My daughter Evelyn was born underwater. Soon afterwards, we collected rainwater for her naming ceremony, and washed her feet in living water as we welcomed her to family and community. Three years later, the two of us immersed together, marking her weaning, and welcoming a new stage of her life and of mine.
Each of our three children had a gradual, mutual, weaning process that ended with a family ceremony at our Shabbat table. Our ceremony recalled the feast that Abraham gave to celebrate Isaac’s weaning, and expressed our pride in our children’s growing independence.
When Evelyn weaned, it was a huge moment for me as well, since I don’t expect to have more babies. For so many years now, my body’s energy has been channeled into pregnancy, breastfeeding, and constantly caring for tiny people. Joyful, exhausting, sweet, frustrating, loving, annoying, intense, vital, demanding, and it’s over. I will always be a mother, but no longer in that physically engrossing way. I wanted to make that moment tangible. I turned to mikveh, as a physical, sensual, ritual for transition. Initially, I thought I would immerse alone. But the only time available at the mikveh was an afternoon when I would have Evelyn with me. Suddenly I realized how perfect it would be to immerse together.
Evelyn was reluctant to have her pink nail polish removed, but then when we stepped into the warm water together, she was delighted. I immersed and said the blessings, trying to put them into words she could relate to. We talked about her birth, and how I held her for the first time in warm water just like this. We talked about how she will grow, and be as big as me, and perhaps be a mother herself someday, but still always be my precious daughter. We were together in our new separateness.
I am so grateful to Mayyim Hayyim for providing a beautiful space for our sacred moment.Jessica Lang Kosa is a mother of three and a lactation consultant in private practice in Newton, MA.