“I would like to bring Lily to the airport when you drop me off. That way, if she’s wondering where I am, she can remember that I went on an airplane (she knows them well by now after all of our travel together),” I told Dave a couple of days ago.
But in this morning’s natural unfolding, Lily is readying to go to the beach with Leti half an hour before we need to leave for the airport for my first solo trip in 21 months.
I take a deep breath as I realize it’s not time to force my agenda. This will be our time to part.
I look into Lily’s bright brown eyes that speak of her excitement about playtime with grandma after the impending beach adventure. Her nose crinkles delicately as she smiles. She wraps her little arms around my neck, and I lift her off the counter where she’s been sitting.
I tell her again that I am going on an airplane and that I will be back after she gets to play with Mimi and Leti for a few days.
I hand her to Leti with whom I exchange a few words in Spanish.
“No te preocupes,” Leti says who continues on wishing me a good trip. She and my mom wrap an arm around each other and the other around Lily. The three of them seem very ready for the upcoming three days together.
By my count, I have been with Lily for 916 days since the time she was in utero. This weekend’s voyage to a friend’s wedding includes my first overnight apart from her, and there will be three of them.
Every evening of the past 21 months less fewer than a handful, I have been home with Lily at dusk for her bedtime. We have welcomed each other into each new day. We have continued nursing and co-sleeping.
I have chosen rather dramatic changes to my career and social life for this time nesting in with my baby.
When I am with my family, I am present to them; when I am working, I am devoted there. When talking with friends on the phone, I choose not to be pulled in other directions when possible. Today, for the most part (not perfectly but earnestly!), I am where I am.
I hadn’t planned to nurse for 21 months nor still be sleeping with my baby; but we’ve learned together, and each transition has emerged through what Dave, Lily and I have seemed ready for each step of the way.
My heart is heavy now as I let go of this time during which we’ve been so intimately connected, and even in the grief, I notice a twinkling – the excitement of getting to know the wholeness and newness of this next chapter with her and all of us.
What new connections will form as these physical ones expire? What will it look like to continue to be a safe place to return to for comfort without the nursing relationship we have shared since moments after she was born?
One thing I’ve learned over this past two and a half years is that all mothers and children have their own unique rhythms and relationship.
I am grateful for past challenges that helped guide me back to my intuition and understanding that caring for myself is the framework through which the trust finding our natural way is available.