People ask us all the time if we’re done having kids. They look at our family: the mom, the dad, the boy and the girl, and wonder if that’s what “complete” looks like in our book. We’ve decided that it does, and, with every baby bouncer and bib that I tuck away, I know that I’m farther and farther away from the baby phase. I’ve been okay with the finality of that for the majority of my youngest’s life. That is, until I weaned her.
We made it until she was fourteen months old, the same as her older brother. I got to hold her close to my heart and watch her cheeks grow chubby and round and full of life all because of what my body could do for her.
I got to hold her while she filled her belly with liquid love.
Breastfeeding amazed me. The way that my body could grow a baby—give birth to its life and then march on for months on end afterwards making everything my baby needed—captivated me. This body that I had possessed for years before, the one that seemed so lackluster and simple, had a superpower. Those flat breasts that couldn’t even hold up my strapless prom dresses in high school now were holding the weight of life.
For the first time, I think I understood what an athlete felt like when their body, taut with strength and agility, could do exactly what they needed it to do. It could carry and run and persevere and win. Like a runner at the end of a marathon finding an unknown reserve of strength to finish the race, I pushed through sleep deprivation and to-do lists and selfishness to give my energy and life to them, my babies.
And then I weaned her and that superpower was gone. There would be no more pregnancy where I watched my belly grow round with promise and capability. No more labor and delivery where I pushed life into the world. No more breastfeeding where hour after hour, day after day, my body served a purpose and conquered want.
I felt like a retired athlete. This body that had been so consumed with nurturing life for years was done with that. I tucked away my nursing bras like shoulder pads in a locker, threw away my “Mother’s Milk” tea like protein powder and tried to come to terms with life in this body now.
I didn’t think it would be so hard. After all, I was at home with myself before I had my kids. That was before I knew what I was capable of, though. Before I knew how much I would miss the magic that a mother possesses for her baby; the power of what my body could give.
But then I look down at my three-year old son cuddled up next to me on the couch. He smiles at me and asks for one more book. My little girl toddles over with her favorite blankie and climbs in my lap, and my heart is full.
I look down at them, ensconced in my love, in the presence of a mother’s pleasure, and realize that this body of mine isn’t retired. All of that work—the pregnancy, the labor and delivery, the breastfeeding countless times a day—that was only training for the real work of mothering. That was only the beginning where I learned that my life was not about me anymore. Where I learned how to push on and keep going for their sake. Where my muscles grow stronger as my children grow heavier, and my mind grows more resolute as motherhood becomes me. Where the lines between sacrifice and pleasure are blurred because it’s all for them, my dreams embodied.
All of those pieces of the first months of motherhood that I will miss so much are one manifestation of a mother’s love.
But there are so many others.
I still can soothe them with a touch, encourage them with a smile, teach them with words. I am still their safe place, their home, their comfy couch on a rainy day. They still turn to me with their questions and demand that their needs be met by me, and their big brown eyes still look to me to see if they are enough.
I may not feed their little bodies anymore, but their hearts feast on the love that I offer. And that is what “complete” feels like to me.
Guest post written by Kelsey Lasher. Kelsey is married to the man of her dreams, Scott, and stays at home to raise their two kids, Judah and Annabelle in their home state of Colorado. She loves Jesus, history, fall, flowers, and never says no to fresh brewed coffee or iced tea. She is passionate about people, especially little ones in footy pajamas and the wonderful women who raise them. Find her blogging on her site, whilewemother.com, and as a weekly contributor at glowliveaslight.com.
Photo by Ashlee Gadd.