A Living Family

Creating and maintaining a Living Family can be an exhausting, but thoroughly rewarding enterprise.

Thursday night I went to a concert with my daughter, a one-year old. I worked a long, pre-winterbreak day in a classroom of newly hormonal adolescents, came home (in carpool — luckily, or I would feel guilty for the gas) and got stuff together for Gopinath’s concert with Allyn Miner and Thomas because he was stuck in traffic. We all drove down together to the beautiful Twelve Gates Art Gallery on 3rd and Cherry. Uma nooked about a bit while he set up the sound and everyone tuned. We listened to the first song, Uma singing along and chatting *loudly* during the enchanting melodies. I decided to take her outside so she could walk around since she was in the car for so long twice. It was wonderful to get to see her walk around and experience her outside so independently for the first time, on the sidewalk walking as her own person beside me.

I will be honest here. It is difficult being a working and breastfeeding mother who believes herself an attachment parent. One word: GUILT. It must be the nature of motherhood to feel this emotion because I haven’t met a mother who hasn’t felt guilt. I am blessed in innumerous ways, but one of them is that Gopinath is home with our one-year old all day every day. As a result, though, he knows her better than me. I miss so much of this period of rapid growth and development of my own child while I’m helping other people’s older children grow and develop through a particularly challenging life transition. I come home emotionally and mentally drained to my amazing, loving, need-filled daughter. What do I have left to give? ………… Here comes guilt.

The reality is that since I’m still breastfeeding this was my chance to have her nurse and stave off the threat of diminishing supply any time I am not at work I’m still “on,” so my choices are thereby my daughter’s in a real sense. My daughter and I live together by nature and necessity because of breastfeeding. This was an easy decision because as a rule I support my husband’s life as a musician. Whenever we fit so naturally into my husband’s musician life, I count it a blessing to stay out late and try (and fail) to get Uma to sleep in the Ergo.

Anyway, due to the hectic nature of this period before winter break, I wondered if I should even go to the concert. My daughter had already had a busy day of car travel and hanging out with friends, and I still had to make it through Friday. Without much second guessing, I decided to go. My whole family derives pleasure from listening to music, and here my husband was playing music with such a talented master musician. It seemed important to make room the possibility of this family event in my life.

It wasn’t the perfect fit, but this was a vital step towards the three of us being a Living Family. Each parent needs to see the child before them. My daughter has proven herself to be easy going with most change and transitions. She loves music and rhythm period; to hear and see her daddy play music is just joy on top of joy. It felt sweet and supportive walking/dancing/swaying/bouncing to the music together. I had intended to have her sleep while we both listened; she wanted to walk around and exclaim about her newfound discoveries. After a while, I took her outside to nook about, and I got a chance to spend time with her and see what she is working on and excited about. Eventually, because it was freezing outside, I took Uma to grab dinner for ourselves, came back just in time for the last notes, broke down the sound equipment so Gopinath and Uma could connect with and build community. It was hustle and bustle and felt literally like a Living Family, working and living together quite easily, if not traditionally.

Living Together is not always what I expect, but it is good and I think I can get used to it.

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