Bronx/Riverdale Family - May 2024

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Glowing L egacy

Latham Thomas on The Soft Space, advancing maternal health, watching her young adult son soar, and how she is an 'Open Nest,' not an Empty Nester

What is Book tok?

What parents need to know the Win-Win of Caregiver support

May 2024
newyorkfaMily.coM

contents

FE at URE s

6 | Tech

5 Substack newsletters to follow

8 | childcare

New study shows how to support employers with caregiving benefits

12 | Teens

NYC and Talkspace roll out free virtual mental health

16 | Mom Stories

My battle with postpartum depression

24 | cover

Glow Maven Latham Thomas

30 | Tech

What parents need to know about BookTok

Shot on location at: The Soft Space by Mama Glow pg.

stoRiEs & ColUmns

4 | editor’s letter

14 | family Day o ut

A sensory-inclusive Harry Potter

10 | a sk the e xpert

How to manage emotional labor in your home

18 | Mom Stories

Mirror on the Wall: reflections on beauty and aging

20 | Mom Stories

Connecting with other moms

22 | Travel

Family visit to Universal Studios

Hollywood

Family FU n

28 | c alendar

All the fun activities for May

on The cover

Photo: Yumi Matsuo | yumimatsuostudio.com

Hair & Makeup: Buffy Saint Marie Hernandez | buffysaintmarie.com

Produced by: Donna Duarte- Ladd

May 2024 | Bronx/.Riverdale Family 3 May 2024 NewYorkFamily.com
24 pg. 30 pg. 14 pg. 28 pg. 16

The Art of Mothering

May is a busy month, and it is also includes Mother’s Day.

Many know becoming a mom affects us all differently. In Mom Stories (page 16), our Deputy Editor, Jeannine Cintron, shares her Battle with Postpartum Depression and how she still works through the struggle of depression and anxiety.

This month’s cover mom, Latham Thomas of Mama Glow, has continuously honored mothers by educating doulas and nurse care managers, working to advance maternal health via community and academia, and more. She recently opened The Soft Space, where people can engage in

well-being experiences. Latham gives us all the details of this new space and shares about watching her young adult son soar and why she is an open nester vs an empty nester.

What would parents’ work lives look like if all employers up the ante. A study reveals why Caregiving Benefits Improve the Family and the Employer (page 8).

Big news Witches, Wizards and Muggles. The Harry Potter Exhibition (page 14) “SensorySundays” will turn the lights down, lower the noise on specific dates!

Share your feedback and ideas about family life in New York!

Email us at editorial@newyorkfamily.com and tag us at #newyorkfamily

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May 2024 | Bronx/.Riverdale Family 5
The Ailey School First Steps. Photo by Rosalie O’Connor
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5 Substack Newsletters to Follow Written by Women tech

During the pandemic, a lot unfolded. Sure, it was a chaotic time, but it also sparked creativity, leading many of us to cultivate or seek genuineness while we schooled kids, worked, and juggled our day-to-day. Amidst this, digital newsletters emerged. Sure, there are those newsletters we never signed up for that mysteriously plant themselves in our inbox that do not relate to our lives. Go away! Yes, those newsletters. These were different. These offered authenticity as the main narrative, and while some have started before the pandemic or post-lockdown, we have begun to hear more about these exceptional newsletters.

Some are from our favorite sites or podcasts, where newsletters are an opportunity to provide you with valuable and helpful content daily or weekly. Sign up for those and read them because they are most likely being curated by an editor with excellent credentials- gathering and sending this valuable content your way.

Another form is Substack, where you can browse a variety of newsletters, sign up for one or more, and manage what is sent to your inbox.

What is Substack

Substack emerged around 2017 and allows writers to publish and circulate their newsletters. Most come from working editors, journalists, or people who wish to share more about a particular subject; this is a welcoming forum where they can do it.

It’s a revolution for many writers as it allows journalists, editors, and authors to do what they are passionate about (writing) while being provided tools to create and manage their subscriber lists. Authors can even charge subscriptions for access to their content, and

fans can read beyond what is shared on a writer’s social media handle. It is a way to stan out on someone you admire while not flooding your beloved mailbox with content you don’t want to read, a win win for all involved.

Here are 5 worth checking out Resilence with Alexa Wilding . New York Family’s former cover mom (October 2022), Alexa Wilding, is also a great writer. After years of sharing her life via Instagram as a writer, singer-songwriter, twin mom, cancer mom, survivor, and advocate, she has started a Substack.

When I was just a fan of her IG handle, her raw essays led me to get to know her, which led to an NYF cover. Whether she shared from her earthy home upstate or at the hospital while one of her twins and then herself fought (and won) their cancer battles,

her writings were profound. Even in the saddest moments, there were layers of hope and a love for the energy and mystique of life. I am excited to read more about her journey and, most importantly, resilience in her new newsletter!

Gratitude Journal by Alex Elle. Alex is my therapist; she doesn’t know it, but she may since she has a following of over a million plus on Instagram alone, and most of her followers hang on to her every phrase, wordfor-word. This New York Times bestselling author, breath coach and more- has posted words that have lifted, consoled, and given me hope. Her newsletter, Gratitude Journal, is a resource of hope and growth where you can find posts on Growing through Grief and Gratitude , Lessons are Blessings and Gratitude for Boundaries , and more. This is for all

6 NewYorkFamily.com | May 2024

her free subscribers; Alex also offers paid subscriptions from $7 a month to $70 a year, which provides different benefits.

Scraps by Carolina Gelen. It all started with a can of tuna for me with Carolina Gelen. I was searching for a suggested feed on Ig, and this delicious (and affordable!) recipe where one can make tuna benedicts, tuna burger, and more in just a few minutes became my lunch and dinner staple. Her newsletter is full of delicious recipes that feel easy to make and doable for my family in this expensive food economy; her newsletter is called SCRAPS, and her goal is to work hard to churn out recipes that won’t break the bank. I want to, and so will you, make everything she cooks up, like her Sweet & Saucy Apricot Chicken and her 30-Minute Creamy Caramelized Fennel Pasta

Les Undressed. There used to be a time when I dressed pretty cute; as I write this post, my big toe wiggles out of the hole of my well-worn sock. While I still have my style moments, they have become few and far

Substack is a way to stan out on someone you admire while not flooding your beloved mailbox with content you don’t want to read — a win win for all involved.

between as I now work full-time remotely. Sure, not having to worry about getting dressed up daily has its financial and time benefits, but I grew up loving style. While New Yorkers are pretty stylish, Parisian style hits differently. They have that je ne sais quoi when it comes to their wardrobe.

Someone I found who inspires me is Sylvie Mus. This human could wear a sack and look fabulous, so let’s get that right out in the open. Her twist on classics reminds me of what quiet elegance looks like. Initially from Rwanda and now living in Paris, Sylvie’s newsletter focuses on wardrobe building and

insider tips, and her approach to dressing is more simplified, which is where I am personally at right now in my life. It also doesn’t hurt that she shares some of her day-to-day life, which gives me a dose of everything France I adore.

Hi, It’s Your Older Sister. One of the coolest things about newsletters authored by a friend or colleague is that they offer a unique glimpse into the things you already admire about that person and a window into their thoughts and experiences. Whether it’s a heartfelt reflection on life, insider tips, or candid musings on motherhood, it is refreshing to read authentic content. It harks back to the days when blogs first started to pop -up, before people became influencers, and the waters began to get mucked with what is real and what is staged.

Hi, It’s Your Older Sister. Cris Pearlstein shares genuine tips and honest mom advice, such as rejection and identities. Many of us can relate to these subjects while adulting and mothering. It is also nice to know that your older sister still has your back.

May 2024 | Bronx/.Riverdale Family 7
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Caregiving Benefits childcare

New study shows how support from employers strengthens families — and businesses

The phrase ‘caregiver benefits’ might seem completely foreign to many parents. Unfortunately, the modern parent has to contend with a barrage of work/home confluences as they navigate childcare, work schedules, kids’ schedules, illness, and much more. While hybrid/remote work has become a part of the norm since COVID, many parents still have to piece together childcare, which sometimes feels like piecing together an impossible puzzle. From using vacation time for kids’ illness to using PTO days, many parents simply need flexibility – and employers who value and understand that –to make it all work.

On top of figuring out schedules, parents also have to allocate enough funds – and make enough money – to pay for childcare. In some instances, childcare is so costly where some parents may find themselves working to essentially pay for childcare. This causes many parents stress and unease. Many even leave the workforce and/or can’t take on challenging roles such as leadership roles because the stress outweighs the potential positives.

However, a recent white paper study, “The R.O.I.(Return of Investment) of Caregiving Benefits” from Vivvi, a company that provides child care and early learning for children and families, in collaboration with The Fifth Trimester, found that family-friendly caregiving practices can boost earnings, productivity, and leadership potential. Thus, caregiving benefits can lead to an improved work environment and profit to employers. In fact, childcare benefits are so vital, respondents from this recent study said they ranked having childcare benefits more than having a 401k!

“In 2024, support for caregivers at work – benefits, training, culture, or all three – is no longer ‘bells and whistles’ but a vital

pillar of profitability, with calculable R.O.I.,” says Lauren Smith Brody, founder of The Fifth Trimester, and author of the report. “For years, we’ve known that this progress is the right thing to do, but now we can see – with real numbers – that it’s a business imperative.”

Featuring six months of quantitative and qualitative research and data, the survey measured more than 300 caregivers and 10

individual case studies in a diverse range of industries, demonstrating how support can drive profits. Read on to check out more about the survey and its surprising findings.

Quite simply, caregiving benefits can include non-monetary and monetary benefits such as offering flexible schedules, providing discounted or complimentary childcare services, offering extended leave time, and/or offering respite care, to name a few options.

8 NewYorkFamily.com | May 2024
cottonbro studio/pexels.com

Key Findings in The R.O.I. of Caregiving Benefit

Caregiving benefits not only benefit parents but provide retention for all. When parents are treated with belonging and equity in a company, other employers also benefit. The survey found that 42% of respondents who considered leaving their job in the last year say that they stayed because of their employer’s support of their caregiving; while 59% of respondents say that if they had back-up or subsidized child care they would be likely to stay in their job for at least four years.

Candidates are actively looking for family benefits. Being a parent is no longer something caregivers have to hide or figure out on their own. Survey findings show that 9 out of 10 respondents say that they’d rather have an ongoing child care subsidy of $10,000 than an immediate $10,000 cash bonus. Incredibly, respondents ranked having child care benefits more important to them than having a 401k. Candidates are also looking for paid family leave, on-ramping programs,

Caregiving benefits can include non-monetary and monetary benefits such as offering flexible schedules, providing discounted or complimentary childcare services, offering extended leave time, and/or offering respite care.

and fertility benefits when looking for a new role, even if they won’t use them yet.

Productivity is boosted with parent-friendly policies. Quite simply, when parents don’t have to worry about childcare they are better able to be focused and motivated. According to the survey, 69% of respondents said if their employer had backup or subsidized child care they would work in person more often than required. Additionally, 57% of respondents said that if their employer had backup or subsidized child care they would take on higher-level work.

Leadership can be unlocked with childcare benefits. The survey also found that childcare benefits may offer companies better gender balance. Thus, allowing more women in

leadership positions.

Improvement of ROI and profits. One case study showed that every $1 invested in caregiving benefits drives $18.93, for an R.O.I. of nearly 18x.

“This new report makes it clear that parents are driven to stay, grow, and create progress and profit for their employer,” says Lauren Hobbs, Chief Marketing Officer at Vivvi.

“There is no single way to support caregivers in the workforce; but rather, so many accessible strategies—each with measurable R.O.I.—that companies can implement regardless of their size, structure or industry.”

The full survey results of “The R.O.I. of Caregiving Benefits” and the 10 case studies can be found here.

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How to Manage Emotional Labor in Your Home

Scheduling appointments, making the grocery lists, managing disagreements between siblings. There’s a seemingly endless list of things that go into running a home, especially when you look beyond physical tasks like chores and getting kids where they need to be.

Recently, more and more people have been talking about emotional labor, the often unseen work that goes into making sure life runs smoothly, whether that’s at home or at work.

Emotional labor often takes the form of everyday tasks, so it’s easy for them to be overlooked, but no household would function without it.

Oftentimes, emotional labor falls more on one spouse over the other, which can get exhausting over time.

We sat down with Dr. Yasmine Saad, clinical psychologist and founder and CEO of Madison Park Psychological Services about how parents can manage emotional labor more effectively at home.

How would you define emotional labor at home?

Emotional Labor was initially introduced by Arlie Hochschild in her book “The Managed Heart” (1983). This theory explores how individuals manage their emotions to meet the demands of their roles, initially in professional settings but later extended to personal and family contexts.

Emotional labor in the home context refers to the management and regulation of emotions to maintain harmony and meet the emotional needs of family members.

This includes a wide range of activities, from showing empathy and support, to managing the emotional climate of the home, to ensuring everyone’s needs are met in terms of love, care, and attention. Examples of emotional labor in a family setting can vary widely but often include:

• Listening and providing emotional support: This involves being there for family members during times of stress, sadness, or

celebration, offering a shoulder to lean on, and providing comfort and encouragement.

• Anticipating the emotional needs of family members, such as knowing when a partner had a tough day and needs space or when a child needs extra attention.

• Maintaining a positive home environment by mediating conflicts, maintaining morale, and fostering a sense of security and belonging.

• Ensuring family activities foster positive memories and bonds

It’s not uncommon for the distribution of emotional labor to be uneven at home, with one spouse doing more than the other. What effect can this have on a relationship in the long term?

The distribution of emotional labor in homes is often uneven, typically with one partner, usually the one who is most maternal, taking on a greater share of this emotional role. Fathers or mothers can occupy that role.

The uneven distribution of emotional labor can have several long-term effects on a relationship, including:

• Resentment and frustration: The partner carrying a larger share of emotional labor may feel overburdened, unappreciated, and resentful, eroding relationship satisfaction.

• Emotional burnout: Constantly managing others’ emotional needs can lead to emotional exhaustion, reducing one’s capacity to manage one’s own emotions effectively.

• Decreased intimacy and connection: As one partner feels increasingly burdened and the other potentially oblivious or disengaged, the emotional distance can grow, affecting

intimacy and connection.

How can spouses make sure emotional labor is evenly distributed?

To ensure a more even distribution of emotional labor, spouses can take several steps:

• Open Communication: Regularly discuss the distribution of emotional labor, acknowledging its presence and importance. Share feelings and experiences openly to foster understanding.

• Recognition and Appreciation: Recognize each partner’s efforts in managing emotional labor and express gratitude for these often invisible tasks.

• Shared Responsibility: Actively work towards sharing the emotional load, which may involve redistributing tasks, setting boundaries, and proactively offering support.

• Develop Self-awareness: Encourage each other to become more aware of one’s own emotional needs and capacities and how one’s actions affect the emotional climate of the home.

• Seek External Support: In cases where the imbalance is significant and difficult to address, seeking the guidance of a therapist or counselor can be beneficial.

Additional considerations include the importance of modeling healthy emotional labor practices for children, as this sets the foundation for their future relationships and emotional well-being.

Also, understanding that the dynamics of emotional labor can vary widely among different types of families and cultural backgrounds, and what works for one family may not work for another.

10 NewYorkFamily.com | May 2024
ask the e xpert

SSt. Raymond Elementary School

Where students are part of the family

t. Raymond Elementary School is a historic Bronx Catholic school that offers students a unique opportunity to be supported and inspired at all levels. The school has full-day academic programs for UPK 3 through Grade 8. Students at St. Raymond benefit from a broad array of offerings — in both academics and extracurricular activities. St. Raymond Elementary School offers honors and remediation programs, computer and science labs, Italian, two libraries, resource rooms, sports and a fitness center.

They also have a free breakfast program with early drop off, a hot lunch program, and an after-school program that includes a variety of activities, in addition to homework help.

Students have their choice of extracurricular activities including award-winning

boys’ and girls’ basketball teams, school band, cheerleaders, award-winning drumline, bell and junior choirs, peer tutoring with their parish high schools, chess, altar servers and service programs.

St. Raymond has openings in Kin-

dergarten through 8th Grade. Tuition is affordable and scholarships are available. Visit and see all they have to offer. For more information, visit www.straymondelementary.org or call 718-597-3232. See how your child can thrive in the St. Raymond family.

We offer full-day academic programs for UPK 3 through Grade 8, honors, remediation and enrichment programs, computer and science labs, sports, a fitness center, and a broad array of extracurricular activities.

May 2024 | Bronx/.Riverdale Family 11 Where Your Child Is Part of Our Family St. Raymond Elementary School Fr. James Cruz, Pastor | Eugene Scanlon, Principal 2380 East Tremont Avenue, Bronx, NY 10462 718-597-3232 • www.straymondelementary.org St. Raymond Elementary School CAET H I NGGOODNESS,DISCIPLINEANDKNO W L EGDE FOROVER 150YEARS AFFORDABLE TUITION FREE BREAKFAST PROGRAM FREE EARLY DROP-OFF AFTER-SCHOOL PROGRAM Apply Now for the 2024-2025 School Year straymondelementary.org /online-application
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Where Teens Talk

It Out

NYC and Talkspace roll out free virtual mental health therapy program for teens teens

From relationships to social media and school work to body image, teens today face many challenges as they come of age. It is hard for parents not to worry about their child’s well-being, but there is some good news in the Big Apple. The NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene recently launched NYC Teenspace, a virtual mental health therapy program for teens in the city.

The program is managed by Talkspace, a digital therapy platform that has been helping patients of all ages since 2011. Jon Cohen, M.D., CEO of Talkspace, wants parents to know this digital resource is available for kids right at their fingertips and with a few swipes on the phone. As many parents bittersweetly realize, kids want to talk about their problems, but not usually with their own moms and dads.

“It’s a partnership we have with the city to provide mental health therapy to roughly 465,000 teenagers between the ages of 13-17 access to mental health support,” Cohen said “It’s one of the largest teen initiatives in the country.”

Through the program, teens in NYC have access to a mental health therapist by way of talking, texting or making video calls.

About NYC Teenspace’s Virtual Mental Health Therapy

Launched only in November 2023, NYC Teenspace has already helped thousands of teens in New York City with so many mental health problems and challenges, many of which adults likely recall from their own childhoods.

“It’s not going to be a surprise,” Cohen said. “It’s depression, anxiety, relationships, issues around bullying.”

Those relationship problems could be about family members, friends or others, Cohen said. Academic stress and substance use are other problems teens discuss with Talkspace’s network of more than 500 licensed therapists in the city.

Issues Around Suicide and Self Harm

Sadly and alarmingly, thoughts of suicide are common among teens. According to Cohen, the national rate runs around 10% of kids actually attempting suicide.

“It’s a huge part of why mental health is the greatest threat to the life of teenagers more so than cigarette smoking right now,” Cohen explained, citing a U.S. Surgeon General’s report.

It is hard for doctors to pinpoint why, exactly, suicide rates are so high, but Cohen believes social media addiction is a big factor. Kids spend an average about eight hours each day on social media, the doctor explained.

And the negative impacts the addiction leaves behind can be profound.

“For girls, it’s definitely about body image, weight and eating disorders. That all gets propagated on social media platforms. Bullying for both boys and girls is a pretty big issue.”

Complimenting its mental health expertise, Talkspace has technology that will alert a therapist if a teen might be in danger of self harm. The therapist will then take the necessary steps, whether it be therapy or more immediate action that follows specific protocol if there is a sense of imminent danger, Cohen explained.

The centerpiece of NYC Teenspace is, of course, its online therapy, but Talkspace staff go into the field to make an impact, too. They hold events at schools, talk to

parents, teachers and principals, and do lots of marketing to spread the word about their services.

“We do everything we can to get kids on to the platform. That’s our commitment with the city,” Cohen said.

NYC Mayor Eric Adams helped launch the program when it was announced in November.

“When we took office nearly two years ago, we promised all New Yorkers that we would build a healthier city together, and invest in not just our physical health, but our mental health as well,” Adams said. “Our young people shouldn’t ever feel alone. We’re here for them, and together I know we’ll build a healthier, stronger city together.”

How to Use NYC Teenspace

Teens visit talkspace.com/nyc to start their virtual mental health therapy. To register, they will enter their birthday and NYC address. They will then be asked to answer a few intake questions about themselves and their preference for therapy.

NOTE: Teens will have to enter a parent or guardian’s email address for consent, but there can be exceptions to this based on special circumstances. More information on this is available on the website.

Teens will be matched with a therapist within hours, so there is no long wait for help. Messaging therapy is unlimited. Video conferencing is available on a monthly basis, but must be scheduled in advance.

12 NewYorkFamily.com | May 2024
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A SensoryInclusive Harry Potter

The Exhibition welcomes all witches, wizards and muggles to its “Sensory Sundays”

On a recent Sunday, we did something rare as a family and headed to Harry Potter: The Exhibition. This meant there was no tag teaming, with one parent going out with one kid while the other stayed home with our Autistic son. Without the pricey airplane ticket to LA or Florida, we headed into the world of Harry Potter.

The mystical world of Harry Potter is enchanting, charming, and, for kids (and parents!), magical. But for kids with Sensory Processing Disorders, regardless of the charm and like many other entertaining places -it can be overwhelming.

Web MD describes this disorder as people with sensory processing disorder are oversensitive to things in their environment. Common sounds may be painful or overwhelming.

There is more to this disorder, but in a nutshell, this condition can affect the entire family. As visiting spots may not be tangible for your child with a sensory processing disorder, some feel it is better to skip rather than overwhelm your child. This is something I get as a mother of an Autistic eight-year-old.

Thankfully, the wizarding world of Harry Potter: The Exhibition which has been showing New Yorkers this world, since May 2023, has partnered with KultureCity and obtained its Sensory Inclusive certification. Until August, “Sensory Sundays” will turn the lights down and more on specific dates. Guests exploring the exhibit will be minimal and manageable, meaning kids can check out it at their own pace. If loud noise triggers you or even smells- these will be reduced. If you

or your child needs a little extra, KultureCity ® Sensory Bags will be readily available. In these packs, which are of no extra cost, remember to give it back so others can use it after your visit; you’ll find strobe reduction glasses, noise-canceling headphones, fidget tools, and more.

What is KultureCity

This non-profit organization offers and partners to make spaces more sensoryinclusive so people with sensory processing disorders and unseen disabilities can experience what is happening around them.

Key Highlights of the Harry Potter: The Exhibition

Book to Screen : Whether you need a recap or are just ready to get the show going, you can sit and watch a video and literary quotes from Harry Potter movies and books. Don’t forget to check out the first edition of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

The Great Hall Gallery : is a space that allows visitors to celebrate magical seasonal moments in its iconic architecture.

The Hogwarts Houses Gallery : kicks off the exhibition fun, giving guests a chance to dive into their chosen Hogwarts house during preregistration. Even if one house is working its spell for you to select it, this gallery lets you explore them all! Imagine this: a festive hall with the legendary Sorting Hat as the centerpiece, begging for photo ops. And don’t miss the newly designed house crests gleaming on stunning stained glass windows.

Hagrid’s Hut and The Forbidden Forest: Kids will love this fan favorite. Go on a fantastical adventure with an interactive Patronus delightful experience. Then, get ready to uncover legendary creatures like centaurs and Acromantula hiding in the forest, and step inside a replica of Hagrid’s Hut for an adventure you won’t forget!

My youngest loved videos but was mainly enamored with the carpet and chose to experience the magic from the floor (no one batted an eyelash). My oldest enjoyed the entire experience; there were no teenage eye rolls or sighs; he was super involved and happy to finally experience the exhibition. It reminded me that going to sensory-inclusive events and spaces is not only for the sensorysensitive person but also for the family, who may miss fun experiences, making it a winwin for everyone.

Harry Potter:The Exhibition

50 W 34th St., New York, NY 10001 across the street from Macy’s

Sensory Sundays coming up: May 5, June 2, July 14, and August 4, 2024, 9am-11am

Tickets: Kids (ages 3-15) $32.66, Adults (ages 16 plus) $43.55, Children under 3 free

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family day out

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Collaborate with the New York Family Media team to spread the word about your launches, promotions and news.

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May 2024 | Bronx/.Riverdale Family 15

My Battle with Postpartum Depression

Depression is a funny little illness. Because you look and feel like you’ve been through the spin cycle of a washing machine, yet everyone keeps telling you that you’re totally fine. You’re fine, your family says. You’re fine, your friends say. You’re fine, the doctor says. You’re healthy, your family is healthy, and everything is perfectly fine in your life.

If you’re supposedly so fine, then why don’t you feel fine?

Why, instead, do you feel like every moment awake is an assault on your mind and body, like the very act of taking air into your lungs is earth-shatteringly terrifying, and like you are no longer even living inside of yourself, but instead just functioning as a separate, mindless entity, numbly hovering over your former self in the meager hope that someday you can return and feel, dare I say, normal again?

And all the while, as you’re feeling increasingly un-fine, the world around you is spinning away. People are still living their lives, still going to work, still caring for their children, still eating and sleeping and smiling and laughing every day. They’re doing all the things you did back when you really were

fine. Except now, everyone else is fine. They go right on living while you teeter dangerously on the brink of insanity, wondering how you’ll make it another day, another hour, even another minute.

I had my miscarriage in the middle of Thanksgiving dinner. I had watched the parade in the morning, dressed my son in his holiday finest, then drove over to my mom’s house in Brooklyn and sat down with my family at the table to eat. Sometime between my first stuffed mushroom and second slice of turkey, I began to feel the stabbing pangs of labor pain. Two terrifying hours later, I emerged from an emergency room bathroom stall with a tiny, balled-up fetus wrapped inside of a sanitary napkin. Horrified and shaking, I handed it to the triage nurse, who told me I was running a fever and needed to calm down.

Please don’t feel sorry for me. My story is only seemingly dramatic because hospitals, blood, and death tend to fill me with dread, and retelling the events of that day is simply impossible to do without conveying just how dramatic it all felt at the time. But in reality, I’d been only eight weeks along, was quite optimistic that I could conceive again soon, and honestly thought I was going to be okay. I mean, much worse things have happened to

people much more misfortunate than myself. So after about ten miserable hours in a dim hospital room, I went home and crawled into bed, exhausted and sad but feeling that the worst of it was over.

Or so I thought.

I did not know, at that point, that postpartum depression could happen after a miscarriage, even one occurring in just the first trimester. I didn’t know that the overflow of hormones coursing through my body after this event – combined with the severe loneliness brought on by a harsh winter, a young child who needed more from me than I could possibly give at the time, and a hardworking husband who was never home – would lead me into a frightening downward spiral so intense that I am still recovering from it today.

My husband used to leave for work around 6a.m., and I’d wake up at 5a.m. just to savor the only adult company I’d enjoy all day until he returned, already half-asleep, around 9p.m. Those mornings I’d sit on the floor of the foggy bathroom while he showered for work and we’d chitchat back and forth. It was the closest to normal that I would feel all day. Then I’d climb back into bed when he left, around the same time my son would usually wake up, and we’d watch cartoons together until the sun came up. And then I’d brace

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myself for a very long, lonely, dreary, anxietyridden day.

The darkest period of my life was like one, long, drawn-out anxiety attack. I’ve struggled with anxiety my entire life, but never like this. My days were spent pacing the floors of my three-room apartment for hours at a time, fingers tearing at the hair behind my neck and pulling until it bled. I’d clutch the phone in my hands and cry, praying for it to ring, wishing for someone to talk to, anyone at all who could distract me from my personal hell for a moment or two. I’d open every shade and curtain in the house, hoping the daylight might flood my home and chase my shadowy demons away. I’d wait by the window, praying, begging, pleading for my husband to pull up in his car and save me from the bitter, paralyzing loneliness.

One morning, after I’d gotten out of bed, I fainted as I poured my son’s breakfast cereal. It could have been from dehydration, or anxiety, or maybe just plain hunger, as I hadn’t been able to force down more than a slice or two of bread in about two days. I quickly awoke to find my son, confused and

I’d open every shade and curtain in the house, hoping the daylight might flood my home and chase my shadowy demons away.

visibly upset, pleading with me to get up. At that point, I really needed help. For my little boy, my sweet, innocent, scared little child, I had to come out of this. I simply had to. There was just no other way.

Recovery was a gradual process. With the help of my family, some medication, and a whole lot of self-discovery, I eventually began to feel like myself again.

The following March, I was thrilled to learn that my daughter was on the way. This was a blessing for more than just the obvious reasons, because it forced me to stop taking my medication and learn to heal entirely on my own. Honestly, I didn’t even think I was capable of healing on my own until I had no

other choice. So I believe my little girl saved me from what might have been a different kind of downward spiral.

You don’t need to be a parent to find yourself coping with depression, although I know many are. You don’t need to be married, divorced, employed, unemployed, grieving, sick, healthy, rich, or poor. You don’t need to have any reason at all. For many of us, depression and anxiety are simply things we struggle with every single day. They’re as real to us as breathing. Today, I still battle depression and anxiety, although it looks and feels much different when hormones aren’t involved as much.

Your depression affects everyone around you, whether you realize it or not: your family, your children, your friends, your job. Sometimes people understand, but most of the time, they don’t. If you’re lucky, someone will see you struggling, and they’ll reach out to you. If you’re really lucky, you’ll find a place within yourself where healing can begin on its own – where you can realize how much the people in your life need you – and you can learn to be you again.

May 2024 | Bronx/.Riverdale Family 17
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Mirror on the Wall

Reflections on beauty & aging

Every night, I look in the mirror at the 39-year-old woman staring back at me. I am not young. I am not old. But things are changing. I pluck a gray hair and wonder, do I have jowls? Are my lips wrinkling, or am I just dehydrated? In truth, I don’t take great care of myself. I don’t moisturize enough. I don’t speak the language of dermatology. Sometimes I forget to wear a hat. I wonder what will happen if I continue down this course. Will I look like a little old lady while everyone else I know has the skin of a baby’s bottom? What will I look like if I look 87? The rebellious side of my personality toys with being a silver fox. What if I let my skin leather with decades of happy summers in the sun? Maybe I can be a fearless, cool crone like Iris Apfel. In some ways, I can present as low maintenance. I’ll never be a woman with a perfect manicure or blowout, but I have a vibe and my own vices. I haven’t taken the leap into injectables because I am scared. I work out three days a week and start the day with a Gwenyth Paltrow intermittent fast until lunch to keep carbs, cheese, and wine in my major food groups. There are months that I become fed up with my graying hair and impulsively drive to a salon for a single process rinse. Maybe I am not ready to look old.

In today’s filtered online world, no one needs to look old. Mainstream photo-editing tools like Facetune and Instagram’s Paris filter shrink my pores and waistline in a swipe and a pinch. Such advances in technology and media created our youth-obsessed culture and standards of beauty so unattainable that even celebrities cannot keep up. In December 2023, 56-year-old actress Maria Bello made headlines for lamenting that “every housewife on TV was seemingly getting younger” while she was getting older. Try she did to beat the clock, but it only brought misery and pain. Eventually, she learned to “own it.” Self-acceptance is always the goal, but every day every woman must confront the mirror and ask herself: is this the best she can do?

The best one can do is a personal assess-

ment. It is the lowest amount of work one is willing to put in to look and feel presentable when leaving the house. While this changes depending on the occasion, for the purpose of this examination, my personal best will be defined as good enough to run into an old friend on the street without feeling naked in my aging face.

As I grapple with the shifting shape of my head, I consult the women in my life to understand how they approach growing older. My first call is to my lawyer and mother, who is 69. I asked her if I could refer to myself as “coming from vain people ‘’ in print without offending her. She responds with knowing agreement. She believes that her mother, a beautiful woman with never a blonde hair out of place, would be “rolling over in her grave to know that her daughter let her hair go white.” During the pandemic, my mother went cold turkey on hair dye, declaring herself free. “As you get older,” she says, “everything changes.” While she no longer cares much about clothes or makeup, she admits she misses her blonde era. Asked for her current definition of “good enough,” she says she doesn’t want to give up Botox because she doesn’t want to “look like a hag.” My first lesson in aging: everyone has a relationship with appearance and their own line for its maintenance, one that might shift over time.

At the mention of Botox, I call Dr. Margo

Lederhandler–the go to dermatologist of my thirty-something mom friends in Westchester, NY. My first line of questions came from my observation of a group of 29-year-old girls at a neighboring table at a restaurant. In a discussion of their addiction to Botox, one joked that she “didn’t know what was in it, but didn’t care.” When probed about the science and risk factors of looking good, Dr. Lederhandler expertly detailed the history of Botulinum toxin-A, first used as an ophthalmological treatment in the 1970s. When injected into the nerve under the skin near the eye, doctors saw offensive muscle spasms go away with a wrinkle reduction bonus. This cosmetic purpose was FDA approved in 2002, launching a multimillion-dollar antiaging revolution of injectable products that smooth lines and fill sag. Aside from the occasional bruise or a reversible eyelid or eyebrow droop, Dr. Lederhandler assures that the risks are low when the facial anatomy is assessed properly.

Reassured that the toxins that freeze muscles won’t scramble my brain, I ask Dr. Lederhandler if I’ve missed my boat not starting at 29. What’s the deal with preventative? She advises patients to “begin injectables when bothered by lines that remain when the face is at rest.” The lines on the skin show signs of repeated muscle movement. The longer those lines are ingrained, the harder

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it will be to erase them. In that sense, earlier can be better. As we ponder the many other options to prevent aging, my mind races. Overwhelmed by the magnitude of treatments that range from surgical to injectable to topical to lasers, Dr. Lederhandler brings me back to the present with the admission: It is OK to age. “We will all age,” she reminds. “Some people don’t want to be lineless.” For her patients and herself, her goal is “not to defy aging, but to look like the best version of herself.” She uses injectables, lasers, topicals and sunscreen to help patients look rested and refreshed. To Dr. Lederhandler, “aging gracefully does not mean giving up; rather, it is to help patients understand what is reasonable and to feel good in their skin.”

Armed with more information, I toy with the idea of a laser to keep my pores cute for in real-life encounters on the street. As I consider the many other things I could do with the price of eternal youth, I slink back into my regular life. While chatting with my writer friend Fran Scheffler, I ask her how she approaches beauty as she ages. A stunning silver fox at 77, I learned that her dark hair started to go gray at the age of 15. In college, she got away with a Clarol wash-in

Self-acceptance is always the goal, but every day every woman must confront the mirror and ask herself: is this the best she can do?

shampoo, but in her early 30s, she “stopped needing to be that vain” and embraced the slow transformation of age. Reflecting on the impact of her own mother’s vanity, she adds, “in her mother’s generation, dress, makeup and hair was an artform.” It was very important to keep herself looking good. Fran attributes her more simple approach to beauty to the validation she received for her intelligence. With a Ph.D. in Speech, Language, and Hearing, her work as a clinician and academic shifted her focus to bigger things than the mirror. While she worries

that “women who are too caught up in looks believe that is all they offer,” she admits that “the women who do nothing look unkempt.” Anything too extreme is unhealthy. Today, Fran wants to look healthy.

As we discussed her style and new hair styling tool, it struck me that a little vanity is important. It is healthy to care about one’s physical appearance. Keeping the body mentally and physically fit is not an irrational quest for youth and beauty. Instead, I rebrand it a pursuit of wholeness in mind, body, and spirit. It is a commitment to accept what is while, as my Grammy would say, “doing the most with what we have.” If it takes a facelift or a crisp new pair of blue jeans to confront the mirror and move on to a greater purpose, you receive no judgment here.

I cannot predict how I will feel or the lengths I will go to feel like I am my best self. We all struggle to accept change at every age. If we are lucky, we will get to mourn the youthful glow that recedes with each passing year and become accustomed to a new face in the mirror. Aging is scary, but I do like the person that I am becoming. My collagen is waning, but my chutzpah grows.

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May 2024 | Bronx/.Riverdale Family 19

How to Connect with Other Moms

“Parenting is lonely,” they said. By they, I mean everyone I encountered when pregnant with my first son in 2018. Among the many nuggets of unsolicited new-parent advice I received from well-meaning friends, family, and strangers, this one I took to heart. I worried about feeling happy after I did the big scary act of giving birth. I’d read the statistics about postpartum isolation and maternal depression. In a 2018 study, the British Red Cross found that 83% of mothers surveyed had feelings of loneliness, while 43% said they felt lonely all the time. Another survey found that 90% of new mothers felt lonely since giving birth, with over half feeling they had no friends at all.

My Journey to Mom Friends

I should know. In the early weeks of parenthood- determined to beat the odds, I willed myself to leave the house with my three-week-old and our cockapoo dog in tow. After marking the occasion with an Instagram photo of the milestone, an old

college friend slipped into my DMs. She could tell from the background of my photos that I lived around the corner from her in Brooklyn. Also, postpartum, she nudged me to attend a coffee with a few new moms from the area who were also figuring it out. She was the brave and experienced second-time mom in our neurotic first-time mom circle, boldly showing us how to strap our car seats into taxis so we could easily make it to happy hour. So began our maternity leave bender. Each day at 4 PM, 10 infants napped in a row of strollers while their moms traded newborn stories. Although only acquainted for three months, processing birth trauma, lactation, and sleep deprivation bred immediate intimacy and made the everyday slog of raising young children fun and funny. In spite of that shared profound experience, COVID-19 scattered everyone in different directions almost two years later. While the love and respect for each other remained, the group chat text messages eventually slowed to silence. It seemed mom friendship required close geographic proximity to sustain, especially in a global pandemic that reduced one’s village to one’s house.

Alone, but never alone, in my new Westchester suburb, I faced the daily challenge of caring for my child without nearby family or my network of drinking biddies. As I did in Brooklyn, I looked to my neighborhood streets to find a maternal connection. During the March 2020 lockdown, my once eerily desolate neighborhood of empty nesters began to come alive with frazzled young mothers escaping from the city with baby carriages. From six feet away, we made connections and then alliances. Our wandering became routine. Twice a day, we circled a nearby pond, feeling naughty for walking the line of social distance but desperate for real-world connection. Eventually, we let our kids play outside–and then inside. It felt wrong but also necessary. Sharing the manual labor of feeding, supervising, entertaining, and transporting young children made the burden lighter and more joyful. Humans are social creatures. We are not meant to do this alone.

While my network of local moms grew during this time of record loneliness, this tale of love and friends is not true for

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all. Rather, as a 2020 Cigna Health study revealed, loneliness has steadily risen since the 1990s and shows no sign of marked improvement. Whether you blame it on the pandemic, our collective dependence on screens for interaction, the decline of religion to foster community, or the rise of individualism versus the collective – humans are increasingly going it solo as a species. With great solitude comes great anxiety and the physical and mental health decline that comes with it. Add maternal hormones and the stress of working while caring for young children to the equation; mothers without the necessary support are heading for collapse.

Tips when seeking mom connection I offer my story to inspire faith in the power of parent connection. However, Rome was not built in a day. If you find yourself struggling to create social connections in your hometown, here are a few learned tips.

Seek support : The depression and anxiety that can come with motherhood is real. A mental health professional can help you to cope if you open yourself up to

Sharing the manual labor of feeding, supervising, entertaining, and transporting young children made the burden lighter and more joyful.

support. As Lauren Tetenbaum, Westchesterbased mother of two and social worker specializing in maternal mental health, puts it, “Motherhood can be extremely challenging, but you do not have to face it alone.” Medication, meditation, and therapy are available to help regulate your body and mind so you can meet the challenge of social connection.

Get out there : Standing on the sidelines, waiting at the pediatrician, or stuffing pizza in her face at a birthday party, your children’s friends’ moms are already a part of your daily interaction. Lean into the opportunities that

raising children together creates organically. Even if you feel uncomfortable striking up a conversation at a local pharmacy, Tetenbaum encourages, “people do want to connect and make friends, just like you.”

Prioritize passion : When you pursue the things that interest you, you will likely discover your people. Tetenbaum prescribes finding opportunities within your community to reconnect with the activities that brought you joy before having children. In addition to locating like-minded peers, it will boost your confidence and create a stronger sense of identity, which attracts more people to you.

Whether you are struggling through the early days of motherhood or the social isolation from moving to a new town, take a leap of faith and leave the house. Moving from the couch to the crosswalk put me on the path of meeting local women who make the darkest days of parenting feel brighter. Together on the road from tummy time and tantrums to coxsackie and carpools to exams and empty nesting, we begin as moms and become just friends.

May 2024 | Bronx/.Riverdale Family 21
Partner with Us Want to reach engaged parents across New York City? Collaborate with the New York Family Media team to spread the word about your launches, promotions and news. Reach us by emailing info@newyorkfamily.com or calling 718.260.4554

Family Visit to Universal Studios Hollywood

My family and I needed a break from the New York winter, and with a lengthy school break on the horizon, I booked a trip to sunny California. That was the easy part. Now, what to do? That was an even easier decision, with a visit to Universal Studios Hollywood at the top of our list.

As a parent of four children spanning the ages of 7-16, I knew that Universal Studios Hollywood would make everyone happy with so many of the rides and attractions based on their favorite films and television shows. But Universal Studios Hollywood isn’t just an amusement park, it’s an immersive experience that makes you feel like you’ve entered the worlds of Harry Potter, The Simpsons, Jurassic Park, and more.

Before beginning our adventure, we made sure to download the parks mobile app. The mobile app was essential for our day out; we documented where we parked our car, saw which rides were available along with wait time and height requirements, used the interactive map to navigate the park, explored dining options, checked characters meet and greet times, reviewed the schedule for the incredible live performances, and found where to shop for souvenirs and apparel.

With our tickets in hand and the mobile app downloaded, we were ready for a day of fun! As we approached the park we immediately noticed the iconic rotating Universal Studios Globe made famous by its appearance at the beginning of all Universal Pictures films. Just beyond that we had our very own red carpet moment, just like the movie stars do, where we had our picture snapped on our way to the entrance. When we entered it was as if we were transported to old Hollywood and I immediately started taking pictures as I walked through the streets and storefronts inspired by the era.

Top Rides and Experiences to Visit at Universal Studios Hollywood

Our game plan relied heavily on our Universal Studios Hollywood mobile app because we chose the rides based on the estimated wait times provided. But we didn’t just hop from ride to ride- we explored the areas surround-

ing them as well. Our first stop was Springfield: Home of the Simpsons where we felt like we stepped into the world of Bart, Homer, Marge, Lisa, and Maggie.

There we were able to explore the landmarks made famous from the hit television show including the Kwik-E-Mart, Krusty Burger (where you can have an actual Krusty Burger!) Moe’s Tavern and the Krustyland. Like any good theme park, Krustyland has a variety of carnival games where players can try to win The Simpsons themed stuffed prizes. Carnival games range from challenging to easy and are not included in your Universal Studios Hollywood admission. My younger ones wanted to play, so I chose a game for them where everyone automacially wins a prizemeltdown averted! Besides carnival games, there is also the “The Simpsons Ride” where we rode along with The Simpsons family in a simulated roller coaster as we tried to escape the clutches of Sideshow Bob- the former sidekick to Krusty the Clown. “The Simpsons Ride” ride contains drops, sudden turns, and lots of humor and was a hit with everyone.

Next we headed to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter where despite being a family of muggles, we were granted entry. We got to soar above the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry on “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey” and learned how to approach a Hippogriff on “Flight of the Hippogriff.”

Helpful Tip : If you’re with a kid that isn’t

ready for the excitement of Harry Potter and wants to sit a ride out you can take advantage of the parks “child switch option,” where one of the adults can wait with that child while the rest of you rides. Once you are finished, you can switch places so whoever rode can stay with the child, and the adult who sat out can enjoy the ride. This option is available all over the park.

After, we made our way through Hogsmeade (usually only open to wizards, witches, and other magical beings), where were could grab a pint of Butterbeer, find the perfect wand, shop for all of our wizarding needs, and send a postcard via owl just like they do in the Harry Potter movies and books.

Minion Land was next on our list and was anything but despicable (see what I did there?). We were turned into Minions on “Despicable Me Minion Mayhem” and saw what pets do when we aren’t around on “The Secret Life of Pets: Off the Leash” rides. Next, we checked out the “Super Silly Fun Land”

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playzone, inspired by the carnival scene in the film Despicable Me, which has a water play area perfect for cooling off on a hot California day, a dry play area for the younger ones to climb and slide, and the “Silly Swirly” Minion themed ride offering a bird’s eye view of Minion Land. There are also carnival games, including “Super Silly Space Killer,” just like they played in the movie.

Welcome to Jurassic World. If the Jurassic Park films made your heart race, wait until you take on “Jurassic World – The Ride.” What started off as a relaxing cruise to see dinosaurs suddenly took an unexpected turn when we found out that some of them escaped, and our boat ended up taking an 84-foot plunge!

Helpful Tip : This plunge looked too scary for my 7-year-old, so he sat this one out. I sent my older kids without me and took the little guy to the DinoPlay area next door where he happily climbed, dug for fossils, explored a full-size T. rex skull, and more!

But no journey to Jurassic World is com-

plete without seeing dinosaurs up close, and you can do that at the “Raptor Encounter ” featuring everyone’s favorite Velociraptor, Blue, along with a Triceratops and a Baby Raptor led by a Jurassic Park dinosaur guide who told us all about these prehistoric creatures.

With major Nintendo fans in our family, there was no way we wouldn’t cover every inch of SUPER NINTENDO WORLD. This area of Universal Studios Hollywood opened a little over a year ago and captures the magic and fun of the Super Mario Bros. games and all of the characters they encompass. So how does one get to SUPER NINTENDO WORLD? Through a green pipe, of course! As we walked in, we were instantly transported to the Mushroom Kingdom featuring Princess Peach’s castle, oversized mushrooms, spinning gold coins, Venus Fire Traps, Bowser’s castle, and more. This immersive experience also offers interactive games, the opportunity to meet Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach and Toad, and a chance to play “Mario Kart” like never before when

we put on special goggles and took on Team Bowser in “Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge.” Although my family has played “Mario Kart” at home numerous times, this was a completely different experience and included new to us technology.

While having all of these mini adventures, we almost forgot that Universal Studios Hollywood is a real working movie and television studio, and to learn more about what goes on behind the scenes, we took The World-Famous Studio Tour. With Jimmy Fallon as our virtual tour guide, we spent about an hour learning about the history of Universal Pictures and touring the backlot where we recognized streets and neighborhoods from shows like “The Good Place” and the new “Quantum Leap.” But this isn’t your ordinary movie studio tour because we also a flash flood, a too close for comfort encounter with the most infamous great white shark of all, Jaws, plus experiences with King Kong and the Fast & Furious. The hour flew by and it gave us a new appreciation for what goes into the films and the television shows we watch, and like everything else in Universal Studios Hollywood- we had fun!

What You Need to Know About Visiting Universal Studios Hollywood

Universal Studios Hollywood is located at 100 Universal City Plaza in Universal City, CA.

General Parking before 5pm starts at $32 and $10 after 5pm.

Single and double strollers are available for rent or you can bring your own. A single stroller rental is $25 and a double is $35.

The mobile app is available for free on Google Play and the AppStore.

Tickets start at $109 for 1 day general admission and $159 for 2 day general admission. For an additional $20 to your park admission you can enter an hour early to experience SUPER NINTENDO WORLD.

Universal Express tickets start at $209 and includes general admission and express access to rides. (At this time “Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge” is excluded from Universal Express. See website for additional details).

For more information, visit Universal Studios Hollywood on their website and give them a follow on Facebook, Instagram, X, TikTok, and YouTube.

Thank you Universal Studios for the park experience , all opinions are my own and I have not been paid for this review

May 2024 | Bronx/.Riverdale Family 23
Photo by Shara Levine

Glow Maven Latham Thomas

on The Soft Space, advancing maternal health via community and academia, watching her young adult son soar, and how she is an Open Nest, not an Empty Nester

Our cover this month is by happenstance. Latham Thomas of Mama Glow unveiled a stunning new space in Brooklyn, and I was eager to feature it. The Soft Space embodies community, education, and support, among other things—but more on that later.

Our New York Family team had quite the agenda on the day of the shoot. Our Events Editor, Shara Levine, kicked off her day celebrating Women’s International Day by dancing with Julianne Hough and Latham at a KINRGY X movement class. Then, our crew arrived to photograph the space and our April mom. While our cover mom, Assembly Member Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn, was getting glammed up, photographer Yumi Matsuo and I got to work, absorbing the energy of the space and capturing its loveliness. Latham’s infectious energy filled the room, precisely what our winter-weary bodies needed.

After we saw the captured pics, we couldn’t resist featuring this new space and celebrating Latham on the cover, for I have personally watched her care and advocate hard for mothers and families. She champions maternal health through advocacy, teaching, and breaking barriers.

Support is crucial at the beginning of becoming moms and even more vital as we journey through the many phases of being women. May celebrates Mother’s Day, and Latham sincerely honors mothers.

We are excited about this new space as she continues to grow personally and professionally while continuing to be a foundation for women.

I chatted with Latham about expanding Mama Glow, tools moms already possess for a mental regroup, watching her young adult son soar, and how she is an Open Nest, not an Empty Nester.

For all the parents new to Mama Glow, can you share how Mama Glow supports mothers and families?

I’m the founder of Mama Glow, a global maternal health and education platform that educates and professionally develops doulas and nurse care managers to serve in our healthcare system to improve maternal health outcomes. We have trained nearly 3,000 doulas across the USA and 6 continents. Our market leading training program, the Mama Glow Doula Homeschool Professional Training Program is the first of its kind to be embedded as an Ivy League University course where I was appointed Visiting Professor of the Practice of Gender and Sexuality Studies at Brown University. My commitment to advancing maternal health is grounded in community and academia. We recently wrapped a national Doula Competency training program we designed for CVS Health and Aetna nurse care managers for CEUs. This means that nurses are also learning how to integrate the doula model of care to support families.

We offer doula matching services to families in different ways, some are private pay, others come to us through the Mama Glow Foundation for pro bono doula services. We also offer educational programs for parents.

The Mama Glow Foundation leads efforts in education, advocacy and the arts as well as research and scholarship. At the Foundation we welcome and mentor University fellows through our partnership with Brown University and support Doula clubs on 5 campuses, supporting university doula collectives. The Mama Glow Foundation also provides pro bono doula services across the country through partnerships with companies like Carol’s Daughter and the Love Delivered Initiative, and through the Citywide Doula Initiative, where the Mama Glow Foundation is the largest provider of pro bono doula services in New York City.

It’s been a deep pleasure to elevate and celebrate this work through our platform, including: The Doula Expo by Mama Glow, our annual culture shifting festival that celebrates a vision for the future of birth work, this past Spring, we held the Doula Expo at Hudson Yards in a

24 NewYorkFamily.com | May 2024
May 2024 | Bronx/.Riverdale Family 25
Photo by Yumi Matsuo
“I would invite you to pour energy into the small things that bring you pleasure and punctuate moments of pleasure throughout the day.”

60,000 square foot space and welcomed nearly 2,000 guests. This is how we show up in the community and now folks will be able to also join us for lectures, workshops and events and community support at The Soft Space by Mama Glow as well.

As someone who spends her life supporting mothers/ women, do you have any advice for an overwhelmed mother on how she can make space for herself when she feels she lacks the time and, in some circumstances, the funds to reboot mentally?

It’s really important to listen to your body. Self-care is about checking in with yourself on a moment-to-moment basis and meeting your personal needs. Community is so critical as we navigate the challenges of new parenthood. I encourage folks who are feeling overwhelmed to tap into their support system, your sister circle, and practice asking for help - by the way; it can be difficult to ask for help when you’re the person everyone depends on. Having a group text check-in having some folks you can ask to come over and watch the kids while you go for a walk alone, can be really helpful in reducing stress. All of the self-care and stress management tools I use are free: I journal, practice deep breathing, turn on the music and move my body, I water my plants, I go outside for a walk… all of this helps me stay calibrated. I would invite you to pour energy into the small things that bring you pleasure and punctuate moments of pleasure throughout the day, even those of us who are busy can choose to make this time for ourselves.

It is no secret that New York Family loves you; this is your third cover! Your first cover featured you and your then-tween son on the cover, who is now in college. How is parenting evolving for you as your son transitions into adulthood, and what lessons have you learned along the way?

I’m honored for my third cover! Parenting is amazing at every stage. My son is now 20 years alive and I have an Open Nest. I wrote a post when Fulano headed off to school where I spoke about the potency of this new life phase and what it was like to move away from birthing and caring for someone for nearly two decades and then sending them out into the world. My son went on to attend Berklee School of Music in Boston and is now a junior in college. While it’s just a 3 hour train or car ride away from Brooklyn, it’s still far enough away that I am reminded of the distance. It’s good for him because it allows him to spread his wings. I learn so much as a parent about trust. When your children begin to soar, you have to activate your trust and faith in ways previously unimagined, you have to trust that all of the lessons you gave and the messages you shared were encoded. You have to believe that you have raised

a person who carries their values in their heart and makes good decisions without your direct and daily influence. And that mutual trust is the pulse of your relationship. I am an evolved version of myself, I became anew when I gave birth to my son and I shed a layer of myself when he entered this new life phase. I don’t say ‘Empty’ nest because I don’t feel empty; I feel whole, alive, and full. I have been so creative during this time, and I’ve given birth to so many projects during my open nesting phase. Open nesting is a rite of passage that I honor and celebrate.

What was your inspiration behind creating The Soft Space?

The Soft Space by Mama Glow is a 2,300-squarefoot wellness, education, and live events oasis in the heart of Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The concept was born out of the collective need for ease, softness, and recalibration in response to the challenging times we are living and is a dream realized. I have been affirming women and doulas around self-care modalities and contemplative practice to improve mental health and wellbeing for years. This is a space where you are welcomed home. And this space is one where folks can engage in high touch experiences anchored in optimal wellbeing. I am inspired by birth workers and women who support women. I wanted to create a space where I didn’t want to leave, a space that beautiful and comfortable. I wanted it to feel like home.

How does The Soft Space align with Mama Glow’s mission and values?

The Soft Space by Mama Glow is an extension of Mama Glow, just like the Doula Expo by Mama Glow (doulaexpo.com) or The Mama Glow Foundation (MamaGlowFoundation.org) are all brand extensions and part of our overall vision. It is a physical gathering space to bring our grater community together and also to allow us to expand our programming that continues to evolve and touch more and more people!

What unique offerings can visitors expect to experience at The Soft Space?

We host book signings, lectures and thought leadership, symposiums, retreats, blessing ways, product launches, pop-ups and so much more. We have hosted a few retreats, including a private wellness retreat for companies looking to create community building and team building for their staff. We have several brand partners booking the space out for product launches and events for press and influencers as well. Our shop features boutique wellness products from over 40 women and femme owned brands with a focus on Black and POC products. Our library nook features literary ancestors like Audre Lorde and Nora Neal Hurston. Our kitchen features an herbal apothecary full of medicinal plant allies, you can get an herbal tonic after your class and read a book on the couch in our library. We have hosted photo shoots and even shot video content. The

26 NewYorkFamily.com | May 2024

space is a great backdrop for content creators to film content so we are happy to welcome those folks into the space to have a gorgeous space to film their wellness, lifestyle, beauty or food related content.

How do you envision The Soft Space fostering community and wellness for the community?

It’s our intention to welcome like-minded brand partners, organizations, and individuals to host their life moments and experiential gatherings at the Soft Space. I am really excited for all of the incredible experts, authors, and thought leaders in wellness, women’s health, mental health, and beyond to join us and bring their programming to the Soft Space. We want to welcome folks exploring and navigating the reproductive health continuum for content, community, and support. We want to continue to nurture folks and center their mental health and bring them into a safe space where they can breathe deeply, have fellowship, and be at ease. We are a wellness destination and events space with soul!

How will The Soft Space support the physical and mental well-being of its visitors?

Guests are welcomed home in our front reception area, where they can remove their shoes and prepare for their experience in the space. Our shop features boutique wellness products from women and femme owned brands, with a focus on Black and POC products. Our kitchen features an herbal apothecary full of medicinal plant allies. We have a private treatment room is available for 1-on-1 client services like reiki, talk therapy, acupuncture, massage, etc. The Sanctuary features vaulted ceilings with skylights, and a landscaped window garden. The sanctuary seats 80 guests, so it’s great for any type of event and folks can convene in community in this space. It is so inviting! In addition to drop in programming we have a group mental health series we are launching in partnership with Kate Spade NY, who we work with to improve mental health outcomes for women. The space is providing a platform where folks can shut off their phones and just be present.

What types of programming are available at The Soft Space?

The programing is really special, we have everything from our professional doula training programs, to wellness and self-care programming like, Full Moon Sound Baths, Crystals for Fertility, Sacred Belly Dance, Womb Healing and more. What’s been really great is that a lot of brand partners have come to the space to activate, so we have hosted events with folks like Juliane Hough and KINRGY, CVS Aetna, where we hosted a retreat for their Women’s Health team, Nanit hosted a day long activation for parents. We are hosting a Retreat for Doulas and Caregivers, something we love to do most, is pour into our community. The space is really versatile and we look forward to bringing even more amazing offerings to the community as we head into the Summer months! Stay

tuned to our site and mailing list for program updates!

How do you envision The Soft Space contributing to the cultural and social fabric of Brooklyn?

I see the Soft Space being a community destination in Brooklyn. We are in Williamsburg which has been gentrified for a long time. I love that we are a Black-female led business that is conveniently located conveniently 1 block away from the Bedford Avenue L train station, the space is easily accessible to all. We are offering a soft place to land for everyone who is ready to embrace a new way of thinking about wellbeing. We focus on platforming BIPOC healing artists and wellness practitioners and welcoming. We are bringing innovative programing and curated experiences but also a space for folks to come celebrate their life events. BIPOC folks who often feel left out of wellness spaces. We have already developed some great partnerships with local businesses as well, we hope to continue to be a home for folks to experience the magic of Mama Glow.

Handles: @Glowmaven, @thesoftspace.bk @mamaglow

May 2024 | Bronx/.Riverdale Family 27
Photo by Yumi Matsuo

calendar

Bronx

Pop into Spring

when : Weekdays, 1:30 – 3 pm, Saturdays and Sundays, 11 am –3 pm, through May 17.

where : New York Botanical Garden, 2900 Southern Blvd., Belmont

ageS: 3-10

whaT: Explore the wonders of spring by learning about bees, flowers, and pollination and create a seed ball to grow Bee Balm—a pollinator-friendly plant for your neighborhood.

wanT To go?: Included with admission: $4-$35. (718) 817–8700, nybg.org

Superhero Skate Party

when : Saturday, May 4, 12 – 4 pm

where : Watson Gleason Playground, Watson Ave & Rosedale Ave., Soundview Bruckner

ageS: All

whaT: Kids are invited to come out dressed as their favorite superhero and enjoy an afternoon of music, dancing, and skating.

wanT To go?: Free. nycgovparks.org

bronx night Market

when : Saturday, May 4, 4 – 10 pm.

where : Bronx Night Market, 1 Fordham Plaza, Belmont

ageS: All

whaT: This iconic market features a remarkable lineup of 50 local vendors offering a diverse array of cuisines that will have you coming back for more.

wanT To go?: Free admission. maschospitalitygroup.com

family art Project: flowers for Mother’s Day

when : May 11-12, Saturday and Sunday, 10 am – 1 pm.

where : Wave Hill, 4900 Independence Ave., Riverdale

ageS: All

whaT: Send someone special your own loving message by creating a bouquet of paper flowers.

wanT To go?: Included with admission: $4-$10. wavehill.org

asian Pacific american heritage Month: nature calligraphy

when: Sunday, May 12, 1 – 2 pm

where : St. Mary’s Park, St Mary’s St. bet. St Ann’s Ave. and Jackson Ave., Mott Haven

ageS: All

whaT: Find out how nature influences the art of Chinese calligraphy and learn to write some words yourself.

wanT To go?: Free. nycgovparks.org

bronx week Parade & fair

when : Sunday, May 19, 10 am

where : Parade begins at 1

Fordham Plaza, Belmont

ageS: All

whaT: This annual event showcases local groups, talent and Bronx Pride with marching bands, cheerleaders, sports teams, youth groups, advocacy groups and the best of the Bronx.

wanT To go?: Free. bronxboropres.nyc.gov

geometric flowers family workshop

when : Saturday, May 25, 10 –11:30 am

where : Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum, 895 Shore Road, Pelham Bay Park

ageS: All

whaT: Learn how basic geometric shapes can be transformed into petals, leaves, and stems.

wanT To go?: $10. (718) 885–1461, bartowpellmansionmuseum.org

nyc Parks Present: family Day celebration

when : Friday, May 31, 3 – 6 pm

where : Castle Hill Playground, 1679 Castle Hill Ave., Pelham Parkway

ageS: All

whaT: Bring the family out for games, obstacle courses, sports, and much more.

wanT To go?: Free. nycgovparks.org

Manhattan

STeMusical rosie revere, engineer & friends live

when: Saturday, May 11, 11 am – 1 pm

where : BMCC Tribeca Performing Arts Center, 199 Chambers St. Tribeca

ageS: 4 – 10

whaT: This fun new musical is based on the books Rosie Revere, Engineer; Iggy Peck,

28 NewYorkFamily.com | May 2024
Make flowers for Mother’s day at Wave Hill’s family art project on May 11 and 12.

Architect; and Ada Twist

Scientist by Andrea Beaty, which spotlights the STEM curriculum.

wanT To go?: $40. tribecapac.org

Japan Parade

when : Saturday, May 11, 1 pm

where : Parade begins at W, 81st Street and Central Park West, Upper West Side

ageS: All

whaT: Celebrates the friendship between NYC and Japan with floats, music, performances, community leaders, and more.

wanT To go?: Free. japanparadenyc.org

18th annual Dance Parade

when : Saturday, May 18, 12 – 7 pm

where : Parade begins at 6th Ave. and 17th St., Greenwich Village

ageS: All

whaT: This annual celebration of dance boasts tens of thousands of dancers and spectators, more than 100 styles of dance and nearly 200 dance groups.

wanT To go?: Free. danceparade.org

fleet week

when : May 25-27, all day; Friday, May 24, 7 pm; Monday, May 27, 10 am.

where : The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, Pier 86, New York

ageS: All

whaT: Come out for musical performances, activities, and demos from the military, including the U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Coast Guard, Office of Naval Research and many more!

wanT To go?: Free. intrepidmuseum.org

Queen S

a Jazzy kid’s Swing-along with allegra levy & her all-Star big band!

when : Sunday, May 5, 4 – 5 pm

where : Culture Lab LIC, 5-25 46th Ave., Long Island City ageS: 8 and under whaT: Join Allegra Levy

and her all-star friendly big band for fun songs that cover everything from bedtime and bathtime to boogers and booboos!

wanT To go?: Tickets start at $25 per child and grownup. culturelablic.org

Sheep Shearing festival

when : Saturday, May 11, 11 am – 4 pm

where : Queens County Farm Museum, 73-50 Little Neck Pkwy., Glen Oaks

ageS: All

whaT: NYC’s only sheep shearing festival features farmer-led tours, sheep shearing demos, live music, hayrides, kids crafts, and a scavenger, and more.

wanT To go?: $15; $12 ages 3-11; free for ages 2 and younger. queensfarm.org

Queens international children’s festival

when : Saturday, May 18, noon – 5 pm

where : Jamaica Performing Arts Center, 153-10 Jamaica Ave., Jamaica

ageS: All

whaT: This fun-filled event brings families arts performances , craft activities, live music, dance performances, games, arts and crafts, and more!

wanT To go?: Free. jcal.org

Doktor kaboom: look out! Science is coming! when : Saturday, May 18, 3 pm where : Kupferberg Center for the Arts at Queens College, 153-49 Reeves Avenue, Flushing

ageS: All

whaT: Sporting chrome goggles, orange lab coat, and wicked cool hair, Doktor Kaboom travels the world, thrilling audiences with fascinating science and an explosive comedic style.

wanT To go?: $20. (718) 793–8080, kupferbergcenter. org

Brook Lyn

open Stages 2024

when : May 11, 3 – 7 pm

where : Brooklyn Conservatory of Music, 58 Seventh Ave., Park Slope ageS: All whaT: Stoops, schoolyards, parks and local cafes throughout Park Slope will host 150+ inspiring artists sure to amaze the whole family.

wanT To go?: Free. (718) 622–3300, bkcm.org

Sound & color! Spring festival

when : Saturday, May 18, 11 am – 5 pm

where : Pier 5 – Brooklyn Bridge Park, 334 Furman St., Downtown Brooklyn ageS: All

whaT: This celebration of colors, culture, spring and unity features live musical performances, food vendors, kids activities, kite-flying, and more.

wanT To go?: Free. brooklynbridgepark.org

May 2024 | Bronx/.Riverdale Family 29 MAY calendar
explore the wonders of spring at the new York Botanical Garden this month. Bartow-Pell Mansion hosts a Family Workshop on May 25.

What is BookTok?

and what parents need to know

BookTok, a niche community on TikTok focused on books and literature, has been gaining traction recently. Its reach has even expanded beyond the app: you can find displays in Barnes and Noble’s and other book stores dedicated to showcasing BookTok’s current favorites.

With over 29 million videos posted to the BookTok tag, more people than ever are getting book recommendations from TikTok, including plenty of young adult readers.

But there’s no real way of controlling what books get put on your child’s For You Page, and many of the most popular books on BookTok may not be suitable for young adult readers.

What do parents need to know about BookTok? And how involved should parents be in what their children are reading, especially as they get older?

We sat down with Dr. Erin O’Connor, chief of education for parenting platform Cooper, to talk about BookTok, how to find appropriate books, benefits kids of reading books of all kinds and more.

How the rising popularity of BookTok is impacting young adult readers

O’Connor says one of the best things about BookTok is that it’s getting teens and adolescents to read.

Reading helps teens and adolescents develop important emotional and cognitive skills. It allows kids to process more emotionally sophisticated content more easily than if they were accessing this content on the ever-moving world of social media, for example.

There are countless benefits that come with pleasure reading for teens and adolescents, so “there’s just a huge upside” in creating a space “where it’s cool to be discussing books and be engaging in these sorts of interactions,” O’Connor says.

While BookTok is beneficial because it’s getting teens and adolescents to read, it should still be approached with caution.

Like many other social media sites that teens and adolescents use, there’s not a lot of control

over what content is put in front of users. As a result, book recommendations from BookTok don’t have the chance to be vetted by parents.

“Some of these books have a lot of adult, mature themes around unhealthy relationships, violence, things like that, that are hard to judge outside of the context of reading,” O’Connor says.

How much should parents be involved in what their kids are reading

The degree of how much a parent should be involved with what their child is different for every family. But it can never hurt to have knowledge about what your child is choosing to read, especially for adolescents and young teens.

O’Connor recommends sites like Common Sense Media if you’re looking for a more researched opinion on what a book contains.

Or, you can get on BookTok yourself and see what’s out there.

“That’s a good way to just get a quick sort of understanding of what your young adult is seeing and what their interest is in a book,” O’Connor says.

It’s also important to remember that even when young adult readers start to gravitate towards more mature books, O’Connor says it’s “not always the content that we’re worried about that they’re interested in.”

“[Adolescence is] a challenging time in terms of friendships and identity and sexuality and all these things that children are often seeking information out about anyway,” O’Connor says.

When dealing with teenagers, give them some space and privacy about what they’re reading.

“If they seem to be enjoying the book and able to handle the content, you can talk to them

about some of the themes, but you don’t necessarily have to be reading along with them,” O’Connor says.

But for younger children, reading the same book at the same time as them can be a great way to start a conversation with them about themes they may be reading about.

O’Connor recommends being aware of series or books by the same author, where the maturity level and themes might “ramp up” as they go on. For example, maybe the first two books in a series are okay for your 13 year old to read, but you may suggest that they hold off on reading the next books until they’re 16.

While there may be temptation to shield children from more mature themes, remember that censoring what they read may not stop them from encountering them. “A lot of these themes and topics, they’re going to be seeing them on Youtube, TikTok, Instagram,” O’Connor says. “And reading is a good way to digest that material in a little bit more of a removed way.”

O’Connor says it’s important to, as a parent, encourage open communication and be ready to discuss these mature themes when teens and adolescents come across them.

There are many benefits of letting young readers read books of all kinds

O’Connor says reading a variety of books can help with empathy development, especially in teen and adolescent readers.

“I think it’s really the exposure to not only diverse voices in terms of the authors, but also diverse experiences in terms of the characters, and seeing and understanding the thought processes that they go through as they make decisions,” O’Connor says. “And thinking about yourself and how you make decisions can be very viable.”

30 NewYorkFamily.com | May 2024
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