Tuesday, May 15, 2012

the little mammal

ever elizabeth - seventeen months

you wake me up with your smucker face, a red fat cheek and one blue eye- or maybe the other eye, the one mostly hazel, like your daddy- and you tap your tiny chest and say in that cartoon baby cute
voice tootsyaiyyy which is your word for nursing. i press my breast into your mouth and your face relaxes into such complete trust and comfort and love that i feel the surge of gratitude and joy i get every morning when you wake to nurse. i lie and watch your face like a million mothers are doing, and sometimes i think of joy and peace and dreams come true and sometimes i remember illness and death and injury and i hold you closer. 

you are still a part of me. the little mammal how she stays under the momma, next to the mommas skin, on top and over and sits with her naked bum on my chest and slaps open palmed on my breast, with a laugh! you are inching away, so slowly but not so slowly, only a year from now you will have begun to truly claim your body your space. now, you fit yourself as you lay inside of me, upside down, and slap my thighs. mama, you say matter of factly. then quicker, with a laugh, mama! and i am completely and totally happy. any time any day that i can look at you and find relief from even the worse of life's stress.

i read once, in a long snarky meme about parenthood that went viral,  how attachment mothers are so attached: LOOK OUT!  the word such a sneer. the point made with such a shudder. for selflessness is now a joke and motherhood of the primal body and spirit such a mockery and we are ridiculous strange mutants who populate empty bodies and live only for our children. instead of those of us whose bodies and minds and hearts are so swollen with gratitude for life and so keenly aware of it's brevity and cruelty and so sharply in line with it's few comforts that we live and die by these things: the comfort of the physical body, the joy of the bonds made deep and true and as strong as a sailor's knot, the powerful salve against life's most dangerous waters, love made action. i am not waiting for death knocking to make life a daily meditation of what matters. 

when Ever was hospitalized she was one month old. one month and day two, could not nurse. watching her face turn weakly toward my breast, eyes fluttering, and her mouth to exhausted to latch on, was one of the most terrifying experiences of my life. was i watching her die? i did what i know to do. i held her wires and tubes on her chest, feet, legs and arms don't move more than a foot away with her, the warning, i held her i sprayed milk into her mouth and every night when the nurses pretended like they couldn't see me in the dark hospital hallways i climbed into Ever's pod and slept next to her, legs drawn to my chest and my mouth moving in song. mr. curry on the chair in his upright, sleepless sleep.

somethings are routine and these things are supposed to be the foundation of our lives, what is most important to function. so these are: brush teeth, eat food, work, clean, dress, pay bills. so this is: holding my children. sleeping with my children. sleeping near my children. nursing my children. picking up my children when they cry. touching them when they worry. the little mammels like this, their pocket sized selves born with such large heads and enormous brains and absolutely helpless to prevent anything or attempt anything or even ask. our bodies are made for shelter, breast and belly and arms. our bodies are made for our babies and our lovers and our packs. 

this is why my seventeen year old son is having a bit of a heartbreak right now and i look over from this computer screen and see three of my four children sleeping: 17 months, 10 years, and an almost man boy who is man enough to bungee jump, take multiple trips across the country to different places without family, travel far by bus, handle difficult teachers and aggressive men by himself, but also knows that if he needs solace in this world there is always a place to lie his head. one day he will be lying like this, over 6 foot of him, next to his own children and his wife. 
Ever you are new love, a spring day, a rose blooming in your mouth and cheek and the sky and mountainsides in one and the other eye, two different colored eyes for an girl who is already so clearly her own spirit and will be, despite the baby of the family and the youngest of four, a force to be reckoned with. you curl off of me like a caterpillar from a frond and i find you playing happily with pans and toy cars and bags of lentil beans.  every night as you drift off to sleep with your sweet breath against me i am forcefully drawn into gratitude whether i like it or not.

i love you.

Ms. Moon said...

Oh Maggie. You got it SO right here. So very, very right.

liv said...

Crystal clear truth. Perfect.

Fousty said...

in the wake of the backlash from the times cover with the breast feeding mamma, this post melts my heart a little. or a lot.

Petit fleur said...

I love her teeny tiny piggy tails!

Are her eyes really different colors? It's hard to tell in photos.


Maggie May said...

her eyes ARE actually two different colors, it's awesome. one is blue, and one is hazel with just a little blue around.

Petit fleur said...

I knew a girl in college named Cecelia who had one blue and one half green and half brown. It was mesmerizing in that other worldly yet real sort of way.


Caroline said...

I read this several times and loved it.

One of the things that I love the most about your writing is that you often approach subjects from an anthropological perspective and that resonates with me.

LOVED this.

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