They are replacing a swath of sidewalk outside the building where I work. When I came in this morning, they were plopping buckets of wet cement into place. The workers were standing about, watching with trowels drawn for battle. When I came back from lunch today, the path was halfway complete—the cement standing idle, curing in the shade.
My first impulse was to rush home, grab my daughter and plunk her little feet into the cement, Hollywood-style, and carve “Violet, eleven months” above her footprints.
Today was my last lunch for Violet.
Since I returned to work a mere six weeks after her birth, I have been escaping at lunch to walk to the sitter’s to nurse Violet. I look forward to this the minute I close the door at the sitter’s, turning my back on my babies as I trudge to the car and head back to work. I welcomed the respite that was my lunch break—seeing both of my children midday and nursing my daughter.
My sweet girl is beginning to wean herself during the daytime. She is so curious, so active, so involved, that taking a mom break is less and less a requirement for her. It is still one for me, however.
I studied her as she nursed on this day, my last Violet lunch. Her little feet dug into the flesh of my thigh, trying to gain purchase so she could push to standing and enact a little disco dance in my lap. She rolled away and sprint-crawled to the other end of the couch to grab the TV remote. I pulled her back to my breast; she pushed random buttons on the remote, the stations flipped by madly. As she waved the remote in her free hand, she plunked it onto her head. My eyes widened with concern and hers crinkled with laughter. “I’m OK, Mom, don’t be such a worrywart.” I can read this in her expression already. Then she tried the trick on me, slamming the remote into my nose so hard that it brought tears to my eyes.
I tuck a soft fluff of hair behind the petal of her ear and trace the thin dash that is her left eyebrow. Her eyes never leave my face. I don’t know if she senses my sorrow, but she reaches up with her little index finger and touches my quivering lower lip. Again her eyes crinkle into a smile; so do mine.
To be fair, there is a part of me that longs for my lunch hour—it was my gym time prepregnancy and I’m fat, so I need it. But the larger part of me is struggling. My husband doesn’t quite understand; his view on weaning is that if she’d eat less at night, I’d get more sleep and he’d get more sex. I’m just not ready to give up her nursing smile. This is something that she and I alone have shared since she was mere minutes old; seeing her sated, milk dribbling out of the corner of her mouth as she sighs into sleep has been more awe-inspiring to me than any landmark. I know that no matter how hectic the day is, I am going to start and end it wrapped around my little girl in an embrace of devotion.
I still need her infancy, even as she takes her first wobbly steps onto the sidewalk that will carry her away from me and into her own life.