drained: a definition

twilight on the trail

Surely it was a nursing mother who first used the word “drained” to describe her exhaustion at the end of a day.

I’ve felt tired before; I’ve felt spent. But until now, I’ve never fallen into bed feeling weakened, empty, utterly void. Because I am. I am empty: I no longer carry a child within me. My belly is not round and full, it is hollow and flabby. All day long, my breasts are drained of their milk. I spend my days tending to this little life, so needy, unable to do a thing for herself. By the end of the day, the stopper has been pulled and all the energy just glug-glug-glugs right out of me. That’s when I lie in bed, my eyes half closed as I feed the girl, who is wailing and inconsolable and greedy as ever for milk, and tell her, “Honey, mama’s got nothing left.”

nursing

The sensation seems appropriate for the season. Lent: a season of self-giving, of self-emptying. Christ gave of himself, emptied himself, even to the point of death, in order to give us life. On a much smaller scale, I am emptied so my daughter might live.

I find myself identifying less with Christ, though, and more with a toddler my mom and sister saw while running errands once. The little boy, clearly worn out from the day, and apparently with a nearly-empty bottle, sighed to his mom, “I’m runnin’ outta energy—I’m runnin’ outta milk!”

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