Friday, September 2, 2011

Work: 1, Life: 2, Balance: 0

Written last week on a flight to Chicago for a work trip.

I am 30,000 feet away from Amalia, and I am feeling every inch.

It has been almost three months since I last posted something, coinciding, almost to the day, with when I went back to work. My three-month hiatus from blogging has more to do with the lack of balance associated with work-life balance, but it also has something to do with the fact that when I first went back to work, I didn’t want to write about the anger and resentment I felt for fear that I wouldn’t put it into the right words.

But in just three short months, I have gained perspective. Ha! If only. Well, I've gained some, anyway.

Here is what it was like to go back to work: it was terrible. I missed Mollie fiercely, passionately, with my whole heart. I resented the fact that I was sitting at a desk while she was home. I counted down the hours I spent at the office or in meetings, and I felt so dispassionate about my work that I wondered whether it was really what I wanted to be doing. I hated pumping. Not only did it take an hour out of my day, it was an ounce-by-ounce reminder of both my physical separation and the fact that I was falling short of what Mollie needed (to eat), which made me feel like I was falling short of what Mollie needed (in general).

And here is what it is like to be back at work now: it is slightly less terrible. I miss Mollie fiercely and passionately and I resent the fact that I don’t get to spend my days with her, resent the fact that I only get a harried hour with her in the morning in between pumping, making bottles, and making myself presentable for my day, and then an action-packed hour with her at night, nestled among bathtime, nursing, bottle-cleaning, dinner-making (ours) and mealtime (hers). Pumping remains an ounce-by-ounce reminder of my physical separation, but because of a lot of research and a come-to-Jesus moment with Enfamil, I no longer feel like I’m falling short of Mollie’s needs.

And something strange has happened in the past two weeks. Lo and behold, as many a wise working-woman told me would happen, I have found that I don’t hate my job. In fact, there are days when I love it, love the fact that I spend my time affecting social change, working to make the world a more livable one, love the fact that I get to feel like a role model to this person who will someday become a teenager and hate me. My days are busy, busier than they ever were before (cue the “what did I do with all of my time before I had kids” song) and yet I manage to get more and less done. Every minute counts now, for better (I can write more emails in 20 minutes than I ever realized) and for worse (I feel tethered to the clock, I know exactly how much I can and can’t get done in any given 10-minute span of time, my days are planned to the minute).

And yet I still hate the fact of working. Rather, I hate the fact that I spent so much time and money getting to this point in my career, only to have a baby and wish that I could lead two lives – the one where I’m home with her, and the one where I’m making the world a better place while picking up a (small but critical) paycheck. Put more directly, I am a mother now.

I have no doubt that not working is just as hard as working, much like I am now certain that formula-feeding leaves parents just as crazed as breastfeeding, and sleep-training is just as exhausting as not sleep-training. Like everything else in life and in parenting (particularly first-time parenting), the decisions are hard, there’s merit on both sides of the spectrum, and the right thing for one parent is the wrong thing for another.

In the last three months, our little scrawny chicken has gotten fat. She has knee dimples, elbow dimples, and three round chins. She sits on her own, puts everything in her mouth, eats pears with gusto. She talks more when she’s around people she knows, she shrieks and squawks and kicks her legs when she’s excited. She will be six months old in just a week. It is amazing what six months can bring. Also, teeth.

I am 30,000 feet and several hundred miles away from her and I can conjure her sweet baby smell in my nose, and feel her cheek give under my lips as I kiss her in my mind’s eye. I am on my first work-trip, resenting the distance and grateful, so incredibly and unbelievably grateful for my two great loves at home.

I will be home again in 36 hours. And I will already resent Monday the very moment I pick Mollie up to feed her in the early hours of Saturday morning. In between then and now, I will meet the next generation of organizers, of world-changers, of people who work for a small but critical paycheck. Just like every day, the moment I hold her in my arms will be the sweetest homecoming I have ever known.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

More of a Turkey than a Chicken

For the past 12 weeks and 4 days, I have been a stay-at-home-mom. On Monday, my time at home with Mollie comes to an end and I will be back at work.

These are the cliches I am wrestling with: It is hard for me to believe how quickly the time passed, it is hard to imagine myself working in any other capacity than the job I have taken on here at home, it is amazing how different Mollie is now than she was when we first brought her home from the hospital, the thought of going back to work and being separated from her for an entire day fills me with such despair that I am fairly certain that I will have no cuticles left come Monday morning. I am also filled with such other adjectives as fear (about whether Mollie will forget me/hate me/miss me), hatred (for having to work), jealousy (of those who don't have to work), nervousness (about whether or not I really remember how to do my job), and apathy (about the work itself).

Here is a new truth that I didn't know I would come to: if I could quit my job and stay at home with Mollie, I would do it in a heartbeat. Work seems more trivial than I could have possibly imagined.


The year was 1989 and I was getting ready to go to someone's record hop. For those of you who were not a Jewish teenager in the late 80's or early 90's, a record hop was one way a very rich Jewish kid could celebrate their Bar or Bat Mitzvah. Those fortunate kids had two parties -- one fancy party for the grown-ups where a few of their Jewish friends were invited, and one "just kids" party where most of the 7th or 8th grade was invited. While a record hop was good in theory (twice as many presents for the lucky 13-year-old, plus the parents got to have the celebration that they wanted for all of their money) it also meant enduring the awkwardness that accompanies every dance where not-quite-teenagers are forced to co-mingle.

Suffice it to say, it took me about an hour to get ready for the party. I had picked out the perfect outfit, which will sound ridiculous over here in 2011, but I'm going to give it a shot because it is important to our story. It was a predominantly purple tie-dyed babydoll dress, under which I wore a pair of black bike shorts. I wore it with enormous "scrunchy" socks, and what we called "Chinese slippers" at the time, but which are essentially black canvass Mary Janes. I carefully did my hair, securing it into a half-up-half-down 'do with a black scrunchie, and applied the mascara and lip gloss that my mom let me wear to Bar/Bat Mitzvahs.

I came downstairs feeling pretty great, just about confident enough to ask Keith Delaney to dance after a Shirley Temple and some chicken fingers. It was critical that I ask Keith to dance at this party because I suspected that he liked me. He had been snapping my bra strap in science class for weeks, a sure sign of interest, but he hadn't said anything. I figured that the bra snapping was his way of putting the ball in my court. I was determined to run with it.

"I'm ready to go," I told my mom.

"Honey, you need to lose those socks," she responded as she picked up her keys.

Lose the socks? Was she out of her mind? The socks were critical. The socks MADE the outfit. The socks helped to establish me as an almost-cool kid. Without the socks I was just a loser in a babydoll dress, pining after Keith Delaney.

"But the socks are cool!," I protested.

"No, the socks look ridiculous."

"I'm not taking off the socks."

"Then I'm not taking you to the party."

And on it went. I'm not sure why the socks were so important to her. I don't know why she didn't believe me. But we both held firm. Finally, in the car, moments before we pulled into the parking lot for the party, I took off my socks. I held them out to her with tears in my eyes.

"There," she said. "You look perfect now. Have fun!"

I said nothing as I got out of the car, not even looking at her as I walked inside.

The party sucked. Keith didn't come and there were no Shirley Temples. Midway through it I started to feel really sick, and by the time my mom came to pick me up, I knew that I had a fever.

I sat down at the kitchen table with the thermometer in my mouth, feeling like I could fall asleep right there in my dad's dinner seat.

"Honey, I'm sorry," my mom said as she smoothed her hand across my forehead. I assumed that she was sorry that I was sick, but she continued. "You were right about the socks. I saw all the other girls walking in and they all had socks on. I'm sorry I made you take them off. I should have listened to you when you told me that they were cool."

I nodded and headed off to bed. I remember that the illness turned into some of the worst bronchitis that I had ever head, that I missed a week of school, and that by the time I got back, Keith was dating someone else, only rarely snapping my bra, and even then it seemed like it was just for sport.

I don't know why this memory has been so vivid for me these days, but I can't stop thinking about it. I have thought about it over the years because it was so shocking. It was the first time my mother apologized to me like I was an adult, worthy of a real apology. But now I am thinking about it from her perspective. She must have felt really bad for making get rid of those socks, knowing how much I wanted to be one of the cool kids, despite also knowing what losers the cool kids would ultimately turn out to be. I wonder if she decided to apologize to me, or if she just blurted it out because she felt so sad that I was also sick.


A million times a day, I think about the ways that I will need to apologize to Mollie, about how sorry I already am for the ways that I am already hurting her.

I'm sorry I have to work. I'm sorry I can't buy you the fancy clothes. I'm sorry that kids are mean. I'm sorry we can't take a trip to Disney World. I'm sorry I didn't listen to you.

A million times a day, I think about things that I want for Mollie's future.

I want you to be carefree. I want you to be above the popularity contest. I want you to trust yourself. I want you feel safe and secure. I want you to know that I am always listening, that no matter where I am, I love you. I want Middle School to be easier.


She smiles with purpose now, squeals with conviction. She rolls onto her side, talks to herself, tracks her mobile. She knows her mother, her father, her Julie, her Stephen. She is not a fan of long car rides but she is comforted by her pacifier. She tolerates her bath and she enjoys being on her tummy.

She is suddenly a baby and not a newborn, more of a turkey than a chicken, so grown up and so little at the same time, probably the way that I will always see her. I am leaving her to do her growing, her thinking, her learning, her changing, all without me there to watch it.


Move at your own pace, little one. I may be a step or two behind you and it might take longer than you would like for me to catch up, to catch on. But know that no matter what, no matter where I am, I am always behind you.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Of Roots and Wings

I wrote this as an email to Mollie today, but because it is practically the only thing I have been thinking about for the past week, I decided to share it here.

Dear, sweet Mollie,

Last week we started transitioning you from the bassinet in our room to the crib in your room. You had been giving us signs that you were ready for this, sleeping better when we weren't in the room with you, kicking your swaddled little feet at the bassinet bumper, whinnying like a little barnyard animal as you slept. So we bought a monitor and braced ourselves for the possibility of a difficult transition, knowing all the while that it was the best decision for all of us.

The transition has turned out to be much harder on me than on you. You sleep beautifully now, from somewhere around 11:30pm until sometime close to 4:30am, at which point you nurse and go right back to sleep. You turn yourself around in your crib, doing unseen acrobatics in your sleep that land you perpendicular from the place where I put you down. You still whinny like a little foal or piglet, but you do it to yourself. And sometimes when I come to get you after I have heard you chirping for a few minutes in the morning, you are staring at your mobile of angry birds, happy as a clam even with a heavy, wet diaper.

I spent the past week looking over at your empty bassinet, steeling myself for the day when you eventually go to summer camp. Or worse, college. I liked the weeks that we spent sleeping in one room, treasured the knowledge that I was drifting into sleep closest to my two favorite people in the whole world -- you and your dad. I felt cozy and safe, the two of you within arm's reach.

But now it's time for the first real separation. As your dad took your bassinet downstairs yesterday, where it will wait for a new baby cousin to be ready to use, I had to suppress the urge to tell him to "wait!, stop!, I'm not quite ready for this." Because you are ready, little one. You are ready to sleep your own sleep, to be more than an arm's reach away from me, to find your own space in your sweet little room. And so I will hold myself back. I will let you find your way. I will cross the short distance between our room and your room, comforting myself that I am no more than a squawk away from you when you need me, when I need you.

I think that you will teach me this lesson over and over again, and that it will always be hard for me. Those roots that your father and I give you are always to be counterbalanced by the wings that you grow on your own. Every time you take flight, I will have to suppress the urge to pull you back to me, to hold you close to my heart and to the earth, just to save myself the pain of letting you go. I promise to do my best to let you fly, little one. It is a big world, and it is all yours.

You are chirping right now, so I will go to you. I will pick you up and cuddle you, nurse you and make you comfortable. I will kiss you and rock you and snuggle you back to sleep. I will remember that the freedom to love another person, even one of your own creation, is a privilege.
I love you with all of my heart.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Another Sunday in May

For seventeen years, Mother’s Day has been a day for someone else. A day for people with mothers, a day for mothers. And then there it was, mine for the taking, complete with brunch and flowers and cards and Matt and my beautiful little girl. And I felt… sad.

Growing up, Mother’s Day was more or less just a Sunday with dessert. It was usually one of the first days that it was warm enough to grill, so we would invite my grandmothers over for a barbecue. They would get cards and big baskets of hanging flowers and my mom would get something nice from her mother (perfume, a pretty nightgown, a nice sweater) and something strange or passive aggressive from my dad’s (sponges, a book on how to be a good mother, salt and pepper shakers). I enjoyed the day because I was oblivious to the tension between my mom and her mother-in-law, because I loved my grandmothers in a totally unencumbered way, and because there was dessert.

Fast forward to Mother’s Day, 1991. I was 12 and Andy was coming home from college to have dinner with us, making me giddy with excitement about the chance to see him. He walked in the door with a huge bouquet of flowers, which he handed to my mom and then burst into tears. This naturally scared the crap out of me, because I’d never seen Andy cry, not even when he was stung by a swarm of bees in our back yard.

That was the Mother’s Day that I learned that my mom had breast cancer. I took it like a champ because they made it seem like some people get colds, some people get ear infections, and other people get cancer. Suspicious of Andy’s tears, I pressed them on whether mom would be better by my Bat Mitzvah, and I was assured that of course she would.

And then Mother’s Day, 1994. The first Mother’s Day after my mom died. I had just lost my mom, I was 15, I weighed approximately 93 pounds sopping wet, and so I did the most logical, teenage thing I could do: I hated. I hated Hallmark, candy, and barbecues, I hated my friends with mothers, and I hated mothers. Except that I was only 15, so I cried myself to sleep that night and spent the next morning cutting my classes, smoking cigarettes on the black top, and feeling sullen and sad.

I mostly grew out of the hate, attending the breast cancer walk in Philadelphia and later in Pittsburgh, even though getting up to volunteer for a walk at 7:30am as a college student was a sort of masochistic torture. When I got married I abdicated responsibility for Mother’s Day, even as I reminded Matt that hey, you have to call your mom. Once, in law school, I sent “The Secret Life of Bees,” a book that’s essentially about the mothers that aren’t related to us, to a few of the women who mothered me through those hate years. And when Matt’s brother got married, my sister-in-law took over Mother’s Day duties, sending an email a few days before with, “I was thinking flowers for Char” or “how about an Amazon gift card this year?” and I felt so grateful for Amanda’s ability to just walk over, look at my pain and say, “I’ll pick that up for you honey, don’t you worry your pretty little head about it.” I handed it over willingly, every time.

And then there was last year, the mother of all Mother’s Days, when I didn’t have a mother, I had just had a miscarriage, and I wasn’t yet pregnant. I don’t need to dwell on it much more than this: it was awful, hate turned into resentment.

I don’t know what I expected this year. I half-expected to “take back the day,” to feel like this day that has held so much emotion for me over the years would once again be simple, or even feel like any other day. But Hallmark is pervasive, and so are my emotions. So I didn’t get to have a personal mommy-ist triumph, nor did it feel like just another day in the life of our 64-day-old daughter.

Instead, I just missed my mother. A lot. I missed her more than I missed her the day that Mollie was born. I missed her more than when Martha was here, pinch-hitting on the mother AND mother-in-law roles. I missed her more than I do when I’m sitting quietly in Mollie’s room with Julie, more than I do in those moments when Mollie looks at me with her intense stare, more than when I’m reading her “Where the Wild Things Are” or when we walk around the Chestnut Hill Reservoir. I didn’t want the barbecue or the hanging pots of flowers, and I certainly didn’t want the awkward family drama, but I wanted the chance to have a conversation with my mother, to see her on a Sunday, maybe share some dessert.

I spent so many years hating the day, resenting what everyone else got to celebrate, that over time the day turned into both more and less than it was meant to be.

Mollie is asleep on me as I’m writing this, sucking on her pacifier every few seconds to comfort herself. She literally has everything she needs within inches and she is calm, comforted. I hope that I am there on her first Mother’s Day, to tell her how amazing it is to see her all grown up and mothering. I hope that after her years of hating and resentment over whatever or whomever she needs to hate and resent, that I can be there for her, that we can have a conversation and some dessert.

I am learning that it is the little things that add up to a Mother’s Day, the small moments and Sundays that make up part of a year, part of the role. Yet I don’t want to miss a single one, and the saddest thing of all is that if I had to hazard a guess, my mother would have said the very same thing.

So for now, this will have to do: wherever you are, Happy Mother’s Day. You are with me in the quiet moments and in the loud ones, and so you never really miss a thing. I will eat dessert for both of us.

Monday, May 2, 2011

One Fart at a Time

I stare at Mollie in the early morning light on a Saturday. She is amazing. Her cheeks, begging to be kissed, are relaxed in her milk-drunk state. She inhales and exhales her sweet breath out of her slightly open mouth and I lean in to hear her breathing, to feel her breathing, to smell her delicious baby smells. Her eyes are closed and she sleeps so peacefully and I am so in love with her that I ache, and I literally have to remind myself that she is the same little person who screamed for three hours the night before. But in that moment, in the early pre-dawn moment, I don't care about her screaming. I don't mind that I can't think clearly, can't remember simple things, and occasionally forget that the milk lives in the refrigerator. She is so perfect that she is my only care, my only concern, and I am so grateful for her existence.

"Eight weeks ago we watched our first sunrise over Boston together," I tell her, marking the fact that she has been in our lives for 56 days. I tell her this every Saturday, willing myself to hold on to the feeling of that morning, even as it fades from my memory, even as I can literally feel it fixing itself in my memory like a photograph of someone else's life, now replaced by new Saturday mornings.

And then she farts.

She startles herself awake, kicks her little feet inside her swaddle blanket (baby straight-jacket), and squawks, sounding part piglet, part rooster. I laugh at her, kiss those irresistible cheeks, and think, "so this is how you learn to be a parent: one fart at a time."

Two Thursdays ago she cried inconsolably for four straight hours. Last Monday, Matt and I spent 20 minutes in our pediatrician's waiting room only to find out that Mollie had terrible diaper rash and was in desperate need of nothing more than frequent diaper changes and a massive tub of Desitin. I have stopped eating eggs. Every other day she has a projectile spit-up that lands on the floor, and there are splats in the kitchen, in our bedroom, in the nursery. Two Sundays in a row we have found ourselves out with friends but not spending time with them because we are rocking, rocking, rocking our daughter and trying to magic her back to calm. Our apartment overflows with baby things -- a boppy, a swing, a bouncy seat, a giant yoga ball. We have most of our conversations while moving, up and down on the yoga ball, side to side as we sway her. I find burp cloths in our bed, in my sock drawer, draped across my shoulder as I am ready to walk out the door.

It still amazes me how much my life has changed in two months. It amazes me even though I felt like I was truly prepared for my life to change, for the burp cloths and the baby things. I saw my friends become parents, saw the many ways that babies change you, laughed when well-meaning acquaintances posited that they would have more time for things like the gym when home on paternity leave. I knew that the waves of parenting would just keep coming.

BUT. But, wow. I was prepared for the change, but I wasn't prepared for how stunning it would be, for how different I would feel because of it. I now really think that you can't anticipate all of the madness/chaos/amazement/insert-strong-adjective-here of parenting until you actually become a parent. No matter how prepared you feel (or are), no matter how many babies your friends have had, no matter how desperate you are for a baby, no matter how many books or blogs you have read. This is the wildest, most intense, most exhausting, most amazingly terrifying experience I have ever had. I couldn't possibly have readied myself for it. I couldn't have possibly known the depths of my love, but also my self-doubt, my uncertainty, my inability to make a decision for the very real fear that I am taking us down the wrong path.

I have always questioned everything. Now I question it twice, consult the internet, call another mother, ask a friend for a second opinion, and discuss it with Matt ad nauseum, all before making a final decision.

And then she farts. Which makes me laugh out loud and forces me to calm down, trust myself, go with my gut.

She doesn't need much. She needs to be changed, fed, and burped. She needs to be kept warm enough and cool enough. She needs vaccines and pacifiers. But perhaps most of all, she needs to be loved, and cuddled, and rocked. She needs to be able to fall asleep, milk-drunk and full, and fart herself awake, trusting that someone will be there to laugh at her, change her diaper, kiss her delicious cheeks. And thanks to her, I can do those things in my sleep.

mollie and mommy

Friday, April 15, 2011

There is no such thing as an A+ in parenting

Six weeks ago today, I cancelled a conference call that I was supposed to have at 2:30pm because I knew that I wouldn’t be able to speak through the contractions. 17 hours later, Amalia came screaming into the world.

As with all of the other milestones (one week, 2 weeks, 4 weeks) I can’t believe that time has moved so quickly. I can’t believe that she has been here for 6 weeks, I can’t believe that I only have another 6 weeks of maternity leave. I can’t believe that in another 6 weeks, she’ll be 12 weeks old. Parenting math is much harder than pregnancy math (a math story for another day).

There have been so many times in the past few weeks that I have wanted to pick up my computer to write down what I have been thinking about. And for some reason, I just haven’t been able to do it. People have been cutting me slack, assuming that it’s exhaustion that’s getting in my way. But that’s not it. I mean, I am exhausted, but that’s not what has kept me from writing. It’s the sheer enormity of it all, the fact that wrapping my head around this most recent life change is basically just as overwhelming as actually experiencing it.

It has been an up and down week. Last weekend went by too quickly. I had too little time with Matt and by Sunday at 11am, I was already missing him, even though there were still many hours until he had to be at work on Monday. On Monday I cried in Cris’s living room, trying as hard as I could to soak up every parental-advice tidbit she could give me, feeling grateful, so incredibly grateful when she would say things like, “I remember feeling that way,” but simultaneously feeling so doubtful of my ability to make it as a parent. But today I am feeling alright, confident in my ability to wear Mollie to the grocery store in a sling, certain that I will be able to pull off a Passover Seder six weeks after I had a baby.

I have come to the conclusion that I am trying to get my PhD in parenting right now. I am in the lab/classroom years. It is my job to repeat the experiment until I have something I can publish, something I can hold up in front of my committee and say, “look, this works!”

An ideal day goes like this: Mollie sleeps for a 5-hour stretch, eats and goes back down at 4:30 and sleeps until 7:30, she has a lovely day involving minimal spit-up or wardrobe changes (for either one of us), she smiles affectionately at the ceiling fan and enjoys her tummy time, and I manage to shower, eat three meals, drink enough water, tackle some of the laundry, and pump 4.5 ounces. We have had bits and pieces of the ideal day. She will sleep for 5 hours one night and spend that entire day gassy and uncomfortable, producing such a massive spit up that it bypasses the burp cloth and lands squarely on her father’s (clean) pants, dripping onto the floor. I will manage to eat enough food and pump, but she will be miserable every time I put her down for even a second. Or she will take good naps, eat without problems, but I somehow haven’t managed to shower, eat, or drink any water until Matt comes home at 6pm.

So every day, I go to my lab and try to re-create the pieces of the day before that worked, and then tweak the things that didn’t work to see if I can get them to work again.

I keep copious mental notes, reminding myself of when she ate, how much she ate, when she pooped, how much she pooped, whether I wore my hair up or down, whether I had three burp cloths or two, whether I burped her during or after she nursed. Of course, I can only hold on to these notes for approximately 3 seconds before I have forgotten everything I was supposed to remember. This means that my life is less like a controlled experiment, and more like a chaotic stab in the dark. I will never get a PhD this way. I will never produce publishable results. I will be ABD forever.

So the new trick is working to become okay with this chaos. It is a very difficult trick. I am filled to the brim with self-doubt, a cliché of a new mother, constantly worrying myself over questions like, “has she had enough to eat?,” “do I make enough milk?,” “how much spit-up is too much spit-up?,” “does she like me?,” “if she hasn’t smiled by exactly 6 weeks, is she developmentally delayed?” I know that these questions are cliché, because when I start to type in “how much spit-up” into Google, it smartly finishes my question with, “is too much spit-up?” Clearly, I am not the only one in a parenting lab. Oddly, this is of little comfort when it comes from strangers on the internet. When other mothers, experienced or inexperienced, ask the same questions, then I feel comforted, elated to know that I am not alone here, not the only one blowing up her lab space.

I am sickened by the thought of going back to work, of leaving Amalia in the care of strangers. Not because I think that I can do it better (see above), but because I cannot bear the thought of being apart from her all day for three whole days a week, cannot bear the fact that someone else will get to hold her, cuddle her, comfort her. I do not mind nursing her at 3am because I love being the only person in the world who sees her beautiful face at 3am. Sharing her with anyone other than Matt is difficult for me, even though I have no idea what I am doing, even though she sometimes cries so hard that she turns red and her lip quivers. I want to be the one to stop the quivering lip, to be there to kiss her delicious cheeks, to wipe away the tiny little tears that pool in the corners of her eyes. This time, there is a conclusive result: I cannot always help her, sometimes I need help. Both of those realities are intensely, emotionally trying. It must be painful to watch me struggle with it.

This afternoon I went to see a lactation consultant, one of the myriad of people whose jobs absolutely baffle me. They are like magicians, pulling breastfeeding tidbits out of a hat just when you least expect it. In the middle of the consult, Beth had Amalia on her lap and had just finished weighing her. Mollie started to cry, which was reasonable given that she was both naked and hungry. Without thinking, I leaned in and started talking to her. “It’s okay sweetpea, you’ll eat soon, I know you’re hungry and I can’t wait to feed you.” Mollie stopped crying, turned her head towards me and opened her mouth in that perfect little “o” that makes my heart stop. And Beth said, “that’s right sweetheart, that’s your mommy,” and handed her over to me. Time stood still for just the briefest of moments, and this is what I learned:

I will always be working towards my doctorate in parenting, always trying to create the ideal day, the day that works and flows just like I want it to. But what I really need to learn is to recognize the moments, good and bad, that are totally out of my control. In other words, I need to simply relax and let time stand still when my well-fed, perfectly developmentally appropriate, beautiful daughter hears the sound of my voice and feels calmed. Really, that is all the affirmation I need.


Saturday, April 9, 2011

Exhaustion in Three Parts

Part 1:
I wake up to the sound of the baby crying at 4:26am and think, "when did we get a cat, and who is murdering it?"

Part 2:
I step out of the shower only to realize that I forgot to wash the conditioner out of my hair. I step back in and turn on the water...with my towel on. As I loudly curse because I'm getting my towel all wet, I dunk my head under the water and curse again because in my haste not to get my towel wet, I have forgotten to turn the knob to "hot" and am standing half-naked, half-toweled under a freezing cold spray, conditioner running down my face.

Part 3:
When the baby is fussy at 5pm, I think to myself, "only 3.5 more hours until my bedtime." At 11:34pm, when she is finally settling down from her nighttime fuss and thinking about sleeping somewhere other than my arms, I think, "please little one, please go to sleep, it's the middle of the night." And then I remember that once upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away, my nights used to start at 10:30.