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We’re back from our Thanksgiving
trip to visit family, and the one thing I can say with certainty is
that nothing went as we originally planned.

One day before we headed out, my grandmother died. Though this was
not entirely unexpected, I was devastated: my grandmother meant a
lot to me and I will miss her very much.

So I found myself taking a little
trip-within-the-trip, heading up north for her funeral. We flew to
Texas on Saturday, got settled, and I set out to meet up with my
family, spending the first half of the week traveling and going to
services. I arrived back in Texas with about ten hours to spare
before Thanksgiving, and spent two days there before heading back
home to New York.

Aside from the fact that we didn’t take a family vacation
together, the family emergency had a ripple effect on everything
surrounding it. I had to pack differently for our trip to ensure
I’d have a small travel bag for my funeral flight, add warm
clothes to supplement the moderate Texas climate clothes we’d
already planned, and so on. We had planned several small activities
in Texas while there that we ended up canceling.

But the biggest unexpected hurdle we faced was Madeleine. You see,
we decided that it simply wasn’t financially feasible for the
three of us to fly up on such short notice; nor could we truly
expect Maddie to stomach five plane rides in eight days without
some major complaints. So leaving Maddie behind with Brian was
really the only option we had, though he was also close to my
grandmother and wished he’d had the chance I did to say

So Daddy and Maddie were on their own for a couple days. Which is
fine for the most part: Brian’s watched Maddie for long
stretches of time by himself and understands snack schedules, nap
routines, and park play just as well as I do. The one thing
Brian’s never done by himself?


Yes, my daughter is still nursing to go to sleep – the only
time of day she does, but she’s remarkably unwilling to drop
that nursing still. So she’s never in her entire life been
put to bed by anyone but me. We’ve known that’s going
to need to change by the time Little Peanut arrives in May, but
sort of gave ourselves until January before we started forcing the

Life had other plans.

To say that Brian was nervous about doing this by himself would be
a huge understatement. Not that he thinks himself incompetent or
anything; he simply couldn’t bear the thought of inflicting
pain on Maddie and having her cry half the night, wondering where
her mommy was. Bedtime routine is something we share right now
– Brian does the diaper and pajama change, puts on the
sleepytime lotion and gives her a little massage, then hands her
over to me for nursing and prayers. Before I left, Brian took
careful notes of exactly what happens after he hands her over to
me, and when I got on the plane myself I saw a nervous but
determined Dad waving me off.

I had two prayers for them that night. One, that Maddie would have
absolutely no problem going to bed without me, and the change would
be easy for both her and Daddy.

And two, that if Maddie was fine going to bed without me, I
wouldn’t let it hurt me.

Well, folks, God answers prayers because my baby girl headed off to
bed as if she’d been doing it with Daddy all along. Instead
of a snuggle nurse with Mommy, she got a bottle of soy milk with
Daddy. Thirty seconds into it, she smiled at Daddy, said,
“Night night!” – her signal she’s ready to
go to bed - and went docilely into the crib. I think Brian could
have cried with relief.

She handled the change so well, in fact, that I dared hope she was
weaned for good. When I got back I tried giving her a bottle of soy
milk. She accepted it at first, then politely handed it back and
started trying to find a way to nurse. When I said no, her face
crumpled and she melted with grief. Having already put her through
a lot in a few days, I caved and let her nurse. So we’ve
still got that one nursing to go.

But all in all, my daughter handled all the changes thrown at her
like she’s lived a life of uncertainty. Faced with all ten
cousins at once, ranging in age from 2 ½ to 18, she calmly
proceeded to charm them one at a time until by the end of the visit
they were clamoring for her attention. Once she realized the dog
wasn’t going to chase her, she decided she should chase the
dog and spent the rest of the week crowing whenever it was around.
She tried real Tex-Mex, Texas barbeque, and ate southern sausage
gravy and biscuits for breakfast.

So my daughter returns to New York a resilient, flexible, more
mature little girl. She has seen what change is like, and has lived
to talk about it.

Of course, not all change is so easily overcome. I mourn the fact
that my daughter will never grow up really knowing my grandmother,
even as I rejoice that she was able to meet her at 3 months old. I
found myself in the midst of family I’d spent my whole life
with yet wanting nothing more than to feel my husband’s arm
along the back of the restaurant booth for comfort, and knowing
that having kids means we’re not always able to be there for
the spouse now. I did miss my daughter while I was gone - it was
the first time I've ever been away from her more than a few hours
at a time. But I missed my husband so much more.

I think I’ve become so used to the rapid changes you
experience with a baby that the more permanent changes don’t
really register on my radar anymore. Maddie’s changed to a
two-hour nap? Give her a couple weeks, and she’ll change
again. Maddie’s crawling? Wait a month and watch her walk. So
these sudden, irrevocable changes seem more jarring than they used
to. When Maddie seemed to be handling my absence at bedtime so
well, I realized I may well have nursed her for the last time and
not known it and didn’t know how such a thing could pass

And the biggest change of all, of course, is the one that’s
selfishly hardest to bear. My grandmother is gone –
that’s a change that is permanent, and I’ll find a way
to live with it. But I don't have to like it.


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