I keep saying I’m back, and then I don’t post. I have so many ideas in my head, it’s just taking the time and brain power to write them down.
I’ve been thinking a lot about lent this week. Mostly because I’ve felt like I’ve somehow failed. Before Ash Wednesday I was busy preparing for the conference and then immediately after that I went into what some (mostly in my family) would call “extreme nesting”. Nothing like preparing for a baby in 6 days. Really. It was crazy and felt that way. Then he came. I’ve now spent my time adjusting to a newborn; the lack of sleep, the sore boobs, the cranky 2 year old (not to mention all of the things that didn’t get done during my “extreme nesting” period). So I feel like I’ve not spent any time getting ready for this week. This holiest of weeks. I’ve thought, and discussed, that I’ve not even given anything up. At all. To the contrary, I don’t have diabetes anymore so I spent the first couple of weeks GREATLY enjoying forbidden things like chocolate cake and ice cream!
I looked back on this lent. Really looked. I realized that I’ve given up a lot. I’ve tried not to complain too much. I really have. Cause the ability to give it up is something that I’ve begged for, pleaded for. Beat my chest in anguish when I couldn’t have it. Many tears were shed in years past because this gift was not one I could open.
I’ve been allowed, by God’s Grace, to nurse my son. My sixth child. I can finally nurse my sixth child. I’ve tried with all of the others but so many things would go wrong. Sometimes it was just inexperience and lack of knowledgeable support, others, real medical concerns. This time. This glorious, incredible time. I am able to nurse my son. He is growing and changing and living because I am able to sustain him.
In all my years of begging, pleading, crying out to God to be allowed to do what my body was designed to do I never fully understood exactly what it was I was asking for. Kind of like the 7 year old that begs for a dog, cause all 7 year olds should have a dog. Never thinking about the implications of being responsible for another life and what it would entail. Everyone had told me over and over how easy nursing was. How convenient it was. How wonderful and peaceful it was. I have found that it’s not as easy as I had envisioned. It’s not all it’s cracked up to be. It hurts. Not now as much, but in the beginning it really hurt. Everything has to stop when I nurse. Everything. I can’t run to the store anymore. I can’t drop everything to stop a curious 5 year old who needs to experience what it feels like to spread toothpaste from one end of the bathroom to the other. I can’t eat whenever I want. I can’t use the bathroom or shower just because I’m ready to. I have to wait on the baby. When he is hungry he has to come first. It’s the way God designed it. It’s forced me to rest more. It’s forced me to depend on my family more. It’s forced me to rely on GOD more.
It’s been more difficult, this gift I begged for, than I could have imagined. I have had to say no to me. A lot. I’ve been so near quitting so many times but the words of a wise friend keep ringing in my ears. “I can’t commit to a full year of nursing my baby, that’s so overwhelming. I can only commit to nursing today. I promise myself to do this today.” I’ve kept those words. I promise, God, that I won’t quit today. I won’t get discouraged to the point of throwing this blessing I’ve been given away TODAY. Tomorrow? Well, that’s another story. Only, it isn’t. Because when I wake up in the morning I’m refreshed and ready for the day and want desperately to cuddle my little one close to my breast and feed him quietly, stroking his face, listening to him eat resting quietly in the peace of the new day that God has given.
In the impending darkness of evening and exhaustion of night I am ready to be done. Ready to not be a mommy anymore. We have an early bedtime because I can’t stand being mommy after 9 pm. Only, I don’t really get to do that anymore. I am being pushed to live my vocation to it’s fullest and in turn receive the graces God gave me, through the sacrament of marriage, the sacraments of my children’s baptisms, even my own baptism. I begged for the ability to be a mother, fully. To not only bear my children, and love my children, but to nourish them from my breast. I was given that gift. I had no idea that it would be calling me to a deeper understanding of my vocation. I had no idea.
When we truly follow Christ we are so eager. We want more and more. We need to be able to experience fully what being a disciple is. Then we are allowed to see glimpses of what that means. The sacrifices that must be made. The difficulty that may lay ahead. It’s then, when we get an idea of what our walk might look like that we could quit. It would be easy to quit. How many times Joan of Arc must have been ready to quit. Or St. Therese. Or St. Joseph. Any of our heavenly friends. It would be so easy to give in to our flesh and throw in the towel. But then. We are filled with the Grace we are meant to have if we would just accept it, and we have our peaceful mornings, when the dawn of a new day given wholly to God is approaching. When we can sink deeply into the folds of His robe and rest quietly in His peace, being recharged for the day that is coming. He wants us to take it one day at a time. He wants us today. He’s not worried about next year. Or tomorrow. Today. He asks for us today.
All of that, just from nursing my son.