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.”


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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