The Symbiotic Lives of Mother and Child

2 Sep

In this article at, Linda Baker writes about how the very fact of mother’s bodies makes it difficult to establish an “equal division of labor” when it comes to parenting. I’ll write about the division of labor and parenting in another post, but what this essay inspired me to think about is the relationship children have with their mothers’ bodies.

When I was a child, I studied the beauty marks on the back of my mother’s neck; I played with her hands like action figures; I twined her hair in my hands. I remember being very small and laying my head on her chest when I didn’t feel well and her saying that wasn’t it nice that mommies have pillows for children to rest their heads on?

It’s only natural that mothers remain so physically close to their children since for forty weeks they were literally physically connected. Babies and small children crave the intimacy and mothers welcome it. Baker writes, “my young children believe they are me, that my body is their body.”

Someday, the merged identity that Mateo and I have now will separate. He will become fully his own person, and only I will remember the baby who covers my face in sloppy kisses, buries his face in my shoulder, and wakes up early in the morning wanting nothing more than the comfort of being in my arms while he nurses.


2 Responses to “The Symbiotic Lives of Mother and Child”

  1. Marcelle September 5, 2010 at 9:00 pm #

    This was very sweet, Jennifer. I especially loved the last paragraph.

  2. Marisol September 9, 2010 at 9:49 pm #

    I love it! AND because babies one day grow up to be their own person and separate themselves I let my babies cuddle and snuggle with me whenever they want to because I know that day will come and it happens so fast!

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