“I NEED TO DRINK BOOBIES!” screams Sage as she crawls into our bed at 4:45 in the morning. “No boobies” I say and then I proceed to give my weaning speech, “I can get you water or milk…do you want water or milk? How about you drink right out of a cup, you’re getting to be such a big girl you don’t even need boobies.”

“I NEED THEM. I NEED THEM” she responds desperately.  Then she begs, “Take them off. Take the boobies off!” like if I’d only give her control of them we could avoid this whole conversation and all get back to sleep. I take a deep sigh, knowing that if I am going to hold my ground there is only one thing I can do. “Sage,” I say wearily,  “how about we just wake up and play?”

“Yeah,” she whimpers. “We can play.” And so the day begins, still dark, so quiet. We go into her bedroom and just stare at each other as we try to adjust to the light. “Maybe boobies, just a little bit?” she asks, as if she just has to be sure that I am for real. My heart sinks. I want to say yes, but that is not my answer, “No boobies.” I respond. Then I rally. I become determined to change the energy. We begin playing and I pull out all the stops to keep her mind off nursing. Complete and utter distraction is my only tactic.

I let her ride me like a horse. We go round and round the apartment till my knees start to give. We dance to Prince. Mostly we dance to “Let’s Go Crazy” and we do go crazy. Every time. I put on play after play, I balance all sorts of things on my head, I pretend to run into the wall and fall down, I bust out the guitar and somehow (even though I only know three chords) I sing every song she knows. I pretend to be Elmo, I pretend to be Miss Piggy, I pretend to be a talking washcloth, a talking snow boot, a talking spoon, a talking binder clip… the routine is elaborate and intense. We both work hard.

At one point during one of the puppet shows or horse rides it strikes me that this game of distraction is not only for her. It exists for me too. I am so utterly insecure about what will happen once I have weaned her. I worry that my magic as a mom is completely dependent upon my boobs. I’m like Sampson about to get his hair chopped off, and I can’t stop thinking about what will happen when it’s gone. Will my daughter still lie on my chest at naptime? Will she still gaze up at me like I’ve got all the answers and am the keeper of all the secrets? Will she still run to me when I round the corner or walk through the door? Will she feel betrayed? Will she lose her spirit of adventure? For the past two years, nursing has been our private language. It’s the way we are quite, calm, and still. It’s how we take each other in at the start of each day.

To stop means that I will have to run after her in order to catch my glimpse.  She is always on the move and I know that this is not going to stop. She is just going to keep getting faster and faster. And time will accelerate too. And soon she’ll have a “do not enter” sign on her door and a diary with a lock. She’ll have a gaggle of friends who all think I’m lame, and a closet full of boxes with little skulls and crossbones on them, and I’ll start finding empty beer bottles hidden in ridiculous places like the laundry machine (in a panic my friends and I did this once), and she’ll start using catchphrases like LOL and OMG except I won’t understand them. And she’ll say “fine” when I ask her how she’s doing, and she’ll say “fine” when I ask her how school was, and she’ll say “whatever” when I ask her to please elaborate on what she means by “fine”.

And so, to avoid thinking of how my two year old will some day become a twelve year old and then a twenty year old I slip on a hat and I twirl a banana and I cheer, “Let’s have a parade!” And on, and on, and on we go…