If you recognize this picture you either know me very well, know another woman like me, or breastfed, yourself, using a pump. And so you’ll also recognize what a big day today is for me. My youngest, who breastfed the longest, is finally weaned. So today is the day I am getting rid of my pump and, more importantly, the day that I completely stop sharing my body with my kids (well, except for hugs, kisses and cuddles).
Between all three kids, I lugged this thing around with me for over three years of my life. That’s over 1000 days! And without boring you with all the details, I will just say that breastfeeding was not easy. And though some women really enjoy the experience, it is not exactly, “fun”. It was a sacrifice. A totally worth it sacrifice, but a sacrifice nonetheless.
And so the bag, for me, is a simple and tangible representation of not just what it cost me to breastfeed (all that caffeine and wine!), but of those things we willingly (well, most of the time ;)) give up or lose for the betterment of our children. Any parent, male or female, whether you breastfed or not, knows what I am talking about. I’m talking about the sleep, the time, and the privacy we give up. I am talking about resources like money and food we have to share (my son literally took food off my plate just this morning). I am talking about the hits to our friendships, the relationship stress with our spouse because he or she is no longer the only one who wants and needs our attention, and the changes in how we view ourselves because we look different, work too much, work too little, etc.
It is not easy. It is not always fun. And, if I am totally honest, I am not exactly happy about it all the time. But that’s OK. Because I’m looking for something more. And today I am feeling much, much, more.
I recently wrote about our Advent calendar craft and preparing for and expecting “good things”. So figuring out what is “good” and what is “important” is on my mind. I have read and heard so much about parents just wanting their kids to be “happy”. To many, that is the ultimate “good thing”.
I want more than that for my kids. I want them to be able to do the hard things in life. To make sacrifices. To know when to give up important things. I want them to do that so they won’t just know happiness, but also so that they will know fulfillment. And for me, fulfillment is true, lasting, joy that is earned. Like the feeling you get from the very first sip of steaming hot, perfectly-prepared-by-your-husband, caffeinated, coffee that you’ve had in over six years.