The first story today really spoke to me. It reminded me of my first day back in the office after my oldest, Penelope, was born. I felt like I could barely breathe and I was having a low-grade panic attack all day. At the same time, I knew Penelope was happy (I mean, for a baby), and I could not deny that I love doing my job. As Anna describes so well below, it’s hard either way. On the plus side, 11 years in, most days are a lot easier…

We also have a reader question about a toddler who takes time to warm up to new people. Is this your child? Or was this you as a child? What helped and what didn’t?

Remember: this is your space. So please leave a comment and contribute your own story or question for a future newsletter here. We always love to hear from you.



Today was my first day back to work after my maternity leave. I have earned my doctorate and am really proud of that achievement and grateful for the opportunities of my job, particularly in being flexible with life as a mom. Still, today was really hard. I could hear my baby crying from my work-from-home office, and the day was hard for him. The push-pull of parenting is at full blast. I wish I had people in my life to talk about it with, but my mom and my sister, who are my main supports through motherhood, both stayed home. I know it’s hard either way. That’s being a mother!

Happy meal

—Happily Demoted to Sous Chef

After researching kid-friendly recipes and trying (and failing) to figure out something my 4-year-old would actually eat, I turned the meal planning over to him. He was thrilled to have a voice in what we were eating, and his requests were so simple (sausage pasta, corn and green beans with chicken nuggets). It was easy for me to make homemade, healthful versions of what he wanted, or a recipe that was also appealing to my palate. And I didn’t have to plan, hunt, or guess what he would like. It was our most successful week of family meals yet!

Looking back

—A mom who’s grown with time

My 3-year-old daughter was born with congenital cataracts. We’re at the three-year anniversary of her two surgeries to remove them (at six and seven weeks old) and getting her contacts (at eight weeks old). I never thought we’d get to a rhythm where this was not a huge stressor and burden in our lives, but it’s not. We’ve figured it out. She’s a miraculously patient kid when we need to take them out for cleaning (once weekly) and now tells us when something is off (“Mama, can’t see, my eye!”). After a lot of tears in her first 18 months, I don’t think about this all the time. It does get easier. I wish three-years-ago me knew it then, but I’m glad we’re here now.

This week’s reader question

My 2.5-year-old is slow to warm up to new people (I’m careful not to call her “shy,” although other people do!). If she knows you, she will happily play with you and chatter away, but with relatives we only see a few times a year, restaurant servers, and our coworkers and friends, she hides behind our legs, burrows in our chest, and shuts her eyes tight. I know she is only a toddler, and we never force her to interact with someone until she is ready, but I want her to feel more confident in new situations, especially as she gets older. I work in education and see how students who are comfortable talking to adults and speaking up in class seem to have better experiences. Is this a phase, or is there something we can do to help her feel more sure of herself now?

—Mom of “She just takes a while to warm up”

What do you think?

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