Dear Atticus, on having choices

Dear Atticus,

One of the difficult choices I made this year was to continue breastfeeding you once I went back to work in August. My original goal was to try to get to August, and at that point I decided to try to finish out the whole year. I have been vocally skeptic about the mystical and magical powers of breastfeeding, and I have to admit that there were times that I thought that breastfeeding might be damaging our relationship rather than being good for us. It has been hard to be so needed. It has been hard not to have time to myself. It has been hard to have to focus on ounces produced. Sometimes I thought I could not stand it one more minute. But here we are, Atticus, and we have almost made it a full year.

Pumping at work has not been a piece of cake. It’s been stressful and exhausting. More than anything, it’s been embarrassing. I have been interrupted by the custodians and an assistant principal and parents and various and sundry coworkers. I have experienced two fire drills (and, boy, do I have some jokes about steamed milk). I have had students banging on the door. It has been lonely.

Of course I plan to embarrass you at your rehearsal dinner with these stories. It will be your turn, after all. I did all of this not because it was easy, but out of love for you and desire for you to have the best of what I could do for you. What I want you to know most of all is that your dad and I know that we are incredibly privileged to be able to make these kinds of choices for you. I had enough milk for you. I have a job where it is possible for me to pump at work. We were able to afford a pump. We were armed with information and support from the very beginning.

These resources are not available to everyone, Atticus. We are lucky to have them. And while I think it’s okay to complain about being caught pumping during a fire drill (twice), I also think it’s good to recognize that many people don’t have the resources that we have had. On this issue and in so many other areas. I can get caught up in the frustrations of my own life, but it helps me keep perspective when I realize that just having choices is so much more than many people have. We are privileged in so many ways, Atticus. That doesn’t mean we should feel guilty about what we have. But we should cultivate gratitude in our lives. For what we have, for what we are able to do, and for the choices we are able to make.

In my life, I am most proud of three things: my marriage to your dad, my master’s degree (and career), and the fact that I am going to finish out this year of breastfeeding and pumping. All of those have taken a lot of hard work and a lot of support. As this year draws to a close, I am humbled by the fact that so many people (especially your dad) helped me to reach this goal and thankful that it has worked out. I have learned a lot about my own strength and endurance, about your dad’s love and support, and how empowering it is to be able to choose the path you are taking. Through all the frustrations and embarrassments, I held on to the hope that I would look back on the year and be able to say that it was worth it. Here at the end, I can finally say that it was.

Love,
Mama

P.S. I know we still have a ways to go to make it to December 31st, but I am going to show you why I am so sure we are going to make it.

Your dad is so glad we are about to stop adding to the freezer.

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