"Wow," said my best friend as I was packing to leave for school. "You’re going to use your brain!" "Yeah, I haven’t done that in… a long time," I agreed. Then we sat on my flowered couch surrounded by laundry piles, nodding our heads like a couple dashboard ornaments.
It takes a lot of brainwork to figure out how to keep baby socks out of dirty diapers, how to carry dry cleaning and push a stroller, how to silence a newborn during a wedding ceremony, how to salvage your sex life when you’re regularly woken at 5:30 a.m., how to be the cheerful, supportive mother, wife and friend you want to be. In fact, it takes so much brainpower that none of the moms of young children that I know have the urge to open a book at the end of the day. The last book I read cover to cover may have been Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth.
So how the heck am I going to keep up with two demanding graduate-level courses in literature condensed into one super-intense 6-week summer session? One answer is My Mom. She’s staying in our rented house with me and Leo to help out. She calls herself an "au mere" and she’s definitely been earning her keep. She cooks (if it was up to me we’d mostly be eating out of a can these days)! She cleans! She takes Leo for walks to see chickens, she chases him at the nearby playground, she drives everyone around, does the grocery shopping…She definitely does the lion’s share of what I normally do.
My school has childcare too, so Leo is spending his afternoons in daycare for the first time ever. At home, we have a nanny share with one other child, so this is a huge change for Leo. But it’s one of the most ideal daycares I could imagine. The space is big, safe and friendly, there’s a great outside play area, and Leo can’t resist getting right to playing (well, or eating) the minute he arrives. But then comes the dreaded moment of goodbye.
Even the word goodbye, uttered in play, makes Leo very concerned these days. Every afternoon I kiss him, then head for the door, wincing as he draws breath…and howls. If only I could somehow summon enough brainpower to figure out how to be the always-present mama Leo wants, as well as the thinking person I try to become as I shut the big red door of the daycare center behind me. Come on brain, don’t fail us now!