After I posted this , I got a couple of emails offering me praise and encouragement to "keep up the good fight". I was a bit confused, but really liked the warm, fuzzy feeling that comes with getting patted on the head so I chalked it up to "new-mommy brain" and didn't worry too much about it. Then my sister commented on my last post (hey, sis, glad you found me! Next time, don't hold back, LOL!) and suddenly the lightbulbs went off. In the immortal words of Stephanie Plum, "Unh!" So now I find myself in the undesirable position of not only having to explain myself, but of having to return the praise that I realize now I didn't deserve. Blech.

Explanation first:

His suckling slows, he drifts off to sleep. Tiny tummy full, he sighs in contentment and turns his face away from my breast. His breath brushes across my arm and in that instant my longing explodes into a million pieces. I am struck with the blinding reality that this is what I've been longing for. The joy I crave is not in the doing, it is in the being. In the sight, the sound, the touch, the smell. In the rushing way my senses are filled each time we just are.

He sighs again, tiny lips still pursed in a perfect kiss. An invitation, I think, one that I accept with a fullness, a contentment, a peace unlike anything I've ever imagined. I kiss his lips, whisper "Sweet dreams" and his lips curl up into a smile. I tuck him into his bed and head off to mine.

As I drift off to sleep I feel my lips curl into a smile mirroring his. Softly my heart whispers, "This."

I wish I could say this was a description of me finding the joy that I expected to find in the act of nursing. It's not. Instead, this is the defining moment at which I realized that I would have to stop seeking this "holy grail". The moment that I learned that I would have to either accept the idea that I might very well NOT LIKE BREASTFEEDING or drive myself mad searching for something that continued to hover just out of reach. The moment that I made peace with myself and started what has turned into the most difficult journey of trusting myself and my instincts when it comes to being a mother.

Which brings me to the next confession. I am not strong. I am not courageous. I am not a fighter, a warrior, a crusader. I'm tired, emotional, stressed, and scared. I'm terrified that I'm going to choose the wrong method/diaper/toys/food and make my baby's life harder than it absolutely has to be. But there's no text book for motherhood. There are more theories than you can shake a stick at, but no one source that clearly states the when, why, and how-to of being "mommy". So, like every other new mother, I'm stuck taking this one step at a time, answering each new question as it comes to me, mostly relying on my gut to supply those answers. I'm not claiming that my way is the right way -- I'm not even sure what my way is. I'm just winging it.

Currently, winging it means that I'm weaning him. Slowly, but we are breaking away from the breast. I worried that we would feel withdrawal pangs, that I was starting down a path I wouldn't want to continue. Instead, I found immense relief -- the proverbial burden being lifted from my shoulders. I can't even begin to describe how difficult it is for me to admit this. I'm already cringing, waiting for the wrath of Motherhood to come down on my head when my confession is made public. How can I be so selfish? How can I ignore the advice, the evidence, the current modus operandi? And I have no sufficient answers for those questions, other than to say "It's what feels right for me. It's what feels right for us." And even saying that, knowing in my head that doing what feels right should be sufficient, I still feel the need to justify my decision. And I know that no matter the justification I use, I will still face a certain amount of condemnation for my decision. But when I search my soul, I feel no guilt, no shame, no embarrassment. Instead, I feel hope. Hope that if he retains even the slightest glimmer of a memory at this age he will it will be one filled with laughter, kisses and pride rather than one of anxiety, tension and resentment. I want him to remember my smile when he grabs his bottle and angles it towards his mouth, defiantly pulling it from my hand in an act of independence. I want him to remember my delight when he smacks his lips, milk running down his chin, and burbles "goo?" at me. I want his memories of being pulled to my chest to be memories of gentle arms holding him softly, of my lips nuzzling his hair, whispering how much I love him. I want the images of me crying in disillusionment and inadequacy to be replaced by snuggles and stolen kisses.

The joy I crave is not in the doing, it is in the being. In the sight, the sound, the touch, the smell. In the rushing way my senses are filled each time we just are.

I didn't find my way through my struggle, I found my way around it.



Courtney Clark said...

I don't just think, I know you are a wonderful mommy!!! Don't be so hard on yourself. I am not there but I know you are doing a wonderful job!!!!
Love you,


Lenka said...

I was afraid you'd feel some deep seeded guilt and with it the necessity for explanation. I wish you'd STOP IT!! In spite of the eloquence with which you write, and your obvious artistic ability to express your feelings, it all comes down to this... I TOLD YOU SO!!! If you'll remember, I told you the day after Bubby was born that you needed to look to YOUR God Given instincts and intelligence and give up the panic and worries. Forget most of the books, and theories,and "go-befores". Remember that they all probably have the best of intentions, and you can get a lot of information from their experiences, but they aren't YOU, and they don't have BUBBY to take care of, and raise and love. So, graciously accept the advice and help and suggestions, sift through it, discard what you don't want and then... AND THEN, just GO BE A MOMMY!!

Lenka said...

BTW, as far as I can tell, you're doing a DAMN fine job!!! And I'm your big sister so I'm ALWAYS right!!!