Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Separation anxiety

I was apart from Kamal for three days last week, being with my dad in a hospice in Florida. Leaving him was agonizing for me, but seemed okay for him--he played at our friend Emily's house with her daughter Sage, strolled around exclaiming at holiday lights, and then hung out with Adam till I got back. Deprived of breastfeeding and never a fan of bottles, he ate lots of "real" food, managed to nap well without nursing, and, wonder of wonders, night-weaned and has been sleeping through the night. (I'm actually afraid to write that down in case I jinx it.)

When I got back from Florida, though, Kamal was all about hugs and kisses, which was so lovely for me. He was also all about nursing. Nursing, nursing, nursing: it was like he needed to catch up, not just on milk but on the bonding we do while breastfeeding. I think breastfeeding, to Kamal (and to me, too!) feels like an extension of hugs and kisses: it's a kind of loving physical closeness that carries intense emotional volume.

Miraculously, he's continued sleeping through the night since my return. You guys, it's a whole new world, for real. However, he will not let me put him down for a nap. At all. Right now he's dozing in my lap, which is actually really sweet even if my left arm is asleep.

He's also not really okay with my leaving the room at all for any reason without him, getting ready to leave the house, or sometimes even handing him to Adam.

I am pretty sure that he's concerned that my boobs and I are going to take off again. Before this trip, the longest Kamal and I had been apart was seven hours. Three days is a really long time when you're not even a year and a half old.

My left arm says this napping issue needs to be resolved immediately, but my mama instincts say it just needs a little time. For a long time, I was food, shelter, love, everything to this little boy. I was it. Daily I see him widening his circle of awareness, moving further and further into the territory of human experience. Sometimes being needed so much by one person feels impossibly exhausting; but then sometimes you see how beautiful being needed like that is, how rare and how fleeting. And then you know that the baby napping guilelessly in your lap, snoring just a little bit and clutching your shirt in one dimpled hand, is the kind of gift you savor while you can.

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