I wear the boobs in this family:
pale, blue-veined, and larger than they’ve ever been before.
Oozing with milk.
My boy does not want rice cereal,
sweet potato, avocado, banana, or mushy peas.
No! My boy cries for me,
the resident popsicle. Slurp, slurp, slurp!
Breakfast, lunch, dinner,
morning snack, afternoon snack, midnight snack.
It’s 5 A.M. and I’m up with the boobs.
As the baby drifts off to fat, content sleep,
the cat begins to claw at my feet,
wanting to be fed, too. My husband
gets up, goes off to work. He goes
to the studio, drinks his beer, smokes his cigars,
ponders his large, distressed paintings.
I stay at home with the boobs.
I stir the oatmeal, wait for the mail, and talk
to the baby, who smiles, caresses my right nipple.
Later, we go for a walk in the park,
the baby, the boobs, and I. The baby flaps his arms
and hoots at the gulls and geese.
Ah, yes, it could be much worse: we could be birds,
I regurgitating insects and seeds
into my son’s upturned mouth.
And, lucky me, Saturday mornings the boobs and I
go out for a run, and though I lack
my pre-baby speed, still we enjoy
the rush of the finish: turning the bend
at the bottom of the hill, the surprise of the lake
and its glitter, the fist pounding in my chest, and
that old familiar weightlessness
that carries me home again with the boobs.
This poem was among a few others on mothering that I read at KGB Bar in New York City a couple years ago. I started drafting it when my older son was six or seven months old. Nothing in my prior life had prepared me for the intensity of his dependence on me — nor for the intensity of my love for him — nor for the strange isolation of life as a stay-at-home mom in the city. Looking back at that time, I want to tell the woman who wrote this poem just how much everything changes, and how very quickly. Day after day, the seven-month-old baby becomes a mostly weaned three-and-a-half-year-old boy. Then, there’s a newborn in your arms, and you start all over again, happily….
Rachael is the work-at-home mother of a vivacious two-year-old boy. As a freelancer, she edits and writes educational materials for K–12 students and teaches online creative writing classes through The Writers Studio. She is also a poet who was foolish enough to have married an artist. Though Rachael never planned to do anything other than attachment parenting, her pre-motherhood self probably would be surprised to see her happily nursing a toddler — and in a family bed! She is grateful to have found an online community of others doing much the same. Rachael writes about making her way toward work-life balance in a family of artists at The Variegated Life.