Parenting needs its own glossary. We’re constantly developing new phrases in our home, prompted by baby-related situations that beg for their own dictionary entries. Do you relate to any of these situations? Feel free to borrow our vocabulary if you do.
Midwest born and raised, preacher’s kid, escapee of fundamentalism but lover of God and good, Kelle Hampton is today a wife, mother to three and step-mother to two. Residing in Naples, Florida with a bit of her heart still in Michigan, she is a writer, photographer, speaker and celebrant of life’s large little things. Her heartfelt blog post relating to the birth of her daughter Nella and her surprise diagnosis of Down syndrome led to the writing of Bloom, a New York Times best-selling memoir.
Kelle has contributed to Parents, Parenting, Martha Stewart’s Whole Living, Good Housekeeping and NPR’s All Things Considered. She shares photography and weekly journals about life and motherhood on her blog Enjoying the Small Things
Parenting is Hard.
You can cross-stitch it on a pillow, stencil it in swirly letters on a plaque, print it on a yellow t-shirt with a unicorn logo, but the truth still remains: parenting is the hardest job you’ll ever have.
It’s also the most rewarding, beautiful, soul-twisting, hilarious, feel-good job you’ll ever have, and that truth itself makes the hard part so much better. Another way of dealing with the low points in parenting is recognizing what our greatest challenges are and having some stand-by tools for facing those challenges. While there are numerous times in raising my children where I simply feel, “I don’t know how to deal with this,” I also have trustworthy go-to strategies that help me trudge through the trenches and a few mantras I repeat to ease my stresses.
My hardest parenting challenges land in six different areas, and thankfully there’s a community of moms around me from which I’ve gathered inspiration to face these challenges.
In the far left corner of my daughter Nella’s brilliant smile is a silver tooth—a shiny little nugget that only appears when she tips her head at the right angle with her widest smile. I’d like to say that little tooth only cost us $10.95—eBay’s going rate for a silver cap (yes, I checked)—but unfortunately we paid upward, the most significant hit—a nice dose of parental guilt. When you take your three-year-old to the dentist and are told she needs a root canal, you feel the clarity of what you’ve suspected many times before: We. Are. Horrible. Parents.
If a picture’s worth a thousand words, then parenting’s worth a million “I love yous.” While it can be challenging to think of different ways to let our friends and family know we love them, babies are pretty easy to please. Here are sixteen simple ways to say “I love you” to your baby today.
We all love our moms, but it took becoming a mom for me to realize just how many sacrifices my mother made for us and how hard she worked. Now following in her footsteps with three kids of my own, I’m looking back and thanking her for the ways she showed me love and the things she taught me about motherhood.
We swipe our phones from them with a “Not for babies!” We lock cleaning supply cabinets, store cameras far from their grasp and lunge when they reach for our razors in the tub. So, what cool grown-up stuff can babies play with? Here are 14 made-for-baby gadgets that look just like the real grown-up thing.
An ocean of powerful lyrics and enchanting melodies for babies exists beyond the traditional “Rockabye Baby,” many hidden in love songs or perhaps buried in that old mixed tape from college days. Create a new playlist with these meaningful songs and favorite lyrics to memorize, sing in the car, dance to in the kitchen and sway your baby to sleep at night.
Motherhood requires constant attention and energy, and when we’re taking care of our families 24 hours a day, we can sometimes forget to take care of ourselves. As flight attendants remind us, we must have our own oxygen mask on to better assist those around us. It’s not only okay for moms to take special moments for themselves—it’s necessary. If you value yourself, you’ll value those around you more. So make time for Mama!
Wedged somewhere between Stellaluna and Guess How Much I Love You? in my daughter’s bookshelf is an old photo album that was given to me as a baby shower gift years ago. “My Family,” it reads in pink puffy letters across the front of it, and inside are photo slots designated for all the people in a baby’s life—my mommy, my daddy, my grandpas, my grandmas, my aunts, my uncles, my siblings. It didn’t take but a minute after beginning to stuff photos in the sleeves to be reminded that our family’s a little different.
Today, my children have five grandpas—and that’s not counting the few neighbors and friends we’ve adopted as honorary ones along the way. With divorce and remarriage on both sides of our family and one gay relationship, it makes for five official grandpas—three more than the allotted space in our photo book.
“So, what are you going to tell the kids about your unique family?” friends have asked.
And my answer: “That we’re so very lucky that everyone is loved and has someone to love.”
Raising babies in South Florida, we might not have a snowy backdrop for the holidays or a mountain view from our windows, but we do have miles of beautiful beaches. From scouring the sand for the best shells to catching that perfect pink sunset, we’re grateful for another year of memories made by the shore.
Follow our story below to look back on some of this year’s favorite beach memories.