This post was originally published in 2013, updated for 2014 by Jessica Martin-Weber
Sometimes it seems like these days of breastfeeding, diaper changes, and needy babies are going to last forever. We fear losing ourselves in the blur of caring for our children. Counting diapers, checking ounces, charting milestones… every day becomes so full it doesn’t seem like this time will ever really end. I always hate it when “they” say to hold on to this time, it goes so fast and the next thing you know you’ll be sad how fast they grew up. It never really helps me, just makes me question if I’m ungrateful and selfish to not savor the poop filled, constantly breastfeeding stage when I’m tired and worn out. And I have had moments where I’ve been convinced that my child would be the first child to actually still be breastfeeding when they go to college. But you know what? “They” are right. I have 6 children, 6 beautiful girls ages 2 years to 15 years old. I blinked, you know, blinked and I have a 15 year old. I could swear she was just a baby. And no, she’s not still breastfeeding.
“They” are totally right. It goes so fast. Faster than saying can even convey. And it is so bittersweet. One day you feel stuck in a whirlwind of diapers and boobs and the next you’re helping them plan leaving for the summer. Or forever. Over 15 years ago I was made a mother when The Piano Man and I had our eldest. Some days I look at her and remember the breastfeeding challenges I encountered with her and smile to think how far we’ve come and how distant that time feels. Yet how very close still. She helped mold and shape me to not only be the mother she needed but also to help form me to be the mother her little sisters would need and even set me on the path that led to starting The Leaky Boob. I have shared the breastfeeding journey she and I experienced together, why I breastfeed for her even today, shared some of her sexual abuse survivor story, and she’s even written for The Leaky Boob herself sharing her views on breastfeeding just before she turned 12. I am one proud mama. We named her Ophélia Chantelle, which means little helper, little song but I call her Earth Baby here to give her a little bit of distance between her real life and what I share online. She’s not completely anonymous. With her permission I’ve shared her face, her name, and parts of her story. She follows The Leaky B@@b and Beyond Moi and has seen conversations I’ve had and from time to time she will help make a post using my phone and taking dictation while I’m driving. Thanks to her questions and sharing her thoughts, I’ve been inspired for articles, status updates, and tweets. Her critical thinking has pushed me to reconsider my views on some topics and to open myself up to considering other perspectives. Her giving, kind, and generous heart moves her to care deeply about others and inspires me to do the same. I am one proud mama. Giving and full of love, she is a model big sister, making room in her life to play with her 5 little sisters in ways that are meaningful for them from building forts to playing peek-a-boo to going on walks to games of Battleship and climbing trees. Creativity exudes from her, she knits, bakes, draws, writes, and above all, dances. Her heart is big and she cares deeply not only for her family but friends and even strangers. Sharing meals with homeless members of our community, volunteering to help others with babysitting, donating her funds when she can, volunteering for local and international efforts, and even making the choice to prioritize fair-trade chocolate so the treats she enjoys don’t oppress another child. I am one proud mama. She loves learning and is willing to take risks to pursue what she loves. An introvert, she is growing every day in understanding herself more and putting herself out there. Nothing brings that quite together like dance does and in just 3 years we’ve watched as she went from the girl turning 11 and begging for ballet lessons more than anything, even saying to us “I don’t care if I ever get an iPod, a cell phone, or a car, I just want to dance!” to today blooming into a young ballerina with opportunities to pursue her dreams. Bloodied feet and being behind most dancers her age have never deterred her, just spurred her to work harder until she caught up. This past January she pushed herself to a new level and attended auditions for summer ballet intensives with hundreds of other students, most of whom have been dancing at least twice if not three times as long as she has. It was scary but she did it. I am one proud mama. It was worth it too. She got into most of the programs for which she auditioned. Consulting with her instructors and with The Piano Man and I, she narrowed down her choices to 2 programs. Before she was even sure of where she wanted to go she began baking, running an ongoing bake sale to raise the funds that would be required to attend these training programs. In a few weeks she raised enough to cover the registration to the two programs she selected. I am one proud mama. So it is from that place that I share her efforts and invite you to hear from her as she works to reach her goal. Putting it all out there, she’s raising the funds to get to these summer ballet intensives to train further. Employing the help of her sisters and her father and me, she created a video and fundraising campaign to try and get the rest of the funds before the deadline. We had hoped for scholarships but that didn’t happen this time around and the costs involved simply are not in our budget, all the scrimping and saving couldn’t make it so. The sisters worked together to plan, film, and edit the video sharing Ophelia’s love for dance and her willingness to work hard for her dreams. I am one proud mama. It’s not easy for her to ask for funds to reach these dreams, doing so is just one more indicator of how motivated she is to take risks and work hard towards her goals, goals that include helping others and using her talents to be a voice for the voiceless. A tenacity that will serve her well through out her life, I believe. Check out her fundraising campaign, it’s worth watching the video even if you’re not able to donate. I’m sharing this and I hope you watch it then share it too because I’m one proud mama.
Last year’s video, it’s amazing to see how much one year changes things even at this age! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ycG-NW1UGno
From a needy little baby to an increasingly independent young woman, I am one proud mama. Thanks for letting me have a proud mama moment! See her fundraiser here, every contribution, big or small, helps: