So much of Abraham’s life has been so easy. He is adorable, happy, healthy, easy-going…I could go on. And I have found being a mother (not just a step-mother) to be quite easy too. I’m a little sleepy and a little slobbered-on, but I really can’t complain.
I keep rubbing up against his eating. I’ve written before about breast feeding him. I am still breastfeed him, and I intend to as long as he wants to (the WHO recommends 2 years!). We also give him bottles as a supplement, 8 or 10 ounces a day. I hate it. Every time I give him a bottle, I feel like I’m failing as a mother. Because I WANT to nurse him and I CAN’T. Because in 2003, I choose to have a breast reduction. It was badly needed and I don’t actually regret it. I just wish I could have both small boobs and milky boobs.
We went to the pediatrician today and Abraham is still small. Gaining weight and height, but a little too slowly. So more formula for him and solid food.
The food I’m excited about. He wants to eat – he sits on my lap at dinner and lunges toward the tables, reaches for my water glass, and of course puts everything, edible or not, into his mouth. I even shared my banana with him last night – he sort of licked it a while, then tried to suck. He yelped when it was finished.
He yelps when his bottles are finished too. He is hungry (how ironic that he is wearing his Very Hungry Caterpillar outfit today…”but he was still hungry”). He isn’t starving, but he wants more. And it is so hard for me to give it to him. Because every bottle feels like a failure.
I run to him when he cries from a nap, I kiss his tummy to make him laugh, I work so hard to give him a happy and comfortable life. Why can’t I enjoy feeding him a bottle?
David said to me, on our way home from the pediatrician’s office, “it doesn’t seem very yogic to not feed him” and I know it isn’t. It is selfish, it is my ego wrapped up in my identity as a breastfeed-er. I have met most of my mom friends at La Leche League for goodness sake.
I can still be a breastfeed-er and give my child a bottle or 3 to make sure he grows well. He will get the health benefits from breastmilk and breastfeeding and the caloric benefits from formula. I can snuggle him as he drinks his bottle and snap photos when he holds it himself.
How is this practicing yoga, you ask? Yoga is defined several times in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. My favorite sutra (literally thread, a piece of an idea) of late is 1.12: Abhyasa vairagyabhyam tan nirodhah – The mind is stilled by practice and dispassion.
Parenting, like yoga, is a practice. It is done uninterruptedly, with devotion, over a long time (sutra 1.14). My goal as a parent, especially to Abraham (versus the big kids where I am a secondary parent as their step-mom), is to be completely present for him and give him what he needs but then step back and let him fly. Giving him bottles is part of that.
And now I will wipe the tears out of my eyes and get a bottle ready for when he wakes up from his nap (to give him after he nurses of course).
ADDITION: Friends, don’t worry. I may feel like a failure of a mother inside, but I know he will be ok and I will be ok. It is a feeling and only a feeling. I appreciate your kind, private words of encouragement.