The modern world likes its goddesses to look and act a certain way. Gorgeous nymphs in gauzy gowns. Abundantly bosomed beings who offer wealth and well being. Great mothers who nurture their beatific babes.
Once upon a time, I used to agree. Six years ago this January, when I was leaving my first daughter to return to my J-O-B, I wrote this:
Want a surefire, foolproof, 100% guaranteed way to become a goddess on earth? Follow these steps:
- Be born a woman.
- Make love at your most fertile moment.
- Act as a hospitable vessel for nine glorious months.
- Love the little creature that you have created with all your body, heart, and soul.
- Leave aforementioned angel child with a trusted caregiver after she has been lavished with two and a half months of dedicated attachment parenting.
- Return within four hours to a child with eyelids slightly purpled and swollen from much weeping.
- Hold her in your arms and offer her that sweetest mother’s milk.
- When this child falls back in a delighted coma of sleepiest nourishment, witness the rapture on that flushed face.
That’s lovely, but I’m revising what it means to be a goddess. The sweet innocence of a milk dripping deity is great, but there’s another way to earn your place in the pantheon.
I’m nearing the end of my breastfeeding journey with my second child. My boobs can still soothe a crying kid, but I’m less amazed by my alchemical powers. (Wow! I eat food and it ends us as someone else’s poop!)
Now, as I endure the two a.m. screaming that I can feel in my teeth simply because I will not submit to being treated like a human chew toy, I discover I have another superhuman skill: the firm but gentle “no.”
Every mother who resists the desire to devour her young - even when they seem hell bent on swallowing their mother whole - yeah, she’s a goddess.
There is something divine about cradling an infant and pledging a lifetime of nourishing devotion. The refusal to turn into Kali in the darkest hour before dawn? That’s the love that creates the world.