Nursing Toes


When I nurse,
her feet swirl and wiggle,
back and forth, up and down,
like a conductor’s arms
setting the tempo for her suck.

Her toes spread and grip,
slide and hold,
like a pianist’s fingers grabbing for keys
to find the right note
as she swallows,
and swallows again.

We are our own symphony.
The call and echo of grunts:
Together, we communicate clearly,
without words,
with only her feet and toes,
and her only eye that shows.

People ask incredulously,
“You’re still nursing her at 9 months?”
“She’s never had formula?”

I brush it off with,
“It’s what I know how to do.”
“It’s easier for me.”

But what I really want to say is,
Have you seen these toes?

Have you seen the way they twirl
in comfort, in trust, in delight
at my arms around her,
at my finger in her grip,
at my eyes locked onto
her single exposed eye
as she fills her tiny belly?

When I am in the ho hum of the daily grind,
I sometimes wonder what I will miss of these days.
I keep wondering and wondering
as a whiney someone
asks me to hold him
while I nurse his sister.

It hits me then.

I will miss this.
I will miss the feet and the toes
and the strong build of the little boy that sits
all up in our business
as she and I
conduct the music
that is her food.

The restful time – quiet and dark – that is her nightcap.
The peace that comes from watching these toes.
This, I will miss.

  • Jane

    This is so beautiful. My daughters are ten and six years old now, and reading this took me right back to feeding them when they were nine and ten months old, and how they would hold my gaze and push their feet against my hand as I twiddled with their toes.

    September 6, 2014 at 8:06 pm
  • Anne

    I love this, my daughter is 14 months old and I am very self conscious about still nursing. However, your writing captures a lot of what I love about still having those moments with her 🙂

    September 13, 2014 at 2:22 am

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