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A Facebook post arguing that men dont suffer drew a surprisingly thoughtful response.

They asked her, “What are the benefits of being a woman?” How’s that for a conversation starter?

One Reddit user shared the results after this question was posed to an anonymous person’s Facebook page.

The question elicited a passionate response from one woman who literally said, “None. There are absolutely no practical benefits to being a woman.”

She then linked to a study showing how teachers tend to “ignore” girls in favor of boys in early elementary school, implying a pattern that extends throughout society and something women must grapple with on a daily basis. After all, the simple act of not being heard is a system form of invisibility that women, and all marginalized groups, must deal with on a daily basis.

Sometimes sexism, racism and other forms of discrimination are obvious and overt. But more often, we as a society are learning more about the built-in, institutional forms of discrimination that inherently create an unfair playing field for women when the entire system is seemingly set up to favor men.

But maybe it’s not so simple.

In a follow-up comment that has gone viral on Reddit, one man chimed in to point out that just because women have inherent challenges, it shouldn’t diminish the fact that men also suffer:

In an extended rebuttal, the commenter lists a number of inherent disadvantages men face in their own lives: men are far more likely to be sentenced than women during criminal trials, less likely to commit suicide and are still too often “shunned” for expressing emotion and vulnerability.

Much of this guy’s response is subjective and doesn’t hold up under scrutiny. For example, he claims that all men are considered “sex-obsessed monsters.”

No doubt some people view all men this way but it’s an inaccurate stereotype to suggest that all men are viewed this way.

Nonetheless, the writes raises some fair points about gender imbalances when it comes to parenting, human resources and the continued expectations on men to be “bread winners” even as we simultaneously demand equal opportunity and pay for women.

The takeaway here is not to argue that men have it tougher than women because they almost certainly do not.

But part of creating real change starts with finding real compassion for each other and not denying the challenges of everyone’s individual experience.

We’re asking more of men these days. On one hand, it’s not much considering how little has been asked of them historically.

But if men are being asked to evolve and create space for others, they have to be brought into the full picture and allowed to be fully formed humans in every aspect.

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Mom Of Four Illustrates Her Everyday Motherhood Problems In 22 Honest Illustrations

Life as a parent can be hectic, but mother of four Kayela Larson has found a creative outlet for the chaos. Larson creates charming illustrations that depict life as a mother and all the humorous craziness that comes with it.

The artist’s love of art and animation was born from classic Disney movies like the Little Mermaid and The Lion King and continued to be a passion throughout her life. After college, she started a family and had kids and time for art slowly crept away. Larson said that the flame reignited one night at the kitchen table after a particularly rough day, “I decided I needed to engage myself in something that made me feel the most like me,” she wrote.

A passion that was once calming and cathartic felt awkward and foreign to her, “Staring at my ugly attempt of a portrait, I decided that “artist” was one part of my identity that I wasn’t quite ready to give up yet. I guess that was the wake-up call I needed because I immediately got to work.”

As is evident in her work Larson regained her confidence and fine-tuned her style. She now uses life to fuel her art with hilarious comics. Scroll down below to check out her work!

More Info: Instagram | Website

#2 Tender Moments

#3 Sometimes I Think My Kids Just See Me As A Giant Pillow

#4 We Bought A Retractable Leash For The Dog A Few Weeks Ago, But We Haven’t Been Able To Try Out Yet Because Shortly After It Was Snatched By My 5 Year Old Who Uses It To Repel Down Our Stair Case

#5 At Least His Honesty Is Admirable

#6 They Keep Me Humble

#7 I Workout

#8 Always Take Advantage Of Life’s Teaching Moments

#9 Smooth Move…

#10 That Time My 6 Year Old Almost Helped Me With Chores Voluntarily

#12 Things I Find In My Shoes

#13 My 3 Year Old Gossips About Her Baby Brother Like He’s A Total Outcast In The Family

#14 I Think We’ve Figured Out Why He Is 16 Months Old And Still Hasn’t Learned To Stand On His Own Yet

#15 All I Want For Christmas This Year Is A Nap

#16 My 2 Year Old Has Hit That Fun Phase Where She Likes To Tattle On Everyone And Everything

#17 Unimpressed

#18 The Influence Of The Media

#19 Sleep Training Is Going To Be The Death Of Me

#20 Kids Are So Great For Your Self-Esteem

#22 Parenting

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This dad’s superhuman diapering ability highlights why men’s rooms need changing tables.

This dad posted the most badass baby changing photo you’ve ever seen, for the most unfortunate reason.

After three kids, my baby care skills are pretty on point. But this dad changing his son’s diaper while balancing him over his thighs while squatting in a public restroom stall puts me and most moms I know to shame.

Father of three Donte Palmer shared the photo on Instagram, writing, “What’s the deal with not having changing tables in men’s bathroom as if we don’t exist!!!” He also added a #fatherslivesmatter hashtag and implored Colin Kaepernick to “drop a knee to this issue!”

All joking aside, the fact that men’s restrooms have long been bereft of changing tables is a serious one. Men who go out in public with their babies need a place to change their diapers. This is a no brainer. But for far too long, no one considered that fact and so men are forced to perform superhuman feats in order to safely clean up their kids.

Though frustrating, this issue highlights how societally ingrained sexism can come back to bite men in the butt.

The idea that dads would ever be out in public with their babies without their female counterpart apparently never crossed the mind of people designing public restrooms for decades. Women took care of babies, period.

The assumption that men would never need to change a diaper in public is rooted in the patriarchal idea that women are the sole caregivers of young children. That attitude has changed drastically in the past half-century as men have taken on a more equal parenting role, but the structures in place that cater to outdated gender roles still linger. And in this case, men are the ones who are being negatively affected by those structures.

Call it karma if you wish, but it’s a good reminder that sexism ultimately hurts everyone.

There has been some significant change on this front. Kudos to those leading the way.  

In 2016, Obama signed the Bathrooms Accessible in Every Situation (BABIES) Act into law, requiring all federal, public buildings to have changing tables in men’s restrooms. (Thanks, Obama!) Notably, the bill was passed with a bipartisan majority in the House and passed unanimously in the Senate. Even the old dudes in Congress recognize the need for dads and other male caregivers to have a place to change a baby’s diaper.

New York City also passed a bill in 2017 mandating that new establishments provide changing tables in men’s rooms. The tide is definitely turning on this issue.

Now we just need all individual establishments to add a changing area to their men’s restrooms—not because they’re required to by law, but because it’s the right thing to do.

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I Drew 10 Comics That Show What Would Happen If Your Coffee Could Talk

I’m an Irish scientist doodler and a mother to toddler twins. I draw comics about a range of things from science to parenting to cats being jerks.

These are comics I drew about a coffee mug and the man who he works with. The way the coffee talks is based on how my toddlers speak, they are not cups of coffee.

More info: Instagram | Facebook | Twitter

#1 Coffee Love

#2 Coffee Helps You Stay Awake

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#3 Monday Coffee

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#4 Making Coffee Wait

#5 Outdoors Coffee

#6 Coffee Rings

#7 Coffee Doesn’t Like Tea

#8 Coffee Falls Over

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#9 Fancy A Coffee?

#10 Soccer Coffee

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The words you’d love to hear your children say

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Aaaaah! Chaos

With children back at school, the mystery of what they are doing all day and how they are getting on may be pre-occupying many parents.

Any parent of a school child will be familiar with monosyllabic responses drawn from the question: “How was school darling?”

Wouldn’t it be nice if they just answered properly for once?

Research with a panel of 1,000 parents for communications app ClassDojo,has uncovered the top phrases parents of primary-age children long to hear from their sprogs. These are the top 10.

1 “The toys are all tidied away completely and put in the right boxes.”

Top scorer in the poll at 35%. Wouldn’t it be amazing if the words ‘Tidy Up Time’ accompanied with an enthusiastic grin actually prompted action? Why does it only work in the classroom? Word to the wise: don’t worry about it, just sweep all that toy debris into the corner of the room at night.

2 “Let me tell you about what I learnt at school today.”

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption So… how was your day at school?

Ah so refreshing. Some 27% of parents surveyed said trying to prise information out of our little ones was like “getting blood out of a stone”. But in reality do we actually have the time to listen to chapter and verse on how a volcano does its thing? Probably not – there’s too much homework to supervise.

3 “I’ve got myself ready, so I can go to bed early.”

That would cause a severe and probably fatal case of open mouth disorder (also referred to as gobsmacked disease) in most houses, where parents try desperately to coax their little ones to bed. In fact it’s usually at bedtime that many children suddenly want to talk about their day.

4 “Thank you for tidying my room.”

Gracious comments such as this would go down like a dollop of clotted cream in many homes. What’s more likely to be said? “Why have you messed with my things and hidden all my stuff mum?” Give us strength.

5 “I’ve put all my clothes in the laundry basket.”

Not literally I hope. Just the dirty ones please. Wet towels off the bathroom floor or the bed would be a good place to start.

6 “Would you like to see how well I’ve done my homework?”

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The walk home can be a good time to catch up

Most of us just want to know that our children have (a) done their homework and (b) tried to do it well. But onlookers might be surprised at what a tussle some gentle parental probing in the homework kingdom can cause.

7 “I think I’ve watched enough TV for one day.”

If that was said in my household, I would expect the television to explode immediately afterwards in horror at being rejected after such a long love affair. First rule of parenting; there can never be enough TV.

8 “I’ve already packed my school bag with everything I need for tomorrow.”

Wouldn’t that be nice. No chasing around for a lost water bottle or tie in the morning. Just a smooth and elegant exit through the front door at stupid o’ clock.

9 “There’s a letter in my school bag that you should probably read.”

Ah the letter one. Yes indeed. Usually a collection of crumpled papers appear from under beds and inside socks several weeks after they were supposed to have been read, digested, signed and returned. Hey ho! We can’t all be perfect.

10 “I can see you’re on the phone, so I’m going to play quietly.”

The old phone trick. A really good one to end on. Why is it that the moment the friend you haven’t spoken to for absolutely ages calls up, the little minxes start punctuating the air with dozens of irrelevant questions?

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It took 4 years, 3 miscarriages and 1,616 shots to make this baby

(CNN)This photo is testament to an undying hope in the face of heartbreak after heartbreak.

After four years of trying, seven attempts, three miscarriages and 1,616 injections, the O’Neills say they are overjoyed to welcome their daughter to their family. London O’Neill was born on August 3.
The photo of London was only meant to be something personal for Patricia and Kimberly O’Neill, a reminder of their fertility journey. After almost 55,000 shares on Facebook, the photo has become a symbol of hope for others struggling with infertility.
    “I hope that there’s a couple out there that’s going through what we are that can see that there’s hope at the end of the tunnel,” Patricia O’Neill told CNN. “There’s a light and you just have to get there.”

    They fell in love and wanted to grow their family

    Patricia and Kimberly met almost six years ago while both were working at a daycare. They fell in love and knew they wanted to have a baby together.
    After a year into their relationship, they started trying to conceive in February 2014. Patricia, now 30, said she didn’t want to narrow her window of having a child. During their fertility journey, they married in January 2017.
    Patricia, who has a 7-year-old daughter from a previous relationship, always wanted to have a biological child. Kimberly has a 14-year-son of her own from another relationship. They decided Patricia would carry the child.
    “We just thought it would only take going into a fertility clinic and nine months later, we’d have a baby,” Patricia said. “It just didn’t happen like that for us.”
    The Sun City, Arizona, couple saw a fertility doctor and tried two rounds of intrauterine insemination, neither of which resulted in an embryo. Next they tried two egg retrievals and began the IVF journey with a new doctor. The second attempt gave them five embryos.
    The hope of finally having five chances to have a baby dwindled with each implantation. The couple lost baby one at six weeks. They lost baby two at eight weeks.
    Something was wrong and Patricia’s doctor decided to do some genetic testing. She learned she had a blood-clotting condition called Factor V Leiden.
    It’s a mutation of a clotting factor in the blood, and it increases a person’s chance of developing “abnormal blood clots,” according to the Mayo Clinic. Women with this mutation have a higher risk of developing blood clots during pregnancy.
    Knowing what was wrong, they tried the third embryo and it didn’t take, Patricia said. After a month they tried the fourth embryo and were successful.
    “We were excited. We went in to eight weeks in and we knew it was a boy,” Patricia said. “We saw the heart beat and then we went at 11 weeks and the heartbeat had stopped.”
    Patricia said she was at her breaking point after losing their son.
    “I was done and I couldn’t do it anymore. But my wife and I, we started this journey together, and we decided we would always be together in the hard decisions and she wasn’t done,” she said.

    They finally figured out what was wrong

    The O’Neills couldn’t bear the thought of discarding, donating or not using their last embryo. They found a new doctor, this time one who specialized in Patricia’s clotting mutation.
    They started seeing Dr. John Couvaras, a board certified reproductive endocrinologist and ob-gyn, in summer 2017. Patricia gave her doctor permission to speak with CNN about her case.
    “She wasn’t getting pregnant and moved to IVF and the embryo transfers resulted in miscarriages — that’s a huge red flag,” Couvaras told CNN. He’s been a fertility doctor since 1990.
    Couvaras found a few more things beyond the blood-clotting condition that were making it difficult for Patricia to carry a baby, he said. She had inflammation markers, low vitamin D levels and an enzyme deficiency, all of which contribute to recurrent miscarriages, he said.
    He prescribed Heparin shots twice a day. The blood thinner would help the baby get better blood flow, he explained.
    “When people are struggling, there’s an underlying medical problem,” Couvaras said. He added that Patricia’s condition is common in his world.
    On their try with the fifth embryo, “God blessed us,” Patricia said.
    The O’Neills found out days before a family trip to Disney World. The baby didn’t even have a heartbeat yet, she said.
    “I wasn’t allowed to ride on anything or even allowed to walk. I had to wear a mask the whole time,” Patricia said. “We always feel her heartbeat was formed in Disney World.”
    The joy of being pregnant was followed by fear, she said. They had ultrasounds every two weeks and the technician soon learned to show them the baby’s heartbeat first thing. “You really sit on the edge of your seat at every appointment,” she said.

    A photoshoot that was a long time coming

    Kimberly O’Neill started looking at newborn photoshoot ideas as they started their IVF journey. She came across photos of babies surrounded by syringes and decided to save the needles from each injection.
    “My wife saved every single needle that I injected, all capped and plastic seals around them and everything,” Patricia said. “We didn’t know how many shots we were going to have at the end of it and we thought it was going to work pretty quick.”
    The O’Neills spent $40,000 during their four-year fertility journey. Patricia works in the mortgage industry and her wife works at a bank.
    They knew they wanted a photo of their baby that included all the syringes that it took to get to this point. Once they were far enough along with London, they contacted a photographer.
    Newborn photographer Samantha Packer said she has taken dozens of photos of rainbow babies, which are babies born after a mother has lost a baby to miscarriage, stillbirth or infant loss.
    The couple and Packer agreed the infant would be swaddled in rainbow fabric to represent the miracle of this rainbow baby.
    Packer wanted to make a heart out of all the needles, but she didn’t realize how many needles that was until the O’Neills brought them over. It took Packer more than an hour to meticulously lay out the syringes all pointing in the same direction.
    “The heart symbolized … that this whole painful journey was all to love a child,” Packer told CNN.
    When the O’Neills arrived for the shoot just one week after London was born, they saw the heart-pattern of needles and were overwhelmed, Packer said.
    “They instantly started tearing up,” Packer said. “I think that’s why the photo resonated with so many people. The journey, the goal and the baby, it was a lot.”
    “As soon as I looked at the back of my camera, I thought it encompassed the beauty, the hardship and the love of it,” she said. “It was all worth it.”

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    Britney Spears’ evolution, from 2007 meltdown to Vegas residency

    Britney Spears is keeping busy — and reportedly amassing millions: the pop star recently made headlines after multiple reports revealed she was worth more than $56 million in 2017.

    The revelation comes amid the singer’s 42-date “Piece of Me” tour which began in July and is slated to finish in October.

    For years, Spears’ personal and legal issues have been covered in the press, including a notable 2007 breakdown.

    Read on for a look at some of her memorable moments before and after that episode.

    Vegas residency, Dec. 2013 – Dec. 2017

    Spears’ Vegas residency show, “Britney: Piece of Me,” ran from Dec. 2013 until Dec. 2017, with a total of 248 shows that grossed $137.7 million, according to Billboard.

    During this time, Spears also released two albums: 2013’s “Britney Jean” and the 2016 album, “Glory.” She also appeared on “The X Factor” as a judge in 2012. 

    Michael Jackson Video Vanguard award, August 2011

    Spears was presented with the honor at the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards.

    “Femme Fatale,” March 2011

    Spears released another album, “Femme Fatale,” which included the songs “Till The World Ends” and “Hold It Against Me,” among others.

    “Womanizer,” October 2008

    Spears’ single “Womanizer” came out on Oct. 3, 2008 and reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 on Oct. 25, 2008.

    The track was featured on her November 2008 album, “Circus.”

    VMA wins, September 2008

    Spears’ video for “Piece of Me,” one of the songs off “Blackout,” was named Video of the Year at the 2008 VMA ceremony. The singer also received Best Female Video and Best Pop Video for the tune.

    “It’s a cool video, but I think, by far, I’ve done videos that are way better, so I was really shocked that it got the award,” she later reportedly told radio station Z100 at the time,

    Custody deal, July 2008 

    A deal with ex-husband Kevin Federline gave Spears increased visitation rights, People reported.

    The former couple got a 50-50 custody on their children, Us Weekly reported in March.

    “How I Met Your Mother” cameo, March 2008

    Spears played a small role in an episode of the CBS sitcom “How I Met Your Mother.” The episode racked up 10.7 million viewers the night it aired, People reported.

    Health, conservatorship and custody issues, 2008

    Spears was under a court-supervised conservatorship starting February 2008, with her father Jamie and another co-conservator, Andrew Wallet, having control over numerous aspects of her personal life.

    The move came after two involuntary psychiatric holds for the singer in January 2008, the first of which reportedly happened after Spears refused to hand over son Jayden to Federline.

    Spears challenged the conservatorship but it was upheld, E! reported.

    In July 2008, Spears agreed to give Federline full custody of the couple’s children following a public meltdown.

    “Kevin was not [out] to get custody. Kevin’s goal was to set up some kind of template so the mother of his children can co-parent,” Federline’s attorney, Mark Vincent Kaplan, told MTV. “He said, ‘I need to have Britney involved in the co-parenting of the kids, but I need there to be a structure.'”

    VMA performance, September 2007

    Spears was widely mocked for her performance of “Gimme More” at the 2007 MTV Video Music Awards. Some criticized the singer’s sparkly two-piece outfit, while others bashed the star for “freezing” and appearing to be out of it on stage.

    The song was later included on her album “Blackout,” which came out in October 2007.

    Meltdown, February 2007

    Spears went through a very public meltdown in February 2007 before she and Federline divorced later that year.

    According to E!, the “Toxic” singer briefly was at a Caribbean rehab facility, before later shaving her head at a California hair salon. 

    She also went to a Malibu rehab for a day-long stint, before she returned a few days later for a month-long stay, per the report.

    Kevin Federline marriage, October 2004

    Britney Spears and Kevin Federline.  (Reuters)

    Spears tied the knot with backup dancer Federline in 2004.

    The couple’s first son, Sean Preston, was born roughly a year later — on Sept. 14, 2005. A second child, Jayden James, was born on Sept. 12, 2006.

    The marriage didn’t last long: Spears filed for divorce in November 2006. 

    Jason Alexander marriage, January 2004

    Spears was already a pop star and sex symbol — with several hit albums and MTV Video Music Awards performances to her name — when she married Jason Alexander, a friend who hailed from her hometown of Kentwood, La. The union, however, was annulled after just 55 hours.

    The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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    The 10 questions to ask before falling in love

    Image copyright ITV/REX/Shutterstock

    In an age where swipe right means like, a divorce lawyer to the stars says couples should ask 10 ‘critical’ questions before embarking on a relationship.

    Baroness Shackleton, who represented Sir Paul McCartney among others, and University of Exeter academics have collaborated on a study, which looks at the key questions potential lovers should ask one another before embarking on a serious relationship.

    According to the survey, which took evidence from long-term couples, family lawyers and mediators, relationships last longer when built on friendship, respect, shared interests and realistic expectations.

    The survey comes as reality TV show Love Island has become ITV2’s most watched show.

    Viewers have become obsessed with how compatible the couples are, the sincerity of the relationships formed, and which duos are likely to go the distance – after the cameras stop rolling.

    Antics on Love Island have ruffled the feathers of many, with some arguing it gives bad relationship advice to impressionable audiences – showing men and women quick to swap and change their partners when they believe someone else better fits the script.

    The dynamics on the show change from day to day as challenges are set for the “islanders”, testing their compatibility and knowledge of each other.

    ‘He’s not my type’

    The lie detector test challenge, which asks uncomfortable questions which can make or break the relationship, is a popular example of this.

    Maybe the show, now in its last week, is on to something?

    Baroness Shackleton says asking the right questions early on can save a lot of time and heartache.

    Shackleton, who has been a divorce lawyer for more than 40 years, says: “More than 50% of the people consulting me about divorce have said they realised either before or very soon into their marriages, that they were fundamentally incompatible with their partners.”

    That’s arguably not the best time to come to that realisation.

    The lawyer also argues that the best long-term relationships, take place when two people have realistic ideas about what constitutes a happy relationship, shaped by marriages they have seen through their parents or other family members.

    Researchers interviewed 43 couples who have been married for 10 years, or who had separated during this period, and 10 other couples in same-sex and opposite-sex relationships, who had been living together at least 15 years.

    They found that it was important for couples to continually ask themselves the following 10 critical questions in order to build the relationship.

    ‘Good friends make the best lovers’

    Are we a ‘good fit’? According to the survey, many of the thriving couples had started as “friends” first, with an intimate relationship developing slowly. So researchers, including Jan Ewing of Exeter’s Law School, believe couples should question if they are a “good fit” based on friendship first and foremost.

    Do we have a strong basis of friendship? Experts say that an underlying friendship had helped couples through harrowing life events such as bereavement or an affair. The survey also found that separated couples often lacked a firm foundation of friendship.

    Do we want the same things? According to the report, the loved up duos had aligned values, hopes, dreams and expectations of the other partner, and of the relationship.

    Are our expectations realistic? Whilst analysing both samples, scholars found that the successful couples had realistic expectations of marriage and relationships. They knew it wouldn’t be plain-sailing and were prepared to seek professional help, as well as work hard on the partnership.

    Do we generally see the best in each other? These experts think compassion is key and say although compassionate love can take time to build, when it happens – these couples tend to see the best in each other and make allowances when necessary.

    Do we both work at keeping our relationship vibrant? Couples in thriving relationships showed they cared for each other in daily rituals and small regular acts of thoughtfulness that communicated appreciation in ways that were meaningful to their partner.

    Do we feel we can discuss things and raise issues with each other? Carving out time to talk about your day, or deeper level issues is necessary for a prosperous relationship, as open communication fuels intimacy.

    Are we both committed to working through hard times? Couples’ ability to adapt to change is essential to thriving relationships. When couples pulled together during periods of adversity, they often report a strengthening of the relationship as a result.

    Would we pull together to get through stressful times? Researchers found that how people cope with life pressures such as bereavement, an affair, financial difficulties or becoming a parent, particularly when the couple had different parenting styles, is key and requires good relationship skills.

    Do we each have supportive people around us? We all want our family and friends to like the person we have chosen to be committed to. The scholars found that close; supportive networks of family and friends enriched the lives of couples across the spectrum of family forms. Women, in particular, drew substantial support from their mothers, sisters and/or friends.

    So, is there hope for you?

    Do you ask yourselves if you and your partner are compatible? Or do you just fall into relationships blind to what’s driving it?

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    Kristen Bell’s Daughter Singing ‘Let It Go’ Is Pure Toddler Glory

    In 2016, Kristen Bell told Jimmy Kimmel that her daughters didn’t like her mega-hit movie “Frozen” when they first watched it. Clearly, that is no longer the case. 

    On Wednesday, the actress posted a hilarious video on Instagram of one of her daughters belting out “Let It Go.” 

    “No pants, no problem. The show must go on!!!” Bell captioned the video, which appears to show her 3-year-old daughter, Delta, “singing” the song in some casual home loungewear.

    In pure toddler form, she’s more screeching than singing and also has a doll on the floor by her feet. For many parents, the sight was too familiar. 

    “Wait, @kristenanniebell are you filming at my house???” wrote one commenter. “This is so my daughter,” added another. 

    Bell and her husband, Dax Shepard, are parents to Delta and 5-year-old Lincoln. In recent years, Lincoln has also let her “Frozen” love shine. 

    In October, Bell’s firstborn insisted that both she and her mom dress up as Elsa for Halloween.  

    Here’s hoping for future videos of all three gals singing “Frozen” songs together. 

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    Experience: my mother couldn’t speak to me

    I had never felt so lonely; I had no idea what she was thinking or feeling

    My mother, Nathalie, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis just after my first birthday. She knew there was something wrong a few years earlier, as she had started experiencing constant problems with her vision and pins and needles in her legs. Instead of seeking treatment or getting a diagnosis, she chose to have another child;according to my family, she was desperate to have a daughter after having two sons. But after giving birth to me in 1989, her health started to deteriorate.

    Overwhelmed by the pressures that came with being a mother to three children, having to care for other people when her body was failing her, she decided to leave home when I was five years old.

    I still saw her at least once or twice a week and I remember that for my seventh birthday, despite her illness, she threw me a birthday party in her council flat in the north of Paris. The day ended up being a bit dramatic, not because of her MS, but because a friend had somehow stepped in my cake and then walked all over her white carpet.

    As she progressively lost the ability to move her arms and legs, she needed full-time care, so she moved in with her aunt who became her full-time carer. She gradually lost her voice over several months until her ability to communicate verbally ended completely. I was a young child, so cant remember exactly when, but it was as if one day she just lost her ability to speak.

    I would read and watch the television with her, and sometimes she would make gurgling sounds when something made her laugh. We would spend hours in silence together and to show her my love, I would stroke her arm and place my hand on hers, as she lay in bed. But eventually there was no conversation; it was just me sitting on a chair by her bedside, speaking at her. As I sat there, I had never felt so lonely; I had no idea what she was thinking or feeling.

    Every time I left her, I felt guilty because I was healthy. I could walk and talk and had control over my body but my mum had no control at all. From about the age of 10, I wanted to make sure my mother was kept up to date with my life, so I would make books that were filled with pictures of my school friends and photographs of my favourite bands with written descriptions of their music, which I would read to her.

    While she couldnt use her voice, for a while she used her eyes to communicate with us. She would blink once for yes and twice for no when it came to food. But by the time I was 13, that stopped. Although she could no longer use her eyes to communicate, every time I walked into the room, I could tell she was happy to see me. It was as if the white in her eyes became brighter.

    Sometimes we could get her in a wheelchair or sit her in an upright position with support. When the illness hit her the hardest, she would be inbed for days, unable to move an inch, causing bed sores which often led to her being hospitalised.

    I remember the day she died. It was a cold and snowy night in February 2012, and my brother called me with the news. I felt as if someone had punched me in the face. But she was no longer in pain, and to me she had really died when she stopped speaking.

    Six years on, I try to remember the sound of her voice and her laugh, but I cant hear either. I think that in the trauma of seeing her suffering, my mind has erased the way she sounded from my memory. I have some tape recordings of her voice, but I cant bring myself to listen to them yet.I know I will when Im ready and the time is right.

    The silence that was imposed on my mother by multiple sclerosis forced me to be silent about her. I rarely told anyone about her and to this day, not many friends know what she was going through. She lived a life where she couldnt say a word or even raise her hand; it must have taken so much strength to carry on.

    Now, I no longer want to be silent about her and the illness that she faced. I want to acknowledge my mothers immense resilience and courage.

    As told to Tobi Oredein

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