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August 30, 2013 / ginavoskov2013

The end of summer.

The school year has begun and for the first time since I was three years old, I will not be in a classroom the day after Labor Day. I am taking the first semester off, until the beginning of February, so I can stay at home with Edith. At first, I thought this was a lovely idea. And it truly is. But I can’t help feeling like I’m floundering a bit now that I’m not thinking about curriculum and meetings and getting to know the 24 new faces in my homeroom. I don’t know what a September feels like outside of a school. For the first time in the 10 years I’ve been a teacher, I haven’t had a back-to-school dream. I haven’t thought about getting new clothes for the school year and I have walked down the paper and pen aisle in the drugstore without even a glance at the Sharpies and Bics.I have also gone through the motions of looking over my roster and reading announcements and beginning-of-the-year meeting minutes as if I am going to be responsible for them in a couple of days. I’ve sent email to my colleagues with ideas for units and materials, and yesterday, when I walked by my school on the way to meet up with friends, I looked up to find my classroom window as I always do when I walk by the school. It’s hard to break my work habits.

The thought that used to get me up and out of bed in the mornings before work was the first coffee of the day that I would get at a place on 23rd and Park after getting on two trains from Queens. Their lattes have the best crema and the flavor of the coffee is so sweet and smooth. At 5:30 on a rainy Tuesday morning in March, for instance, not much can motivate me out of the coziness of my bed except for the knowledge that a latte like the one at My Way Cup is out there, waiting for me. And so I drag myself up and out, taking solace in the first sip and hoping the M23 bus will be a few minutes late so I can at least savor the warmth and dryness of that coffee shop.

Now the thought that gets me up out of bed is the hope that Edith will have a smiley morning. No matter how rough the night or how cranky and exhausted I feel, I cannot wait to see her smile in the morning. It’s somewhat less exciting when she greets me by crying, but sooner or later she will smile and talk and we’re back to normal and having a good time. On weekend mornings, if Dennis hasn’t worked an overnight on set, I let him have the mornings with her so I can get a couple extra hours of sleep. It’s important for him to get those hours with her, the early morning hours when she’s giggly and grinny and playful because he sees her awake so infrequently. Like this week, for example, he changed her diaper yesterday morning and then won’t see her again awake until tomorrow morning. He came home at 1:30am and left around 7 while Edie was still sleeping. And he won’t come home until tomorrow morning at 2 or 3. As much as I love the mornings with her–they’re infinitely better than her crabby evenings–I want Dennis to have them on the weekends. He usually takes her for a walk or sits and reads with her, and when I come out of the bedroom, she is sleeping on his chest and he’s watching a documentary about German landscape architecture or something else I’d rather not watch. It’s lovely to see, even though it means I’ve missed those smiley moments.

I think about going back to work in February and, even though it’s hard for me to imagine not being in school right now, I am *terrified* of going back and leaving Edith with someone I don’t know. This year is really unique–I go back to work in February, Dennis ends his job in May. So we need only three months of daycare before Dennis can be a stay-at-home dad. Who is going to take a babysitting/daycare job for only three months? These are the times when I get really mad that my mom isn’t here anymore. She would be down here in a flash if it meant she got to take care of Edie for however long, and I could go back to work knowing Edie’s in good hands. But all the wishing in the world won’t change that, so why even think about it? We have time to figure daycare out, but still it makes me very anxious. Last Saturday morning when we were in CT at Dennis’s parents’ house, the thought of leaving Edie at daycare got me up and out of bed, foregoing the extra sleep time, and interrupting the time Dennis and Edie had alone. I just needed to put my hands on her in that moment. I was choked with panic at the thought that someone might not love her like I do, wouldn’t respond to her cues like I do, wouldn’t play or read with her and she would just be lying there in a crib, calling for me. She will be eight months old when she finally has to go to daycare. I know she’ll be older and more mature than she is now–at 12 weeks she’s still pretty helpless even though she’s so much more alert and able to interact. But I keep imagining the first day when I leave her and the thought cripples me. And then I’m supposed to go spend seven hours teaching other people’s children?

Part of my insane attachment to her right now is because for the past three weeks, we have been having exceptionally good days. Lots of activity, more of a routine, and so much more fun. The time is flying by and when I stop to think, I realize that if August ended this quickly, what will happen with September and October and all of fall and half-way through winter when it’s just a week or so before I have to go back to work? It feels like she was just born and she’s nearly three months old! How is it possible that I have a three-month-old baby? And how is it possible that she is just so beautiful? All of her faces, her tears, her giggles and coos and sounds–they just cut straight to my heart. I want to eat her. She is just the most sweetly, heart-crushingly beautiful thing I have ever created–and I can’t believe I created her.

She does this thing with her hand when I’m nursing her–she waves it up and across my chest, back and forth on my skin until she falls asleep. I can’t do anything but stare at her, watching her eyes flutter as she drifts off, her little chin moving up and down faintly, her body warm and heavy against my stomach. Sometimes I see her dreaming–she will smile or laugh or cry while she is still nursing and in those moments I am lost in a world that contains only the two of us–my sweet little girl, smiling in her sleep, and me, her mama, smiling down at her. I want to stay in that world forever.





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  1. meeshie / Sep 1 2013 7:03 pm

    My son does that same thing with his hand. He’s five months old and I’m not ready to go back into the world and leave him with someone either. Though.. the time is coming that I’ll have to. Still, cherish this time.. it seems to go by so damn fast.

  2. gina voskov / Sep 2 2013 8:55 pm

    It really does. I can’t believe it’s September already. I spent my whole pregnancy wishing time would hurry up so I could meet the baby, and now all I want it to do is slow down because she is changing right before my eyes. Amazing.

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