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If we take another step back, this is the primal human need for attention and the desire to be needed. The reason social media is so successful. If you strip away the layers we're just another species in the blip of time. We survive and procreate.

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For my beautiful daughters, thank you.

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This is the most beautiful essay and I applaud your belonging! As my mother always said, “welcome to the club” and I mean it whole heartedly Thank you.

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Thank you so much for this post. Before children, my list of Best Moments of My Life would probably read something like this: Marrying my husband. Winning professional awards. Summiting Mt. Kilamanjaro. Teaching in Japan. A worldwide trek involving bikes, ferries, and the trans-Siberian railroad. (The real thing, not the band.)

Now the list is: Marrying my husband. My kids' first steps. Watching my daughter duck her head under water and swim for the first time. Family trips in the car, listening to audiobooks. Getting the text from my son telling me he'd finally made the varsity lacrosse team. Watching my daughter shed her insecurities one by one in college. All of the previous stuff is completely irrelevant compared to the intense joy of mothering these funny, frustrating, complicated, amazing human beings.

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Being older i sometimes tire of peoples stories on parenthood and how it changed them. Like no shit Sherlock, what did you expect have you not heard this story again and again and ….from every new parent ever. But Raina I enjoyed your story, not sure what especially touched me. Was it the how parenthood highlighted what is most important in life, screw the drive for exceptionalism I now belong and unconditionally loved. Perhaps it was the quality writing perhaps a little of both. Guess the important thing is it did strike a chord and I thank you.

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One of my good friends has no children. She waited too long. In her 40's she looked at me and noted she wasn't ready yet... She postponed having children for her career.

I've attended quite a few retirements. The system could care less what you did in your 20's, 30's 40's 50's 60's. There's no appreciation for your sacrifices for "the team" outside the immediate needs of the team.

How many times have you been at a ball game where they retired a jersey? Often, very few, if any people know what that Jersey actually accomplished.

But your kids care what you did / didn't do and that echoes through generations.

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My husband and I raised five sons and then I retuned to school (U of Michigan) to finish my undergraduate degree. I remember sitting in a Social Psych class and the lecturer was giving a power point on a little Golden Book from the 50’s. The mom in the book was cleaning, cooking, ironing (a list art in my opinion), and over all cari g for her husband and children. The lecturer presented this book to show just how far women had progressed. As she was presenting, decided to comment when appropriate. Eventually, I explained that I chose to have a family and to care for them as that wife and mother did in that book. I also explained that this was a purposeful endeavor that I threw my heart, body and soul into. I then asked isn’t that what feminism is about? We actually get to choose and create the life that we want to have? And there is nothing demeaning about that no matter which path we choose.

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but every child is exceptional in the eyes of their parents. thats when it matters most. it's important to show your kids that they're special - they are unique, one of a kind, but only when they live for the people in their lives, their family and friends, the people who care about them. the world will never care about them. they're only one of a billion. the world is callous and cold. you get to be exceptional when you live for your family, and stop focusing your energy on what will everyone else think. because they don't care, no one will ever care about you as much as your mother will. my own son, who i worry about constantly - but everyone tells me, it's normal, its fine, hes a baby being a baby - on one hand they're right, but on the other hand, im his mother and he needs my special attention in order to thrive, because to me he is exceptional and unique.

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Thank you, Raina, for writing of your insightful journey to a place of fulfillment and realization of what truly matters. It brings back the blissful memories of babyhood of my children, experiencing the joy and wonder of this new tiny person. As you so beautifully said, "........ She just cares that I’m hers. " Exactly!!

It is hard to overcome the need to feel exceptional, special, to stand out of the crowd. Is it an instinctive addiction we have, validation of who we are and accomplishments we strive for? Or is it struggling to find a place where we can develop an identity?

I'm not a young mother anymore. I'm 66 y/o now, have nursed, and raised 6 children. I was a facilitator of my local La Leche League. I homeschooled 3 of the younger ones, made bread, dinner on the table every night, used my clothesline daily, sewed more, went on endless field trips, showed up at homeschool conventions once a year and had a wonderful support system. I finally found a niche in society. I felt accepted. I felt peace. I felt validated.

As I look back, I realized I still suffered from the 'need to be special' syndrome. To showcase my children as by-products of my selfish need to be more successful than others.

I see that I placed the SAME societal expectations on each of my children. I unrealistically expected my mild intellectually challenge and autistic spectrum daughter to be exceptional, above the IQ conclusions that were before me.

I wonder how we can purge our minds and soul, to accept and be content with who we are as unique individuals

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I wish there were a dad version of this article. It rings so true, but...

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I’d like to take a slightly different tack to explain why we find ourselves here.

Why do Pepsi, Coke, Apple, GM, Ford, really all the big consumer goods companies spend billions of dollars annually on advertising? The answer is simple…to influence purchases by the viewer of the ads. It has been proven to work which is why they spend the big money.

So, what does this have to do with what has happened to women relative to the quest for careers vs marriage and family? Beginning in the ’70’s TV shows began to show men as dumb neanderthals. Fathers were useless and made fun of by their kids. Women were elevated over men. The movies did similar things. This attitude was supplemented by feminists and cultural activists.

“So what?” you say…well…young girls and women have seen thousands of hours of “advertisements” showing men to be useless, slobbering, dolts and marriage a stultifying prison. These “advertisements” have been made to influence the “purchase" of a different life-style than the one that came before. When the culture reinforces this message can anyone really be surprised that women are choosing not to marry…not to have kids…to seek the “glory” of senior management and a fancy car. So, as the birth rate falls below replacement women continue to seek their value through money and power. All the while their biological clocks tick silently down to zero. When zero comes there is no do-over. And, sadly, so many are wondering where the time went and why they were lied to.

Happily, it seems a lot of women are beginning to wake up to reality and see that life is more than a cubicle and computer….g.

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This really resonates with me. I strived so hard to prove my “worth” by achieving titles and degrees but now I transitioned to stay at home mom! One of the best and most rewarding decisions I made :) It is very liberating imo

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I relate to this but I also hope the author revisits this topic in 3, 5, 10 years.

Comparatively, little babies are so easy. As kids become more independent they will challenge you and exhaust you mentally, not just physically.

You will need to grow again. Yes, for them, but also for you. It's early days. You sound like an introspective person and in a few more years you're going to start wondering about how you need to be in order to continue to earn and give your own type of love. One day, just being their mom won't be enough to prove yourself to them.

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What a lovely story, thank you.

I've had a similar, if slower, transition; such that now being a good husband and father is more important than any of my past or possible future achievements.

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Always felt sorry for men who had to work so hard at defining themselves, competing, making a name for themselves, in order to make up for the fact that they aren’t capable of the ultimate creativity-carrying a baby.

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Loved this article. Not a young mom. Heck, not even a biological mom. If I was in a pile of potential moms, I’d be one of last to get picked! But my kids are my whole world, I’d die for them. And the career I had doesn’t miss me one little bit. My kids have given ME a home (not the other way around). They teach me every day to be more…more patient, more creative, more spontaneous, more energetic, more tolerant, more consistent.. etc. I think having kids, having a career, having whatever…comparing apples to oranges. Happy Mother’s Day!

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