternity skirt."

Farrell still wasn't 100% sure if she was right by the time she headed out the door to work, but she rocked the ambiguous attire anyway.

"When I got to work I googled the brand and realized not only do they not sell clothing but it was a car seat cover."

The brand, Itzy Ritzy, finds the whole thing pretty funny too, sharing Farell's viral moment to its official Instagram.

It may be a car seat cover, but that print looks really good on this mama.

And if you want to copy Farell's style, the Itzy Ritzy 4-in-1 Nursing Cover, Car Seat Cover, Shopping Cart Cover and Infinity Scarf (and skirt!) is available on Amazon for $24.94.

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.

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Daycare for infants is expensive across the country, and California has one of the worst states for parents seeking care for a baby. Putting an infant in daycare in California costs $2,914 more than in-state tuition for four years of college, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

Paying north of $1,000 for daycare each month is an incredible burden, especially on single-parent families. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services defines affordable childcare as costing no more than 10% of a family's income—by that definition, less than 29% of families in California can afford infant care. Some single parents spend half their income on day care. It is an incredible burden on working parents.

But that burden may soon get lighter. CBS Sacramento reports California may put between $25 and $35 million into child care programs to make day care more affordable for parents with kids under 3 years old.

Assembly Bill 452, introduced this week, could see $10 million dollars funneled into Early Head Start (which currently gets no money from the state but does get federal funding) and tens of millions more would be spent on childcare for kids under three.

The bill seeks to rectify a broken childcare system. Right now, only about 14% of eligible infants and toddlers are enrolled in subsidized programs in California, and in 2017, only 7% of eligible children younger than three years of age accessed Early Head Start.

An influx of between $25 to $35 million dollars could see more spaces open up for kids under three, as Bill 452, if passed, would see the creation of "grants to develop childcare facilities that serve children from birth to three years of age."

This piece of proposed legislation comes weeks after California's governor announced an ambitious plan for paid parental leave, and as another bill, AB 123, seeks to strengthen the state's pre-kindergarten program.

Right now, it is difficult for some working parents to make a life in California, but by investing in families, the state's lawmakers could change that and change California's future for the better.

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When a mama gets married, in most cases she wants her children to be part of her big day. Photographers are used to hearing bride-to-be moms request lots of pictures of their big day, but when wedding photographer Laura Schaefer of Fire and Gold Photography heard her client Dalton Mort planned to wear her 2-year-old daughter Ellora instead of a veil, she was thrilled.

A fellow mama who understands the benefits of baby-wearing, Schaefer was keen to capture the photos Mort requested. "When I asked Dalton about what some of her 'must get' shots would be for her wedding, she specifically asked for ones of her wearing Ellie, kneeling and praying in the church before the tabernacle," Schaefer tells Motherly.

She got those shots and so many more, and now Mort's toddler-wearing wedding day pics are going viral.

"Dalton wore Ellie down the aisle and nursed her to sleep during the readings," Schaefer wrote on her blog, explaining that Ellie then slept through the whole wedding mass.

"As a fellow mother of an active toddler, this is a HUGE win! Dalton told me after that she was SO grateful that Ellie slept the whole time because she was able to focus and really pray through the Mass," Schaefer explains.

Dalton was able to concentrate on her wedding day because she made her baby girl a part of it (and that obviously tired Ellie right out).

Ellie was part of the commitment and family Dalton if forging with her husband, Jimmy Joe. "There is no better behaved toddler than a sleeping toddler, and she was still involved, even though I ended up unwrapping her to nurse her. I held her in my arms while my husband and I said our vows. It was really special for us," Dalton told POPSUGAR.

This is a wedding trend we are totally here for!

Congrats to Dalton and Jimmy Joe (and to Ellie)! 🎉

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The internet is freaking out about how Peppa Pig is changing the way toddlers speak, but parents don't need to be too worried.

As Romper first reported, plenty of American parents have noticed that preschoolers are picking up a bit of a British accent thanks to Peppa. Romper's Janet Manley calls it "the Peppa effect," noting that her daughter started calling her "Mummy" after an in-flight Peppa marathon.


Plenty of other parents report sharing Manley's experience, but the British accent is not likely to stick, experts say.

Toronto-based speech and language pathologist Melissa James says this isn't a new thing—kids have always been testing out the accents they hear on TV and in the real world, long before Peppa oinked her way into our Netflix queues.

"Kids have this amazing ability to pick up language," James told Global News. "Their brains are ripe for the learning of language and it's a special window of opportunity that adults don't possess."

Global News reports that back in the day there were concerns about Dora The Explorer potentially teaching kids Spanish words before the kids had learned the English counterparts, and over in the U.K., parents have noticed British babies picking up American accents from TV, too.

But it's not a bad thing, James explains. When an American adult hears "Mummy" their brain translates it to "Mommy," but little kids don't yet make as concrete a connection. "When a child, two, three or four, is watching a show with a British accent and hears [words] for the first time, they are mapping out the speech and sound for that word in the British way."

So if your baby is oinking at you, calling you "Mummy" or testing out a new pronunciation of "toh-mah-toe," know that this is totally natural, and they're not going to end up with a life-long British pig accent.

As Dr, Susannah Levi, associate professor of communicative sciences and disorders at New York University, tells The Guardian, "it's really unlikely that they'd be acquiring an entire second dialect from just watching a TV show."

It sure is cute though.

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