Let me tell you about the best parts of my day. There are two of them and they are the same, almost every day. The first is in the morning. I wake up to the sound of Dylan squawking and wriggling in the bassinet next to our bed. Robert changes her diaper and brings her back to bed, where I nurse her. Sometimes Robert and I doze until she is done, other times we talk. We both talk in our sleep, so we crack up over the crazy things the other person heard. Robert likes to give me really detailed accounts of his pre-dawn dreams, which are really boring and hard to follow, but I’d be sad if he ever stopped. When Dylan is done nursing, I get out of bed and plug in the pump. Over the years, I’ve seen friends post messages on Facebook expressing (ha!) pride in their freezers full of pumped milk, and I always thought these messages were weird and veering into TMI-territory. But you guys, I get it now, and I’m proud of and comforted by my freezer full of pumped milk. If I have to go to the hospital today and stay their for a week, Dylan could still eat. If my supply drops when I go back to work, we will have backup to supplement for at least a few weeks. I know a lot of women hate pumping, and I might hate it too when I go back to work and have to do it 3-4 times a day, instead of 1-2, but right now I don’t hate it. I get to read interesting things on the internet while I sit on my favorite chair in the corner of our bedroom and make food for my baby. It’s like magic. When I’m done pumping and freezing, I take the dog out. I sit down in front of his kennel and unlatch the door and he crawls into my lap and borrows his head under my knee and scratch his neck and squeeze him around the middle and inevitable stand up covered in a layer of white hair. I carry him outside because he doesn’t know how to go down stairs and we walk around the block. If he’s amenable, we take two or three. When we get back to our building, I let him off leash and we race up three flights of stairs and back into the apartment, and I fill his water dish while he searches out Robert and Dylan for more love. That is my first favorite part of the day.
My second favorite part of the day is in the evening, after we’ve read and walked and napped and rocked, and it’s when Robert is cooking. Our apartment is really small and really open, so when Robert is in the kitchen and I am in the living room we are only about 25 feet apart and we can see each other. While Robert bustles about making dinner or caramels, I shove our coffee table over a few feet to make room, spread a big blanket on the hardwood floor, and set Dylan in the middle of it. I sit on the ground next to the blanket and spent the next 15-60 minutes watching Arty tear down the hallway after the dog toys I throw for him and shaking, rattling, and squeaking baby toys Dylan to look at. Robert and I listen to a podcast or a hastily-assembled playlist and catch up on the news and funnies of the day. I steal bites of what’s on the stove and drink something fun and at some point one of us feeds Arty and one of us (me) feeds Dylan and it is delightful for everybody. That is my second favorite part of the day.
These are the best parts of the day because everybody is taken care of. It is extraordinarily satisfying to know that I can feed, water, walk, and play with all of the creatures in my care. I’ve spent my entire adult life kicking against the religiously and culturally imposed idea that I was born to nurture, but if being a nurturer means that I want my plants, dog, baby, and spouse to thrive, then fine, I’m a nurturer. Now, this isn’t an exercise in gender-based biological essentialism because Robert is as much a nurturer as I am. Nurturing takes many forms, and doesn’t begin and end with homemaking. In fact, I’m beginning to think that it has nothing to do with homemaking and that homemaking is actually a form of providing. I provide money to pay the rent and Robert provides food and we nurture our family together. And here’s the best thing about the best parts of my day: they will remain intact even after I go back to work.