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Poet Proves Why Fat People Don’t Owe You An Explanation For Their Existence

Posted: 15 Apr 2018 06:39 AM PDT

Rachel Riley’s poem, ‘The Fat Joke,’ is a must-watch for everyone

“Health” is something we focus on a lot in today’s society. New diets, exercise regimens, eating “clean” — we designate certain things as “healthy,” which makes them desirable. But when we assign morality to food and lifestyle choices, we open the door for shaming those who don’t abide by those rules.

Which is why this poem, performed by artist Rachel Riley, is important. It’s been making the rounds on Facebook and resonating with many people — and for good reason.

The poem is titled “The Fat Joke.” There’s a lesson in it for everyone, so give it a watch.

“The old joke goes: patient walks into the doctor’s office, says ‘It hurts when I move my arm like this, what should I do?’ and the doctor says, ‘So don’t move your arm like that,'” Riley says. “Fat Girl walks into doctor’s office, says ‘Doctor, it hurts when I move my arm like this,’ and the doctor says, ‘Have you considered weight loss surgery?'”

In her poem, Riley highlights various things a “fat girl” might visit a doctor’s office for: a flu shot, an earache, a spider bite. And it’s always the same old song and dance: lectures about blood pressure and BMI. And while these typical-seeming concerns about one’s health may seem harmless, to a fat person — they’re not. Because thin people don’t get grilled about their BMI and blood pressure when they visit a doctor for completely unrelated issues.

“Fat Girl walks into the doctor’s to ask about anti-depressants and gets prescribed exercise instead,” Riley says. “Because obviously her depression is because of her fat and obviously fat bodies don’t exercise and stay fat.”

In my experience, medical doctors aren’t super in tune with the mind-body connection in general. They’re more concrete in their thinking when it comes to mental conditions — saying things like “well if you lost some weight, maybe ‘x’ would get better” isn’t at all helpful. I’m a lifetime member of the Emotional Overeaters Club myself, and I don’t suffer bouts of depression because of my weight. My weight fluctuates because of depression and anxiety.

“Fat Girl walks into a world full of sidewalk doctors who claim to be concerned about her health, side effects be damned. Fat Girl walks into the world and still somehow manages to love her fat body and the world says, ‘Stop glorifying obesity.'”

Ah yes. The sidewalk doctors. Also known as relatives and acquaintances and the entirety of internet comment sections. While we’re all guilty of it (myself included) what does it achieve? It’s concern-trolling because “healthy” is the new black and in our society, we equate health with thinness. We shame “processed” foods and anyone who gets joy out of eating them, because what if eating them eventually makes you fat? There’s nothing our society hates more than fatness.

“I do not owe you shrinking, you know,” Riley says. “I do not owe you thinness, attempted thinness, or desired thinness.”

The whole notion of “health” is so subjective. It’s a shame we don’t focus on words like “nutrition” instead. Because thin people and fat people can make nutritious and nourishing lifestyle choices. Look, I happen to know a lot of thin people. Many of them obsess over every calorie, bite, and half-pound on the scale — I was raised by one of those thin people. I know what it’s like to watch your parent equate their size with their worth and the damage that causes. If obsessing that way and living your life that way is “healthy” — excuse me while I roll my eyes.

Riley ends her poem with a powerful reminder that fat people don’t owe anyone an explanation for their existence. “I am deserving of care, and I am deserving to exist as I do. I am deserving of ‘first, no harm done.’ And the world says, ‘That’s the best joke we’ve heard all day.'”

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Charlize Theron Credits Her Mom With Co-Parenting Her Kids And It’s The Sweetest

Posted: 15 Apr 2018 04:50 AM PDT

Charlize Theron would feel “pretty alone” without her mom

Charlize Theron recently opened up about her experiences co-parenting two kids with her mom, and her thoughts on motherhood are fantastic. While Theron is mostly known for her acting career and her philanthropy work to end HIV/AIDS, she’s also a badass mom who isn’t scared to ask for help with her kiddos.

The 42-year-old South African and American actress adopted her two kids Jackson, six, and August, two but co-parents with her mom, Gerda Maritz. “I knew that I would have to have my mom help me if I was going to do this as a single parent. To not acknowledge her in co-parenting my children would be a lie,” Theron told her friend Chelsea Handler for a feature in ELLE. “I'm so lucky to have that. I would feel pretty alone if I didn't have a partner in crime in all of this.”

She also shared how much Maritz loves being a grandma. Theron explained: “She has jokingly said, ‘Being a grandparent is what I was born to do.’ I was like, ‘Yo, bitch! What about me? Was it not to raise me? I'm your kid!'”

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Theron also talks about her new movie, Tully, in which Theron plays an exhausted, pregnant mom of two. The preview promises the film will be an honest look at moms who do too much with not nearly enough help. Which, like all moms, Theron can also relate to in her own way.

“In the beginning, I wanted to do it all and didn't reach out for as much help as I actually needed,” she said. “I felt, If I don't do all of this, then maybe I am a bad parent.” Thankfully, when she adopted her second child, she had learned that no mom can do it all on their own. “The second time, I realized I am happier and my kids are happier if I ask for more help. People think I have a staff of 40, but I don't,” Theron shared. “I have one nanny and my mom up the street and amazing friends and family. I call them my village.”

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She’s known for not tolerating bullshit, so it’s no surprise that she doesn’t plan on taking it from strangers. “My oldest just started big school. She's not even there a full year. So I've not gotten into the whole [judgy moms at] school thing yet,” Theron shared. “The good thing about me is, I've never given a shit about what people think. That's the only quality I have that has probably helped me in being a mother.”

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It’s always refreshing when a celebrity mom offers relatable, nitty-gritty tidbits about parenting, and Theron is no exception. Which, of course, is why we love her.

She’s completely honest about how being a mom is a pretty tough gig some days. “I have bad days. I make mistakes. Going through the tantrum stages when they're such little assholes. And they choose the worst moments,” Theron explained. “But after six years of having my two nuggets, there's not a day when I wish I hadn't done this.”

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How I Fixed My Diastasis Recti And Sh*tty Pelvic Floor

Posted: 14 Apr 2018 06:00 PM PDT

At the 6-week check-up after my first baby was born, my midwife examined my pelvic floor and abdomen, giving it all the golden seal of approval. Even though my belly seemed to be hanging down to my knees, she said I had "abs of steel" beneath it all, and sent me on my merry way.

But after my second baby was born, it was an entirely different story. I now had a condition called diastasis recti (separation in my abdominal wall) almost 3 fingers wide, along with something I had never heard of before called a rectocele, which is basically where your rectum prolapses so it is in the nifty position right next to your vaginal wall. There is a still a wall between your vagina and rectum, but they become very close friends, and if you are constipated or whatnot, you pretty much feel that rectal pressure right there in your vagina.

Yeah, it's about as lovely as it sounds.

Even though my midwife recommended things like Kegels and Pilates, I will admit that I didn't do much at the time. After all, I was now the busy mom of two young boys, and chasing them around and bending down to wipe their butts was pretty much my prime source of exercise. Plus, neither of my issues were really bothering me too much.

Flash-forward to five years later. I began developing bad back pain (which can result from a diastasis recti) and some of the symptoms of my rectocele were acting up. I will spare you all the gory details, but let's just say that anytime I had menstrual cramps, was bloated, or was a little backed up in the poop department, it felt like my rectum was living right there, in my vagina. Sex was starting to become less comfortable too, which was not okay.

My 40th birthday was coming up, both of my kids were finally in school, and I decided: fuck this shit, I deserve to feel better.

As it happened, I had just written about my rectocele for Scary Mommy (we writers really bare our souls, errr, assholes, don't we?) and a bunch of commenters recommended I try the Restore Your Core program. I had been looking into a couple of different programs to heal pelvic floor issues, and I'd been confused about which to try. But when I headed over to the Restore Your Core (RYC) Facebook group headed by the founder of RYC, Lauren Ohayon (pilates and yoga teacher extraordinaire), I was intrigued.

Lauren Ohayon

What I noticed first was the enthusiasm of all the women in the group, as well as the fact that Ohayon herself was in there, answering everyone's many questions. There was a feeling of support and acceptance that was really comforting—something I needed if I was going to commit to something like this.

When I reviewed the program’s details, I admit I was a little intimidated at first. The program has four levels and would take me 13 weeks to finish. I soon found out that I would just need to commit to 3-4, 30-minute sessions per week, but that still felt like a big commitment. However, it seemed to me that I would have a whole lot of hand-holding and cheerleading along the way, which is what I desperately needed.

So I dove right in. But before I could start the program, I had to spend a week learning all about pelvic floor issues and proper alignment, as well as take some time to "get to know" my pelvic floor. Interestingly, Ohayon explains that while Kegels can be helpful for some women, they are not a part of the program because some women with pelvic floor issues actually have a too tight pelvic floor, and need to learn to release it. Instead, strengthening one's core and pelvic region, as well as learning to use your core "reflexively" (as in, just as a part of everyday movement) is the main focus of the program.

Additionally (and I personally love this), Ohayon emphasizes that getting a flat belly is not the focus of this program, but rather having a healthy and functional core is. The program has a strong rehabilitative focus. And as I began the videos themselves, I really saw that. The early videos were really gentle, and all about discovering how to locate and use the muscles you need to properly engage and strengthen your core. Each exercise is taught by Ohayon herself, and you are given really clear instructions about how to do the exercises correctly.

Believe me—I am not always a visual learner, and even I got it.

Lauren Ohayon

At first, I thought the exercises were almost too easy. But then I began to notice something. I'd go to get the peanut butter out of the top shelf in our pantry and I'd find myself engaging my core. I'd be folding laundry, and there it was again. Over the weeks, I began changing little things, like how I bend over to pick up all my kid's crap off the floor. It was amazing—and learning how to properly use your core throughout your long days as a mom is definitely one of the main goals of the program.

And what about my diastases and rectocele? Well, it took me a few weeks to see any changes there. I had to be patient AF. But I am now at the very end of the program, and I recently checked my diastasis. It's about half a finger wide, and the muscles in there just feel tighter and stronger. And I don't want to jinx it with my rectocele, but it's about 75% better, which is pretty freaking fantastic.

Let me be clear: you have to be dedicated to a program like this to make it work. I think that is probably the case with any program that you try. And perhaps this exact program won't be "the one" for you. But here's the bottom line: there is hope out there for those of us with diastases and shitty (pun intended) pelvic floors. Women in the RYC Facebook group have found help for many issues, including uterine and bladder prolapses, back pain, incontinence, umbilical hernias, and more.

My only regret here is that I didn't start this sooner. Why had I waited until my body was shouting to me that something was seriously wrong to finally take some action? I guess life and motherhood is just like that sometimes. But for real: we all deserve to feel better. And if you are dealing with any of these issues, now's the time to start the journey to healing. You can do it, I promise.

Editors/authors may receive samples of products on this page, but all opinions are our own. As always.

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What It’s Like When Your BFF Judges Your Parenting

Posted: 14 Apr 2018 06:00 PM PDT

When your best friend is also a parent, it adds a new level of closeness to your relationship. Becoming a mother is such a huge shift in your life, and having a bestie who understands what you're going through is immensely helpful. Instead of calling them for relationship advice in the middle of the night, you're texting them because the baby is up again, and you're running on what feels like five minutes' sleep, and your boobs are heavy and leaking at the same time. She doesn't care if you haven't showered in days when she comes over, and she'll hold down the fort so you can finally feel human again. And it's even better if your kids are close in age and you're in the trenches together.

But what if your bestie, the same person who has seen you at your worst, judges you as a mother? Is it something that you can just blow off, or is it something that will damage your friendship?

Obviously, no two people will mother the same way. But this goes deeper than just doing things differently; it's the calling out of the differences. It can be something as simple as the way they say something. For example, "Oh, you're using a wrap carrier? Seems like an expensive piece of fabric to me."

I mean, yes, to each their own, but it's difficult to hear, especially from the person who should be the last person to judge you. When you're mothering on different ends of the parenting spectrum, the judgmental comments may be more frequent, and seem a lot more personal, because it goes deeper than just a preference, it feels like a critique of who you are as a person.

Motherhood is super hard, especially in the beginning. You're in a different emotional state as it is, and it's impossible not to compare yourself to other moms. Every decision is fraught with indecision; it's a constant battle of "am I doing the right thing?" and now, with social media, it's even harder not to fall into the trap of self-doubt with every step you take.

So obviously you'd turn to your best friend, because they know you better than anyone else. They know how to deal with you when you're in a heightened emotional state, and how to talk you off the ledge when you just can't anymore.

So when they have something less than supportive to say about what you're doing, it is like a blow to the ego, even more than if it was coming from a stranger. Trish from the Facebook mommy group you're in can go fuck herself, but you may feel differently telling your best friend the same thing, no matter how honest you can be with them.

No one wants to feel like they're a bad mother, and that's why it's so much harder to hear comments from your best friend about your parenting choices. Because at the end of the day, the smallest throwaway comment can make you feel like complete garbage. "Oh you're still 'fill in the blank'? I just couldn't," seems a lot harsher when it's coming from the person who's always supposed to have your back.

Their comments will worm their way into your inner thoughts way more than the comments from some rando from music class will. Because no matter what, they're your best friend. They know you deep down, and they should know what's fundamentally important to you, whether it be breastfeeding, or sleeping, or how you dress your kids.

And sometimes the judgment isn't coming from a bad place, but rather a place of not understanding. "Well, how did you let it get so far? My kid may not like x,y,z, but they just deal with it." Which is all well and good for their kid, but maybe not for yours.

Every kid is so different, and sometimes we're measuring each other's kids by our own kid's yardstick, which is leaving out a lot of fundamental differences. Just because her kid eats whatever she puts in front of them doesn't mean yours will. Kids have their own personalities, and it's easy for us as moms to internalize the things that make them individuals. And sometimes, it's those things that can create the judgments.

Because we're all sensitive as mothers, it may be hard to bring your feelings up to your friend. You don't want to hurt their feelings, and you don't want to make something a bigger deal than it may be. So things manifest themselves in different ways. If your friend is the type of person who may be more sensitive about hearing how they're hurting your feelings, then you have to decide how to make your friendship work for you.

You may begin to pull away from them to give them less opportunity to say something, and that's easy because, hello, we're all busy. Cutting back the time you spend together is a good way to collect your thoughts and figure out a way to tell your friend how their comments may be hurting you. Having distance from them will give you the clarity you need to decide if it's worth talking about. If it's something that really bothers you and you know they'll be receptive, you should be able to tell them what they're doing is hurtful and find a way to work through it.

Sometimes friendships change when we becomes mothers. Our besties may still be our besties, but we may find new mom friends who we lean on more because they understand more of how we're going on our motherhood journeys. That's okay too. There is no one way to be a mother, and there is no one way to be a friend.

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This Is Why Advice To ‘Sleep When The Baby Sleeps’ Is So Bad

Posted: 14 Apr 2018 06:00 PM PDT

A few years ago, while chatting with one of the college students who worked for me, I mentioned how little sleep I'd gotten the night before. My wife and I had a new baby at home, and so, of course, we were up every couple hours — holding the kid, feeding the kid, and changing the kid.

The student was probably about 19 years old. She had no kids. No real responsibilities outside of college classes and the part time tutoring job she held for me. She was, by nature, a helper. That's why I gave her the job, so, naturally, she thought about what I said, mulled it over, and said, "Why don't you just sleep when the baby sleeps?"

She gave me a half grin, the kind that someone gives when they feel like they've solved a big problem with a very simple solution, and I'll be honest, part of me wanted to smack her in the mouth. I wanted to give her the finger. I wanted to call her a stupid butthole with no tangible ideas about real life and obligations. I wanted to drop my baby off at her house for 24 hours, and then, the next morning, when her eyes were bloodshot and her body ached from being weary, laugh in her smug helpful little face.

I was so tired, and obviously it was making me moody.

My eyes were blood shot. I felt a deep weariness in my bones. I'd gotten up every night, for several nights, and I knew that I'd get up several more nights, for who knows how long, probably years, probably forever. That's the issue with kids and sleep, it all kind of feels like when you get a nasty brain freeze, and you suddenly are left wondering if this one will last for ever. You wonder if you will never actually sleep again.

And yet, here was this young woman sitting across from me who just the other day said, "You know when you sleep too long so you are really tried the next day?" She yawned and then looked at me for sympathy. "I've got that going on right now." (I kind of wanted to smack her then, too.)

Back in my office, she smiled at me, and waited for my response to her brilliant suggestion, and I wanted to remind her that I work full time, and during those naps, I am at work, which makes her suggestion completely ridiculous (all working parents know this pain). But if that wasn't enough, I wanted to tell her about how when I am home, and the baby is sleeping, I have two younger children to watch after who don't care one bit about how much sleep I'm getting. They care about screen time and snacks and arguing about who gets to sit in the easy chair. Dishes need to be done, along with laundry and vacuuming. Bills need to be paid. Bathrooms scrubbed. Meals made.

I wanted to tell her that all of those responsibilities don't go away when the baby is sleeping, and when the baby is up, you can't get shit done because they are clinging to your body with all their needs and wants and poop. And sure, I could wrap the kid on my body, and that's great and all, but then, she didn't like to be wrapped. She got fussy when she was wrapped, so I’d just have to hold her in one arm and try to get things done with the other. But one hand is not nearly as good as two, and so I save all the things I can for when the baby sleeps, making me tired and frustrated and ready to punch helpful college students in the mouth!

(Sorry. I went a little wild there. But a lack of sleep can do that).

And if all of that is done, and the baby is still sleeping, then sometimes you just want a few moments when someone isn't clinging to your body. Sometimes you want just a few moments to get online, or read a book, or really anything that makes you feel like you did before parenthood.

But naturally, she didn't think about any of this. Because the sad reality is, most people don't. Before having kids, parents would tell me they were tired. But they never went into the details of how wonderful, and yet consuming, having a young baby can be. And you know why that is? Because they were too tired to tell me.

So I said things like, "Why don't you just sleep when the baby sleeps" as if I'd solved all of their problems. And they looked at me with a death stare. In their minds, they thought about burying me in a cold grave. But then, they said something like, "Yeah… I'll think about that" because they were too tired to explain how tired they were.

And so in that moment, as I sat across from this young woman who wanted to help, but had absolutely no idea what she was talking about, I said exactly that. I told her thank you and that I'd consider it. She smiled a hearty grin, and I began to nod off a little in my chair.

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The Surprising Thing My Son Said To My Dying Husband

Posted: 14 Apr 2018 06:00 PM PDT

After 22 years trying to figure out my son Paul, I now know one thing. He completely figured out his parents.

In little more than a year, Paul lost his father — my husband Mark — to prostate cancer on October 6, 2017 and nearly lost his mother — me — when a 4,000-pound SUV slammed into my 100-pound body while I was riding my bike on August 6, 2016.

You may have heard the old proverb that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach. In my case, I confess the way to this woman's heart is through her funny bone. My husband’s sly jokes averted many a potential screaming match in our 27-year marriage. Turning my frowns upside down helped our two kids reach adulthood and kept me free of homicide charges.

So when the weird side effects of my bike crash started to surface — including panic and paranoia — my son Paul knew just how to deal with them. That crash had upended our whole family’s lives just a month after Paul’s 21st birthday. It wasn’t clear at first that I would survive, having suffered a traumatic brain injury, twice broken jaw and multiple other fractures.

When I eventually gained consciousness in a hospital bed and was handed a pad and pen because I had no voice, I drew a question mark to ask what landed me there. I was horrified to learn that my beloved weekly bike ride with my girlfriends had been cut short by a distracted driver who nearly killed me and severely traumatized my family.

Weeks later, I was discharged from a rehab hospital to my family’s care. When it was Paul's turn to babysit me, he drove me to the grocery store for an escape from the endless confines of our suburban home. On the drive home, the GPS took us on scary, heavily trafficked Route 22 headed toward Newark, New Jersey. As the white-knuckled passenger that I had become since my crash, I urged Paul to drive especially carefully because “I’m really sensitive to traffic now.”

He knew exactly how to respond.

“Mom,” he said, “when you woke up in the hospital, we should have told you that you were attacked by a bear. Then you would be completely comfortable in the car. And you would just freak out when bears come around.” Then he zipped into the passing lane. I swallowed hard, but I also suppressed a giggle, and I felt my fears melt away.

Next came Mark’s horrific struggle with prostate cancer. While I was laid up in the hospital, his oncologist told him he would live no more than two years. Once I was able to return to work, it was only months before Mark became so frail he started home hospice care. Our family shared the nursing shifts, with Paul, his 24-year-old sister Maura, and me each taking two or three days each week as caretaker.

Mark had surprised us by staying in the master bedroom’s high-rise queen bed. We knew it was a matter of principle with him, trying to maintain a shred of normalcy in a life detonated by cancer. But when he fell out of that high bed in the middle of the night and hit his head, risking a fracture since his bones were weakened, we knew it was time for him to move to a lower bed in the nearby guest room.

The problem was, he refused to leave his perch. I tried rational explanations and, when that failed, I begged and pleaded, at first teary-eyed and then angry. This went on for days. He wouldn’t budge. One day, frustrated and fuming, I headed for work and left him in Paul’s care. When I returned home hours later and climbed the stairs, ready to resume battle, something caught my eye as I walked past the guest room headed for the master bedroom. Paul was reading a book, seated in Mark’s wheelchair next to the low bed, where Mark lay resting. I was so relieved and, for a brief moment, I felt happy.

It has been months now since Mark died, and I recently asked Paul how he managed to convince his father to move to that lower bed. I learned that the move itself was excruciating, with Mark losing consciousness and nearly falling to the floor when Paul helped him into the wheelchair to make the 20-foot trip from bed to bed. “But how, Paul, did you persuade your father to get off that master mattress when I tried every conceivable argument and failed?”

Paul’s explanation was brief. He reminded me that throughout his childhood, whenever he or his sister balked at doing something I had requested, Mark always quietly approached them as his teammates in pursuit of a common goal: “Guys, we gotta keep the Mommy happy.” It was them against me under the guise of them for me. Brilliant.

After I left the house for work that day, Paul told me he quietly said to Mark, “Gotta keep the Mommy happy. And you know she’s not going to be happy if you stay in that bed.”

Not another word was needed. Brilliant.

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My Son Will Only Be At Home For A Few More Years — And I’m Freaking Out

Posted: 14 Apr 2018 06:00 PM PDT

My oldest son, Tristan, turns 11 next week and I'm struggling with it. Not with the fact that he's a pre-teen about to go into junior high. That's all fine. And yes, I'm struggling with the hormones and the mood swings and his incredible lack of personal hygiene. But that was all, for the most part, expected. What I'm struggling with right now is the math.

The other day I was chatting with a friend of mine at church, whose oldest son is about to turn 14. My friend is about to finish his PhD. All that remains is his dissertation, but he put it on hold. When I asked him why, he said, "I've got four years left with my son at home. I realized that the other day, and I just can't waste this."

The funny thing is, I'd been considering going back for a doctorate myself. I work at a university, and earning another degree would be a nice boost for my career. But then I started to do the math, and I only have 7 more years with my son. And when I think about that, I think about how quickly the previous 11 years passed by.

All of it reminds me of this line from Field of Dreams. You know, that movie where Ray Kinsella (played by Kevin Costner) builds a baseball field in his Iowa corn farm and all these dead and famous baseball players come out of the air and start playing ball. There's a moment when he's talking to Terence Mann, a guy who played half an inning in the majors. Mann describes his almost chance at playing major league ball "like coming this close to your dreams and then watch them brush past you like a stranger in a crowd. At the time, you don’t think much of it. You know, we just don’t recognize the most significant moments of our lives while they’re happening. Back then I thought, ‘Well, there’ll be other days.’ I didn’t realize that that was the only day."

My life has not had quite that kind of a dramatic turning point. At least not from what I can tell. I can't think back to a moment when I came "this close." But when I think back on the last 11 years with my son, it feels like the years have gotten slippery. It feels like just the other day he fit between my hand and elbow. It feels like just the other day I was leaning down to help him crawl into my lap so we could read a book about noisy monsters. It seems like just the other day he got too big for me to carry anymore. It seems like just the other day he was too embarrassed to hug me in front of his friends.

When I think back on those 11 years, it feels like they went by about as quickly as a stranger brushing past me in a crowd. The day Tristan came home from the hospital, I was 24 years old. That night I leaned over his crib and looked at his small 7-pound figure curled up on his stomach, breathing softy, and I thought to myself, my life is changing. It will never be the same now.

I was right.

Becoming a father changed everything. And now, it feels like in the time it takes for traffic lights to change, his childhood is more than half over.

Sure, I have two other children. But I feel similarly about them. And there is just something about your oldest, that first child to enter your life and really shake things up that seems to come in like a bomb, and the moment you feel like you have a grip on them. The moment you feel like you finally understand them, they change and become something new. And then you get to start all over again, trying to shape this new version of your child into something valuable. And then — POOF! — it's over, and you are left with this sinking feeling, wondering if you missed something. If you missed some moment to influence their lives for the better.

Sometimes when I think about my son moving out and heading to college, I feel like I'm approaching a cliff. I know that our relationship will continue long after he leaves our home, but the fact is, if the next 7 years moves half as fast as the previous 11, I don't have much time left with him. And that realization leaves me with a sense of urgency. It makes me want to get as much out of our relationship as possible. It makes me want to put as much of my own life on hold as I can so we can get the most out of this time we have now.

But somehow I don’t think he feels the same way. Perhaps once we get full speed into the teen years, we’ll both be pretty sick of each other. But right now, I'm going to give him everything I can. Right now I'm going to savor the time we have left.

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My Nanny Is A ‘Dreamer,’ And This Is What Happened When She Lost Her DACA Status

Posted: 14 Apr 2018 06:00 PM PDT

I met Brittany Aguilera when we were searching for a nanny for our twins. They're toddlers now and literally running in opposite directions, but back then they were only five months old. Just feeding them at the same time was a challenge — they couldn't hold their own bottles yet or sit up independently — so we were nervous about finding the right person. We put together a list of questions and interviewed a dozen candidates. Brittany was recommended by a fellow twin mom, and as soon as we met her, we agreed she was the one.

Taking care of one infant isn't easy, let alone two. But the job turned out to be harder than Brittany bargained for when our son needed an orthotic helmet and physical therapy. I was totally overwhelmed. I couldn't imagine how we would manage the extra appointments — as many as six in a single week — on top of everything else.

Brittany approached our son's special needs with the unflappable calm she brought to the rest of her job. Wrangle two babies at storytime? No problem. Tandem feed two hungry mouths? Piece of cake. As parents, we felt lucky that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program had enabled us to hire Brittany.

Then, out of the blue, Brittany found out her DACA status wouldn't be renewed. She was about to lose her right to live and work here lawfully.

Here are four things I learned from that terrible experience.

1. People can be deported because of a simple paperwork mistake.

When President Trump announced that he was ending the DACA program, he set the deadline for DACA applications on October 5, 2017. To be safe, Brittany mailed her application in September, a few weeks early. She got the application back in the mail with instructions to fill in a missing signature and send it back. In a cruel twist, the returned application arrived on the October 5 deadline. Still, Brittany wasn't worried, since she'd mailed her application on time originally. Then they told her it was too late to reapply. A simple paperwork mistake had cost her her job, her driver's license, even her ability to walk down the street without risking deportation.

2. We all have to do our part.

I'm a lawyer who fights discrimination for a living, but I was at a loss for what to do for Brittany. I frantically called and emailed my senators, congresswoman, and even my local city council to ask them to commit to a solution for Brittany and others like her. Our elected officials need to hear from us that DACA matters.

3. The failure to fix DACA affects all of us.

Since last fall, lawmakers have had many chances to fix DACA — and blown them all. That's a big problem. The failure to fix DACA doesn't just affect the 800,000 Dreamers. It also affects the many more Americans who love them and rely on them, like my family. And when their lives are thrown into uncertainty and chaos, it affects us too.

4. It takes a village.

We couldn't fix Brittany's DACA status, but at least we could hold her job for her. We agreed to wait two months. Two months became three. The daily scramble to find childcare was hectic, and we both missed work to cover gaps. Aunts, uncles, family friends — even my spouse's boss — pitched in to babysit. We knew we wouldn't find anyone as reliable, nurturing, and unshakeable as Brittany.

Brittany's story has a happy ending, for now. After a federal judge ruled that President Trump's decision to end DACA was arbitrary, Brittany was allowed to reapply for a residence and work permit. I couldn't wait for her to come back, but I was anxious at the same time. It had been three months, a huge percentage of a toddler's life. Had too much time passed? What if the kids didn't remember her?

I steeled myself for the reunion to be bittersweet, but it was even better than I could have imagined. A week after Brittany came back into our lives, our son took his first steps. In the video she captured of him, you can hear her in the background encouraging him to keep going. Some people who know our story think he was waiting for her, but I'm not sentimental. The truth is, Brittany's diligent work with him, day in and day out, was all he needed to make that leap.

On Easter Sunday, I texted Brittany photos of the kids wearing bunny ears. Meanwhile, President Trump threatened to go back on his promise to fix DACA. "DACA is dead," he tweeted. My heart sank.

My family knows that we Americans need Dreamers just as much as they need us. I just hope Washington realizes that before it's too late.

Brittany Aguilera

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