The Eventual Family

cm057ph-marc-chagall_lovers-above-townA few weeks ago my husband and I took our first family vacation with our daughter Audrey, who had just turned 8 months old, in the Florida Keys. As I crawled into bed the first night, exhausted from an outing earlier that day, I thought, “We are finally beginning to feel like a family.” At 8 months into my daughter’s life this struck me as a very peculiar and uneasy thought.  

The birth of a child is accompanied by so much hope and anticipation that I think we sometimes lose sight of the fact that parenthood is born in the same moment. When my daughter entered the world, my husband and I were immediately thrust into new roles of mommy and daddy. In my head, these roles would effortlessly fit and feel natural because we had planned and wanted this to happen for so long. We wouldn’t be perfect at it, and it would be hard at times, but I was so sure our instincts would kick in and in an instant feel like a bonded unity. But that’s not what happened. (read more…)

A Hairy Situation

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My partner met my parents for the first time this November. The weekend of good-natured getting-to-know you conversations culminated with a night of take-out Chinese food dinner and scouring stacks of my baby photos. As we wrapped up, my dad asked: “You ready?” I nodded.

“Hey,” I said to my partner. “I’ll be back in 15 minutes. I have to go help my dad shave his back.” My partner’s eyes widened. My dad and I headed for the bathroom. (read more…)

Sorry, Baby, I Missed the Memo!

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One by one, my friends are becoming parents. There is a certain logic to this: we are in our early/mid 30’s, and it follows a few years of annually attending more weddings than I can count on one hand. But there is also something quite shocking to me about how universal it seems, like they are all reacting to cues given from off-stage that I cannot hear.

How are they all so coordinated, did I miss the memo? Maybe there was a letter that I should have received on my 30th birthday telling me that I should be preparing for parenthood with a sequence of events: wedding, home, stopping birth control, followed by labor and then 2am feedings. I imagine this memo must have hit a practical tone, with enough inspiration that everyone reading it saw a realistic, but exciting possibility and was eager to start down this prescribed path.

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I’m an Adult Child

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My mom has a tendency to do things for me, even though I’ve told her not to, that often drive me crazy.  Every time I visit her, my trip starts out in the same way. I call her, and before I discuss plans,  she asks what I eat for breakfast.

  • Me: Don’t worry about it, Mom. I’ll pick something up when I get there. I probably won’t eat at home much.
  • Mom: Well, I’ll just make sure we have some bagels. No, I forgot. Gluten-free bread!
  • Me: Really Mom, you don’t need to get anything.
  • Mom:  Yogurt?

I agree to yogurt. When I arrive, she insists on leaving me money for anything else I need. I know that providing for me while I’m home again (she still lives in the apartment I grew up in) is her way of expressing her love and affection. And she knows that I won’t use the household money and find the idea infantilizing. But I no longer point this out. I just say, “Thanks Mom,” and kiss her on the cheek. (read more…)

Milkies

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He wakes up crying from nap. He didn’t sleep long enough. Will he go back to sleep? Not this time. I wait 5, 10, 15 minutes. Still upset. I go in. “Mama up,” he says, big wet tears on his face. “Do you want mama to rock you?” “Yeah.” “Do you want milkies?” “Yeah.” Slowly, his breathing calms, his tears dry. We stay like this, locked together for a while in the dark, glints of sunlight arrogantly streaming through the blackout curtain. And just like that, my happy guy is back, ready to play.

I never set out to be an “extended breastfeeder.” I never thought I would be that type of mom. That was for moms who bake gluten-free zucchini muffins from scratch, not me who picks up donut holes from Krispy Kreme in Penn Station. Before I got pregnant, I remember thinking I definitely wanted to breastfeed, probably for about a year. That’s what my mom did with both me and my sister in the 80s, so I figured that’s what I would shoot for too. When my son, Walter, was born 20 months ago, my milk came in quickly and heavily. I realize in another era, I could have been hired as a wet nurse to a village and I would have enjoyed the work, too. I was blessed with a baby that took to the breast easily and that I was able to nurse with little to no discomfort. I also became a woman with a giant rack. I remember wearing nursing bras in a size J/K. J/K! Which should stand for Just Kidding! Boobs should never be that big. (read more…)