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Stephanie Gruner Buckley

There’s nothing like hosting a playdate to shine a spotlight on how you’re doing as a parent.

So here I am in my living room the day before the guests arrive, sizing up our home as other moms might.

The living room is a disaster. We never wanted to be the kind of people who littered their home with toys. And yet, our once very adult living room, with its antique sofa and Persian rug, looks like a kiddy corner at Chuck E. Cheese.

The moms won’t judge me harshly for this. Their homes look much the same.

But there is a problem. Among the toys — rattles, bright plastic fish, and half a dozen soft animals ripped off the playmat bar by my daughter to stick in her mouth — is nothing designed to expand a baby’s mind. …


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“Person Sitting on Couch” Photo by Pixabay at Pexels

Kids are naturally curious. I would be worried if my kids weren’t curious about things, but my middle child takes curiosity to a different level. He is a master eavesdropper. He hears everything, except when we ask him to do his chores. It’s amazing and incredibly frustrating all at the same time. We have to be very careful about what we talk about because he can hear it all!

For example, my wife took a little break from work for a moment the other day, so I looked around to see if any kids roamed about the house. The coast was clear, so I stepped into her office to see how her day was going. We talked about her day at work and proceeded to talk about some random events we had read in the news. As we talked, our son threw open the office door and proceeded to interrupt and try to discuss the news with us. …


From a breastfeeding mama, listed in order of importance

Before I had my daughter, my mommy friends alluded to breastfeeding challenges when I tried to talk to them about it. Most recommended to get a lactation consultant, and few offered actual tips. I later found out most of them had abandoned breastfeeding altogether within the first month after not succeeding. My friends who had stuck with it didn’t share much about how they did it and any challenges they encountered.

After returning home from the hospital, I quickly determined that I couldn’t supply the amount of milk my daughter was demanding and started supplementing with formula. I knew all of the benefits of breastfeeding and was motivated to make it work, so I embarked on my journey of figuring out how to increase my milk supply. …


WHEN DO WE GET TO THE EASY PLATEAU OF MOTHERHOOD?

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Photo by Artem Maltsev on Unsplash

The immense depth and vastness of the love one feels for their baby.

The absolute.

The eternal.

The be all end all quality of love.

It could just be a primal thing. We care for this particular baby, but not someone else’s. Just an animal reaction, biological. Not cosmic.

But I believe it’s a portal, a wormhole, a direct, unblocked connection to the divine, which is illuminated when one has a child and sees outside of her body, the very embodiment of all the love she is made of, in the manifested figure of her baby. …


Unintended Consequences

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Photo by Johannes Plenio on Unsplash

Our son isn’t quite five-years-old. From the bathtub, he looked up at me and asked, “Daddy, will the cats die?”

Whoa. Where did this come from? Not wanting to lie to him, I told him, “Yes, they will die someday. We will all die someday.” The tears begin to well up in his eyes.

Oh No! What had I done? Should I have lied to him?

The tears grew. Like Indiana Jones’s boulder, they threatened to bowl me down. “But I don’t wanna die!”

I started tearing up with him. …


How the pressure from society to uphold women’s values is sometimes too much.

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Photo taken by author

On New Year’s Day, we went to the beach as a family. It was a special occasion because the hubby could get away from his office to come on this adventure with us.

My husband had been on his phone on and off the whole journey while I drove and proceeded to be on his phone as we started walking towards the beach.

I tutted, but he didn’t get the hint, or at least he didn’t acknowledge it by putting his phone away.

Recently, I had been comparing the roles my husband and I have as parents. I am the primary carer — I gave up my career to be with our son full time, and Devonte is the main breadwinner. …


Describing the mission of food shopping with a toddler

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Photo by Scott Evans on Unsplash

Food shopping, to most, is not fun. It is a mundane task we all have to get done. But what people don’t realise before they have kids is how much is taken for granted, such as this everyday task.

I’m about to describe to you a typical mother’s attempt to do a basic food shop with a toddler strapped to her. And trust me, it is least of all, boring or mundane.

Leaving the House

Getting yourself and your toddler ready to go anywhere is not easy for two reasons:

  1. Toddlers can’t get ready on their own.
  2. They don’t just comply out of kindness. …


I spent hours watching other women live their lives on YouTube, and it destroyed my mental health.

Woman sitting alone in the dark staring at her phone.
Woman sitting alone in the dark staring at her phone.
Photo by mikoto.raw from Pexels

Alright, I’ll admit it, I am recovering from an addiction to watching YouTube. Not just any YouTube, I might add, but mommy vloggers in particular. It all started when I was a new mom. I had just turned twenty, newly married, a new mom to a baby with special needs, and transitioning into being a stay at home mom living off of one income. I wonder how I ever did it, money was super tight, my marriage was rocky, and my daughter's future was uncertain.

A few months ago, I watched YouTube and stumbled across a man who was “exposing” family vloggers. As I watched him criticize these women for how fake the lives they are putting out on the internet was, I slowly realized how much I actually watched and believed these women. Then I started scrolling through the comments and saw other women talking about how these women had affected their mental health. It got me thinking; I got through the hard times by disassociating from my life by watching a life I didn’t have. It made me feel better in the moment, but it destroyed my mental health in the long run. …


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Photo by Edward Cisneros on Unsplash

Recently, my kids got into a little trouble for not following the rules. We’re not the strictest parents in the world, but punishment felt necessary. The problem was that my middle child wanted no part in that. When we tried to talk to him to explain how his behavior was unacceptable, all we got back was some attitude. We chalked it up to him entering his pre-teens and having that teenage attitude. When we realized we weren’t going to get through to him because his attitude was awful, we walked away to let him cool down. Then, he said it. “You guys, are unfair. …

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Modern Parent

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