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I glance in my crooked rear-view mirror and see two little blonde heads poking up over the back of their rear-facing car seats. It’s quiet – a sacred and rare moment of peace allowing me to turn up the volume on my thoughts.

My brain shifts to autopilot as I make the all-too familiar drive to Costco. My body is driving the car, but my dreams are carrying me into the clouds for a welcome bird’s eye view.

I’m turning thirty this year. I always said that I’d be pregnant by thirty, and yet here I am with two babies under two, and the small seed of desire for three.

Almost three years ago I came out of the bathroom wielding a stick with two distinctive pink lines and a face that paled even lighter than my already fair skin. I couldn’t picture the life I’m living right now. I couldn’t see two sweet heads in the backseat, tossing cheerios and tearing through books during our daily commutes.

I saw a job that I loved slipping through my fingers. I saw the chance for a successful career fading before my eyes. I saw a brilliant business idea dissipate, never to be attempted. I saw the ten pounds that I had gained during my first year of marriage snicker, and jeer, and settle in for the long haul.

I didn’t see my dreams being realized, I saw my dreams slipping away as I faced an unplanned, too-soon pregnancy that was quickly becoming a road block in the way of me meeting my goals.

My plans. My body. My marriage. My life.

My selfishness was replaced with joy as a screaming, wet little body was laid across my chest. All of my previous doubts and regrets were crowded out by numbers of wet diapers and minutes nursed on each side. Days turned to nights, and nights felt like days, as I worked hard to fulfill this new and strange role.

I was happy. I was full. I was content being a mommy and running this race. And just when I got the hang of it, when she was sleeping longer stretches, when my milk supply had evened out, when I was almost down to pre-baby weight, when I could even catch my breath, it happened again.

Two pink lines. Shock at how soon. She’s only four months. My body was about to be mine again. My part-time job was just picking up. Now what?

I plodded and pleaded with God to give me the strength for what I was about to endure. Two babies in two years with only four months of reprieve between birthing one, carrying the other, nursing one, nursing the other.

I forgot about those wisps of a dream that felt like they were being carried away on the clouds. But now, riding in my car with a moment of quiet, I remember. I remember what I wanted, what I had been working for before two beautiful blessings entered my world.

And right there next to what could have been, I see what is.

I see me in a dark corner of the spare bedroom, rocking and swaying and snuggling a tiny one close. My hair is greasy and pulled back loosely to prevent little fingers from getting all wrapped up and tangled tight. My shirt is bunched up around my soft middle, still holding onto memories of carrying her close in the womb. It’s dark though, so I don’t mind, and I don’t bother pulling it down. My eyes are closed, dreaming of sweet sleep. My lips are pursed, humming a hymn that provides her with a soothing lullaby, and me with the precious truths that I need to hear so badly. “Come thou fount of every blessing.”

I see me in the shower, alone for a few stolen moments. Hot water streams down to soothe my aching back, and tears stream down my cheeks in an attempt to comfort my aching soul. Where has my time gone and will I ever get it back? When will I feel like myself again? When will these lumps smooth out and firm? When will my confidence return?

Being a mom is so hard and I am so tired.

I see me cleaning the kitchen after nap-time. The kids play contentedly in the room to my right and soft, subtle music streams from my phone plugged in on the countertop. These are the witching hours and they take a special touch to tame. I see myself close my eyes and count to three looking at the load of dirty dishes in front of me, the laundry piled up behind me.

I see little hands grabbing my legs, and an eager head poking through to look up at me with big, blue eyes. I see my stress melt away when confronted with the delight of his smile.

These images are fierce competition to the memories I have of old desires. They’re so vivid that they have replaced many of the dreams I once had, and I don’t regret it. It’s not that I’ve lost what I once was, but I have. For now, at least.

Right now, I won’t be the CEO of the next big thing. Right now, I won’t have the cleanest house or the fittest body. Right now, I may not have dinner on the table every night, and I may not be able to jump for that promotion. Right now, I feel like I’ve missed some chances that I’ll never get back.

But maybe they weren’t my chances to take. Maybe those memories weren’t mine to create. Maybe there was something better in store for me, and I look through that rear-view mirror into my backseat and I think that there was.

In all of this mothering and making pancakes and dancing in the living room, stories are forming in my heart, and in theirs. I write down as many as I can. Someday I’ll have the time to do them all justice.

I’m not ungrateful when I drift away like this, I’m nostalgic – remembering the old me, taking care with the old dreams, setting the ones worth keeping aside. I reserve these moments of quiet to revive the dreams that will have to wait for another day.

I look in my rearview mirror and see two little blonde heads, and think that it’s lovely. I know that it’s lovely. And I know this is a season that will soon pass. Right now, I’m here doing this – driving to the store with a full backseat, and an even fuller heart.

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Summer heat has a way of making the house feel smaller, more congested, with less room for the air to circulate. And there's nothing like heat to make me want to strip down, cool off and lighten my load. So, motivation in three digits, now that school is back in, it's time to do a purge.

Forget the spring clean—who has time for that? Those last few months of the school year are busier than the first. And summer's warm weather entices our family outdoors on the weekends which doesn't leave much time for re-organizing.

So, I seize the opportunity when my kids are back in school to enter my zone.

I love throwing open every closet and cupboard door, pulling out anything and everything that doesn't fit our bodies or our lives. Each joyless item purged peels off another oppressive layer of "not me" or "not us."

Stuff can obscure what really makes us feel light, capable and competent. Stuff can stem the flow of what makes our lives work.

With my kids back in school, I am energized, motivated by the thought that I have the space to be in my head with no interruptions. No refereeing. No snacks. No naps… I am tossing. I am folding. I am stacking. I am organizing. I don't worry about having to stop. The neat-freak in me is having a field day.

Passing bedroom doors, ajar and flashing their naughty bits of chaos at me, is more than I can handle in terms of temptation. I have to be careful, though, because I can get on a roll. Taking to my kids' rooms I tread carefully, always aware that what I think is junk can actually be their treasure.

But I usually have a good sense for what has been abandoned or invisible in plain sight for the lack of movement or the accumulation of dust. Anything that fits the description gets relegated to a box in the garage where it is on standby in case its absence is noticed and a meltdown has ensued so the crisis can be averted. Either way, it's a victory.

Oh, it's quiet. So, so quiet. And I can think it through…

Do we really need all this stuff?

Will my son really notice if I toss all this stuff?

Will my daughter be heartbroken if I donate all this stuff?

Will I really miss this dress I wore three years ago that barely fit my waist then and had me holding in my tummy all night, and that I for sure cannot zip today?

Can we live without it all? All. This. Stuff?

For me, the fall purge always gets me wondering, where in the world does all this stuff come from? So with the beginning of the school year upon us, I vow to create a new mindset to evaluate everything that enters my home from now on, so there will be so much less stuff.

I vow to really think about objects before they enter my home…

…to evaluate what is really useful,

...to consider when it would be useful,

...to imagine where it would be useful,

...to remember why it may be useful,

…to decide how to use it in more than one way,

... so that all this stuff won't get in the way of what really matters—time and attention for my kids and our lives as a new year reveals more layers of the real stuff—what my kids are made of.

Bring it on.

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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.

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For many years, Serena Williams seemed as perfect as a person could be. But now, Serena is a mom. She's imperfect and she's being honest about that and we're so grateful.

On the cover of TIME, Williams owns her imperfection, and in doing so, she gives mothers around the world permission to be as real as she is being.

"Nothing about me right now is perfect," she told TIME. "But I'm perfectly Serena."

The interview sheds light on Williams' recovery from her traumatic birth experience, and how her mental health has been impacted by the challenges she's faced in going from a medical emergency to new motherhood and back to the tennis court all within one year.

"Some days, I cry. I'm really sad. I've had meltdowns. It's been a really tough 11 months," she said.

It would have been easy for Williams to keep her struggles to herself over the last year. She didn't have to tell the world about her life-threatening birth experience, her decision to stop breastfeeding, her maternal mental health, how she missed her daughter's first steps, or any of it. But she did share these experiences, and in doing so she started incredibly powerful conversations on a national stage.

After Serena lost at Wimbledon this summer, she told the mothers watching around the world that she was playing for them. "And I tried," she said through tears. "I look forward to continuing to be back out here and doing what I do best."

In the TIME cover story, what happened before that match, where Williams lost to Angelique Kerber was revealed. TIME reports that Williams checked her phone about 10 minutes before the match, and learned, via Instagram, that the man convicted of fatally shooting her sister Yetunde Price, in 2003 is out on parole.

"I couldn't shake it out of my mind," Serena says. "It was hard because all I think about is her kids," she says. She was playing for all the mothers out there, but she had a specific mother on her mind during that historic match.

Williams' performance at Wimbledon wasn't perfect, and neither is she, as she clearly states on the cover of time. But motherhood isn't perfect either. It's okay to admit that. Thanks, Serena, for showing us how.

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There are some mornings where I wake up and I'm ready for the day. My alarm goes off and I pop out of bed and hum along as I make breakfast before my son wakes up. But then there are days where I just want 10 more minutes to sleep in. Or breakfast feels impossible to make because all our time has run out. Or I just feel overwhelmed and unprepared.

Those are the mornings I stare at the fridge and think, Can someone else just make breakfast, please?

Enter: make-ahead breakfasts. We spoke to the geniuses at Pinterest and they shared their top 10 pins all around this beautiful, planned-ahead treat. Here they are.

(You're welcome, future self.)

1. Make-ahead breakfast enchiladas


Created by Bellyful

I'd make these for dinner, too.

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