Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Conversation at a playground

We're mostly settled into our new apartment and new life here, so Eric started his normal writing/work schedule this week. He writes in the mornings and sometimes into the early afternoon hours while I take the kids out. Then from mid-afternoon on, it's family time.

This morning I took the three youngest to the playground at the top of the big hill overlooking vieux Nice and the port. We call it "the chateau" since there are ruins of an old fortress/castle on the top. Zari opted to stay home and read a book; she's still recovering from a stomach bug that has been making its way around our family.

I was sitting next to an Algerian woman--Muslim, I presume, from her headscarf and long robe--when Ivy got upset about something. I tried all my tricks, but nothing worked to stop the tantrum. The woman asked if I had a pacifier or a bottle to offer Ivy. I said no to both. Then she asked, "elle prend le sein?" When I said yes, she smiled broadly and waxed eloquent about the beauty and benefits of breastfeeding.

I got Ivy calmed down--nursing finally did the trick--and we started chatting.

She teaches French in Algiers at the secondary level. She comes to Nice every summer to watch her two grandchildren until school & daycare start up again in the fall. To her regret, her two grandchildren weren't breastfed very long since her daughter-in-law works full-time. We talked about nursing my four children, about being a mother, about family size, about difficult sleep with little ones, about balancing work and family.

I love these encounters...and it made me grateful that I've been able to mother my children (mostly) full-time, that I've been able to nurse all my children until they were ready to be done, and to keep an academic/professional life without feeling stretched too thin.


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