The Mother Transforms

Tonight at bedtime, I read a story to Lilly called “Someday,” by Alison McGhee & Peter H. Reynolds. The book simply, yet beautifully captures the passing of time in a mother-child relationship; beginning with “One day, I counted your fingers and toes…” and then continuing on with what “someday” might look like. It is a portrayal of the bittersweet passing of time as a mother watches her child grow.  For me it also is a sweet look into the letting go that must happen in healthy parent-child relationships. It’s not that I think the book is amazing…. but it was tonight.

Whether it was PMS getting the best of me or just the right combination of oxytocin and my being emotionally spent, the faucets busted on full force.  I could barely muffle my sobbing as I cradled Lilly, who first started giggling as she thought I was doing something funny, then looked curiously at me; her mouth on my breast, stopping to witness this new behavior of mommy’s.

Letting Go

This next transition of my role as a mother was lying itself open before me, as I imagined myself moving from mothering a baby to mothering a toddler. Lilly is 19 mos. and will be my last child. Feeling myself open to the beginning stirrings of this knowledge, as some aspects of our relationship begin to come to a close, hit me full force this evening.

Lilly and my nursing relationship is beginning to wane, though I hope it will last through her 24th month. And while this has been my plan since the beginning, knowing that I will never again experience nourishing my child through my body—that I will be letting go of one of the most intimate experiences of my life… to be conscious of this fact, to honor and welcome the transition with mindfulness and acceptance, and also with great sadness, is a path that is calling me.

Modeling Authenticity

As Lilly watched my outward processing, she slowly nursed, then sat straight up with her face an inch from mine, a quirky smile across her lips, and waved with her chubby curled fingers right at my nose. And I thought, what a beautiful thing, to be with her and allow her to witness the fullness of her mama in tears.  With my reassurance that it was all okay, that mommy just needed to let the tears out, she was completely relaxed and present to the way that I, at times, move through my emotions.

I want my daughter to be able to express her emotions, to share herself fully and to be with others with presence and authentic empathy. I want her to feel good about the way that she, as a woman, is so beautifully made—to be emotional and expressive; to experience moments of sadness, transition and love fully and openly.

Honoring the Process

And I also want to honor this process. Part of me is so ready to stop nursing—to stop being the complete mind-body nourisher of this other life. It is exhausting, albeit beautiful and transformational; it is truly an experience that takes all of me. Sometimes I miss having part of me for …well, for just me—where my body isn’t a home or a producer of food for another. I’m holding both sides and want to hold them with equal care and respect: I’m ready for the milk to flow less… for other people and comforts to take the place of “ummy,” and …wow, I am so going to miss this closeness.

I want to cherish these last moments of the intimate bond that we are sharing, which I know are laying down networks in her neural circuitry relating to trust and love, that will help to lead her to healthy relationships. And I want to be present to these sweet soon-to-be memories and honor this time, and this person, who has helped to transform me as a mother, a wife and a woman.

I could do without the biting and the fingers digging into my belly button and my armpit, the legs kicking and the, at times, ferociousness of her wanting me so eagerly, so desperately that I almost want to back away.  And I know that when it is all said and done, I will miss every ounce of every nuance of her intimate nature seeking my body for reassurance, for safety and for love.

In the end, I am thankful, I am blessed beyond measure.


For the Love of Your Life,