I had a small epiphany today, as I was lying in bed nursing him, my last child. His bright blue eyes staring up at me, his latch interrupting every so often to coo at me and smile as the milk drips from the corner of his mouth.
Our love, our relationship is just about perfect right now.
I'm tired and worn out at times, touched out and exhausted. Thanks to his reflux, we both usually smell at least faintly like curdled milk. There are times that I want nothing more in the world to just be untouched and left alone to sleep or just exist in my own space for a moment. There are times that he wants nothing in the world more than for me to just hold him while he cries.
And yet, it's simple.
This is as easy as it is ever going to be between us. He cries and I can interpret what he needs. I can calm him with just my voice. He folds up just so in the crook of my neck and falls asleep.
It's just about perfect the way it is right now in this moment.
And I know that it won't stay that way.
I know because I've done this before. I've had these babies who consumed all my time and energy when they were this little, but then grew up and away from me. I've had the sweet little voices rage at me, been told they hated me.
There have been times, so many times that I wondered what I am doing wrong, that I've thought that I'm failing them terribly as a mother. There have been the late nights filled with worry, the moments in parked cars where I broke down in heaving sobs.
The parent child relationship doesn't get easier from here.
I know because my own relationship with my parents only grew more and more complicated as I grew older.
Eventually, with my father, things grew simple again, especially once he knew he was dying. For some people, but not all people, facing mortality has that effect. It makes you discard with all the trivialities, with all the impediments to the relationships you want to have. It makes it simple again. It did for us, and for that, I am grateful.
With my mother, that was never the case. Our interactions only ever grew exponentially more complicated until one day when she was just gone.
A part of my soul believes, and needs to believe, that she and I were this simple back then, that we were this connected, that our relationship was just about perfect once long ago.
At least I want to believe that.
Believing that soothes my soul.
I know that this time I have with him, my last, is borrowed. I know it is fleeting.
I know that time will pass faster than I wish for it to. I know that I will blink and he will be as tall as I am, reaching his arms out towards adolescence. I know this because I've blinked before.
I am fortunate to have the wisdom of my prior mothering journeys to calm the doubt, to allay my fears to some degree. I feel more at ease with the mechanics of it all because I've been here before. There are perks to being a veteran mother. I long ago learned to trust my instincts, and once you do that, mothering is less encumbered.
I can just soak in the moments instead, with him, my last baby.
Things won't stay this simple for long, I know this much is true. Right now, it's just about perfect, and I'm breathing it in deep for as long as I can.
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