I have been looking for a job which would allow me to bring my baby daughter—i.e. have a day care at the site. This is very rare, but it does exist. I had a job last summer that fit the bill, but unfortunately they needed someone with certification I do not have, so that was not as long-lasting as I had dreamed it would be.
Fast forward to now, my daughter is 4 months old. Except for a brief stint in which I served as a health coach for a certain organization one week when she was 7 weeks old, I have been by her side 24/7. Pumping is a great invention, but I wasn’t feeling so keen on doing it for very long, since it felt unhuman to have my breast milk go into plastic bottles rather than my child’s mouth, not to mention, the pumping part felt weird.
If I had found a full-time or part-time job that was what I was looking for (I want to work in the field of nutrition in a job that I am passionate about, not just to pay bills), I would have considered pumping again, looking for a day care, etc. But as luck would have it, I haven’t found this job, and I have been building up my nutrition private practice an hour or two a week, while being a stay-at-home mama. (Note on that: I would have loved to have gotten more clients—mainly virtual ones—but building up a clientele takes time!)
So when this morning came and I received an email informing me that I would not be able to bring my baby daughter to a wedding, it came as quite a shock. One, because, as I said, I am a stay-at-home mom, who is breastfeeding on demand, and going somewhere without my baby makes my heart hurt, as well as my breasts. Two, because I had been imagining this wedding since I was pregnant, and how exciting it would be to have my daughter meet her extended family. Soon after I found out I was pregnant I attended a wedding. I remember seeing a woman holding her 9-month-old child at the ceremony and thinking, “Next year I will be holding MY baby at a wedding!” I pictured us at the table during the meal, my daughter on my lap, as her cousins gathered around excitedly to meet her. (We moved to Atlanta last summer, away from all my immediate and extended family in NY/NJ , and even farther away from those in Boston.)
The timing of it all is eerily appropriate, since just yesterday I was offered that I could join the substitute teacher list for a preschool run by the right-wing Orthodox community. They said not only could I bring my baby, but they would have me sub in classrooms that were age-appropriate so she could be by my side. And when it comes to weddings, as I know from my husband’s family who is right-wing Orthodox, bringing one’s baby is the norm.
Having just found this jewel of a place the day before, it was even more shocking to find out I couldn’t bring my baby to the wedding. Thankfully, I later realized there is a brunch the following morning, so at least her cousins can see her there.
The stay-at-home mother is going extinct in American society. The fact that I breastfeed my baby on demand does not match job expectations, nor celebratory event expectations.
That is why I feel appreciation for, and have a deeper sense of camaraderie with, the right-wing Orthodox Jewish community. They are letting my body and my heart do what it was evolutionarily made to do: bond with, feed, and love wholeheartedly my little baby.