What is it about life that makes time seem to fly by so fast?
A common phrase among us all is, “Time flies when you’re having fun!” And when seasoned parents speak to new parents they often say “They grow up in the blink of an eye!”
I have been curious why things seem to be going faster the older I get.
When I was a child, I remember it seemed like years before the end of the school year or waiting for Christmas to come again. From birthday to birthday felt like ages and some years I just couldn’t wait to “be bigger”. Why is it that now, as my 35 birthday approaches, that I feel like I blinked and my teens and twenties were gone?
I decided to do some reading on the subject and found some very interesting articles. One in particular stated that it all has to do with anticipation and retrospection. This resonated true with me. When we are waiting for something monumental to finally happen the anticipation can make it feel like time is moving in slow motion. Where as after it has happened and we look back on it, it seems as if time was moving at the speed of light. As we continue to age we pass more and more milestones. The more milestones we pass the faster they seem to have gone by.
As we grow up and get older we are constantly waiting for the next milestone. The next birthday, the new school year, getting our driver’s license, voting for the first time, graduating from high school, college, turning 21, getting married and having our first child. This is just to name a few along this journey called life.
I have definitely had a lot of fun in the past 35 years of my life and so I could believe that because of all that fun time has flown by. But I have also had a lot of sadness too. The most difficult to bear being the loss of my mother. As the anniversary of her passing approaches each August, I reflect on the last month of her life. The last 2 weeks in the hospital with her as she slowly faded away and her body succumbed to the terrible cancer ravishing her organs. Those two weeks in the hospital felt like an eternity. All of the waiting and wondering if she would make it through. Not knowing if each touch of her hand would be the last. The day she passed felt like the longest day of my life. Learning to go to sleep without her physical presence in my life anymore felt like an unbearable task. Singing at her funeral and greeting each guest that arrived to honor her felt like a mountain I would never finish climbing.
Now as I look back on it almost 14 years later, it seems like it was only yesterday. The fun and the sadness in our lives all seem to pass by quickly in retrospection but in the moments of anticipating the next stage they seem to drag on.
Since becoming a mom the milestones that I am anticipating are those of my daughter. It seemed like an eternity until her birth when I was pregnant. Then she was here and as I looked back on my pregnancy I couldn’t believe it was already over.
Her first smile, first words, first tooth and first steps all seemed to come so fast. Why are her milestones slipping by faster than my own? Or are they both going by just as fast but I am more focused on hers? I don’t really know. I suppose the latter is true.
Violet has seemingly grown up over night. When we first moved into our temporary house (housing provided by the government to those who lost their homes in the tsunami) she was only 19 months old. She couldn’t reach handles and needed help opening doors. Now almost 2 years later, she is closing the door opening the fridge and showing herself to the bathroom without any assistance needed. I blinked and she became a little girl rather than my baby girl. She will always be my baby, of course, but she so big now.
Witnessing the changes in her life both physically and emotionally is such a gift. Last month every day that I dropped her off at school was heart wrenching. She cried and begged to stay with me. It tore my heart in two each morning and each night as she would ask me if there was school tomorrow and I had to answer yes. The school year starts in April here and she started a new class (preschool class) on April 4th. The first day of school was so different than the days before that. She woke up excited to go to school. She told me she loved me best but loved her friends too. My heart soared that she had found a way to find happiness at school.
Now, she tells me in the mornings sometimes “Mommy, I am not going to say ‘No school today?’ anymore because I am a grown up.” I tell her that she can if she wants to but it’s o.k. if she doesn’t. She has told me she is not going to cry when we get to school either because she’s a big girl now. I again tell her that she can if she wants to and it’s also o.k. if she doesn’t.
When we take her to school she wants to walk in sometimes vs. being carried in. And this morning when we were saying goodbye after several kisses and spoken goodbyes she stood at the door to her class and said “mama, I’m not going to say goodbye anymore. I love you.” and then she walked into her class. She did pop her head back out though and wave and say I love you in her kitty voice until we could no longer see each other.
It is so precious to see her growing up. I sometimes can’t even believe how fast this has all gone. I imagined it feeling fast but not this fast. Some days I just want to stop the clock and stay in these moments forever. I want to hold her so tight and wrap her up in my arms and never let her go. But I know that I can’t do that. I want her to have a full life, exploring every opportunity that she chooses to explore. I am excited about reaching future milestones with her while at the same time wanting to hold on to these days as long as I can. I am always trying to learn how to hold on without holding her back.
The fun times and the sad times will continue to pass through our lives and I will probably look back on today a few years from now and think it was only yesterday that she was going to preschool. I know that time will continue to go by faster and faster the older I get and the older she gets.
As parents the days are sometimes long and the years are often too quick. Days of nursing, changing and late nights will seem so close yet so far away and one day she will be graduating from college and I will without a doubt be whispering in my heart “How did my baby become a young woman so fast.”
One day I will be writing about her weaning and I will again be hit with the heart wrenching awareness of how fast she has grown up. Today I will cherish the moments of the day. Tomorrow I will look back with fondness and awe at how quickly it all went by.
The four words that broke my heart and all too soon, I might add. My 3 year and 5 month old daughter watched as I put on my make-up yesterday morning before work and as usual wanted to experiment with a little of it on her own face. I usually give her a soft powder brush that I have never used in make-up before. Yesterday however, she was very aware that there was nothing on her brush or in the cap she was using to dab her brush in. So I gave her a tiny bit of transparent Bare Essentials powder to play with.
I wear make-up every day and I usually put it on when she is not in the room but sometimes she sneaks in and wants to be like mommy and pretend with it. For the most part, I only wear powder, concealer and mascara. The times I have the most trouble keeping her out of my make-up are when I wear eyeshadow. I don’t usually wear it but for special occasions I dab a little on. Yesterday I attended the graduation ceremony of one of my schools and so I was dressed up. I wore a dress and tights (I usually wear pants) and Violet was thrilled to see me in my dress. My daughter wears a dress or a skirt every day, not because I make her but because she loves to wear them. She insists on it actually.
As I was putting on my make-up she came in the room and asked if she could put some on too. She quickly hurried off to get her stool so she could see the mirror and reach my make-up bag. She said, “I want to look pretty too, Mama.” I told her, “You are already pretty sweetheart. Make-up doesn’t make us pretty, it is just fun to wear. Mommy, just wears it for fun.” She asked again. Finally, I relented and gave her the powder brush and empty lid to pretend with.
She wanted the eyeshadow though. I tried to distract her with the softness of the brush and then put a tiny bit of the transparent powder in the lid. But she really wanted the colorful eyeshadow, and why wouldn’t she? It’s sparkly, and full of bright colors like her paint box. I told her she could have the powder then she looked up at me and uttered those four words I was dreading to hear, “But I am not pretty enough!” My husband and I both shared a heartbreaking glance and I tried my best to think of what to say next. I went over to her and hugged her and told her that she was beautiful and my husband came and told her that mommy was beautiful with out makeup too. I didn’t know what else to say.
How did this happen already? How did my sweet little baby come up with the idea that she is not pretty enough in her own skin? We don’t allow her to watch princess movies or even read the books. And she doesn’t play with Barbies. Was it all from just watching me? What could I do to change her mind on this? Is it too late?
Last night, as I showered and got ready for bed my mind still couldn’t stop thinking of what had happened that morning. I wondered about how long it had been since I felt comfortable in my own skin and confident enough to leave my house without wearing at least powder. I can’t remember.
From the time I was at least 14, I felt the need to have make-up on my face to be considered acceptable for public appearances. I remember begging my mother to let me start to wear make-up when I was in the 6th grade and her trying to convince me that I didn’t need it. She finally allowed me to wear blush and pale lip gloss to my first boy girl dance that year. After that came a nude lipstick and clear mascara. By the 8th grade I was wearing it all, from foundation to blue eyeliner and bright lipstick.
I loved my make-up and feeling like a grown up as I painted my face each day. I felt prettier. I felt more confident and more noticeable. Where did I learn this from? Probably from my peers, books, magazine and TV.
My mom was a beautiful woman and I can remember thinking, I can’t wait to be old enough to not worry about imperfections (pimples) that I needed to cover up. My mom had such beautiful skin and she did leave the house without makeup sometimes. I often thought she was one of those people lucky enough to not need make-up. I, on the other hand, am not one of those people. I have breakouts (still do at almost 35) and fever blisters on occasion. I have an uneven skin tone and small eyes. All of these features on my face that were created to be just as they are make me feel insecure and less beautiful. So I have worn make-up to “better myself” on a daily basis since I was a young teen waiting for the day when I wouldn’t need it anymore.
Last night I remembered a girl in college who gave up wearing make-up for Lent to remind herself to not focus on external beauty. At the time I thought, “She can do that because she has perfect skin. I could never do that.” She did have beautiful skin but I am sure she felt insecure about certain things just like the rest of us. It made an impression on me but didn’t cause me to take any action toward changing the way I felt about myself.
As I continued to think about her and then think about my precious and beautiful daughter I realized that the best way to show Violet that she doesn’t need make-up to be beautiful was for me to feel that way about myself. I needed to feel pretty in my own skin to be an example for her. I am not saying that moms need to eschew make-up permanently or that I am a bad mom for wanting to wear it. Because, although I do wear it to improve the way I look, I also really do still love to play with it. What I realized was that I needed to find a balance and that I needed to make sure that she sees me leaving the house and being around other people without it and still feel confident in myself.
So, this morning I took the plunge. I made the decision when I woke up that I would not wear make-up to work today. I showered and styled my hair as usual and then got dressed for the day. When my daughter came in the room I knelt down beside her and asked her to look at mama’s face. She touched my skin and said, “your boo boos (pimples) are all better mama!!” I smiled, knowing that the scars from my last breakout were still visible to me but to her they looked all better. She rubbed my skin and I told her, “mommy is not going to wear make-up to work today. I am pretty enough without it.” She smiled and took my hand.
I want my daughter to feel beautiful everyday. I want her to see the beauty in other people. I want her to see that prettiness is only skin deep but true beauty shines from our souls.
I love that she thinks I am beautiful just as I am. To her, I am perfect. There isn’t a thing about my body that she would change. From my soft arms to my fluffy bum. She loves me. I want to love myself that way too because I want her to love herself in that way.
Yesterday, I wore a short sleeved dress but put a sweater on top. She begged me to take it off. I did for just a moment and she shouted with the purest joy “Mama, I can see your beautiful arms! You are so beautiful!” I believe her when she tells me I am beautiful and I want her to believe me when I tell her she is beautiful too.
Today, I feel a little nervous without my make-up to hide behind but I am trying to make myself make eye contact with people and to smile. It is a start right? I am pretty enough. I am beautiful enough. I am who I am and I hope that I can be confident in that not just for my daughter, but for myself too.
Who will join me in this journey? Let your daughters and any other young women in your life know that they ARE pretty enough. Let yourself know that you are pretty enough.
This is me without makeup today. Join me on facebook or here in the comments and post your beautiful picture without make-up.
Today I was asked to write a letter to my daughter to submit into the end of the year memory book for her nursery school. I was only allowed a page. So I will write what I submitted along with everything else I wanted to say. ❤
Dearest Violet すみれ、
We are coming to the end of your first full year of nursery school. You have been going for a year and a half actually. I never thought I would be working outside the home after you were born but here we are. Every day that I send you to school a piece of my heart goes with you. But each time I pick you up at the end of the day, your smiles put my heart back together again.
I wanted you for so long. I loved you before you were even born. From the moment that little plus sign showed up on the first of 4 tests, I loved you. As I carried you in my womb I worried and prayed for your safety and well being. The first moment I saw your tiny form at 7 weeks on that black and white fuzzy print, you stole my heart. When I finally heard your heartbeat racing through the speakers of the ancient Doppler machine at our doctors office I no longer knew where your beat ended and mine began. And I laughed and cried tears of pure joy and relief. When I felt that tiny butterfly movement inside my growing belly for the first time, I knew that I would do anything to protect you. Watching my body change and grow to accommodate your growing body was the most amazing miracle I have ever witnessed. When I finally saw your tiny sweet face and looked into your innocent eyes for the first time I finally knew what it was like to love someone without restraint. When I held you in my arms and brought you to my breast at long last, I felt peace, I felt like this was where we were supposed to be. I knew that I was born to be your mommy. It was as if you had always been with me and yet I was filled with such anticipation to know you.
We have loved every second of having you in our lives. Through changing diapers and late night nursing, we have loved you. Through sleepless nights and joy filled days, we have loved you.
For three years now we have been given the gift of enjoying your smiles, your laughs, your hugs and your kisses. We may have taught you a few things along the way but dear Violet, you have taught us so much more. You have taught us how to be patient, how to be compassionate and about true empathy. When you are sick or sad my heart actually hurts. When you laugh my soul shines. You have taught me how to live each day with pure joy and to truly live in each moment we are given. With you, I now know what true unconditional love is. I know how it feels to give it and to receive it. It is a humbling experience to be loved so much by one person.
I have made many mistakes in this short time I have been allowed to be your mommy and I don’t doubt there will be countless more. Thus far, you have been quick to forgive and so you have also taught me what it is like to be truly forgiven. To forgive and to actually forget the wrongs done to you and to go on loving as if it never happened.
I will do my best to protect you dear daughter and to nourish your great strengths while also letting you experience your life. There will be times that I cannot protect you but I have faith that you are always in the care and protection of the One who made you. I am learning every day how to hold you without holding too tightly.
Thank you for loving us, Violet. Thank you for being our daughter, our friend and our teacher. “I love everything you are and all that you will be.”
With love that lasts forever, Mommy
I have been an avid reader since I was a little girl. If I had a picture of my favorite place to read as a kid and teen, I would post it. We had this high backed chair in our house that was reupholstered 2 or 3 times I think. It came from my Grandmother’s house originally. When I was about nine it was upholstered in a pink,white and turquoise, southwestern pattern. (Very popular in the early 90’s) I used to love to lay on it with my back and head on the seat and my legs up along the back of the chair and feet hanging over the top. Sounds weird for reading, I know, but I loved it. I loved reading all kinds of books and I was lucky enough that my mom was an avid reader who happened to have a wonderful collection of books from her youth too. So I was stocked! I had my own personal library plus mom always took us on trips to the library to check out whatever books we wanted. I can still remember the smell of our little library and how the cold steel on the doors felt so revitalizing on a hot South Texas day. Walking into that quiet library knowing that there was an endless number of adventures awaiting my mind and my fingertips was exhilarating to me. I still feel that sense of excitement when I step into a library today.
During summer vacation, my mom and I would often read a book together. I would wake up in the morning and go crawl into her bed. She would pull the soft cotton sheets over us both and we would pick up where we had left off the day before. Reading aloud to each other, alternating after a chapter, the stories would come alive. My mom had a great reading voice and always drew us into the story with her enthusiastic reading. One of our favorite books to read together was The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. The copy we read from was my mother’s from when she was a young girl. The pages were a bit yellowed and there were some small tears here and there. The scent of the old paper and the inscription on the inside cover “To Pamela with love, The Roberts” drew me into her world. I could picture her as a 10 year old girl opening the pages with anticipation of what adventures might lie within this new gift. She had some neighbors who gave her books on special occasions. We read The Secret Garden aloud to each other the summer of my freshman year in High School. We had both read it several times before but it was one of our favorites so we decided to reread it together. We were lost in the gardens together and lost in the love of a mother for her son even after she had passed on to the next life. Little did I know that 7 years later my own mother would no longer be with me in this world. And so that book still holds special meaning for me.
I read to Violet every day. I have read to her since she was in my womb in fact. Every night we read at least 3 books. We started out with just 1 book a night but as her love for the written word has grown we have added to the nightly ritual. We read throughout the day as well but definitely at least 3 books as we are lying in bed. If she is feeling particularly sleepy she will nurse while I read. She struggles to see the pictures and will often tug down on the pages to get a better look. Other times she is content just to listen to my voice as I read to her. She has memorized the way I read her favorites and if I put emphasis on a different word than I usually do she will correct me. Or if Daddy is reading one that I usually read she will correct him if he doesn’t emphasize the same words. For example I usually say “I just can’t wait to dance.” But if I say, “I just can’t wait to dance” she will ask me to read it the right way. With a smile. Another funny thing she does when I read is if I yawn while reading she will say “Mama, can you try that again please?”
I love snuggling up with her and reading. It is hard for me to see the words over her sweet head as I hold it down for her to see the pictures while she is nursing. But I love how she wants to be close to my heart. I can remember laying on my own mother’s chest and feeling her voice as she spoke to me or read to me. It was enough to soothe me even as a teenager.
I am thrilled that Violet has developed the same love for books that I have. I can’t wait for the day when we can read aloud together alternating and sharing in an adventure. But for now, I am enjoying entertaining her with my own renditions of our favorites and cherishing the closeness of our nursing/reading sessions before bed.
She is growing so fast and I can hardly believe how much she changes even week by week. Two weeks ago, Violet read her very first book aloud all by herself. We have been using The Bob Books as a tool for reading and she just adores them. The stories are simple and have words that use the first phonetic sounds only. For example, “The cat sat.” She was so pleased with herself and when she finished it she looked up at me with a surprised look on her face and said “I read that book, mama.” It was a special moment for us all.
Just in case your interested, our favorite books to read together are:
Zippity Zebra and the Windy Day by Claire Henley
Someday by Alison McGhee
Love You Forever by Robert Munsch
any Sandra Boynton Book (especially The Belly Button Book)
Bear Feels Scared
Bear Stays Up For Christmas
Bear Snores On
Bears Loose Tooth
Don’t Be Afraid Little Pip (and all the above Bear Books) by Karma Wilson
Nursies When the Sun Shines by Katherine Henley
Winter Days in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder
I Wear My Tutu Everywhere by Wendy Cheyette Lewison
What are some of your favorite books to share with your little ones?
Do you have any special memories involving reading?
Violet and I were sharing some time on the couch after returning home from school and work. I decided I would ask her “what’s your favorite thing about having milkies?” I wasn’t sure what she would answer. I thought perhaps she would say the milk. She looked up at me with smiling, sparkling eyes for a moment. Then she pointed her short chubby finger up at me and touched it down onto my chest and said “you mama!” I said “what about me?” She replied, “I love my milkies mama because I love you. I love to be with you.” Then she also said that she, of course likes the taste of her milkies too.
Love can be shown in so many ways to our children. Spending time together is one of the most important ways, in my opinion. For Violet, when we sit down or lay down to nurse she gets my undivided attention. We look into each others’ eyes and we share a conversation without speaking. I am thinking of her and she is thinking about me. I know this because I have asked her, “what are you thinking about now sweetheart?” She usually answers, “you.” These moments are so precious and so sweet. Sometimes during a nursing session she will stop and ask me questions about my day or tell me something about her day. Breastfeeding such a vocal child is so rewarding in so many ways.
This connection that we have will not last forever. One day she will not need her milkies anymore. I have told her over and over that she can have her milkies until she is ready to not have them anymore. I tell her this not to try to encourage her to stop, but to let her know that she has the ability to decide when she wants to stop. These conversations usually happen after she asks me if “so and so” still has milkies. For example, her cousin and aunt that she looks up to so much are 9 and 10 years old. She has asked if they still have milkies. I explain to her that they had them before but they don’t have them anymore. She asked me why they stopped. I told her that they stopped because they were ready to stop. Violet is very much into role play. She loves to pretend to be her Aunt or her cousin and many other people or animals that she loves. When she is pretending to be someone who doesn’t breastfeed she will tell me “I am Maddie now so I am ready to not have milkies anymore. But then I will be Violet again ok, Mama?” I always play along.
I see her reaching out for her independence. I am watching her experiment with letting go. I will not hold her back and I will not push her forward. I am lovingly letting her be and letting her discover this on her own. She still nurses quite frequently when we are home together all day. But I know that she is thinking about it more than she used to. We co-sleep and she still nurses to sleep as well. Sometimes she will tell me that she just wants to fall asleep by herself. I let her try and wait for her to ask for me. A few times she has just fallen asleep laying on top of me instead of nursing. We will take this journey at what ever speed she chooses. I will cherish these days for as long as I live. This journey has been a lot longer than I expected it to be but I have not regretted one day of it.
Are you still nursing a toddler or preschooler?
When did you start to see a change in their frequency?
Dear 70 year old me,
I have no idea where you are living now. I have no idea what you will be doing at this age. In my 34 year old mind I like to imagine that you and Gabe have retired and are enjoying spending time together. I pray you are cherishing each other as the days go by. I imagine that you are doting on a grandchild or two and definitely still adoring the friendship you and Violet have created through these years. I am sure as you sit back and think of the days when she was small you wonder how the time could slip through your fingers so quickly. How in the blink of an eye she was grown and gone off to create her own life and her own way in this world. I hope you remember the simple things in your life. I hope you to live for each moment. I pray you wake with the spirit of that 3 year old girl so many years ago that woke you with kisses and giggles, feeling that the day is not to be conquered but enjoyed and treasured. I imagine that in the span of your life you have not regretted the lack of sleep that you got as a mother of a young child. I would wager to say that you do not wish that you had slept just a little bit more in the mornings before heading off to work. I can almost guarantee that you are wishing, in fact, that you had woken up earlier to relish in the laughter and hugs and kisses of your little girl. To cradle her in your arms while you still could. To linger in her arms as she squeezed your neck so tight and left warm wet kisses on your face. To watch as she pounced out of bed ready to greet the morning with energy that could not be contained any longer. I imagine that you often close your eyes and still see that tiny ballerina dancing in her pajamas as she made her way to the next room, then insisted on putting on her “real ballet clothes” to give you a special, private performance of the Nutcracker Ballet. I want you to remember this morning. The love you both felt for each other. Remember the joy in her voice as she stood behind the curtain that separated the shower and the kitchen announcing “Today I’m going to do a big ballet show”. She flung open the curtain and began dancing along to the Nutcracker music, remembering what each movement portrayed and trying to recreate it herself. Then asking you to join her, and at that moment saying to yourself, “Remember this, cherish this, this time in her life of carefree bliss.” Remember the sheer joy that being together brings to her heart and to yours. Remember what she answered when you asked her “what does love mean?” She said “Love means always being together.” Spending time together is how she shows and feels love. I am sure love will mean many things to her as she grows and matures into a woman. But at this moment it means being together. Whether she is living next door now or is if she is on the other side of the world, remind her that you are always together. If we carry each other in our hearts we are always together.
Now that you and Gabe are on your own again, perhaps you are getting a little more sleep than you used to. I am sure you miss these early mornings and wish that you could go back to them for just one brief moment. So I want to tell you that I am cherishing them for us. I am soaking up every minute. I am trying to preserve these memories in my heart of dancing before dawn and cooking breakfast in the dim light of morning. I am holding on without holding her back. So that one day, when you close your eyes and listen to the music that plays in your heart you will be there. You will be there with this tiny ballerina, this beautiful soul who loves you no matter what, who forgives you no matter how badly you fail. These days she often asks “Will I always be your baby?” and you always answer “always and forever!”. And then she asks “how long is forever?” you always answer her “forever means it never ends, it goes on and on and on. It never stops, never fades.” She will always be your baby no matter how old she is. These days went by faster than you ever dreamed possible but I am sure you remember the love.
Love, you (mom of 3 year old Violet)
Some call it extended. Some call it extreme. We call it normal. For three years now our precious daughter has been bringing us joy, love and laughter. She is a bright and loving child and we cherish every day with her.
She has also been breastfeeding for three years now. When I first started nursing her I never imagined she would still be doing so and doing it so much at this age. But she is.When we started out I did not have a clear cut line of when we would stop, I just knew that one day she would. I started out just hoping I could do it and then hoping she would continue for a few months, six months, a year. We just kept going.
I had some good advice from a friend about baby led weaning. I had never heard of it before. But I liked the sound of it. So at about 2 months in I decided that is what we would do. I imagined that at some point after her first birthday she would start to give it up little by little. She didn’t start really eating food until she was about 10 months old. So I knew she still needed the nourishment from my milk.
Her first birthday came and went and she was still nursing like a 4 month old. She preferred breastfeeding to food. We were o.k. with that. She has never been under weight but just at the bottom of average. The doctors never told us she was unhealthy or malnourished. So we just continued on.
Before her second birthday we lost our home in the tsunami of March 2011. As you can imagine it was a tumultuous time for all of us. She no longer had her safe place and we were living with other people for about 2 months. She nursed more frequently at that time. She nursed for nourishment and mostly for comfort.
As her second birthday approached I started wondering if this would be the time she would start to let go. But still she continued. At 2 years old she was going to nursery school from 8-2:45. She nursed when she woke up and as soon as we picked her up. She nursed 2-3 times before bed and always nursed to sleep. She woke up at least 2 times to nurse in the night as well.
Violet started eating more food and gaining more weight as she started to eat different foods at school but still preferred nursing during dinner time. It was hard for her to be away from me and vice versa. When we got home she wanted to be attached to my body. She wanted that closeness and I did too.
This has continued on and we have now celebrated 3 years of life with this precious girl. She is just recently, in the last 3 months to be exact, started to drop some nursing sessions. She now will go from after her morning feeding until 5pm at the latest. Some days she still wants them as soon as we get in the car to drive home from school. Other days she is content to play and sing and drink other yummy drinks until closer to dinner time.
She still nurses during dinner and and she still nurses to sleep. I don’t know if I am doing this the right way or the wrong way. I just know that I am doing what feels natural to us. I have never denied her her milkies unless she is screaming for them in an unpolite way. She has to ask for them nicely. Other than that I don’t offer and I don’t refuse. She still uses my breast to calm down when she is hurt or when she is feeling overly upset. It is still the quickest way to calm her down and stop a tantrum. I am not an expert or a psychologist, I am just a mom doing the best I can to raise a healthy and loving child.
Nursing a 2-3 year old is very different from nursing a newborn or even a 6 month old. Our connection is so much deeper. When I nurse her and she looks into my eyes it is almost as though we can read each other’s hearts. She is sometimes playful at my breast and other times she is just gazing up at me with a love like I have never known before. She sometimes comes off my breast and just tells me “I love you, mommy! I love you!!!” Other times she puts up her hand in the I love you sign. I return it and she likes to touch our fingertips together in the I love you sign.
When we go to bed at night she looks into my eyes as she nurses and rocks herself against my body as she drinks herself to sleep as I sing her favorite lullaby. Her teeth sometimes clinch down as she falls asleep but if I flinch she wakes up and apologizes. Her small hands now cover my breast when she holds them up to her mouth. And when my milk lets down she smiles up at me as the milk drips down her chin and says “Milkies are coming milkies are coming!” in a voice that suggests she has just won the lottery.
We have many new positions in which we nurse and some have remained old favorites. She still loves me to cradle hold her while she nurses. She still loves it when I stand and rock her as she nurses. We both still love laying down facing each other on our sides. Sometimes she likes to sit up straddling me and nurse. Some of the new positions are laying directly on top of me with her head turned to the side or lying on her side beside me as I lay on my back. (I fear this one may be stretching my breast beyond repair) Sometimes I feel like we are in the middle of an Olympic acrobatic routine.
Somethings are the same as nursing a newborn. I still cherish caressing her cheek as she suckles my breast. I still adore breathing in the scent of her newly bathed head. I still love the feel of her little hand pulling my breast into her mouth. I am still amazed at how perfectly breastfeeding works.
Breastfeeding our daughter for 3 years has been a joy and I have never regretted it, not even for one day. I have loved it. It has been a lesson in control for me and a lesson in sacrifice. I know that not all women enjoy it and not all women will choose to do it for as long as I have. But it has been a truly amazing experience for me.
Some of my friends ask me how I can still not drink coffee, still not drink alcohol, and still not diet to loose my pregnancy weight. The answer is in my daughter’s eyes.
When she looks up at me and I see how much love she has for me and the love I know she feels from me, I know that it is all worth it. When I realize that I am setting an example for her to be self sacrificing, loving and gentle, I know that what I am doing means something.
Sure there are days when I don’t like my body. I am still carrying about 15 extra pounds that just won’t come off. I am still wearing nursing camis and shirts that open easily. I am still sleeping in nursing pjs and I don’t feel as sexy as I used to. But when my daughter tells me I am beautiful I believe her. I am beautiful to her.
I have a motherly body that she loves to fold herself into. She doesn’t care what size clothes I wear or if I have the latest fashion. She loves me just as I am, which is exactly what we are trying to teach her to feel about herself. If I desire her to have a positive self image then I too must accept and love my body the way it is.
Sometimes I crave a good latte with caffeine in it! Sometimes I would love to eat or drink anything that tickles my fancy. I am not a saint, I still have cravings and sometimes I do give in to them. These things will all come in time, I am sure of it.
I never expected that I would still be doing this 3 years later but I am willing to continue until she is ready to stop. Someday she will stop nursing and I will miss these “milkie” days. I’ll miss that sweet glint in her eye as she drinks the sweetest of drinks. I’ll miss the feel of her tiny hands caressing my breast and her looking up at me with ultimate contentment.
I have already witnessed a bit of letting go. She has not nursed to sleep 3 times in the last month and has instead wanted me to cuddle her. I will get my body back and I will eat and drink what I choose one day.
Until that day I will cherish these nursing days. I will try to soak up every moment that we share as a nursing couple. I often remember this quote by the great Dr. Sears ““The time in your arms, at your breast, and in your bed is a very short time in the total life of your child, yet the memories of love and availability last a lifetime.”
May you have many happy”milkie” days with your little nursling. May your hearts be filled with love for each other and may your love radiate to others you meet. Happy Birthday Violet and Happy birthday Milkies!” We’ve come a long way sweet girl!
Last night when we were winding down on the couch as a family Violet started asking some questions that she had never asked before. Here is our little conversation, as best I can remember it.
V: Mommy, are you going to be 5?
M: No sweetie, I have already turned 5 and I am 34. I was 5 once.
V: Mommy when you turn 5 are you going to have milkies?
M: I was already 5 and now i am 34. When I was 5 I didn’t have milkies but that was because I didn’t want them anymore.
V: Mommy you will have milkies when I am 5.
M: Yes, I will always have my milkies. When you are 5 if you still want milkies then you can have them.
V: Mommy I want to have milkies when I am 5. You will have them won’t you?
M: Yes, I will have them. You will be a big girl. Now you are 2 and soon you will be 3. In 30 days you will be 3 and you will be a big girl. If you still want milkies though you may still have them.
V: I want to have them. (she then started looking very concerned) Mommy am I gonna be big when I am 5?
M: Yes you will be big.
V: I don’t want to be big mommy. I don’t want to grow up. I don’t want to get old. Are you going to be big?
M: I am already big sweetheart. But you don’t have to worry about growing up. We all feel that way sometimes. We all feel like we don’t want to get old sometimes. Right Daddy?
D: Yes, that’s right. We all feel that way sometimes.
M: It’s ok to think that way but just know that you don’t have to worry.
V: Mommy can I still have milkies when I am 5?
M: You may have milkies until you don’t want them anymore. Did someone talk to you about getting big and not having milkies today?
M: Mommy will have your milkies for your until you are ready to not have them.
V: I love you mommy.
I wasn’t ready for these kinds of questions and fears about getting older. But we tried to handle them as gently as possible.