Monday, July 28, 2014

Looking beyond babyhood

You know how when you have a honda suddenly half the cars you see on the road are hondas? It's the same thing with motherhood - suddenly you start noticing when folks sing about their moms on the radio and clicking on the random mommy links your friends share on facebook. One thing a lot of these links have had in common lately is that they talk about some of motherhood's "ends." I've been reading about weaning and those last few months of babywearing and packing up baby clothes and all those sort of things. Not that I am, so it pleases God, anywhere close to done with nursing and baby clothes over here, but I know that at some point I will be done. That thought is a little sad. Yet, this morning, the thought struck me that perhaps in acknowledging all of the first lasts a mother faces we swing a little too far? Consider this article on weaning your last baby. I've no doubt that what she's facing is real and sad, but are we perhaps leaning a little too hard on motherhood as biology? For those of us in more "crunchy" circles this makes sense. Pregnancy is a time where we're encouraged to trust and nurture and really inhabit our bodies. Labor and delivery is talked about in physiological terms that encourage moms to avoid medications and trust their instincts. The whole act of becoming a mother is one long biological phenomena that continues all the way through breastfeeding. But then what?

This Tim McGraw song has been on the radio recently, and it really caught my attention.

Yeah, it's an idealized picture of life in the country, but what caught me the most was the sense of a man who's mother still held a space for him of peace and welcome and contentment. This is a man who left the farm to make his way up in the world only to realize later (as he must since this is a country song) that what he's really missing is the good life his momma has created with his daddy. So on one hand we've got the end of nursing and a break in that intimate relationship between mother and baby, but on the other hand we've got a grown man looking at his wife and telling her that the good life, the life he wants to live, can be found through his momma's front door. For all the talk I've heard about a nursing mother's breasts - what they symbolize for her and the world around her and the very real benefit they are to her and her child - breasts are, ultimately, not the enduring symbol of motherhood. The platonic ideal of motherhood, or so it seems, is that of a woman perpetually and cheerfully in the kitchen baking bread and layering lasagna and fixing lemonade and rolling out pie crusts and frying chicken. It's an ideal of comfort and warmth and plenty. It's vocational rather than biological. It's the sort of space I hope to hold for my child(ren) someday.

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