In about 38 hours or so, I'll be leaving to attend the annual ACFW conference, in Dallas again this year. I'm still in awe that I'm going ... wondering what God has planned ... trying not to second guess Him about either highs or lows.
In preparation for this, several changes have taken place, and I wrote this piece while waiting for my husband's plane on September 7 ...
This week marks the end of a life-season for me.
Last Sunday, my youngest turned three. This week, she's weaning.
Yes, I've nursed her (I mostly hate the term "breastfed," like nourishing a child from my own body after birth is some kind of aberrant behavior that needs its own clarification) for three years. That's a year and more past the others. I always said I wouldn't be in a hurry to wean her, knowing she was our last, but it's finally time. I knew this time would come--after all, somebody at some time would be the youngest child of my husband and I, and I haven't yet known a child to go off to college or to the altar when they were still getting "milkies."
But it's bittersweet. Having experienced a sudden cutoff of milk-giving once before, I know how to get through all the physical discomfort that entails ... but it still feels like a death. It takes me back to those days I spent in a haze of shock and grief after our sixth baby flew away home on the twelfth day of his life "in air" on Planet Earth. And, in retrospect, since this signals with aching finality the end of my childbearing, I suppose it is a sort of death.
I have, with the exception of the three months between Duncan's death and Cameron's conception, been either with child or lactating for 17 years and 7 months. I've had the opportunity to focus on the ebbs and flows of the female body with an intensity that most women never experience ... and in the end, I can say that I thank God for every moment. The lows and the highs, the sorrow and the elation, the pain and the comfort have all gone into making me who I am. My one regret is that I learned so late to stop and savor the moments of closeness that the Lord granted me with my babies in the midst of the craziness.
And now, it's time to go on. Perhaps I pull away from my child in one way, but the opportunities for small intimacies are still there--but just as ephemeral, if I'm not diligent to capture them. I see now why the Lord has been speaking to me all spring and summer about being more deliberate in my mothering--to seize each day and not just be driven by the needs of the household. Because now, no longer will I be able to depend on a fundamental physical (and emotional) need to be the mainstay of my youngest child. I must find other ways to capture and keep the bond between us.
Thank you, Lord, for these most precious of years. Let me not become so busy that I forget.