The Last Time
by Marybeth King. Marybeth is a pastry chef, aspiring author, loving mother, and inspiration to this Happy Bodies blogger. Thanks, mom for sharing this piece with us and joining in this project that is so important to me!
It was the last time. Funny, I didn’t know that then, but I do remember it. Why is that? Why would I remember it? It didn’t last long. She wasn’t there but for a few moments. Maybe she knew she was done. She didn’t need me anymore—at least in the same way. But did I need it? I remember it … that last pulling away.
Maybe it was a good lesson in being a parent. Knowing that from the start—even just born, wet, drippy, squirming, she had already pulled away from me, from my body. The place where she became incarnate. The place of origin—inside, safe, ripe, ready, and real. She didn’t need that space anymore, she were ready to breathe on their own. To test the air. Fill her own lungs, by herself. Already without me. But still pink and vulnerable, needing a lot, really. Still needing my sore body, empty now, but filled elsewhere. Filled with food— rich, fat, and satisfying. Full to the brim. So much that it hurt. Busting to feed her. Looking down into innocence, I had what she needed. A homemade simple food—the milk of life. That I could do that—sustain a life with my own breasts — brought tears to my eyes.
I brushed the hair from her forehead as she suckled away, oblivious to everything except wanting to nurse. But I was aware of everything. Her touch and breath, her every moment in my arms. My entire body and soul focused on sustaining her with my breast. I cooed a bit at her, brushed that wisp of blond hair back again, and breathed satisfaction so deep it pooled in great ponds. Life wiggling in its depths, clean and clear and restorative. I was as from the beginning, with the others, creating life. Infinite possibility in my own arms, wrapped up, cuddled, silently nursing. Funny how I would remember that, and the very last time.
Her older brother had been different. He nursed constantly. Always ready, every 2 and a half hours. I could set my watch to him. It was a drain in the end, though, and I gave up after a year. Cold turkey. I should have read the literature on that one. Weaning. It would have saved me a lot of grief and pain. He didn’t care really when I cut him off so rudely. Never came up to my lap again after that. I guess he knew he was done too.
But her? She was my second, and I let her go at her own pace. Every 4 hours she was, just like the old books said. Maybe my milk was richer for her or she was just a more efficient nurser. It didn’t matter. I think I just knew she would be my last. I would have let her come up for a lot longer than those 2 and a half years. But that was all she wanted.
She wore a soft pink outfit. She was soooo girly then. Her hair was white blond and fluffy on her shoulders. She wrinkled her nose when she laughed. It was too cute. The grey carpet was scratchy to the touch and the sofa against my back, hard. The sun was shining (the sun always shone in California). I watched her toddle in my direction. Did I ask her? Or did she come up herself? Nestled in my arms, lain across my lap, her growing legs and arms spilling out onto the floor, I lifted my shirt. Those last few precious sucks. She wasn’t there long. Didn’t seem so interested in the end, and I let her go.
I know she doesn’t remember. But I will never forget it.