Deep in the bowels of our freezer, there is a frozen bag of breastmilk. It was pumped from my body almost two years ago. It's been in there for two years, and yet, I can't remove it. I can't throw it away.
I repeat: I am unable to throw away an old, stale, freezer-burned bag of breastmilk.
(If you're finished throwing up in your mouth, read on.)
The reason I can't throw this single, solitary bag of breastmilk away is because it represents something. It represents a time in my life (not too long ago), during which I had a baby. A baby who I breastfed, a baby who, although I was a working mom, was never fed formula.
That frozen bag of milk represents a time in my life during which I carved out roughly 90 minutes of my day to pump. I look back, and knowing that I still have the same job, I wonder how I did it. How did I find 90 minutes a day to be idle? To sit and let a machine extract motherly fluid from my body? I don't know the answer.
That frozen bag of milk represents a time in my life during which, on a nightly basis, I would clean and sanitize three bottles. I was meticulous about those bottles and the pump parts. I would hand scrub those bottles, then microwave them in a special sanitizing bag. Nightly. I would then pull out frozen bags of milk, unthaw them and pour them into those bottles. I would pack those bottles oh so lovingly in my son's bottle bag, and send them with him daily to day care. This was a solid 30 minutes of my evening. Every day.
There were nights that I would be dead on my feet, scrubbing and pouring and measuring and I would think, "This is never going to end."
Guess what? That season of our lives did indeed end. Our boy quit taking the bottle right at his first birthday, thus ending my pumping and bagging of milk. He finished all but one baggie of breastmilk and we moved on. He keeps growing and we keep moving on. Turn, turn, turn.
I look at him now, this whole milk drinking, baseball playing little boy, all knees and elbows, and I am stunned at how quickly he has grown.
I look at the baggie in my freezer, and I am reminded that he will always be my baby. I am reminded that with a child, every season, no matter how trying or tiring, is just that: a season. Turn, turn, turn.
The baggie will stay. I don't know how long it will stay, but for now, I need it to stay. (Don't trip, we will not be consuming it.)
Perhaps I will give it to him on his 16th birthday?