Bodily

Mothering an infant is physical. It’s primarily, almost exclusively, an effort of the body. I keep trying to make it an intellectual pursuit, buttressed by research and the right way to do things. But it’s my body that (necessarily) takes over.

It’s my body that bends to give her a bath. It’s my body that cradles her and gives her comfort. Of course, it’s my body that feeds her, day and night. Tonight, when helping her fall asleep, I fed her, held her, whispered to her, and finally rocked her to sleep as her hands lazily stroked my nose and mouth. This no longer fazes me.

When preparing to become a parent, I never imagined what it would be like to care for a pre-verbal human being. My life is rooted in language and I have never considered (consciously) how to communicate without using words.

Now, I know. I talk to her in touch and attention. I nuzzle, kiss, hug, cuddle, pat, and pet. All she wants from me is to be held, fed, loved, and seen. It’s all I need to do. Never has it been so hard and so easy to satisfy someone.

There are days when my verbal brain needs something other than holding and feeding. But there are other moments when I can simply sit and watch her play, caress her, and show her that she is seen and significant. The light in her eyes when I can do just that is worth more than I ever thought.

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