I am writing this post on the eve of the end of my maternity leave and I have basically been crying on the hour for the last six. My little guy turned three months old today, and tomorrow morning I will leave him with a wonderful babysitter and become an employee – commuter – executive again. I will even re-sync my work email to my iPhone.
These past three months have been unreal – I mean we had a freaking baby! OUR LIVES WILL NEVER BE THE SAME. It’s been both the fastest and slowest months of my life. When our son was a month old, my husband and I left him for two hours with my in-laws and went to a friend’s birthday party at a bar and proceeded to wig everyone out with sleep-deprived eyes and psychotic need to hear about the OUTSIDE WORLD. I apologize officially here for making all our single friends who came to meet the baby tell us about their dating lives while holding him.
I am sitting here typing while my nose drips, trying to hold in tears, and realize it’s not just the separation anxiety, the nervousness about work, or even that Malcolm decided a few weeks ago that he won’t drink from a bottle. (You will have to learn REAL soon, buddy.) It’s also the nostalgia for what has been a totally amazing adventure.
While I haven’t completely ditched work (I check in everyday and have done the occasional conference call), I have loved being PRESENT at home, having my top priority be taking care and spending time with my son and savoring the first months of motherhood. As I mentioned above, I even deleted my work email account from my phone so my “checking in” could be on my own terms and my own time. THAT move alone is what I advise all new moms to do.
Complaints about the United States Maternity and Paternity Leave Policies aside (that’s a whole other post – maybe like 10 posts), my leave has been totally awesome. Besides the miracle of birth and coziness of newborn-ness and the team that my husband and I have become, it was totally magical because, hiding right under our noses, was a community that I now can’t imagine my life without.
We were near the end of what I jokingly referred to as the “Baby Guantlet.” From October to July, basically a new baby born every month from friends here in LA and around the country. In our NEIGHBORHOOD ALONE, 5 little boys all born to us and close friends, all to be the class of 2032. When my son was a couple weeks old, 4 (and eventually 5) of us got together on a Wednesday after morning naps and brought food (salad, some cookies, some non-alcoholic sparkly drinks, warm soup – whatever we felt like trying, picking up or making), our boys (born in October, November, January, beginning of April and end of April) and our questions, worries and sometimes even gossip. (Who am I kidding, always gossip.) These ladies, who either work from home or were on leave like me, who were already close friends, became something entirely different. Rachel deemed these weekly gatherings “Mommune”.
Parenting is tough and fun and challenging and wild. And it’s just the beginning. To watch my friends become parents and thrive is incredible and inspiring. And to become parents TOGETHER is totally priceless. We’d spend every Wednesday asking advice, comparing Malcolm’s development to where Teddy’s had been a couple months earlier, telling poopsplosion stories, wanting to know where that awesome recipe came from.
One Mommune, Peggy’s mother was visiting and had cooked an entire table full of Lebanese and Armenian food, including a cheese/pastry thing they called “Boureg” that I could have eaten 10 pounds of. Amelia got her book galleys and we ooh’d and aah’d over the cover art. Rachel answered emails for work while we watched her son, the oldest and most mobile of our crew, zoom around the room on his hands and knees. Carolyn gave us the scoop on the zoo camp her 5 year old was loving and gave us a glimpse into the future of having school age boys.
It was also a place for us to share worries and ask questions. Is it ok to swaddle Mal now that he can roll from back to stomach? Is this a “diaper rash” or a “horrible diaper rash”? These women, who have always been some of my favorite people in the world, became some of the most necessary to my life. We were supporting us as friends, moms and women. I just started crying again thinking of how important OUR SONS will be to each other as they grow up.
Mommune is going to happen this week without me. As readers of this blog know, the first weeks, months, years of motherhood are not always snuggles and happiness. They can be rough. For me, there was safety in numbers – the ladies of Mommune, my friends who were already parents, my husband, our families, and even the friends who weren’t parents yet who told us those awesome stories about the real world and snuggled my baby like pros.
There’s a strange grief I am feeling tonight. Like someone is removing a part of me. It’s so silly. Malcolm will be my son forever. I will be a tough working mom and role model. He will be social and adaptable and just as cute as always. And these ladies, and their boys, will be there. Crap, I am crying again. Might as well just go full sap. Though I won’t be with Mommune tomorrow, Mommune will always be with me.