A chilly Saturday in South Florida

It dropped down into the 40s this morning! Brrr….

First we bundled Finn up and went for a walk along the lake, and then later in the afternoon, Finn and I engaged in some “tree-gazing” together. Well — I gazed at him, while he gazed at the blowing leaves, golden from the sunlight behind them…

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Finn goes to school

He may be only about 4 months old, but Finn and I “do lunch” every day at work. I’m so fortunate that my mother-in-law and sister are willing to bring him to the school when they’re caring for him. I can’t imagine making it through five full days a week without my “Finn Fix.” Here we are together at my desk before lunch:

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A new kind of lazy weekend…

In our pre-Finn days, weekends gave us an opportunity to sleep in, lounge around, and socialize with friends and family. Time to relax, reboot, reenergize. On weekends when we had too much grading to do, we felt dehumanized without any of “our own” time.

Everyone’s always warned us that our lazy weekends would be a thing of the past if we had a baby. Nobody likes an unvarying 5 or 6 am wake-up call, right? Well, it’s strange, but now, I actually do. When Finn starts making his morning noises, I can’t wait to meet his eyes and take part in our continually evolving conversation. Even after his “breakfast” and our morning rituals, so much of the day remains, and the fact that Keith and I have so many hours to enjoy him together makes Saturday seem like a special holiday. Yesterday, we spent much of the afternoon outside, walking along the lake in the sunny, 72 degree weather. Finn stared at the sparkling surface of the water, the branches of trees waving overhead, the vivid bougainvillea, the caterpillars peppering the milkweed plants in the garden. Within the next two weekends, we’ll get to point out their delicate green and gold cocoons, and then, finally, the Monarch butterflies they’ll become. One day we’ll be able to teach him about the process itself: how amazing it is that such a complete transformation can occur in such a short period of time.

 

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Working Mother

I never thought I would ever regret my decision to go back to work this year, but that was before I’d actually met Finn. This past week I drove away from our home — and from him — in tears. That which had seemed so complex before suddenly seemed so simple: I was deserting my son. For over six hours, I would not be able to nourish him, rock with him, comfort him, sing to him, dance with him, walk with him, read to him, play with him, smile at him, laugh with him. I would not touch his square, little toes or the “Finn-folds” in his chubby legs. And I would not cry with him, either, for while he cried on the shoulder of my sister or mother-in-law, I snuck out the door in shame and cried behind the wheel of my car.

The hours passed, and I called home in between classes, pumped milk in a dark and lonely room, and left my desk a mess to race home as soon as I could. I pounded carelessly over the speedbumps in my neighborhood while my heart pounded inside my chest. When I walked in, all was, of course, fine. He smiled at me with joy but no surprise, as if I had just returned from the other room. Had he even noticed how long I was gone?

I had — and it was not time I could get back.

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Finn at 14 weeks

Two steps forward…

Although Keith and I try to avoid cliches, one he’s been repeating to me ever since Finn’s first week out of the womb is “two steps forward, one step back.” It’s advice delivered often when I’m close to tears over some new worry that has arisen just after another has been tended to and set to rest. An ongoing concern has been breastfeeding and the associated complications that I’ve slowly but surely dealt with: Will it always be this messy? Will bottle-feeding cause confusion? Can I eat THAT or THAT or THAT? Is this quick glass of wine okay? Is my milk okay? Will I be able to keep this up when I go back to work? Will I ever feel comfortable breastfeeding when we’re out and about?

I was so proud of myself when I finally addressed the last question while attending the Las Olas art festival with family last weekend. I stepped away from the flow of people, past a row of trees, and behind a cement barrier that separated the booth-lined street from a deserted sidewalk. I sat on the cement in front of a closed storefront window and asked Keith to block me in case someone happened to pass through. Then I draped a light, muslin blanket over my breast. All was good in the universe. The area was mostly free of traffic. A mother and her kids crossed in front of us and smiled. “Good spot,” she said. A couple engaging in conversation walked by without even noticing us. Then, suddenly, our suburban “mother and child” image fell to pieces. An older man whisked past and shouted “DISGUSTING!” I felt a rush of confusion, shock, anger, and, yes, shame — despite the fact that this was obviously his problem, not mine. Still, he found me and my discreet act of feeding my 12-week-old child so repulsive. How could this be? How? Everything suddenly seemed so wrong.

But then all I had to do was refocus on what was in front of me, and all was right again: