Inspiration Of Motherhood


Hi Ladies, I am not forgetting that men have a responsibility when it comes to raising children. I am just speaking to women who find themselves in situations where they have to do it alone, like in my personal situation. Even if he is not there, you still have to do the best job possible.

By Kimberly Seabrooks

Motherhood: A Sacrificial Life

When I think about motherhood, I think about myself being 17 years old, still in high school, not married, no job, still living at home with my mother who was mentally ill, my baby daddy not wanting anything to do with us, my father not talking to me because he was disappointed in me, and how difficult it was while I was raising my wonderful, now 31-year-old, son. All of that and more comes to mind when I think about being a mother.

Motherhood is one of the hardest most rewarding jobs you could ever imagine and even that doesn’t come close to how difficult that job can truly be.

When thinking about becoming a mother, everything inside of you has to say, I am ready to make the commitment and the sacrifice that I will have to make in order to raise and guide another human being into becoming a happy, healthy and productive member of our society. Because that is what it is going to take.

When we have children, we make a promise to them, no matter how difficult things become, that we are there to love, teach, guide and protect them until they are able to do that for themselves. My son is 31 years old and I still worry about him everyday because I am still on the job, even after he has told me that my job is done. So, it never stops!!

So ladies, if you are thinking about taking that leap into motherhood, just make sure you have all of your tools ready, because I guarantee you that it is going to be a bumpy ride.

Inspiration Of Motherhood: A Letter to Myself at 20


Debbie Burgin

Divorce coach and author, ‘The Joy of Ex’

I recently wrote this for my daughters, who are 20 and 24. One said she wanted to frame it, the other said she loved it, and both suggested that I publish it. So I am.

When I was 20 years old, like most 20-year-olds, I probably had the world by the tip of the tail, but my immature and insecure brain hadn’t thought at all about all of the incredible possibilities of what my 20-year-old brain was capable of.

If I could turn back time, there’s a huge part of me that thinks that there are some things that I would do differently. Now in my 40’s, I look back at my 20-something-year-old self, and think that if I could go back and simply talk to that bright, ambitious young woman who knew beyond a shadow of any doubt what she wanted for her future, I would tell her about the things that are to come for her in terms of life in general, but particularly with regard to family and career.

I’d tell that 20-something-year-old that even though her plan is to focus on her career, she should take no-fail, bulletproof precautions to insure that nothing derails that plan. Specifically and especially, a man. Any man.

No offense, I love men. They can be amazing, but when you’re 20, men, and everything that comes with them, can wait. I’d tell her that there’s plenty of time to work out what her family life will look like, if she decides to go that route. I’d tell her that issues of whether or not to start/have a family are much different for her than they are for men, in ways that are both positive and not so positive.

Many women have a ‘biological clock’ that tick, tick, ticks throughout their 20’s and 30’s (notice that I said ‘many,’ not all). I didn’t have that clock. There was NOTHING in my biological make-up telling me that I needed to have children. Nothing. I wanted nothing to do with being a mother at any age, yet I had my first child at 22… young by anyone’s standards.

At first, I was in total denial. How could this possibly happen? I’d taken the precautions that I knew I should take; thought they were bulletproof. I was on The Pill, and we used ‘backup’ protection. I was also on antibiotics for a moderate bout with acne. The pill and antibiotics are a chemical combination that no woman wants to find herself relying on. For the record (and unbeknownst to me), use of antibiotics while taking The Pill makes the latter almost completely inert. I’d go one step further and tell her that when her doctor says the words, “The test is positive. You’re pregnant,” her ears will start ringing, and she’ll feel as though she’s being sucked into a vortex, the whole room is spinning, but in reality, her chair is completely still. She’ll start sweating profusely, feeling like she’s burning up from the inside out, and she’ll lose her comprehensive capacity, so misunderstanding the meaning of the word “pregnant,” she will literally, verbally ask the doctor for clarification.

I’d tell her that ignoring what her own biology is craving no matter how seemingly self-serving, is essentially… no… literally, putting those dreams that she has for herself, and all the things that she wants to imagine and create, ‘on hold’ indefinitely. And when ‘indefinitely’ finally comes, her dreams will very likely have changed. I’d tell her that while she’s waiting for the opportunity to get those dreams back on track, she’ll be overwhelmed with life as a mother. In place of those dreams will come diaper changes and car pools. Sleepless nights and family fights. I would warn her that in the beginning, though all intentions are probably good, she’ll likely end up raising that first, and any additional children, on her own.

I would tell her that there is power in youth. Particularly in the fearlessness of youth. The power that she now has to think of the things that she thinks of creating in her 20’s will very likely leave her by the time she’s in her mid to late 30’s. Not because she’s any less capable in her 30’s, but because she will be much less daring, less willing to take on the risks that she’s more than happy to as a bright, fearless 20-something-year-old. By the time she’s in her 40’s, she’ll have grown a kind of ‘second skin,’ a protective layer of sorts that comes simply from having heard the word “No” a time or two… or a hundred. It’s a protective layer that naturally comes from being told “you can’t” or “it’ll never work”. I’d tell her that the people who say those things are simply afraid of what they perceive as their own limits, and I’d tell her that she should do those damn things anyway.

I’d tell her that her ‘Nothing to lose’ attitude will vaporize once she has kids, unless she actually focuses a large portion of her efforts on simply keeping that attitude ‘sharp,’ and that she should also focus on not backing down when she knows that her ideas and her instincts are good.

I’d tell her that by the time she’s in her 40’s, should she choose to ‘let life take over’ and have children and family, she’ll find that after having raised her family, she has to start all over again in the process of building that dream. She will by that time, have no blasted clue what that ‘dream’ looks like.

I’d tell her that she will have no doubt whatsoever about the dreams that she has for the family that she created, but for herself, she’ll be starting from square one, and ‘square one’ at 40+ doesn’t look anything like it does at 20+.

I’d tell her that unless she’s an extremely, unusually confident personality type, she’ll succumb to those idiots who tell her “You can’t,” and when that family that she spent the last 20+ years raising has grown up and left the nest, she’ll find herself ‘settling’ for some brainless, soul-sucking 9 to 5, for the simple sake of the fact that she has bills to pay. But she knows that she can do better and bigger, which makes the settling that much worse.

I’d tell her that her ‘extreme’ confidence will serve her well when she decides that she cannot merely sit behind a desk working for someone else, to pay those bills. Unless she understands that her intellectual creativity, her ambition and her potential for bigger things are at risk unless she does something BIG (whatever that ‘big’ might look like to her), all three will eventually disappear (my mother says, “If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it”).

I would tell her that when it comes to friendships, she should value quality over quantity, and no matter what friends she makes and loses along the way, she should always, first and foremost be true to herself. I would tell her never to alter any part of who she is for those who call themselves her friends, yet shun her when she does something that doesn’t suit their selfish needs.

Friends come and friends go. But the ones who truly belief in, value and respect her will never doubt or leave her. They will never make her feel like less than she is. Those are the ones that she needs to hold close.

In a nutshell, I would tell her, “You are a strong, worthy, creative, independent and wildly intelligent young woman. You can do, and have any damn thing that you put your mind and your unlimited talents to. Now go out and infect this planet with your beautiful, crazy imagination.”

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Inspiration Of Motherhood: 20 Things Every Daughter Should Hear


Tammy Bleck

Witty Woman Writing

My dearest daughter,

Celebrating your 28th birthday has made me reflect and want to share some well-earned wisdom with you. You know, the kind of stuff I wish someone had told me when I was your age? Yes, I know you didn’t ask, but we both know that has never stopped me before.

First up, turning 28 is NOT approaching mid-life. Your young years are far from over, and, no, you’re not “old.” But you’re right, time does goes by way too quickly. Best to make the most of it each step along the way.

As you grow older, I hope you will live your life with the spunk and audacity you were born with. Those gifts were bestowed upon you by a higher power. Use them every chance you get and never let them stray too far away from you.

Try not to criticize yourself, second guess your feelings, doubt your abilities or be too hard on yourself when you think you’ve failed. The world does all those things for you and it is your job to stand up to it, not give in to it.

Know that failing is a required curriculum to life. Without it, it is doubtful that you will ever truly succeed. Don’t be afraid of it. You don’t have to like it, you just have to get good at it. Failure is success turned inside out.

Take chances. Be bold. Be silly. It’s okay. Living in the box has never been where the magic happens. Align yourself with the unordinary, the risky and the spectacular. It’s where you were born to be.

Friends will come and go, but the good ones stick. Value them. And while your husband and family will always come first, never lose sight of those friends that have seen you through some of life’s rough spots. You will need them again, and they, you.

Try hard not to worry so much. It causes wrinkles, stomach aches, paranoia and the worries seldom materialize. And stay off of WebMD. No good has ever come from general Internet diagnosis.

From time to time, you may become self-conscious of your body. Don’t. Your figure will never be finer, your hair will never be fuller, your skin will never be as refined and you will never have as much energy as you do now. Appreciate it.

Life doesn’t end when you become a parent. You know I can’t wait for the little bundle(s) of joy to come into your life, but there is no hurry. I will admit that life as you know it will never be the same. But the secret is, the ties you are afraid of binding you, will in fact set you sailing into a world of wonder and perpetual love. Trust me on this one.

As a wife, you are going to make mistakes. You may at times be judgmental, critical, temperamental and perhaps a tad dramatic. It’s not just you. It’s how we are hard wired. But know that once spoken, harsh words can never be taken back. I hope you forgive freely, hug strongly, cry often and let the little things go. They are almost all little things.

There will be times that you find yourself impatient or angry with your mother. It’s more natural than you might imagine. But please understand that she is doing the best she can and she is doing it for all the right reasons… for love of you. At times, I know we can be exasperating. But there will never be anyone that walks this Earth that loves you like your mother. Respect it. It will one day be you.

Make time to spend with your family. We would like to think that our family is forever. But it’s not. We grow old, we get sick and we die. It’s the natural course of things. We are just visitors here. Make sure that you don’t pass up too many offers to spend time with them, to laugh, joke, eat, drink and make memories. You will treasure those memories, and one day they will be all that is left.

Know that being strong doesn’t always mean not crying. I fear that in my zeal to be strong for you as you were growing up, I didn’t allow you to see the tears, the heartache and the disappointments. Shame on me. They are all a part of life, and you will not be able to avoid them, no matter how hard you try. But never, ever confuse tears with weakness. They will cleanse you of your hurt, and your heart will follow.

Be kind with your thoughts, gentle with your words, generous with your actions and forgiving with those who love you and fall short from time to time. None of us is perfect and more attention and gratitude should be given for the trying.

Life is hard. Love makes all things bearable. You will endure the hard knocks so much easier with someone who loves you by your side. Return the favor.

Complain less, be grateful more.

When you start your family and think that you have gotten in over your head, when you think you will never be able to be the perfect mom you envision yourself being, stop and breathe. There is no such thing as a perfect mom. You and that wonderful husband of yours will find your way. Lay your fears at the doorstep of your love.

Nothing worth having is easy to get. Everything has a price. Think about what you will have to pay for something before you act. Half the time, the acquisition is worth far less than the price paid.

Never confuse ego with confidence.

In the days that you do grow old, I hope you will realize that it is a privilege not offered to everyone. I wouldn’t look down my nose at it. When the time comes, believe me, you will be happy to be there.

As for me, my darling daughter, I have loved you with the breathe of me since the moment you were born. Being your mother hasn’t always been easy, but it has always been good. These days I am more of a spectator than a player in your day-to-day life. It’s as it should be. I’m grateful that we are wonderful friends and companions of the best sort. I will always be, no matter what, your biggest fan. And I am here should you ever need me for anything. It is my life-long vocation.

Before I end my euphony of wisdom, let me say thank you. For so much. For your loyalty, your choices, your sweetness, kindness, compassion and humor. For trying even when you didn’t think you could make it. For making me proud every single day that you live.

I know that you’re not perfect. None of us are. But truth be told, to me, you are pretty damn close.


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Inspiration Of Motherhood: Every Day Is Mother’s Day

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Kate Baldwin

Professor, Writer, Mother

“You’re a stupid f—ing idiot!” The words hurled at me like a torch. I could almost see flames rising from the stranger’s mouth as I turned around to see a driver passing, his middle finger extended from an otherwise clenched fist. I had just come from the intersection in front of my house. With my blinker on, I had turned left. From there, as I have done so many times it is now automatic to me, I again clicked on the left turn signal. Our driveway is fifteen yards or so down the block, so it is always a left, then another quick left, to park the car. It was just as I was cresting past our fence that I heard the explosive words.

The indictment was so unexpected that I almost gasped, quickly running through the moves I just made in my head and coming up with nothing unusual, nothing illegal, and certainly nothing idiotic. And yet, instead of defending myself, and feeling emboldened with self-righteousness over this unjust accusation, I felt as crumpled as the napkin next to me smeared with remnants of my toddler’s pb&j.

“He’s right,” an internal voice said, “I am a f—ing idiot.” I had had a rough day at work. My self-esteem was frayed. I’d been trying to slog through a chapter that was taking much longer than I felt it should, and I’d been feeling the reclusiveness of the life of a writer coming at me like a curse.

I’d worn my nice heels to the office, but spent the day with my door closed. No one saw my coolly-crafted outfit, no one chatted about what happened on “Mad Men” on Sunday. Even though I work in a building with three floors of offices, I didn’t catch more than a glimpse of anyone all day. But that wasn’t the point. The point was I was feeling down, and I didn’t have anyone to nudge me out of it. There comes a point in writing, as in any task that must be repeated ad infinitum to be done well, when you wonder, why the heck am I bothering? If I didn’t feel this already about dressing nicely (I might as well have worn sweat pants and Uggs), I certainly was feeling this about my writing.

It didn’t help that at the end of the day, I went to cheer on one of my favorite colleagues as she was invested to a named professorship. I couldn’t have been happier for her, but it was the investors — the donors who created the fund to support her professorship — that made me feel slouchy. A vibrant couple around my age with four young children, and here they were, already endowing professorships! Wow, I thought, I am really slow.

You may recognize the spiral-downward logic when your internal barometer registers that someone is seemingly much more accomplished — not to mention much more glamorous — than you are: What decisions have I made that brought me to this place? Have they been the right ones? What have I been doing with my time? How quickly my self-doubt surfaces.

The point is not that I find myself repeatedly green with envy over other people’s well-deserved accomplishments, but rather how rapidly I go to that place where my envy of others is really self-doubt in devilish clothing, where I join the crowd of nay-sayers:You’re right, I am a f—ing idiot. How did you know?

I often wonder if it is culture that lures women there, to the precipice of self-doubt, so that all it takes is the smallest nudge and splat for us to fall on our faces. Or did I miss some genetic handout in the “confidence” department (probably too busy cruising the aisles of “shy” and “reserved”)? With all the alpha ladies out there, I don’t think we can just lay the blame at culture’s doorstep. But I also don’t think that women have a biological tendency towards self-disavowal.

This is the dilemma that I struggle with frequently, especially on days when I just do not want to drag my lazy ass out of bed in the morning. Because I dread that look in the mirror, that inner refrain: I can hear his words now.

You would think that after decades of school and higher degrees and a plum position at a top university that I would have quashed these tendencies once and for all. But when I walk into my 10-year-old daughter’s room to wake her, sometimes, I worry: How will my tattered sense of self give her substance to lean on, learn from and feed from? Will she hear that negative voice? How can I shield her? God forbid she emulates me.)

I wonder if in this twenty-first century world of women CEOs and CFOs, MBAs, MDs and PhDs if there isn’t still some strain of deeply-rooted anger, bitterness and dare I say hatred which can rapidly make women their own worst enemies. A hatred repeated in the dart-like words of strangers, and taken too closely like a bulls eye to the heart.

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Inspiration Of Motherhood: Fat Prejudice Starts Depressingly Young, Says Study


The Huffington Post  |  By 

Fat prejudice isn’t limited to the adults leading Abercrombie & Fitch and thetabloid industry. According to a new study out of the University of Leeds, children as young as four have internalized the idea that overweight means bad.

The researchers spoke with 126 children between the ages of 4 and 7 years old. Each child was read a picture book featuring a character named Alfie. In different versions of the story, Alfie was normal-weight, overweight or in a wheelchair. After hearing the story, the kids were asked whether they would want to make friends with Alfie and instructed to rate the character in several other ways.

According to the New York Daily News, only one out of the 43 children who heard the overweight Alfie version of the story said that they’d befriend him. They alsorated fat Alfie as less likely than normal-weight Alfie to get invited to parties, be happy with his looks, win a race or excel in school. These same results held true when the researchers did the experiment with a female version of the character, Alfina.

The children also rated wheelchair Alfie and Alfina’s abilities and feelings more negatively than the slimmer version of the characters, but not as negatively as overweight Alfie and Alfina. “This research confirms young children’s awareness of the huge societal interest in body size,” Professor Andrew Hill, one of the study authors, told The Daily Mail.

Hill also told The Daily Mail that the children’s gender did not impact their feelings, although older subjects were more likely to have great fat prejudice. “I think we have an underlying social commentary about weight and morals and that the morality of people is based on their shape,” Hill said. “I think that is very powerful, and kids are sensitive to it.”

This is just the latest study indicating that young kids internalize stereotypes and negative feelings about fat. A 2010 study found that 3- to 5-year-old girls were more likely to choose a thin or average-sized Candyland piece than a fat one, making disparaging statements about the rejected piece like, “She is fat. I don’t want to be that one.” And not only do children express prejudice toward others, they turn those prejudices onto themselves.

[Fat prejudice] is such a strong cultural idea that children are going to start picking up on it immediately, just like gender and what it is to be properly feminine,” Dickinson College professor Amy Farrell, author of “Fat Shame: Stigma and the Fat Body in American Culture,” told CNN in March 2012.

The reality is that we live in a world where 3, 5 and 7-year-olds are terrified of being branded as “fat.” If that’s not an indication that something needs to change, we don’t know what is.

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Inspiration Of Motherhood: Who’s Raising Those Single Moms’ Babies?


Ann Brenoff

Senior Writer, The Huffington Post

Increasingly more unmarried 20-somethings are having babies, the U.S. Census Bureau tells us. What the U.S. Census Bureau doesn’t tell us is who is supporting and raising those kids. Here’s one not-so-crazy thought: A lot of midlifers are getting pressed into service to help raise their grandchildren.

As of 2011, a full 62 percent of women age 20 to 24 who gave birth in the previous 12 months weren’t married,according to the just released Census report.

But the Census did not ask where these moms and their babies called home, acknowledges Rose Kreider, a family demographer with the Census Bureau and one of the report’s authors. She told The Huffington Post that she thinks many of them live either independently or with their babies’ fathers — but added that she really wasn’t sure because the Census didn’t ask. She pointed us in the direction of a CDC study about premarital cohabitation for some more specifics.

Here’s what we learned over there:
** From 2006-2010, 55 percent of women had cohabited by age 25.
** 40 percent of couples living together for the first time got married within three years; that means 60 percent did not.
** Nearly one in five women got pregnant during the first year of living together.
** 23 percent of recent births among women aged 15-44 occurred while living with someone they weren’t married to — up from 14 percent in 2002.

And here’s what we didn’t learn over there:
Where did the other 77 percent of the women go when they had their babies? My guess is they went home to their parents, where they likely rely on family to help care for and pay for their children.

AARP bears out my suspicions. Two years ago, it report that 4.9 million children under 18 in America — 7 percent — live in grandparent-headed households. That was an increase from 4.5 million ten years earlier. At the time, many blamed it on the economy forcing adult children and their families to move home. But 20 percent of those kids — almost a million — had neither parent living in the household and the grandparents were completely responsible for their basic needs.

I’m not preaching morality here. What I fear is happening is that more young women are moving home with their babies and handing mom and dad a bag of diapers instead of brochures for retirement cruises. Perhaps some midlifers welcome it. I’m sure it’s a challenge for at least an equal number.

Personally, I live in the It Takes A Village camp of raising kids. I believe that in an ideal world, every child would have at least four parents — more if they were colicky. I always thought the old Israeli kibbutz system of communal child care had some definite high notes.

Raising kids is a 24/7 job. It is relentless, requires deep vats of patience that few humans possess, and to do it well you need a multitude of skills — again, skills that are rarely all possessed by the same person.

The idea that a child can be raised by one single person who works at a full-time job (after all, you need money if you hope to feed your child and everyone — including babies — needs health coverage), while admirable, is just not ideal.

Yes, life isn’t perfect and some people do a pretty good job of single parenting, but why not wait until you can actually share the responsibility — and joys — with someone other than your parents?

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Inspiration Of Motherhood: Single Motherhood Increases Dramatically For Certain Demographics, Census Bureau Reports


The Huffington Post  |  By 

The rate of single motherhood, which has been steadily increasing since the 1940s, has skyrocketed in recent years, according to a report by the U.S. Census Bureau released on May 1st.

While the birth rate for single women has greatly increased across all demographics — according to the report, which is based on data from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, the birth rate for single mothers in 2007was 80 percent higher than it was in 1980, and 20 percent of that increase happened between 2002 and 2007 — the numbers are particularly high for recent mothers (mothers who gave birth in the previous 12 months) between age 20 and 24.

In 2011, 62 percent of women between ages 20 and 24 who had recently given birth were unmarried.

Among women ages 35 to 39, the percentage was considerably lower — 17 percent of women who recently gave birth were unmarried — but overall, 36 percent of the 4.1 million women who reported they had given birth in the past year were unmarried. That’s up from 31 percent in 2005.

The birthrate among single mothers also varied along educational, socioeconomic and racial barriers. Sixty-eight percent of black women who had given birth in the past year were unmarried, compared to 11 percent of Asian women, 43 percent of hispanics and 26 percent of non-Hispanic whites. Fifty-seven percent of recent mothers without a high school diploma were unmarried compared to nine percent of recent mothers with a bachelors degree or higher. Sixty-nine percent of recent mothers who came from households with incomes with $10,000, in contrast to nine percent of recent mothers with households earning $200,000 or more.

“The increased share of unmarried recent mothers is one measure of the nation’s changing family structure,” said Rose Kreider, one of the report’s authors, in a press release.

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Inspiration Of Motherhood: Time to Put Children and Youth at the Top of the Agenda


Deborah Klein Walker

Vice President, Abt Associates

Let’s make sure the health of children and families get addressed in the president’s second term.

We’re not doing enough as a nation to protect our children. These were the words of President Obama, speaking about the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School that resulted in the deaths of 20 children. The murders have sparked serious debate on what needs to happen to protect the safety our children — the hope and investment for the future. President Obama was right. We are not doing enough for children. And sadly, we are failing them at every turn.

The nation has gone too long without a real commitment to the health and welfare of children and youth. Babies are dying at birth at higher rates than those in all other developed countries and some developing countries. Too many children live in poverty or suffer from lack of access to regular health care, dental care or mental health services. The president’s next administration, along with a new Congress, presents us with opportunities to address these needs and help solve problems, such as our shamefully high infant mortality rate, child poverty, teen pregnancy and childhood obesity. There are two steps we can take now to show that the United States is committed to children, youth and families.

First, there has been no White House Conference on Children and Youth for more than 40 years. The first conference, convened by President Theodore Roosevelt, included delegates from across the United States to find solutions to the care of dependent and neglected children. After that, there was a conference every decade under Presidents Wilson, Hoover, Franklin Roosevelt and Eisenhower, until the most recent conference in 1971 convened by President Richard Nixon. Such a conference could address the alarming disparities in health that children across this country face.

Evidence from my four decades of research and practice in public health shows that these disparities could be eliminated if a range of social, educational, and health policies were fully implemented in all states and local settings. The problem? We know what works when it comes to providing the best care for families and children, but we don’t always implement it. We need systems in place to ensure that children born in this country, whether in Texas or in Massachusetts, have access to the same high-quality education, health and other community services. Holding a conference on children and youth would provide a vision to address solutions to the health, education and welfare challenges faced by today’s children and youth in both rural and urban settings across the country.

Second, to show our nation’s commitment to children and youth, we need to ratify the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights for the Child, which was finalized and opened for signature in 1989. The convention acknowledges that “the child, by reason of his physical and mental maturity, needs special safeguards and care.” Although signed by President Clinton in 1995, it was never ratified, leaving the United States to stand with Somalia and South Sudan as the only non-supporters of the Convention. President Obama promised in 2008 in his first presidential campaign to pursue the ratification of this convention in the Senate, which would show that the United States supports the protection of children and is committed to assuring their human rights. Taking both action steps would show our moral leadership on behalf of children in the United States as well as around the world.

Children cannot vote, so it is our ethical duty to be their voice in a democracy. We need the political will to embrace a national agenda that addresses child and adolescent issues in every state and across the country and invests in their futures. The sorrow we feel over the loss of precious, young children in Newtown is immense. But sorrow is not enough. We need action to make this nation’s children exactly what they should be — our top priority.

Deborah Klein Walker is a Vice President and Senior Fellow at Abt Associates. She served for 15 years at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and was Associate Professor of Human Development at the Harvard School of Public Health and the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She is a former president of the American Public Health Association and the Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs, and the 2012 winner of the APHA Martha May Elliot award for lifetime achievement in maternal and child health.

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A Mother’s Story: Teaching My Daughter to Love Her Future Body


Kim Bongiomo

Writer, Blogger at “Let Me Start By Saying”

I was sitting on a toilet, feeling surprised and kind of insulted, when I realized I had an opportunity before me like no other.

It began with the need to pee: first my 5-year-old daughter, then me.

As I was sitting on the toilet and she was washing her hands, still without pants, she declared, “Mama, you have fat legs! Not like mine — look at mine.”

She then ran her hand along her twiggy little leg, like Vanna White on some cruel version of Wheel of Fortune.

I looked down at my lumpy pale thighs in comparison, squashed against the porcelain throne’s seat like bread dough that refused to rise.

In a flash I was back in the kitchen of the house I grew up in, talking to my own mom.

My mother said some disgusted comment or another about what I was eating, and how one day I’d know what it was like to have hips like hers.

I was befuddled. Already well into my teen years, my hip bones simply protruded from my body at sharp angles, then smoothly dipped towards a flat stomach. I poked at my hips, feeling nothing but skin and bone.

“I don’t get it — how can bones get fat on them?” I was genuinely curious. I looked to her for an answer.

My mom got all flustered and her voice shook. “You wait and see.” Then she ran from the kitchen, locking herself in her bedroom.

That scene was twenty years ago, before I truly understood how much my mom hated how her hips looked.

If I had been a more sensitive girl back then, her reaction to my thinness and her desire to be thinner could have made me fear weight gain. Made me think it was normal to be disgusted by my own changing body. Made me believe in one ideal physique, which was not genetically in the cards for me.

I refused to let this conversation end as badly as that one could have.

I took my eyes off my blubbery thigh and looked at my daughter.

“Good job, you’re right! There is more fat on my legs than yours. When you become a grown-up, you get all sorts of beautiful curves like this. Isn’t that exciting?”

She looked at her little legs, then mine, then back to hers. Then she smiled. “I’m gonna look like you when I’m a growned-up?”

“Yep. And I looked like you when was 5. It’s kind of fun getting to look different when you get older, dontcha think?”

She started hopping excitedly, and replied “Yeah! And I get bigger and older every day, Mama!”

With a smile on her face, she dashed out of the bathroom feeling confident in her current skinny legs, and looking forward to what the meat of Motherhood will do to her hips twenty years from now, leaving her pants and a hopeful mom in her wake.

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Inspiration Of Motherhood: Breastfeeding Moms Hold Nurse-In Protest At Costa Rican Mall

Costa Rica Breastfeeding Protest

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica — At least 50 mothers sat down in a mall’s fast food area and breastfed infants for nearly two hours Saturday, protesting over the shopping center forcing a woman to stop nursing her daughter a week earlier.

The action by Lincoln Square set off a furor on Costa Rican social media and even prompted a statement from the president – a reaction that seemed to shock the mall’s management, which quickly apologized for the incident and announced that breastfeeding would be allowed anywhere in the shopping center.

Despite the retreat, some women decided to go ahead with the “mamaton” protest to show solidarity with Patricia Barrantes, who left the mall the previous weekend rather than comply with a security guard’s order to stop nursing her daughter Mariel and move to a special lactation room.

One of the mothers at the rally traveled a hundred miles from Turrialba to the mall in Costa Rica’s capital, San Jose.

“It gave me a lot of anger … like you’re doing something dirty, as if it’s bad to remove a breast to feed your daughter,” she said while holding her 11-month-old daughter Camila.

Similar anger was widespread after reports of what happened to Barrantes. Thousands of angry comments were posted on Twitter and Facebook, mainly by women in Costa Rica and other countries in the region.

Women’s and children’s groups said the incident set a terrible example in a region where they are trying to encourage more breastfeeding instead of the widespread use of baby formula in order to improve infant health.

Governments in Costa Rica and other Central American nations try to encourage breastfeeding with laws that include mandatory time off during the work day for new mothers to feed their babies or pump breast milk. But women’s and children’s advocates say rates of breastfeeding remain far too low.

The Costa Rican National Women’s Institute sent the mall a formal letter warning that there was no legal justification for barring breastfeeding in public areas.

On Tuesday, President Laura Chinchilla admonished Lincoln Plaza’s managers, saying interfering with breastfeeding in public was unjust and stressing that the provision of lactation rooms is only “so that women have an alternative location” to breastfeed if they wish.

The mall backed down later that day.

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