Monday, November 19, 2012

Night Mothering

To the mother out there exhausted, nursed-out, and semi-dreading what her baby will ask of her tonight: I've been there. We all have. The blessing of loving, nurturing, and nursing a baby is not just snuggle-highs and sweetness. Sometimes you are so tired your bones ache. Sometimes you are so frustrated at the intensity of her need for you that you want to pull your hair out and cry and you might consider doing just that if you thought you could actually have five minutes alone in the bathroom. Sometimes you go to bed with a knot in your stomach wondering when she'll grow out of the night waking and the nursing marathons. With a sense of guilt, that maybe it's your fault. That maybe you should be tougher.

Hang in there. The nursing nights will wane. The intensity of her needs will never go away but it will change....other things will be required of you as she grows older. Things both easier and infinitely harder than lack of sleep. I have found the best way to uncurl that knot in your stomach when you hear her waken and cry for you is to take a deep breath, groan a little, then pull her to you and kiss her. Remember how short these little years will be. Her waking is not your fault. It's just who she is right now.

I have come to think, over my six years of night-mothering three babies, of the many ways our children get their first "practical theology" lessons from their mothers. When we give them ourselves even when we are exhausted, when we meet their cries with love even when it's the fifth time in two hours, they are learning. They learn that if they cry, someone will answer with love and understanding of their needs. They learn-- by instinct-- to depend recklessly. When someday I tell my children about a God who loves them and who will come to their aid no matter what, no matter what cost to Himself, I want that to resonate with their souls. They won't remember these nights I spent mothering them but they are shaped by them anyway.

You are tired. You are soul-weary. You are grace-filled.


Nathan said...

I could easily see this post get published somewhere.

Patti said...

This is so beautiful, Karen.