First, I should back up and highlight my morning laugh.
Ainsley rolled over in bed this morning and the first words out of her mouth were worthy of note: Our house is made out of bricks so the Big Bad Wolf can't puff it down.
My laundry is backed up and my painting project is stalled, but, folks, we've got this going for us.
That was my morning laugh. So on to my morning cry. You can read it here.
I've written before about how much I enjoyed nursing my babies. In a Time to Wean, I wrote about weaning Ainsley. In Why Not Take All of Me?, I looked at counting the whole (completely incalculable) cost of motherhood. Yesterday Jamie at Light and Momentary posted My Body Back.
And here's the part that made me cry:
I will miss the magic. Nursing was an effortless way for me to get it exactly right: to soothe and settle, nourish and nurture. I could nuke the pinkeye pathogens without irritating sensitive little eyes. I could stave off dehydration in a small person who couldn't keep anything else down. I could help to build the brain that would later do the heavy lifting in calculus class.
When I held my sweet, tiny babies, rocked them gently, kissed their soft heads, for those brief, shining moments, I got it exactly right.
Instantly I feel a need to add a dozen caveats to the words I just typed: Formula doesn't mean you got it exactly wrong. Those brief, shining moments often seemed neither bright nor shining. Nursing hurt like, well, it hurt a lot, as in A! Whole! Lot!
But it didn't involve hand-wringing or second guessing or weighing options. Are we being too tough, too lenient, too clueless? Will drawing a line break his spirit? Will showing mercy soften his heart?
Can I state a rather obvious fact: Parenting is hard, hard work, and parenting older children is harder still. I remember years ago reading about a fire that broke out in a long tunnel in Switzerland. People stumbled out of cars, covering their faces with anything on hand, walking, walking, walking, feeling for the walls, bumping into people and cars, moving in the direction they thought was right with no light at the end to assure them.
Once in a while parenting seems like a walk through that tunnel.
I hold on to the fact that God is good, that He loves my kids more than I do, that He is more than capable of undoing any number of moronic missteps (those being mine). I hold on to principles, too. (Although at this stage of the game, parenting strikes me as far, far less formulaic than it ever seemed years and years ago.)
Of course I appreciate the moments of joy and levity; the window that shows boys turning into young men; the wit and intelligence and virtue -- sometimes nascent, sometimes obscure, but always there if I'm willing to look for it.
And I look back at those early days and remember appreciating -- even then -- how simple it all was. Feed them and hold them and tell them how much you love them. Nursing -- cracked nipples and all --was the easiest part of mothering. It was, as Jamie put it, "an effortless way to get it exactly right."
They remain uncomplicated, these two. Above all, they love their people.
And as for the older pair, the ones who cause us to wring our hands, to analyze and over-analyze, to weigh our options, to pray like mad . . . I like how Jamie ended her piece:
I remember, vaguely, how overwhelming it was to share my body in the early days. Leaking milk into nursing pads. Living life in two-hour blocks, because my first baby nursed every two hours like clockwork. I thought I would be sad when I stopped nursing because I was pretty sure I was going to fail wretchedly at it. I didn't know I would be sad (only a little sad, friends) to stop nursing because it had been such a success. I am thinking back on the 26-year-old me, hunched over an uncooperative Alex in the NICU, and wishing I could tell her it would work out beautifully. I wonder if my future self will look back at the 43-year-old me, the one who is a little wistful and a little uncertain about her ability to guide these growing kids safely to adulthood, to smile and say it will all turn out just fine.
I think I'll hold on to that.