Maria Lactans

Maria Lactans
Maria Lactans (wikimedia commons)

Friday, June 10, 2016

Growing in Holiness through Breastfeeding and Mothering

I had one of those Godfidences recently - those moments some people call coincidences but we know God is trying to get our attention.  A friend told me in the midst of a conversation that she thinks the truly holy people are those who do not make others feel uncomfortable in their presence or worried that they are being judged.  Holy people really are not thinking harshly of you but looking at you with eyes of love even as you admit your weaknesses.  Jesus was like this.  No matter who he encountered - the tax collectors, the woman caught in adultery, even Peter who denied him - he did not condemn them, but loved them, forgave them, and told them not to sin anymore.  People felt comfortable in Jesus' presence and came from miles away to meet Him.

Then yesterday morning, the daily devotion in one of my books was about seeing Christ in others.  It dawned on me that that was what I needed to strive for.  This involves all of my relationships - those with my children, my spouse, other family members, and those I meet each day.

Seeing Christ in others applies to our children, even our nurslings.  I remember those sleepless nights when the baby wanted to nurse again and he had soaked his diaper.  I sometimes felt frustrated about needing to get out of bed to change his clothes instead of just latching him on and going back to sleep.  I, of course, knew how sweet and innocent the baby was and how it was my utmost privilege to be his mother.  I also knew how wonderful cosleeping was!  However, in the middle of the night, I was still tired and grouchy and had a difficult time seeing the beauty of it all.

But that is what Jesus is asking of us, right?  To see the best in others, to see Him in others.  This applies when our nurslings need nourishment and comfort at the most inopportune times.  It applies when our older children are not being very nice to us or each other.  It applies when our kids are just being kids and make messes. Sometimes other family members do not understand or agree with how
we breastfeed our children or our parenting philosophy and are unkind to us.  We still need to look past those situations and comments and see Christ's light in them.

Breastfeeding and natural mothering have helped me grow into a holier person than I used to be.  When I had my first child,  I was not a very patient person.  Now, after nursing and taking care of several more children, I find myself more patient and understanding than when I had just one!  Yes, part of it was all the practice(!), but breastfeeding plays an important role in growing a loving mother, in my humble opinion.  It teaches us to focus on what really matters in the moment, how to die to ourselves, and how to follow the lead of the child.  It teaches us to follow our mothering instincts, and all the hormones associated with breastfeeding help us relax and enjoy the present moment.  Even though I do not have a nursing baby or toddler right now, all my years of breastfeeding are still growing me.  And, of course, my children will always enjoy the physical and emotional benefits even
though they are no longer nursing.