Monday, March 4, 2013

Fasting Again! Finally!

Today was my first day of fasting in five years. The last time I physically fasted I was at the Baha'i World Centre in Haifa, Israel doing so alongside people from all over the world. What an amazing experience. And how truly enjoyable to break the fast all together, sharing delicious food so lovingly and creatively prepared by a team of people. One really, really enjoys the act of eating when you are spiritually alive and physically empty. Appreciation. Gratitude. HUNGER.

So, why was today my first day of fasting?

Yesterday was Violet's 'No More Milk' party. The day I nursed Violet for the last time, baked her a strawberry rhubarb crisp, sang her the 'No more milk' song to the tune of 'Happy Birthday,' and gave her this sweet book. Which she slept with and even carried with her to my bedside in the middle of the night. She took it well. A little emotional, but that is most nights. She's a volatile child, more so when she's over-tired. 

I cannot tell you how very ready I am to have my body back. It's not because I'm selfish (though I most definitely am.) It's because it didn't feel like a service anymore. It felt more like resentment with flecks of annoyance and occasional anger thrown in. And those are not the feelings I wanted to pass on along with my milk to my sweet precious little girl. She is still my baby. It's just that she is not my infant anymore. It didn't feel right. And I knew I could love her more, better, if I didn't feel like she was taking something away from me that I no longer felt I could give. 

It was a similar process with Samaya. Me knowing I was done months before I followed through. Mostly because I struggle with seeing through my own mommy eyes and not through the mommy eyes of another.* I wanted to be that crazy mother who nursed them until they they were 3 (or more!) I would let them self-wean, respecting that it was theirs just as much as it was mine. Well. It turns out that respecting my own boundaries and needs leads to a far better mama. Sure, breastmilk is nourishing. But  you know what else is nourishing? A mother who isn't physically, mentally, and spiritually depleted. I'm certainly not blaming my current state of depletion solely on breastfeeding for the last 3 1/2 years. But I am saying that I've reached a turning (breaking) point in my life in which it is painfully obvious that if I don't start taking ridiculously good care of myself...well. It's going to get ugly. And folks, it is already very, very unsightly. 

And so with eagerness, I jump at the opportunity to participate in the Baha'i 19-day fast that began on March 2nd. (Rainn Wilson just wrote a great article about it here.) A chance to feed my soul, re-establish prayer in my daily routine, focus on some spiritual qualities that sorely need focusing on(discipline! detachment!), and use all that time that would have been spent preparing food or eating food to instead be present with my babies. While thinking about food. 

*O SON OF SPIRIT! The best beloved of all things in My sight is Justice; turn not away therefrom if thou desirest Me, and neglect it not that I may confide in thee. By its aid thou shalt see with thine own eyes and not through the eyes of others, and shalt know of thine own knowledge and not through the knowledge of thy neighbor. Ponder this in thy heart; how it behooveth thee to be. Verily justice is My gift to thee and the sign of My loving-kindness. Set it then before thine eyes.           Bahá’u’lláh


  1. Reminds me of the air mask analogy. In emergencies on planes, the parents should first put the mask on themselves before helping the children. I find that the same goes for so many things in parenting. First meet the mother's needs, and then she'll be much more capable of fulfilling whatever needs of the little ones.
    Enjoy the fast!! Caroline

  2. I remember those days well. As much as I cherished breastfeeding (and still sometimes miss it, 6 years later), there came a time when I was done. And the only way to maintain the closeness with my son in that same way was to find a different way to achieve it, one that didn't involve my feeling drained, literally and figuratively. Happy return to fasting!