A Mother's Sabbatical

By Linda

Rating: G

Genres:

Keywords: bond marriage

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A/N: This is a quiet domestic story about Trip and T'Pol occurring sometime after the Romulan war when the Federation was newly formed.

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It was a hot day even for a Vulcan.  T'Pol padded barefoot over the patio stones shaded by the awning jutting out over the entrance to her mother's house.  The water in the garden fountain basin was low - evaporating even as it spilled down the polished layers of granite from the small hole in the top.  It was pink granite, a gift from Trip's parents.  She sat well back from the edge of the awning where the flag stones were still cool under her feet and sipped her tea.  The baby's schedule still had not settled into a pattern that would give her enough time to finish that article on working relations between Vulcans and Humans for a popular Vulcan online journal.  Still, she could now juggle a baby in one arm and answer short text messages keying one-handed.   New mothers must develop all kinds of useful skills they never knew they would need, she thought.

She leaned her head back on the chair to study the light coming through the awning.  The filtered light was almost strong enough to make a Human squint.  Yet to her, it was a lovely rose shade.   Trip had named the color 'bright red' as he stood on a ladder attaching the awning to the fasteners he had installed on the outer wall of T'Les's house.   T'Pol swallowed a bit more of her tea while thinking that she should get used to calling it 'our house'.  After all, they were slowly changing things here and there, adapting this inherited space to their own style and needs.   Their style seemed to be copied by their neighbors for earth-granite fountains and awnings on homes seemed to be popping up all over their neighborhood.   Formerly, there were only a couple of awnings on their street, in shades of brown or sand color.  Trellises had been popular during T'Pol's childhood and still were - with vines climbing over them for shade.  Trip had moved T'Les's trellis away from the entrance into a corner of the garden where he intended to build a sandbox and wading pool for T'Lizzie.  T'Pol smiled at that.  A pool to immerse in was a waste of water.  And a sand box?  All they had to do was walk to the end of their residential neighborhood to find the biggest 'sandbox' anyone could ask for. 

On rethinking, a wading pool would not need much water.  Adaptation.  That is the word she had been looking for.  Her neighbors would adapt to the fact of a half-human child possessing a wading pool.  At one time, during her first weeks on Enterprise, many Vulcans were astonished that she had stood the smell, etc., so long.  And now, on ships and in the halls of the new Federation headquarters, Vulcans where working beside Humans without wrinkling their noses and pursing their lips - at perceived sour smells, or seemingly illogical statements, or misunderstood jokes.   In fact, some Human style jokes were now threading their way through conversations T'Pol heard when she did family grocery shopping at local markets.   The young people picked up new things quicker, of course, peppering their speech with Human, Andorian, and Tellerite phrases.  This adoption of alien culture traits, more than the posturing of diplomats grudgingly announcing compromises, boded well for the success of the new born Federation.  T'Pol really enjoyed relaxing a bit under her awning - focusing on her child, mulling over the big issues instead of being neck deep in them as she would be when her weeks of mother's leave were over.

Thinking of her child brought a mild disquiet to her breast, which she repressed, not wanting to curdle her milk. 'Curdle milk' was another Human phrase she had picked up.  Was it possible to do that?   Maybe not, but a sensitive Vulcan baby might pick up a tenseness in the way she was being held, or a telepathic shadow of negative emotion.  T'Pol tipped up her cup and finished her cooling tea.  A short mid-afternoon meditation in the quiet and cool depths of T'Les's...OUR home, might whisk away such unproductive thoughts.

...

Trip slowly shook his head after closing the door behind the latest nanny applicant.

"Hon, this one frowned at everything from the set up of our baby's room to the presence of me, a Human, in the household."

"We are running short on options, Thyla," T'Pol answered softly as she gathered up the padds containing the application form, the family schedules, and the list of foods their child could eat.

"I would suggest my mother, but our employment positions are here on Vulcan.  And Mom really cannot move here."

"And I have no close relatives, in either sentiment or locale."  T'Pol said raising her eyes to search Trip's face while she scanned his telepathic emanations.  She patted the space next to her on the sofa. 

He sat, placing his hand briefly over hers in sympathy.  "I know that look and I feel the vibes you are sending.  So, what is on your mind?"

"Your income is more than enough for us to live comfortably on, for now.  We do not even have housing expenses except for minor repairs and energy requirements.  I propose that I terminate my full time employment and just compose the occasional article for the Vulcan and Human popular media.  I might even send opinion pieces to various periodicals and do a workshop now and then."

Trip did not answer right away.  T'Pol took in his 'I'm thinking' posture. 

"Okay, that is an option," he said quietly.  "But your input is just as vital as mine to both our worlds, to the Federation, and...to your own personal development and happiness."

"I am happy taking care of T'Lizzie, for now.  Indeed, a few years of domestic simplicity, undisturbed by crisis upon crisis at work, might allow me to step back and logically study how the interaction of Federation cultures is progressing and how I might be able to fit into things when I return to work."

Trip looked at her, his expression showing concern.  "And?  I feel you have not said all that is on your mind."

T'Pol took a deep breath. "I am jealous when I see another woman touching my baby.  Sometimes, I am even jealous when I think YOU are occupying her attention too long.  I...am not sure I can leave her for any length of time.  When I went shopping last week and came home to find you both gone off somewhere, I hunted you down like a hungry wild sehlat."

"T'Pol, we only were out for a short walk in the evening because it was such a nice sunset."

"I realize that.  Now.  And I understand that these feelings...are not entirely rational."

"They are normal feelings for Human mothers and from what I have seen, of Vulcan mothers too - especially mothers of very young children.  If mothers didn't feel this way, fewer children would survive childhood."

"You are indulging me with Human soothing techniques.  But we are living on Vulcan.  And as you see, Vulcan professional child care workers do not indulge in sentiment.  I am of mixed thoughts on this issue.  What is best for our child?  I am not certain.  All I know is I will be unwilling to trust others with the care of my child when my official mother's leave is over."

"Then the decision is made.  Of course I will support you staying home with T'Lizzie as long as you feel it is necessary.  And I wouldn't worry about you not being able to find employment whenever you want to return to work.   You will always be highly employable.  I will leave it up to you."

"Thank you, Trip.  I am glad you support my not quite logic based decision."

Trip gave her his best mischievous grin.  "Life is not logic based, for the most part, in my observation."

...

School was out for the day and an eight-year-old girl was coming home after stopping at a friend's house to receive a snack from her friend's mother and pet the family sehlat.  Then because her parents expected her home soon, T'Lizzie ran out through the gate of her friend's house, on the past the two houses up the street, skipped up the steps to her own home, swung open the metal filigreed gate, and ran past the fountain to skid to a stop next to the ladder her father was balanced on.

"The new awning!  It IS about time, Dad.  But another red one?  T'Mar and Sintik's parents..."

"I am not T'Mar and Sintik's father," Trip announced pointedly.

"...have a blue and blood green striped one.  It is awesome.  The colors are popular.  This red, Dad, puleeease!  Out of style years ago." 

"The color was my decision, T'Lizzie," came T'Pol's voice as she stood up from an herb bed she was tending.

"Mom, you don't keep up with changing styles like other mothers who work in the city and see what is becoming popular.  Oh well, I am over at T'Mar's more than she is over here.  Maybe she will never see this hideous..."

"T'Lizzie!  Don't critizise your mother like that.  I think the color of the awning is just fine.  None of our friends have complained about it.  And we have never received a letter from the neighborhood association asking us to clean up or change something on our property...like SOME other people have received.  Just run along now and get to your homework."

"Yes, Father.  Sorry, Mother.  Oh, and it really wasn't T'Mar's parent's fault.  They didn't know their sehlat would grow big enough to jump fences and eat everyone's herbs and flowers. " 

Pouting, T'Lizzie stomped into the house.

Trip turned, leaning one elbow on a ladder rung to say "It is time, isn't it?"

T'Pol picked up a basket of freshly cut herbs and walked over to stand beneath the ladder.  "Yes, definitely it is time.  The Vulcan Warp Drive Development Group needs its Human CEO wide awake in the morning, so do not wait up for me tonight.   I will be up half the night submitting employment applications."                 
               


Comments:

Linda

LOL, sorry about the curdled milk.  I didn't know it was an old wife's tale superstition.  I just used it as another human expression that T'Pol might have picked up.  Okay, should have researched that one, LOL.  And I did have a suspition I was making T'Pol too emotional, a bit too human in her hunting down her child.  Since two people mentioned her emotionality, I will have to watch that in future stories.  It just seemed basic instinct for mothers to be over protective of infants, regardless of species.  It shows that I will have to give equal focus to all aspects of a story - not just the major points I am trying to make.  Thanks, everyone, these reviews are very helpful. :p    

Cogito

I'm an absolute sucker for stories of Trip and T'Pol quietly getting on with their daily lives together. Especially when they're as well written as this one is. It was interesting to see from T'Pol's point of view, what it was like getting used to having her own home, her own family. The fierce protectiveness rings true too.

I especially like the little touches you have included - Trip's earth-inspired decorations starting new fashions in the neighbourhood, and youngsters adopting even more explicit references. I can imagine Trip's awning being quite tasteful and suitable for a quietly respectable Vulcan neighbourhood, while the youngsters go for ever more garish fashions seen on terran broadcasts. I wonder what the young 'uns would make of Trip's infamous Hawaiian shirts, if they saw them? :p

Mary

I liked this... no crucial, life threatening decisions to make, just "simple" domesticity. T'Pol was pwehaps a bit too "human" -  clingy and emotional . Trip was perfect. I liked the together as in married, child accepted by the neighbourhood....alll nice. T'Lizzie, a typical child who thinks her parents are not cool- a unniversal truth. Thanks for the indulgence.

justTrip'n

I enjoyed seeing T'Pol worrying about her bi-species child being raised by a nonsentimental caregiver (she does respect aspects of Human culture or at least she recongnizes that her child is half Human and might need the sentimental approach). Meanwhile Trip calms her worries about making an irrational decision with a rational point about evolution. It seems they have been subtly changed by each other. That's nice.

As for T'Pol's worry that her child would be raised by someone who didn't care deeply about her child, that is a legitimate concern. We were lucky, but it is important to check if your children are truely happy with their caregivers and to drop in unannounced now and then to see what they are doing on a typical day.

Asso

Alelou said:
Fanfic.net appears to have swallowed my review over there, so I'll try again here.


The same happened to me, anyway I think this story deserves such an effort.

Alelou

Fanfic.net appears to have swallowed my review over there, so I'll try again here.  This was lots of fun!

Distracted

Very nice.  The only thing that didn't ring true for me was the "curdle milk" comment.  Seems odd to me that a woman who prides herself on logic would even give a passing thought to human folk superstition.  Where would she have even heard of the idea?  Trip's an intelligent and well-educated man.  He wouldn't give the idea any more consideration than she would, I wouldn't think.  And his parents are hardly hillbillies.  It just didn't work for me. I'm something of a career breastfeeding proponent, though, so it probably bothers me a lot more than anyone else.  Otherwise, I liked the story a lot.

Silverbullet

Linda, you gave clairty to what I have trying to explain to my Daughter. Two people, not two species.  Your  whole story was about two people. Their child and their  decision that T'Pol stay home for a while until the child got older. A two person decision. Others might have had T'pol fall back on Vulcan Logic and custom to make her diecision. Which might have cut the child out entirely.

Love this little tale of home life for the Tuckers

SB

Kotik

Hm, I love domestic. No angst crap, just pure fluffy TnT goodness. Hooray for Linda :D

Asso

Let alone the marvellous ability with which you are capable of showing  such fascinating domestic scenes; I think this sentence is worth a whole world:

Life is not logic based, for the most part, in my observation.

Bravo Linda; once again you were able to bring to light something that many others have not even suspected.

Aikiweezie

I guess I DO have something in common with T'Pol, LOL!!!!!!  My son is turning 8 in October and I'm going crazy, too!

T'Pols musings at the beginning were wonderful!  I love "slice of life" stories like this.

eK

Lovely, Linda.  :)

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