Lyn and I are both back at work part time this month and as a result I recently began spending significant amounts of daytime alone with Ira and a smaller amount of time alone with both kids. Even though I have been spending lots of time with Ira, the time alone still felt like a shift.

It’s different to parent without a safety net. I realized how much I rely on Lyn to have the backup baby cure-all: nursing breasts that are always full. If I’m trying to nurse him but he’s fussy, or I give him a bottle and he’s fussy, or he’s just fussy for an unknown reason, Lyn has previously always been there to take over and fix everything. But last week I had to do everything on my own with no “real mom” to take over if I stumbled. That was less challenging than I feared and more rewarding than I hoped.

For those of you who are curious, on a day alone with Ira I feed him about every two to three hours, usually right after he wakes up from a nap. I try to feed him with the supplemental nurser if we are at home. I can now put the supplementer on pretty fast and it keeps Ira from getting frustrated when I don’t have enough milk to satisfy him. If we go out, I will usually give him a bottle or occasionally I will nurse him without using the supplementer. That usually doesn’t work out as well as I might hope — if I want to be able to feed him well without using the supplementer I generally need to have gone at least 4-6 hours without pumping or nursing and that’s not usually possible on a day home alone.

Last Friday I went out with Ira to finally pick up his birth certificate from city hall and to run a few other errands. It was interesting to be out alone with him — I found myself frustrated that I didn’t look radical at all. I realized that being out with him alone I looked like any other mother, but I wanted to stand out. I really wanted people to be able to see that I was doing something outside of the norm, parenting with another woman, parenting a baby I had not given birth to. I didn’t want everyone to assume that my experience as a mother was ordinary. But I guess, when I think about it, no one has an ordinary experience of motherhood (or fatherhood) — it feels extraordinary to all of us.