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I’m a SAHM with an older child—what’s next for me?

It's not my son's job to fulfill me, make me happy, or give me an identity. That's my job; always has been and always will be. This I know without a shadow of a doubt.

I’m a SAHM with an older child—what’s next for me?

Growing up I always knew I was “going to be somebody and make something of myself." An obsessive overachiever, I was confident that I was destined to do something amazing with life. I had big plans for myself, and I never deviated from a well thought out plan.

I loved college. Never before had I experienced the thoughtful, knowledgeable, and meaningful conversations I did during class. I was hooked; I couldn't get enough of it! I soon grew to feel a great sense of camaraderie with my classmates. I had found my place and soared, regularly earning a spot on The Dean's List (while continuing to work my nearly 35 hours per week “part-time" job). All was going according to plan.

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And then it wasn't.

I had been casually dating a neighborhood boy for the entire summer preceding my freshman year. Soon after classes started and I moved onto campus, our relationship grew serious; very serious, very quickly. I began spending more and more time at my boyfriend's house and less and less time on campus. While I remained dedicated to my studies and earning superb grades, I completely forfeited any true “college experience" for the sake of my relationship.

Despite my parent's greatest efforts to spare me from missing out on my chance at a college experience, I chose to honor my commitment to both my relationship and my boyfriend. It wasn't long before I moved off campus and into an apartment with my boyfriend. I was only 19. Amidst all the changes that had taken place in my personal life, my academic performance never suffered and my passion for learning remained as strong as ever.

I married my boyfriend during my junior year spring break. Nine short months later, while seven months pregnant, I proudly walked across the stage to receive my degree! I had already applied to and been accepted to my now alma mater's School of Graduate Studies and was scheduled to begin my graduate career the following September, after a five-month “break" to recover from and adjust to being a first-time mom.

A first-time mom who stayed home with my son and handled each and every single responsibility pertaining to the care and well-being of my child, and our household. By this point, my responsibilities also included “damage control and cleanup" for whatever mess my husband had created for himself, and I began growing more and more exhausted as the weeks passed.

When September inevitably rolled around I was excited to begin my graduate studies, though admittedly plagued with anxiety at the thought of leaving my infant son in the care of my ill-equipped husband for nearly five hours per week.

I attended three weeks worth of classes before realizing my son needed me full-time (his father simply couldn't be trusted) and withdrawing. I was devastated; for the first time in my life, I felt like a failure. I couldn't finish something that I both started and yearned so badly for.

Despite my disappointment, I became engulfed in my new role as a full-time-stay-at-home-mom. I was so very in love with my child, and never took for granted the privilege that I had been afforded. I heard my child's first spoken word, witnessed his first steps, taught him to count, read to him every single night before bed, and even saw him proudly use the potty for the first time! I was #blessed and I knew it, on most fronts.

My marriage was broken, shattered beyond repair, and I knew it. Instead of addressing and handling the problem, I instead chose to turn a blind eye to the catastrophe that had become my marriage. I immersed myself in my role as a full-time-stay-at-home-mom and even began internally identifying myself this way.

Occasionally I'd feel the sting of desire and regret over the goals that had essentially been abandoned. In those moments, I reminded myself just how badly I was needed at home and did my best to convince myself my circumstances were beyond my control; I had a small child and an immature, irresponsible, and unreliable husband. How could I ever balance graduate courses in addition to my daily responsibilities, I'd ask myself?

A devastating family death finally inspired me to file for divorce after a 10-year-long-relationship and four years of marriage. At the time I filed for divorce I had been out of the workforce for four years and had never once worked since graduating from college. To say I was scared would be the understatement of a lifetime, but I knew I was doing what was right for both my son and myself.

After a few too many wine-fueled late night pity parties, I knew what I had to do. I contacted my former advisor and re-enrolled in my graduate program. I found an apartment for my son and myself (complete with a white picket fence!), bought a new car, and landed a pretty desirable position at a well-known local law firm. It seemed as if my plan had managed to find its way back to me and I was back on track.

My divorce was terribly messy. I was awful, he was awful, it was all awful. What should have been an open and closed case was dragged out for nearly two years, courtesy of my ex-husband. I was struggling to balance single motherhood, a demanding, high paced job, and managing a household and all the expenses that come along with it (including pre-school).

I was juggling this far too fragile balancing act all while taking a full load of graduate courses and maintaining a 4.0 GPA. It wasn't long until my ex-husband decided he would no longer honor his moral obligation to provide for my child with child support payments. The fact that these child support payments were court ordered meant nothing to him. He ceased all means of support (and continues to).

As I grew into my role at work and began to excel I knew something had to give. I was simply spread too thin. I was unable to be the very best mom, employee, or graduate student I knew I had the potential to be while juggling so many major responsibilities. Because I wasn't receiving any financial assistance from my ex-husband, I once again made the decision to withdraw from my MA Program upon completion of the classes I was enrolled in. This time, I truly had no choice. I had a small child to support, obligations to honor, and I needed to work to fulfill these obligations. I withdrew with a 4.0 GPA and in good standing with my University.

Over the next few years, I largely worked in Education, with a short-lived stint in IP Law. I continued to struggle. Though it was gratifying to know that I was modeling strong, positive, and responsible behavior for Jack to see, I hated leaving him in someone else's care each day. Time and time again I was told, “it will get easier," and “it won't always be this hard," but it never got easier and it continued to grow increasingly harder.

When I met my now husband he encouraged me to leave my position with the IT Law Firm and follow my heart. As badly as I wanted to, I was afraid. What if I left my job and once again fell flat on my face? I couldn't bear the thought of starting all over again. Eventually, I did find a part-time position in my field and left the firm. I remember walking out of my office on my last day at the firm and feeling as though my soul had been set free from the prison it had been shackled in. I was liberated.

Much to our surprise, shortly after we became engaged, my then-fiancée (a fine dining chef), was recruited by and offered a position in Las Vegas at one of the country's top-grossing restaurants. The offer, experience, and education my fiancée stood to gain was far too good to turn down and so together we made the decision to accept the offer and move across the country to Nevada. Our move and the major change in lifestyle we experienced brought with it many new decisions to be made and questions to be answered.

During one particular conversation, my husband sat me down and told me he thought I should stay home with our son. He thought it best for me to be completely available to our little guy during his transition period. I agreed. He surprised me though when he told me that he knew I wasn't as happy as I could be. He continued, reporting it was his observation that I hadn't been truly happy since returning to the workforce and forfeiting my role as a full-time-stay-at-home-mom.

What could I say? He was absolutely right. In that moment, we decided I would resume my role as a full-time-stay-at-home-mom, with the unconditional support of my husband. I was so filled with relief, love, and gratitude that I couldn't speak. Instead, crying tears of joy while trying to thank him through my sobs.

The next few years were amazing. We blossomed into a whole, healthy, and happy family while in Nevada. My husband experienced great success and our son prospered. I was once again fortunate enough not to miss a single baseball practice or game, school performance or event, soccer game, or karate lesson. To our son's delight, I was even able to read to his class a few times that year. My “job" as a full-time-mom allowed me the freedom to ensure our little guy was able to accept almost all invitations to play dates and birthday parties, sleepovers and camp outs. I loved “having my old job back" and was deeply happy and content.

A few years ago my husband accepted yet another prestigious position, this time closer to our home state on the east coast. Though it was difficult to leave the friendships and life we had created during our time in Nevada, each of us was excited to be so close to family, friends, and home. We settled beautifully in our new beach side community. My husband continues to excel in his career and our son is well adjusted, popular, and a genuinely good-hearted little boy. We're all healthy, happy, well taken care of, and safe.

So, what could possibly be wrong?

Me.

As I approach my 34th birthday next week and my son rapidly approaches his 10th birthday in just a few short months, I find myself wondering and worrying about my future. Though he is still very young, requiring supervision, guidance, and love at all times, my son has begun to assert his independence. He will need me less and less as the years' pass. Then what? What happens to me?

It's not my son's job to fulfill me, make me happy, or give me an identity. That's my job; always has been and always will be. This I know without a shadow of a doubt.

My husband's career has taken off. He's experiencing well deserved critical acclaim and has even been featured in local media quite a few times. My heart swells with pride and admiration for my husband. He deserves every bit of the success and attention he's achieving and receiving. So, he's good. He doesn't “need" me for anything either.

But what about me? Where does that leave me?

The same fears, worries, questions, regrets, and anxieties continuously run through my mind. The relentless fears and regret torment me, racing through my mind leaving me to wonder:

Is it too late for me?

Did I waste my potential?

What is my purpose?

And finally:

Maybe, just maybe, now is the perfect time for me. Maybe now is the ideal time to revert back to my plan, get back on track, and to not only meet but crush both my MA and Ph. D. goals?

From the sidelines where I find myself sitting these days, it seems now is as good a time as ever.

I felt lost as a new mother, but babywearing helped me find myself again

I wish someone had told me before how special wearing your baby can be, even when you have no idea how to do it.

My first baby and I were alone in our Brooklyn apartment during a particularly cold spring with yet another day of no plans. My husband was back at work after a mere three weeks of parental leave (what a joke!) and all my friends were busy with their childless lives—which kept them too busy to stop by or check in (making me, at times, feel jealous).

It was another day in which I would wait for baby to fall asleep for nap number one so I could shower and get ready to attempt to get out of the house together to do something, anything really, so I wouldn't feel the walls of the apartment close in on me by the time the second nap rolled around. I would pack all the diapers and toys and pacifiers and pump and bottles into a ginormous stroller that was already too heavy to push without a baby in it .

Then I would spend so much time figuring out where we could go with said stroller, because I wanted to avoid places with steps or narrow doors (I couldn't lift the stroller by myself and I was too embarrassed to ask strangers for help—also hi, New Yorkers, please help new moms when you see them huffing and puffing up the subway stairs, okay?). Then I would obsess about the weather, was it too cold to bring the baby out? And by the time I thought I had our adventure planned, the baby would wake up, I would still be in my PJs and it was time to pump yet again.

Slowly, but surely, and mostly thanks to sleep deprivation and isolation, I began to detest this whole new mom life. I've always been a social butterfly. I moved to New York because I craved that non-stop energy the city has and in the years before having my baby I amassed new friends I made through my daily adventures. I would never stop. I would walk everywhere just to take in the scenery and was always on the move.

Now I had this ball and chain attached to me, I thought, that didn't even allow me to make it out of the door to walk the dog. This sucks, I would think regularly, followed by maybe I'm not meant to be a mom after all.


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14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

$40

Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

$120

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

$179

Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

$100

Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$33

Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$88

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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It's science: Why your baby stops crying when you stand up

A fascinating study explains why.

When your baby is crying, it feels nearly instinctual to stand up to rock, sway and soothe them. That's because standing up to calm babies is instinctual—driven by centuries of positive feedback from calmed babies, researchers have found.

"Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother," say authors of a 2013 study published in Current Biology.

Even more striking: This coordinated set of actions—the mother standing and the baby calming—is observed in other mammal species, too. Using pharmacologic and genetic interventions with mice, the authors say, "We identified strikingly similar responses in mouse pups as defined by immobility and diminished ultrasonic vocalizations and heart rate."

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