I can watch the occassional television show without my daughter asking to nurse. I can eat a full meal -at a restruarant- without her crying to be held. I get to sleep more. To think more. To converse with God alone.

A year ago, I cried a lot, because my newborn cried a lot and she wanted me. Only me. Between breastfeeding and co-sleeping, I seldom physically separated from her. But I chose those things. However exhausted and touched out I felt, I chose to be that person for my baby. I was her security blanket in a brand new world. I did the same for her brother three years before. I made it through those cracked nipples, missed outings and pajamas-as-clothes days. I could do it again, I told myself.

Every time I wanted to lock the bathroom door and hide, or get in the car going nowhere, I looked at my 3-year-old son. I listened to his laughter as he played independently in his room, and I imagined my daughter at preschool age. “We know this passes,” My husband reminded me when I told him how, at 36-years-old, it was hard starting over.

After pregnancy, my abdominal muscles remained separated. I developed a Vitamin D deficiency. I was dehydrated and so very cranky. When I held my tiny girl, I said two and done. No more babies. Now at 14-months-old, my daughter carries that fumbling toddler confidence. Fierce but small, she waddles around getting into mischief. She investigates her brother’s toys and squeals when she sneaks one away. She insists on feeding herself (with a spoon) and whines about people putting on her pants.

Last month, to celebrate our anniversary, my husband and I stayed overnight at a hotel close to home. My mom, who is a blessing, watched the kids. I spent my first night without kids in disbelief it was happening. I sank into the sheets, closed my eyes and I felt it: I felt like my own person again.

As my daughter weans, as I plan her transition to a separate sleep space, I feel relieved but also a little sad. For a short time, I was my baby’s world and she became mine. I felt all her joys and sorrows. I felt her breath rise and fall. We navigated long days. But we did it all together.

Soon, I know my daughter will make her own space in the world. She will look at me from across a room. And all I will want is to hold her.

Sarah Whitman

Sarah Whitman is a writer and mother living in Tampa, Fl. As the religion columnist for the Tampa Bay Times, she covers a broad range of faith and spiritual-related topics. She also contributes parenting columns. She recently started a poetry page on Facebook and welcomes mothers to submit their writings to the site. Visit Mama Dickinson at www.facebook.com/mamadickinson. Visit 1mamadickinson on Instagram.