I wrote this about 2 years ago, when Lily had started to wean. I never published it because I thought it was one of those processing sessions that ended when I trailed off. But right now, in a nursing season with Magnolia and having friends who are weaning their children, I revisited this saved post:
"Do you remember the scene from Return of the King with Frodo back in the shire after his adventure/nightmare journey? He walks around, picking up this or that, standing and looking out the window with a cup of tea, drinking with his friends, all the while so melancholy? He asks in an overdub, "How do you pick up the pieces of an old life?" It's this perfect scene for the state of melancholy; the music, the question, the small things you see.
Lillian has begun the weaning process-she's not that interested in breastfeeding anymore. She still nurses once or twice a day, but we're on the path. So I've gone with it, because I truly don't want to push through this disinterested phase and continue to nurse for months longer. But you wouldn't know that to catch me in a Frodo moment. "I don't nurse my baby anymore." Whimper, whimper. "Then, who am I? What am I? What is this place to me if I'm not a nursing mother?" I literally look out the window like Frodo, melancholy as can be. Then a few hours later I'm feeling free as a bird, "Look at me, I don't have to feed my kid with my body anymore! Whoo Hoo!"
I believe these melancholy moments are partly hormonal and partly true sadness, so I'm giving this process the respect it deserves. It's a big change, a big deal to wean. But then again, it's not. In so many ways it's this natural progression that just, happens. Things must change and things must end and I know it's just the beginning of all the letting go I'll be doing as a mother. But I must admit it sort of makes my heart squeeze a little to watch her crawl and point with her small hand, to watch her babble and eat all kinds of food. It's not just me and her anymore. It hasn't been that way for a long while, but with breastfeeding there were these little sections of the day that were reserved for just her and me. It's like a secret or a promise you keep. There was something that bound us in that nursing relationship. Now she plays and loves other people too. She doesn't just turn her head for my smell or my voice, she knows different faces and voices and her world is bigger. That's good. But I feel left here, with feelings about the whole thing that she has no concept of. That's good too.
So when I have my violins soaring, golden light of the Shire, self-examination moments like Frodo, I often find myself being cut short by a little girl pulling on the cat's tail or clamoring for more toast. And that reminds me how natural and normal it all is. Each little baby has a time to wean and my little baby's time is here."
Now, with a little time and distance, all this still feels so true. In a word, or a few: Breastfeeding extends the period of time in which you are bonded physically with your child. When you wean, you find yourself for the first time in many many months, sometimes years, back to just being you. You hadn't been just you since before you conceived. But now, you're not just you. You're a mother. So the old you doesn't fit right and you have to adapt. It's so bizarre. I want to treasure my time nursing Magnolia now, but sometimes I forget how short lived it all is and whine at the suffocating aspect of nursing. Back and forth, back and forth. Girl, remember it is fleeting!