And the thing of it is, I had never even heard of a pomo before Bram was born. We had assumed that I would go by mom or mum (as that’s what I had always called my own mother) and R would go by mama (that’s the term they had used). So when, seven weeks into this parenting gig, I realized that mom just wasn’t the right fit for me (it made me feel simultaneously like I was failing at the social contract of “mom” while excluding key facets of my identity), I started trying out a couple of other made-up parental monikers. Pomo is what stuck around. I wondered and worried if it would stick, and if Bram would like it. It took him a few months longer to say pomo than to say mama, so there were fleeting sad times when he could only point to me as a means of parental selection or communication. But those first times that he managed an “omo” delivered with pleasure, I was sure of myself to him. I could do this: I could pomo this baby through his life.
I could write about my relationship with Bram forever. So in the interest of brevity, here are a few of my favorite times in our days/weeks: Bram waking bolt upright in bed and announcing the contents of his recent dreams; feeling his tiny arms and lips around his growing brother; spontaneously saying “thank you, pomo” with the utmost sincerity; stalling me from our next transition by saying “show you one thing fast, pomo” and then running into the next room to figure out what it is he wants to show me; book and book after book on the couch or bed; rocking with his warm-from-the-bath body splayed across me in the rocking chair (except for two nights ago when he peed all over me!); getting “eleven kisses” – his preferred number of kisses to give on the fly…
It’s interesting to see, even only two years into this, how little gestationality matters to our family dynamic. I don’t mean legally or socially because those external inequities are persistent and frustrating. But within our family’s walls, we each have such primary, necessary, and distinctive relationships with Bram. He loves us and sees us and wants us for who we are as individuals to him, which is the very best way to be wanted by anyone. Though there were times when it was a deeply painful truth for both R and me (for different reasons), I think that our whole family has grown and benefited immensely from our gestational roles and by our nursing relationship. And now that that relationship is on its way out (Bram has self-weaned down to only one nursing session a day, though he’s picked back up some comfort nursing with R, which is loving), I can look back and feel pride in us for challenging ourselves to enlarge and expand beyond our comfort zones in order to offer this gift to our child. And I can see now the ways in which breastfeeding has strengthened Bram’s foundation in life (physically and emotionally), but I can also see how quickly this dynamic will slip out of our daily consciousness once it’s no longer at play. And I trust in our family to know ourselves as we prepare to create a breastfeeding circle and cycle anew. Because it truly is something that takes active and thoughtful love and participation from everyone in the family in order to succeed.
I’ve struggled over the last two years with some working-parent blues, but I feel like (lately) I’ve been coming to real peace about the many advantages that this role affords me. R is the more patient parent. She is the one of us who can read the same book a million times, sing the same song again and again, and who can greet the toddler who won’t stay asleep during nap with a warm smile and a kind voice every time. It isn’t that these things aren’t hard for her (or that I can’t do them when needed), or that she doesn’t struggle with wanting more adult engagement, or more time for herself. She’s just really really good at the stay-at-home parent thing. I, on the other hand, seem to be really really good at the working parent thing. I am my best self when I split my time. Especially since I know how loved and well-cared for our baby is all day long. I miss him awfully when I’m away. And it can be very hard to leave on those mornings that he asks me not to go to work. But walking through the door at the end of a long day, I feel so utterly delighted and proud to be coming home to my family. I love our dinners and bedtimes together. I love our (increasingly sleep-filled) nights, I love our hectic mornings. I am especially grateful for our weekends and holidays (though the snow days can go away anytime now!). I wish I could provide us with more from my time away (more financial security, more opportunities for travel, a slightly larger house), but I trust that those things will come in time. And I am so lucky to be married to someone who is happy to be frugal and content for things to be as they are for the time being. I think we both fit our roles very well and I am so grateful that R will be able to stay home with our kids (while teaching part-time) during their early years. Though my time and energy to show her this daily has been taxed by parenthood, she has only grown more gorgeous and capable in my eyes since becoming my co-parent.
Despite our brief.beautiful.painful month of parenting Bram and Saul, there are mostly unknowns on the other side of April. Who will I be as Dragon’s pomo? What will Bram sacrifice in me as a parent for the gift of a sibling? Will it feel like a gift? Right now, he is so interested in and devoted to his baby brother. Yesterday, at our 31-week midwife appointment (wherein I got referred out for borderline gestational diabetes – a post for another day), Bram paid such careful attention during the exam portion of our visit. He thumped his chest in time with the whoosh-whoosh of the fetal Doppler. And he listened intently as the midwife did some belly mapping. R pushed his hand down onto Dragon’s head, but Bram immediately moved his hand south and declared, “Dragon’s butt!” And it was, indeed, Dragon’s butt; our little midwife in training.
I have so much more to say, so many more moments left unrecorded. These have been, by far, the best years of my life to date. I adore being a pomo. And I doubly adore this boy-child in our midst. He is at once eager and empathetic, physical and keenly emotive. Ours is a good good life.
Some of my favorite pomo/bram images…