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I am always surprised when I get less-than-kind messages from readers about the ambivalence I sometimes feel about raising my three children.

My inability to leave work at a decent time meant my three kids had their evening routine knocked totally off center. Enter good ole’ Guilt.

I was talking with a woman last week who had just taken inventory of my rowdy trio of children and, inexplicably, asked me if I wanted any more. “Children?” I choked. “Dear God, no!” I felt woozy at the thought.

Recently, my daughter had a school performance and a cookies-and-juice celebration in her classroom. In between the two events, I wandered over to the school’s two massive lost-and-found bins to see if I could locate a fleece ear warmer she’d lost two weeks after I bought it.

From the time you click “post” on the first scrunched-face picture of your newborn baby, friends, family and Facebookers begin telling you to enjoy these early years, because it all goes by so fast.

It’ll take some work still in 2019 to get where I need to be – the pull of Me Time is strong! As are the pulls of outside “obligations” and salt ’n vinegar potato chips.

A 5-year-old girl was shot in the city on Monday. But when the stories started trickling out about this unfathomable tragedy, I was amazed at how many people found something else other than that to be angry about: some wondered why the girl was walking to the store alone.

Friends who have been lucky enough to experience both young and older parenting describe an abundance of stamina on one end, and wisdom on the other. How old do you have to be to have both at the same time? No one seems to know.

If it was as bad as they say, why wouldn’t these women — just girls, many of them — say something when it happened? I know why. I didn’t say anything when it happened to me, either.

I read this month about a new study proclaiming that parenting a baby was, pretty much, the worst thing that could ever happen to a human being — ever. Having small children is tough, but it ain’t that bad, folks. In fact, most of the time, it is altogether wonderful.

To distract myself from the misery of finding kid camps to cover the end of August (ha!), I imagined what camp for adults might look like.

Two months ago in this column, I referenced a startling study that painted a bleak picture of the outsize role race plays in the lives of black boys in this country.

Tanika Davis, a columnist for the Baltimore Sun, looks back at the unconditional love she received from her grandparents.

Black boys with well-to-do parents often end up poor. In good neighborhoods with good schools, the gap between black and white boys worsens. How is that even possible? It makes no logical sense.

Every day, I leave the children for someone else to care for, expecting – without ever thinking twice – that we will see them again at the end of the day. What a privilege. What a fallacy. 

Now that we’ve hit New Year’s Eve and 2018 is staring me down, I have a bad case of the holiday aftermath sads.

These are the days of our weekend lives — every Saturday and Sunday jam-packed with activities, athletics, obligations, enrichments. It’s a miracle that that’s the first time I mixed up whose birthday party was whose. But I’m sure it won’t be the only time.

There’s good news for new and newish mothers: There is light at the end of the tunnel. You will get *you* back eventually. Hang in there! But here’s the bad news: I still feel guilty.

Representation matters. When Tanika Davis' son met UMBC President Freeman Hrabowski, it was "awesome" times three.

Hitting a tricky twin milestone.

I know a bit about the insanity of playing zone defense in your own home all day, every day. But I got a deeper education this month when my sister and her family came to bunk with us for two weeks.

Summer makes me feel like we’re living a modern day version of “bread and circuses.” Only we are placating our children with Netflix movie marathons and a steady stream of snacks.

This week I left my child at home with a woman I don’t know.

Hi, we haven't met. I'm the World's Worst Mother. You can just call me WWM, for short. And you are? Never mind. Don't tell me. I won't remember anyway. I can't remember anything these days, despite a paper calendar, a kitchen wall calendar, a Google calendar, Outlook reminders and many, many Post-it notes scribbled with to-dos and cryptic phrases such as "soccer prac," "Make Me Chic" and "password = ??"

"Working from home." Are there three words more dreaded by working parents of small children?

In my head, my babies were adorable and bright the way all mothers think their children are adorable and bright. But talented? Able to be in a real Baltimore Center Stage production, with lights, lines, choreography, skill? No way.

I love my children, but that selfless sweetness that once came so naturally to them? Apparently that went out the door when we stopped buying diapers. The name of the game these days is me, me, me; get, get, get.

Earlier this month, our 4-year-old came home with a concern. A classmate had told her that Santa was not real.

Here are the things we ultimately decided we want our young children to know after this election.

Our "kindness and haste" is really a mask for "control and impatience." We don't like to see those we love struggle, but our attempts to make things easy for them really just stunt their growth and maturity.

Signs of early fall used to thrill me. But now, the weeks between Labor Day and the official first day of autumn leave me unsettled.

From the time I knew I was pregnant with a daughter, I found myself listing out the things I wanted for her in great detail.

On weekend mornings, they come crawling on to our bed — my side always — on all fours like lion cubs, padding across the comforter. They peer at me, looking for signs of wakefulness.

There's nothing like real-life horror unfolding on national television to remind us of what's really important. I've been doing my share of that since a crazed gunman killed 49 people in a nightclub in Orlando: taking inventory of what and who matters.

Normally, the Davis children have no regular responsibility for the upkeep of our house. Are we teaching them to be lazy? Or have times changed that much since dolls were made of cornhusks? If all work and no play is an undesirable combination, how much virtue can there be in its inverse?

Babies grow into children. They skin their knees and live to tell the tale. They survive hand, foot and mouth disease, chicken pox, pneumonia. They get their feelings hurt by a once-loved friend and it wounds you more than it does them. They bounce back, they heal, they persevere, they thrive. I know it's frightening, but parents, they're OK.

Today's children's birthday parties are very different from my eighth birthday. They're huge, over-the-top affairs at pricey locations, where parents have to sign waivers, complete with insurance information and emergency contacts. They're Pinterest-perfect productions with itineraries to rival a New York Fashion Week event.

Our daughter turned 4 this week. A big girl now, she announced that she would now try to make her own bed in the morning and would learn (at some point this year) to unbuckle herself from her car seat. But she would not, under any circumstances, clean up her toys, because "that's boring." To that, I had no response. All I could do instead was marvel at her, this opinionated, definitive little person who didn't even exist just an election cycle before.

As milestones go, gaining and losing teeth are total D-listers. There are far superior milestones, parents — milestones that can change. your. life! Things such as learning proper toilet-bowl aim and licking an ice cream cone (Go around the cone, kids! BEFORE the ice cream melts all over every %@!& thing!) are high on my list. But here are my top five REAL milestones I think parents should actually await breathlessly.

A first draft of my Christmas letter:

Are parents making parenting harder than it has to be?

It's a few days before back-to-school-night at our boys' school, and my husband and I are negotiating. We can't find a baby sitter on such short notice, and we

"I'm just trying to get through these first few very difficult months with as little collateral damage as possible," I wrote. "Ice cream is helping!"

Being a working mother of three, summer camp is essential. When school stops in June, for some reason my employer doesn't stop needing me to come in. (Go figure.)

We recently came back from a short trip (when you have small children, traveling with them is never a vacation, always a trip) and it was exhausting and eventful and I'm so glad we did it.

They were just babies, four pounders, five years ago. Now they're kids, full-fledged. Their legs are long. Their feet smell at the end of the day. One of them can even pick a crab, rather skillfully, with minimal help from me.

A few weeks ago, the findings in a scientific report made their way around the social media mill, giving harried and guilt-ridden parents a reason to cheer. The report, in the Journal of Marriage and Family, said that when it comes to spending time with children, more is not necessarily better. I was so encouraged: Science said I could have a little bit of myself back! And who can argue with science? Apparently, other scientists.

My cousin once told me that you never know what guilt and anxiety really are until you become a parent. I know now how right she was. The reality is: You can never stop worrying. Even if the angst is not about their potential for sudden death, there are always things to worry about.

About a year or so ago, I asked my mother and father -- parents of five -- if, before they had me, they'd had conversations about how they wanted to parent.

Like most of us, I tossed around some big ideas this month about how 2015 would be different than 2014: more productive, healthier, more exciting,better. Of course, by Jan. 2, I was already back to doing exactly the same things I always do: procrastinating, eating salted caramel gelato straight out of the container, going to work, coming home, catching a cold. So exciting. I've never been good at resolutions. Having three small kids makes resolution-keeping even harder.

When President Barack Obama was first elected, my husband and I — watching the results roll in on TV — clung to each other and cried. The historic election meant so much for us, for our families, for the children we would eventually have together. But we knew it would not mean a "post-racial" society, as some suggested.

Becoming a parent has taught my husband and me the meaning of perseverance.

The beauty of loving children is that adding more doesn't divide the love. It multiplies it.

It's been almost two weeks since the elevator footage of former Ravens running back Ray Rice blew up the Internet. And I can't stop thinking about it. There are many reasons why the Rices' domestic-abuse video troubles me, but selfishly, I'll admit that the entire thing makes me think most about my own children.

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