I am lucky enough to consider my mother my best friend, and have only grown closer to her since becoming a mother myself. I know that not everyone has that ability, because their mothers are either no longer with them or they are toxic and unsupportive, which only makes our relationship more meaningful to me. We live on opposite sides of the country, which means we text and talk on the phone every day. When I was pregnant I sent her texts; When I was in labor I sent her texts; When I was breastfeeding I sent my mom texts, and those texts were a constant reminder that even though I was a mother, I still needed my mother.
Which is honestly the most important lesson I think I have learned as a mother, to date. Just because I am a mom, doesn't mean that I don't need love and support and encouragement and someone to vent to and someone to care for me, and only me. Sometimes that person is my partner and sometimes that person is my best friend and, well, sometimes that person is my mom. I love being able to lean on my mother and learn from my mother, because while parenting is constantly changing and evolving and mothers are learning new and different ways to care for their children, sometimes there's nothing better than listening to the soothing advice of someone who has been there themselves.
These days I'm texting my mother about toddler tantrums and how to get my kid to eat vegetables and when potty training will end (if it ever freakin' ends because please someone save me from all this pee), but when I feel with nostalgic I will look back at all the texts I sent my mom when I was breastfeeding. Here are just a few (because some things should stay between best friends):
When You're Not Sure What You're Even Doing...
I know that breastfeeding is supposed to be "natural," (and it is, in that is is not an act our society should be sexualizing or shaming) however, it didn't necessarily feel natural to me. Well, not initially. I didn't necessarily know what I was doing, so I sent many-a-text messages asking my mother just wha tin the hell I should be doing in order to have a pleasant, long-lasting breastfeeding experience.
...But You're So Excited To Try
Even though I was pretty nervous and sort of clueless, I was so excited to start breastfeeding.
When The Nurse/Lactation Consultant Handles Their Business...
My son was a champ in that he latched immediately after he was born. I had a nurse hold my son's head with one hand and my boob in the other and, before I knew it, he was eating. It just seemed so effortless and I was convinced that when it came to the breastfeeding thing, I was a "pro" straight out of the gate.
...And, Of Course, The Moment You're Left To Breastfeed On Your Own
Oh, how my ego took a hit when the nurses left and the doctors were nowhere in sight and I was tasked with breastfeeding by myself. Yeah, not as easy as I had originally thought.
When It's Painful
Breastfeeding can be a pretty painful experience, especially during the first few attempts. My nipples chapped and bled and I, later, had an infection and it well, you know, didn't always feel blissful. There's no one who understood that better than my mother, so there was no one I really wanted to complain to when it came to how painful breastfeeding was.
When It's Boring
Breastfeeding is beautiful and magical and so many synonyms for just all-around awesome, but it's also boring as hell. Like, the kid just eats (usually until he falls asleep) I'm just let sitting there. Especially when it's in the middle of the night and the only entertainment I have are old social media posts from my friends and Netflix.
When You Run Into Problems
For some, breastfeeding is a relatively easy experience. For others, it is anything but. I think that being open and honest about the potential problems or struggles that can occur when you're feeding another human being with your body is an important part of establishing realistic and healthy expectations. I looked to my mom to help me do just that, and when I talked to her about my own personal struggles, she was able to assure me that they were normal and that I could get through them.
When You Start To Doubt Yourself
Self-doubt and motherhood seem to go hand-in-hand, and breastfeeding provides a new mother (or even seasoned mother) with a number of situations in which she may or may not doubt herself. When my son started losing weight right after he was born, I started doubting myself and my ability to breastfeed, even though it's normal for a newborn to lose weight. Voicing those doubts isn't just healthy, but can really help you bond with other breastfeeding mothers.
When You Just Want Full Body Autonomy
I loved my son and I loved breastfeeding my son and I was so very thankful that I was physically able to do so, but sometimes it was such a pain in the ass. Sometimes, I didn't want to be needed on such a fundamental level. Sometimes I just really didn't want to be touched, and that's normal and, honestly, no one understood that better than my own mom.
When You're Exhausted
Breastfeeding on demand is absolutely exhausting and, hey, if I am going to be up my mom can be up too, right? (That's so unfair and, mom, I am so sorry that I texted you at all hours of the night.)
Of Course, When You're Acutely Aware That It's All Worthwhile...
These moments came around plenty of times for me, and I am so very thankful for that. There were so many text messages I sent my mother (and my partner and my friends and anyone who would listen) telling them that breastfeeding really was as magical as everyone said it was, even when it wasn't. It was great and it was painful and it was exhausting and it was soothing and it was so many things that I really didn't think I could experience all at once.
...And You Know You'll Cherish This Experience Forever
My son is about to turn two years old, and I can still close my eyes and see him as a newborn, breastfeeding with his eyes clothes while his tiny little hands held onto my soft skin. I'll never forget those moments that we shared together, and I'm so thankful that my mother understands that the way only a mother can.