Words. Words hold so much power. They can bring us up so very high or bring us down so hard and fast that our body aches from the fall. I’m learning, practicing, *trying* with every ounce of my being to let the words of others have less power in my life. I long to learn the art of taking strength, confidence, and peace from within my own self, with my own words and my own thoughts and feelings. So I let the words of others wash over me. Like water in the bathtub when I hold my breath and put my head under and can only hear humming and quiet.The words of others can float over the top of me like bubbles in the bath. I can pop them, ignore them, feel them and then let them go to rush up around me, tickling past instead of stabbing deep.
The only words that really matter are my own.The only voice I need to hear is mine.
This has been a challenge, a feat, a struggle for my whole life. Success is not a continuous thing but something I find in a moment when I can smile, nod, and then let words go without letting them touch my inner self.
Motherhood has brought a whole new meaning to “letting the words of others wash over me”.
Family members, friends, co-workers, even strangers, all have words for the mothers in our world. They all have advice, wisdom, opinions, and oh so many words I can’t even keep them straight as they twirl around me in a storm of good intentions, jealousy, bitterness, camaraderie. The words of one will start to lift me up, and then immediately after that the words of another will cut me down and I’ll be falling again.
You’re still breastfeeding? You use formula? Is she weaning yet? You haven’t started solids yet? He sleeps in a crib? She sleeps in your BED? How long will you do it? You didn’t even make it to a year? You don’t have a carriage? You don’t wear your baby?
So many words. So many opinions. Exhaustion creeps in just listening to all those words.
What is the trick? What is the secret to keeping them out? What is the way to letting your own truth be the words that guide you?
When I know, I will surely tell you. I am still learning.. still trying.. still practicing… still hoping… still yearning to be free to trust myself.
There are words that kill me. Hurt me. Creep into my very being and take something so beautiful and make it different than what it is. They twist and convolute and turn something peaceful and innocent into something almost ugly. These words surround breastfeeding. “It’s disgusting. If she can ask for it, she doesn’t need it. What’s the point? She can have cow’s milk. She’s too old. She can walk. Ew. Just tell her no. Why can’t you tell her no? You spoil her. She doesn’t even fit in your lap anymore. She is not a baby.”
My mantra is to let these words float over the top of my head, slip around me like those bubbles in the water. They don’t, though. Not yet. They get into my soul. I let them. They sting my eyes with tears.
Because she is a baby. She’s my baby. I nurse her because I love her. I nurse her because I am her solace, her comfort, her liquid love. I am her mama and my milk is my gift to her. One day she won’t want my arms. One day she’ll be grown. One day she will tell me no. One quiet day we will be sitting on the couch, in our spot, and she will cuddle me and kiss me but won’t ask to nurse. And I will know. One day she will cry with the heartbreak of young love and I won’t have milk to comfort her. I’ll only have words and arms to hug her. I won’t be able to quiet her pain quickly, easily, with milk and mama cuddles.
I want to appreciate the beauty of this while she is still small, without those words.
So I try and say this:
Your words don’t change my love for her. Your words do not make me feel bad. They don’t make me feel disgusting or gross or “eww”. She is my daughter and my milk is her solace and I won’t let someone who doesn’t know our love, our bond, our dyad, take that away with hurtful words full of misunderstanding and fear of the unknown.
So what to do? Breathe. Put my head under the water. Listen to the humming. Listen to the silence. Pop the bubbles. Float back up the surface, washed clean of the words that these people use so carelessly.