Category Archives: Partnership

A gift of a different kind

I did finally make it out the door, laden, as usual with pumping equipment & snacks.


The morning started promisingly. I woke up just before my alarm & successfully snuck out of bed without waking the baby. 

For a second, as I descended the stairs to the kitchen, I thought to myself, “How great! I’ll get ready in no time, nurse the baby upon her waking, & be out the door early!” 

But it’s not every morning that I wake without the baby. 

My actual instinct upon entering the quiet kitchen was to tidy up. It’s the kind of productivity that’s impossible with a one-year-old on your hip or under foot. For example: an open dishwasher that invites climbing rather than emptying dishes. 

So I did what any sane working parent would do. Rather than get ready for work, I put away the clean dishes. 

Having accomplished that task & still no sign of small humans being awake, I made myself a well-deserved pot of coffee. I sat down with my steaming mug of coffee and a magazine. And I savored it all. The quiet, especially. (Incidentally, I read the new Harper’s & Seyward Darby’s new article, “The Rise of the Valkyries“, which is terrifying for any woman who has read Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale.)

A morning like this is a gift, and a rare one at that. 

Eventually, I gathered my things & actually started to prepare to leave for the day. Of course, at that point the baby was awake & on my lap as I tried to nurse, read M’s favorite book, and guzzle the last of my coffee. Oh, and catch up with my partner, who woke up with the baby. 

Our first attempt at nursing (& by first attempt, I mean the first conscious nursing, since we have an open milk bar all night long…) was distracted & so as I was saying my goodbyes, M unsurprisingly gave me the sign for mama milk. … Okay… Hike up my dress, adjust my non-nursing bra & we nurse. Quietly. Staring at each other in the sun-lit room. 

Then my work phone dings & buzzes. A reminder that the early birds in my office have started their work days already & a reality check that this mostly-blissful morning cannot last. Baby M wriggles in my lap, signaling she’s done nursing. I holler at my partner & I’m out the door. 

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Sarcasm in trouble 

Ancient rock for breakfast


I am snarky. IRL. On this blog. I’m irreverent & my sense of humor tends sharply toward sarcasm. 

Pro tip: kids do not get sarcasm. 

Even big kids. Like my 8 year old.

Kids (big & small) are busy making sense of this world every moment of every day. Their brains are categorizing, compartmentalizing, absorbing. It’s all so darn real & immediate. 

So sarcasm is usually lost on them. 

Except it’s not. 

Turns out my son has been observing my sarcasm quietly & taking me at my word. And I need to stop! I’ve known I need to stop forever

One recent morning, I was joking (or so I thought) with my partner, MFA Dad. I threatened to burn his toast in jest. I forgot the exchange all together, but my son did not. 

As we sat down to eat (MFA Dad’s toast perfectly done… or burned entirely by accident… I can’t remember which…) T asked me (all sincerity & seriousness) why people just can’t get along. 

Me: Huh?

T recalled for me my very recent threat to ruin his father’s breakfast. 

Me: Oh. 

So, because of my sarcasm, I’ve basically ruined my son’s sense of loving partnership & human relationships. Probably forever

I explained (& apologized for) my weird sense of humor. I tried to rehabilitate my foibles … 

Truth is, he’s 8 & he’s basically an anthropologist. He is observing human interactions. Testing the limits of love & acceptance. (He also tests this by being a complete jerk & seeking love at the same time… That’s a whole other topic…)

This morning, bleary-eyed with lack of sleep & caffeine, I almost let my snark slip as I made coffee. I caught myself. Instead, I thanked MFA Dad for helping me get ready for work. 

They both deserve more sincerity from me. Not that I’m not sincere. I have my sarcastic moments & I get more sarcastic the more I feel overwhelmed or stressed. It’s definitely a crutch. But I’m also a smother-you-with-love type of parent. Still, in the hustle & bustle of work & parenthood, I realize it is my partner who needs more random kind words. More thanks. 

I can thank T for forcing me to be more present with him & my partner.

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Leaving the little one, redux

Still life, with one-year-old’s toes & eight-year-old’s craft project


Ages ago now, I wrote about leaving my son to take the bar exam. He was almost 2 years old at that point. Prior to that, when he was closer to one year old, I had left him for one night, to visit two of my dearest friends. He is now 8 & those days are long behind us. (Spoiler: He survived.)

Now our youngest family member is a newly-minted one-year-old & I’m gearing up for a work trip. I have to admit, I am nervous. Nervous simply to leave her for more than my normal work day. Nervous to be so far apart. Nervous for the nighttime parenting my partner will have to do without me (& without fully functioning boobs). 

Vaguely nervous that she’ll somehow wean due to my short absence. That I will somehow traumatize her & she’ll hate me forever afterward. 

I’m definitely nervous that I won’t find time & space to pump at our meeting. Nervous that I’ll get another plugged duct. Nervous that I’ll have to spend unnecessary time away from her due to flight delays, etc. 

In reality, I know that she & I will be fine. It is (in the grand scheme of things) a brief separation. 

My son didn’t miss a beat when I left him for those limited times when he was still so young. My daughter’s disposition is quite similar & I’m sure she will be fine with her dad and her grandma and her brother (who I’m certain is her most favorite person in the world…). 

Still, the fact that I love her so much makes me loathe to leave her. And I know she depends on me in ways that are unique from the other caregivers in her life. That’s just a fact of life & biology (mostly biology). 

Plus, the pressure on moms to be ever present is just so persistent! Under normal circumstances, I feel I’m more or less immune to such pressures. At least I like to think I am. But I know that gnawing voice in the back of my head sometimes speaks up, reminding me that I’m not immune to such cultural expectations & stereotypes & pressures that are unique to motherhood. (For example: As a friend reminded me recently, no one asks fathers if they’re returning to work after a baby; that question is reserved for mothers alone. Why? Because moms are expected to stay home during those early years, or at least to want to. Dads? Not so much.)

As an attachment parenting mom, I suppose I’m a bit overexposed to the line of thinking that prioritizes maternal presence over all else. It’s a fallacy that AP dictates an endless physical attachment of mother & child, but that doesn’t stop folks from falling down that rabbit hole. AP or not, I’ve called them out on it before & will do in the future (stay tuned for a review of a new book that makes some pretty silly arguments about maternal-child separation.)

I try to maximize the time I spend in full-on mothering mode, because I know it’s important work. But I also know (like, for a fact know) that some separation is okay, even healthy (particularly if it makes you a happier parent, which will almost always makes you a better parent). (Of course, how much separation is appropriate & when is something only you can figure out. But if you work on honing your baby language skills, you’ll figure it out.)

So, I said “yes” to this trip, which I think will offer important networking & career growth opportunities. Which isn’t to say that I’m particularly looking forward to it. This kind of separation is definitely different from that of our daily routines.

When making the transition back to work after giving birth (whenever that happens to be), I think it’s important to prepare. Practice the hand-off/drop-off routine. Start part-time if possible & increase the length of your work days (& resultant absence) over the course of a couple weeks. In short, make sure dad or grandma or nanny or daycare provider is a part of your baby’s life. 

That said, the goal is not to make your baby independent before he’s ready or to toughen her up. The goal is to gently expand his or her universe in a loving & gentle way. 

In other words, we shouldn’t be afraid of attachment or separation. They are both normal parts of infancy & life. (Heck, that eight-year-old I wrote about leaving so long ago… He was practically in tears when I left for work this morning… Yeah, this shit is never easy.) So, be attached when you’re together. Be comfortable with appropriate bouts of separation. 

As an example, I’ll tell you what I’ve done to prepare baby for my trip: Nothing. 

Well, I’ve made a meticulous list of pumping gear I need to pack. I’ve researched space for pumping at airports & at my destination. I’ve reviewed TSA policies. 

MFA Dad & I talked about him practicing putting the baby to sleep at night, but there was no follow-through. When I’m away, the routine they figure out will be theirs (hopefully with minimal tears). When she knows I’m there, she wants me & I want to cuddle her for nighttime nursing. 

Separation is about more love, not less. It’s not a deprivation. It’s just different. Sometimes we may not like it. They may not like it. But, usually, it’s gonna be okay.

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Life with a one-year-old (part two)

Cowgirl in motion, losing a diaper


I’ve decided to share what a couple random days in our house looks like. I mean these to be a glimpse into what attachment parenting might look like for a working* mom (or other parent, save for the nursing). I don’t think there’s any right way to be an attachment parent, so I wanted to share some of our experience, mistakes & all. 

Day #1 was actually a really nice day, despite being a bit over-busy. Day #2 looked quite different (& decidedly less idyllic), which is mainly why I decided to document a second day. 

Early morning: Baby wakes & MFA Dad takes her downstairs; apparently, he tries to wake me later, but I remember nothing…

7:30: I hear MFA Dad getting ready & realize it’s super late. I jump out of bed. It’s actually not such a big deal, because I’m working from home today & I’ll still get to work during my office’s core hours. I go downstairs & Baby M is happily playing with her big brother & Grandma, who is visiting to help with childcare. 

8:15: I’m logged in & getting to work, with coffee in hand, though I’m still in my PJs. MFA Dad is off to work. 

8:30: My mom leaves with the kids to drop my son off at summer camp. I dig in to my work & have a call with my boss about a particularly tricky case I’m advising on.

9:15: My mom returns. Baby M took a micro-nap & is really tired. I try to nurse her back down, but no dice. The hand-off to my mom is messy & baby is upset. I suggest distraction instead of fighting for the nap. She quiets down.

11:00: I have a conference call & have just finished nursing the baby. Now she’s really upset & screaming. Sometimes working from home makes things confusing for her, particularly when she’s overly tired, & today is one of those days. She screaming at her grandma, but I have to get on this call. She’s safe in my own mother’s loving & capble hands, I tell myself. I wish I could focus on her, but sometimes work has to take a priority. (That’s life for a working parent. I feel a twinge of guilt, but I know these individual moments don’t matter as much as the overall patterns of loving care this child receives from me, MFA Dad, & others.) Anyway, soon I hear my mom take the baby to her big brother’s room as a change of scenery & she immediately quiets down. I put on my headphones & dial into my conference call. 

12:15: By the time I’m off the call, the baby is sleeping. Which is a good thing, because I have a fire to put out in one of my cases. 

1:15: Baby is awake, my mom fetches her & she’s her happy self again. I nurse her, make myself some lunch, chat with my mom & get back to work. But I have to run to the kitchen for something & baby sees me & wants me again. I let my mom distract her & then I disappear. (I generally don’t like “disappearing” as a transitional tactic, but when I’m close by & ultimately available if things get rough, I think it’s ok. At least, it works for us.) 

2:30: It’s quiet & they’ve apparently left to pick up big brother from camp. They’ll run a couple errands, so I’m certain to work uninterrupted for a good stretch. I’ve been sort of productive today, but it’s a battle to be as organized & focused as possible when I’m at home—There are different distractions than there are at the office; and the distractions at home are more likely to knock me off my game if I’m not intentional about my goals & to-do list. 

5:15: Finally done working. Seems like it was a long day even though I was still in my PJs at the end. Baby is home & seems really tired, so I give her a little in-arms catnap to reconnect & decompress. 

6:00: Leftovers for dinner, thankfully! After baby wakes up, I let her play with her grandma & brother so I can shut down my work for the day. Pull together the leftovers & then MFA Dad is home! Family dinner. 

9:00: Both kids are having trouble settling down tonight. After I get baby to sleep, we have a family gathering in my son’s room as he’s having some worries about death (& what comes next). We end up distracting him by talking about the future, which he is certain will include flying cars. I lay down with him for a little while in the dark, but he crashes hard & fast. 

9:45: Baby is awake & unsettled again. She is working on walking & her sleep is disrupted & very physical these days, so it takes a while to get her back to sleep. I’m nodding off too…

Today was more challenging than yesterday. I love that I have the option to work from home a couple days each week, but I don’t like not leaving the house all day & not having a break to take care of myself (who would?!). It’s so great to be able to cut out my commute & have that extra time to spend with the kids. It also gives me the flexibility to nurse rather than pump during the work day, which is awesome! When I’m at work, though, I have a very well-honed routine to help me take good care of myself (drinking water, getting up to walk around or get a breath of “fresh” (city) air… you know, the simple things…). I’ve always been more organized at work than at home, generally, & I’m working on importing some of that structure into my (work at) home life.

* See my day #1 post for an explanation of the problems inherent with this term. For simplicity, I often use it anyway, which I don’t intend to diminish the real work primary caregivers do on a daily basis.

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What life with a one-year-old looks like in this house (part one)

Sweaty head hair flip


There aren’t too many examples out in the world of working* attachment parenting moms. At least, I think we’re woefully underrepresented in the blogosphere (do people say that anymore?!), parenting websites & books, social media, etc. So, I thought I’d post about some random days in our life. On AP mom’s play-by-play, so to speak…

Random day #1, which was pretty productive & sweet, was followed by random day #2, which was stressful & less productive. 

And that’s pretty much how we roll around here… The good & the bad, the dark & the light (for you Star Wars fans), the sweet & the challenging. In other words, (a fairly privileged, very lucky) life. Here’s a peek…

5:30/5:45-ish: Baby M wakes up, or at least starts to… She alternately flops around the bed & nurses, sometimes getting quiet & still. Foolishly, I think she might fall asleep again, but she’s awake awake. A little cranky, but sweet, too.

6:15: I’m making coffee & breakfast while she explores the pantry & tries her hand at unloading the dishwasher. No broken dishes but I shut down the operation before it gets dangerous. She’s not happy with the fact that I’ve thwarted her two preferred activities this morning. I’m half-listening to the news on the radio & for some reason keep missing the weather report. I enjoy a few sips of warm-ish coffee & quickly eat breakfast while packing up my lunch & work-related things. Mentally, I’m planning what I’ll wear since I finally caught the weather report. 

7:00: My mom is visiting & she wakes up. Then my partner, MFA Dad. I take my coffee & baby to the living room to nurse one more time. I wake up my son, show him how to use hair gel (a new experiment for him) & get myself ready. 

7:30: I’m off. I get a nice morning walk in to the train. I plug into my music (TV on the Radio today) & work on my blog. 

8:20: I arrive at work. Meetings. Email. A few minutes of meal-planning before MFA Dad heads to the grocery store. 

11:00: I pump. I’m trying to slowly cut out pumping at work now that baby is one. I have a private office & I can work while I pump, which makes me incredibly lucky, but I don’t like being unavailable for those solid chunks of the day. M is eating a lot of solid food & loves water, so we’re at a good point, I think, to transition away from bottles of mama milk. I was down to once a day; however, I just had a run-in with a clogged duct (seriously?!) & so I’m rethinking things. Extra pumping today to make sure I empty out enough since I’m just recovering from the plugged duct & still experiencing some pain. 

12:30: I’m getting over a stomach bug, too (double whammy!) & the lunch I packed is decidedly unappetizing. I usually don’t eat out (especially following gastro illness) but I need to eat. I find a place that makes broth in-house for their soups. Yum. 

1:00: It’s an afternoon of collaborating with colleagues, working with legal interns, & meeting with my clients. And some legal research. With another short pumping session mixed in.  

5:00: I’m able to punch out on time today. More blogging on the train. I didn’t bring an umbrella & it’s raining when I get off the train (so much for that weather report…) Luckily, I catch a bus. 

5:45: I’m home. M greets me outside with a big smile, a hearty wave, & so many kicks. We nurse a ton. My work dress is not nursing friendly, so I have to strip down so that we can reconnect. She’s at the acrobatic stage of toddler nursing, which is both interactive & exhausting & uncomfortable. … Dinner! MFA Dad has prepared some curried chicken in our electric pressure cooker, which my son amazingly eats with arugula & without ketchup. Baby eats it up, too, but mostly whines because we can’t get her water fast enough. 

7:00: Clean-up & our big boy accidentally knocks our precarious pile of recycling down the stairs. We laugh & stare for a few moments, because what else can you do?! He gamely helps to pick it up & I take it out to the bin. I notice the grass is long & the garden overgrown but it’s too late to do anything about it today. My mom, still visiting to help us with a patch of childcare, leaves to visit her elderly mother—definitely a sandwich generation moment for her. 

7:15: M’s short bedtime routine. A bath is nice but unnecessary every night. Our abbreviated routine consists of a couple songs, diaper change on the bed & nursing in the rocking chair. Baby seems a little unsettled tonight but she drifts off. 

7:45: I lay her down in her crib & join my partner & our oldest child for a few rounds of Pandemic, a cooperative board game. Our son goes to get ready for bed while I load my pumping gear into the dishwasher & catch up with MFA Dad for a few minutes. I read Harry Potter (Book 6!) to my son & snuggle & chat with him about his day at drama camp. He proudly tells me how he wrote a couple jokes for the script they’re preparing. We talk about the roles that might be a good fit (to help prepare him for casting excitement & possible disappointments). Lights out!

9:00: I get myself ready for bed. Oops! Baby’s awake. I rush to get through my routine. MFA Dad has her. She’s quiet but I know she’ll likely want to nurse. Sure enough, I walk in & her head pops up from his arms. We swap. She’s all over the place. Wet diaper. Still unable to settle. Some more active movement & she settles down. I try to write this blog post but fade as I rock with baby in my arms. 

10:45: Finally in bed, just in time for a lightning & thunderstorm to keep me awake. 

Fairly typical day. Non-stop, though I feel I moved only incrementally, if at all, in my work & home to-do lists. I generally find life & responsibility to be overwhelming & today was no different. But the day, as all those before it, is done. Goodnight!

* I am sometimes reminded of the rhetorical clash of language in discussions of mothers, specifically the reality that many of us get a salary from an employer & many of us get no paycheck but engage primarily in the labor of a functioning family. Others manage to arrive at a mix of the two. As many (most?) writers do, I use the term “working mom” as shorthand for those of us engaged in “outside jobbing” (even if we sometimes or always telework from home). This isn’t to suggest that those engaged in family labors do not work. It’s just that our language doesn’t have a great way to sort all this activity out. 

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Another Mothers’ Day Rant


I like to complain about Mothers’ Day on this blog. Hey, it’s my mommy blog & I can whine if I want to…

Mostly, I think the holiday is bullshit. 

Also, I hate making decisions on what I’ll do to celebrate. Do I escape? Pretend I don’t have a family for the day? Do I force my husband to take me to an over-crowded, rushed, & mediocre brunch? Do I demand special treatment? Breakfast in bed & all that? What about my own mother?! In indulging in myself, am I neglecting her?! And I have work on Monday, so there can’t be too much booze or fun because I need to sleep & get ready for the work week. Ack! 

And all for what? So that we can pretend mothers are honored in this land of zero-paid-maternity leave? So we can pretend mothers are important, even in this culture that undervalues family & women & anything remotely domestic? 

WTF, I thought this was supposed to be special & fun! Where are my Instagram-able #mothersdaymoments?! 

So, it’s the Saturday before Mothers Day & it’s been busy as hell. I got to sleep in a bit (which was awesome!) but I woke up extremely groggy & baby was in need of nursing & a nap. Ok. She’s almost asleep when my phone rings. Bam, she’s awake. Also, where’s the coffee?! Husband makes me coffee (yay!) & leaves. Ok. So now martial arts for the big boy & a walking nap for the baby. Then dentist appointment. Fuck, they asked me to come early but now they’re running behind. I’m hangry ’cause it’s past lunchtime & baby needs more sleep. She’s yelling & I admit I encourage her because I’m so grumpy & want our presence to be known. But everyone’s so damned nice. Darn, I can’t be a total bitch… which is a good thing in the end because I love our dentist & it’s not like we won’t be back. No more cavities for the boy. Phew! And then we grab lunch & I get more caffeine & we’re ok. Groceries for dinner. Baby will sleep in the car right? No! She’ll scream bloody fucking murder!! But my amazing son calms her somehow. I’m gripping the steering wheel in random heavy traffic but I somehow remember to breathe. I notice the sky is beautiful. I’m still grumpy but slightly less so. Home. Finally. My husband has picked up the entire house & is halfway through our laundry. Wow! It’s warm enough to throw open the windows. I want to pass off the baby. Hide in a room & lock the door. But of course the baby needs to nurse. Fine! I’ll be a mom for, like, five more minutes!

My Butterball-turkey-sized 10-months-old falls asleep in my arms. My partner & son bring me a beer. I quietly thank my son for being so patient & lovely today. I quietly thank my husband for the beer & for taking care of the house. I’ve found gratitude & I’m no longer angry or even cranky. 
Now I’m sitting here, rocking with my napping baby, sipping a beer, enjoying a beautiful breeze. How could I possibly complain?! 

Three years ago, on Mothers’ Day I was pregnant & and about to miscarry. Two years ago, I was bitter after having suffered a second miscarriage some months earlier & I was also barely pregnant & about to lose a chemical pregnancy & picking up a bridesmaid’s dress that had to be altered because, well, miscarriage. Last year, I was eight months pregnant but still nervous. This year, I have the honor holding the most perfect, napping baby in my arms. 

In the blink of an eye, despite chaos & loss, I feel like the luckiest mom in the world. 

Happy Mothers’ Day. Seriously!

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Focusing on the best

“Loving”—A reminder of my son

A mere 4 1/2 years ago (oh, where does the time go?!), I shared the parenting motivation that helps to keep me on my game. That motivation comes from Scott Noelle at The Daily Groove. Noelle’s format has changed a bit since then, but he still sends out nuggets of gold a couple-few times a week. Sometimes, I’m too lazy or busy to read the emails, but thankfully my partner (MFA Dad) will forward to me the ones that are resonating with our current parenting challenges. 

This morning he sent me one called “The Power of Attraction.” In it, Noelle suggested writing a reminder on your hand of one characteristic of your child that you “really, really adore and appreciate.” I chose “loving” because my son’s big heart is so endearing. At least, it is when I stop to allow him to fully express his loving nature, including both his capacity & need for love. 

The idea of Noelle’s experiment is to think about this particular attribute often throughout the day & observe how it affects your interactions. Noelle writes:

“Psychologically, attraction means you can focus on certain things, and your mind will ‘pull’ matching thoughts and conditions into your awareness and experience. …

“Can you see how, through your intentional focus, you created (attracted) that experience?”

I enjoyed thinking about T’s loving nature throughout the day, especially as we were apart for most of it. These days I have to admit that I am often rushed with him, as the baby’s needs are so urgent & ever-present. This experiment has forced me to (re-)create some space for him, which he deserves. 

And guess what? It worked! We had a delightful & playful evening. 

I find myself wanting to do this for MFA Dad, too! And even baby M. 

Try it!

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