Eighth CNML Principle:
"Children need their mothers' presence, especially in the first three years of life. With or without breastfeeding, motherhood is an important and valuable way in which women live in accordance with their nature as persons created in God's image."
This principle is personally very important to me. Since my first child was born 16.5 years ago, I have tried to stay close to my kids, particularly when they were nursing babies and toddlers, by limiting my time away from them. Here are some examples of how I have tried to live out the Eighth CNML Principle:
I went on two special trips with my husband and nursing baby/toddler while my older children stayed at our home with grandparents. Flying overseas can be trying while holding a toddler on your lap! Did I mention I am frugal and didn't want to buy an extra seat? However, even if I had, she would have wanted to sit in my lap anyway. That being said, I would not have had it any other way :)
I took my toddler son - while very pregnant with my second son - to my husband's work party. At that time, he was a post-doc and all the attendees were grad students and post-docs. We were the only ones who had children. Several of the attendees were fascinated by my pregnant belly (this was slightly embarrassing to say the least!). I most likely nursed my toddler there, too, if my memory serves me correctly.
I have taken nursing babies/toddlers on retreats. Some of the retreats had other children in attendance and some didn't.
I have taken my nursing babies/toddlers to breastfeeding conferences and homeschooling conferences and even manned a few CNML tables with a nursing baby/toddler in tow.
When I was a college student, I purposely chose an interactive television course as opposed to a regular in person class to avoid excessive separation from my first born son. Instead of attending most of the classes live, I watched the videos of the classes later in a private library conference room and brought my nursling with me! On the day of the test, I nursed my son first and then my husband was waiting outside the classroom with the baby when I was done.
As I write this post, I am on a little personal overnight retreat for the first time all by myself since becoming a mother. It turns out I actually fulfilled the requirements for a pilgrimage at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis in this Year of Mercy so that is an unexpected plus :) It definitely is a nice perk of having older children (although my four year old did ask to nurse before I left; she nurses once a week for 10 seconds). However, I will admit I shed a few tears on the way to my destination. That is one of the consequences of a mother staying close to her children during the first three years of life - she and her children have such a special bond that neither wants to be apart from the other!
Sheila Kippley expresses the importance of a mother's presence much better than I can. I highly recommend you read her posts and her booklet entitled The Crucial First Three Years.
What have you done as a mother to stay physically and emotionally close to your child(ren) during the first three years? Leave a comment. I would love to hear from you!