Any mother knows how selfless this whole momming project is. From the unpredictable hormones, to the fluctuating weight, to the inevitable changes in your body that should only be seen in a science fiction movie. Motherhood is not for the weak. It changes you, or at least it should, and the focus becomes entirely placed on this new person who relies on you for literally everything.
Then the day comes when things begin to shift. You need them to shift. In my case, it’s been a long time coming. I’ve been pregnant or breastfeeding for over 5 years. My body has been through the wringer. I chose this. I’ve loved it, I’ve hated it, I’ve praised God for every second and then had moments where I cried and wondered what my husband and I were thinking.
My youngest is our last, unless God decides to do something crazy, and I decided that I need my body back. I do everything for these little people. Everything. I love them, I serve them, I meet their needs and most of their wants. And now Mama is tired and needs to stop breastfeeding so she can sleep through the night again. The decision was made more than a few months ago but with no action. Those big blue eyes don’t help or the fact that when he nurses, it’s the ONLY time he’ll lay still in my arms and let me kiss his cheeks.
Instead of losing interest on his own (like the other two), I actually think he started wanting it more as he aged instead of less. After one particularly frustrating night of very little sleep for me and lots of sleep and milk for him, I had it. I announced to my husband that I had given these children everything and all I wanted was to sleep alone and uninterrupted. Was that really too much to ask?
So I pulled the plug. He didn’t really notice too much at first. He seemed to want it a few times but lost interest after less than a minute and kept playing with his brother and sister. I was relieved. Right? I was supposed to be relieved and then the tears came. My baby. My last baby. He doesn’t even need me. Is he sad? Is he feeling abandoned?? I’m most certainly scarring him for life and now he’ll have trust issues with women forever. WAHHHH! Ok, deep breaths.
This is good, I convinced myself. I have earned at least a little bit of freedom back. They took my free time, my figure, and even my bladder control. Now all I wanted was some sleep. So why was I so miserable? Why was I regretting the decision less than hours after it had finally been acted on?
I think I know why. This selfless love is not natural. This maternal instinct isn’t natural. The ability to endure childbirth and immediately forget the pain as soon as you lay eyes on that baby is most certainly not natural. It’s supernatural. These feelings come from the Creator who made this process. He designed this love so that we could catch even the tiniest glimpse of how much He loves us. God has carefully knit and woven families together so that the bonds will stay strong and we will not separate.
Breastfeeding or not. Weaning at 6 months or 36 months. Biological babies or adopted. It doesn’t matter. That bond is there and it was created perfectly. We’re the ones that manage to screw it up in our own sinful and selfish nature.
I love how much I love my kids. I love how much I need time away from them and then miss them as soon as my car leaves the driveway. I love knowing that my Heavenly Father knew how to design parenting because He is the ultimate selfless and unconditionally loving parent.
My heart is hurting from the decision to stop but it is soothed by the knowledge that my kids know that they are desperately treasured and wanted. My husband and I joke that we’re probably screwing them up by telling them that we love them too often. Is that a thing? If it’s a thing, we’re doing it.
I thank God for all of it. For the guidance, for the roadmap to parenting He laid out in scripture, and for the instant and supernatural selflessness that comes the moment you find out that your life is now bigger than just you.
*At the time of publication, baby boy has wiggled his way back into my arms to nurse at least once or twice a day but is sleeping the whole night in his own room. Hallelujah!! I would do a victory dance but I’d probably pee a little.