My Dad's mom passed away last week. It wasn't necessarily unexpected and she lived a long and good life, but it was somewhat sudden. Gail and I decided it was a good idea for me to fly out all the way to the other coast with Ira to be with my dad during this time, but that it wasn't possible for our whole family to make a sudden cross-country trip. So here I am, spending about 5 days with my parents and with extended family, some of whom I haven't seen in years. It has been a sad but also in some ways a happy time, sharing memories and reconnecting, and there's something beautiful about having a baby here when we are marking life's passing.
But that's not really what I came here to write about. We decided Ira would come with me primarily due to feeding since I'm his primary (but not his only) milk supplier, and so that Gail would have some hope of both working and successfully holding down the home front without going completely batty. So, here I am, spending one week as Ira's primary parent.
At home, neither of us is a "primary" parent to our kids. Or rather, maybe it's more accurate to say that we are both primary parents, and we endeavor to structure our priorities, life and time to make this a reality. There have been times when this has set us apart from our parenting peers (in both good and sometimes uncomfortable ways), far more often than being a two-mom family.
So this week, for pretty much the first time in the over three years that I've been a mom, I'm living a little bit like "everyone else." I'm making all parenting decisions regarding Ira's feeding/sleeping/bathing/etc. I'm changing pretty much every diaper and all feedings are coming directly from my body. I'm up every night for every waking and feeding. This is not to say I don't have help. There is plenty of family around, and my parents love nothing more than spending time with Ira. They've both spent plenty of time both playing with him and soothing him, but it is just that, it is only "help."
I'm actually really enjoying parts of this experience. Ira is proving to be adaptable and good natured in pretty extreme circumstances. He seemed to think that our nearly 12 hour stint in various airports and airplanes to get here was just one big chance for him to make new friends. As I whisked through the subway and airports, successfully managing gear and baby, I enjoyed feeling kind of like super-mom. I'm enjoying the simplicity of feeding him without ever needing to pump. I love that all the complements about what a beautiful and delightful baby he is are coming straight to me (who wouldn't love that?). I'm somewhat surprised to find that I'm understanding a little about why other moms might not want to really share parenting. At least when parenting one good-natured 4 1/2 month old, who also happens to be my second child so I'm not a giant bundle of nerves, it's kind of nice to be the only "Mommy."
But as much as I'm loving parts of this experience, mostly I'm missing home. I'm missing Leigh with a physical ache, and am worried that this trip will lead to a rocky transition home. I'm missing Gail, which feels a little like missing the other half of my brain. I'm really really missing that sleep I get every other night at home (which is probably dropping my brainpower by another half). I also know that soon, babies become toddlers, and that I (in particular) need a true teammate for that. I also know what it's like to be away from your baby, since I took a conference trip when Leigh was this age, and so I'm sad for Gail, knowing she is missing him deeply while I'm having this time with him.
When I called home earlier today and got the machine that said "You've reached Gail, Lyn, Leigh and Ira" it almost made me cry. I love my family so much. I love our whole complete four-member family and am so glad that soon I'll be home, and we'll be all together again, even if that means Gail gets to take some credit for how fabulous Ira is, and that sometimes I have to pump.
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