Eleven months and ten days after his first arrival in this world, it’s time to say goodbye to the intimate role of being the source of nutrition for my youngest. As the days come to an end, I give thanks for the blessing that it was – to nourish, to comfort, to sustain this little life from my own. It was gift. It was blessing. From the early days in the hospital to the grueling first months. From the return to work with all the embarrassing mechanics to the nighttime bedtime routine with all its sweet tender moments.
Since the beginning when we savored that first golden hour after birth, there has been an invisible tether that kept our personhood interwoven together. We have been two human bodies in deep need of one another, sharing in our fragility and strength in a way in which no other human relationship can compare.
When I first entered into this newborn world when my first was born, I was keenly aware of the ways culture had not prepared me for these moments. They had led me to believe that my body’s greatest value was found in my physical appearance. They had convinced me that my body was my own.
Now through the birth of two children, I have learned the greater beauty of womanhood. As those who dwell in these female human bodies, we are uniquely invited into the sacred, intimate, sacrifical act of Creation in partnership with the Creator. I give thanks for these eleven months and ten days when I have been able to practice stewardship of God’s creation – giving of the very essence of my humanity to another.
I give thanks for this time – not because it has been easy. There have been moments (days) when it has felt more like hassle than motherly idealism. There have been moments (days) when it has been a sacrifice that I did not make out of willingness but out of obligation. There have been moments (days) when it has made life as a youth minister extremely difficult and awkward. But like most things in Life, the significance is most clear once the end arrives. And the like most things in Love, the journey is worth the ashes.
Now with more freedom of my time and energy, may my practice of parenting continue in the same path – giving of myself to nurture, comfort, and sustain these little ones for the beautiful and yet brutal journey of life that awaits them.
“They were now bound forever one to the other. From that moment on she couldn’t even think of herself without his person….It changed everything about her; his person was the concrete arrival of spirit…They were, and continue to be, intractable persons that indwell each other.” – Andrew Root, “The Relational Pastor”
“I would feel milk and love flowing from me to her as once it had flowed to me. It emptied me. As the baby fed, I seemed slowly to grow empty of myself, as if in the presence of that long flow of love even grief could not stand.” –Wendell Berry, “Hannah Coulter”