As the Family Goes

JP II Quote

"As the family goes, so goes the nation, and so goes the whole world in which we live." John Paul II

Thursday, February 6, 2014


Due to official lack of interest (on her part, not mine) my 16-month-old is officially weaned.  I only nursed one other baby as long as her, the rest were all done by a year, and I mostly let them dictate when they're done (although in the past, a return-to-work date has influenced me just a bit, though the morning and evening feedings have always been up to them.)

At any rate, I am going to miss this:

A friend of mine commented when I shared this picture that her baby of the same age doesn't sleep on her anymore and that I was lucky, and I knew I was.  This was a post-nursing slumber, the only time she falls asleep on me.  But she's stopped falling asleep while nursing, and has only nursed for a very few minutes a feeding before getting distracted.  And since she has a mouthful of teeth, her distractedness is painful!  And so, it's time.

It's hard not to be at least a little sad.  By the time each of my other babies was finished nursing I was expecting a new one, but this time so far I'm not.  I know it's very likely that I could conceive and have another child, but the reality is that if this isn't the last time, someday it will be.  Children grow up.  Women move beyond child-bearing years.  Children are always moving on and, if you do your job right, become less dependant on you.  But that's not necessarily a bad thing either.

As I watched my little one following along behind her two older siblings this morning, I remembered her one year ago.  Sitting on my knee, still nursing (a lot) and wanting so badly to run along after everyone.  She was still so fragile back then, and even though the kids would have gladly had her as their playmate, I was mostly in control.  It is such a joy to see her emerging character, her assertiveness even as the smallest one, how she showers affection on them in her own timing, but does not fear to tell them "No" if they are being too pushy.  I love to see her dancing and singing, repeating everything we say, and showing off.  True she doesn't nurse anymore, but she does so many more things.  She is growing more and more into a little person. Such a marvel!

I read a quote in Dark Night of the Soul recently that really struck me.  It compared God's love to nursing mothers, and spoke of the dark night as when a mother weans her baby.  He writes,

It must be known then that the soul, after it has been definitely converted to the service of God, is, as a rule, spiritually nurtured and caressed by God, even as is the tender child by its loving mother, who warms it with the heat of her bosom and nurtures it with sweet milk and soft and pleasant food, and carries it and caresses it in her arms; but as the child grows bigger, the mother gradulally ceases caressing it, and hiding her tender love, puts bitter aloes upon her sweet breast, sets down the child from her arms,  and makes it walk upon its feet, so that it may lose the habits of a child and betake itself to more important and substantial occupations.

When I read that weaning was not even on my mind, and still I related to the imagery of a parent encouraging a child to grow as it is intended.  Not prematurely, of course.  But always mindful of their age, and what is appropriate for growth and development.  We carry our littlest babies around daily, everywhere we go, gladly - but we force a toddling one-year-old to stand even when he'd rather not, because we know that to carry him everywhere at such an age hinders him.  We nurse our babies day and night as infants, and yet as their bodies grow to need more nourishment than that from the breast we teach them to find food apart from us.  This is a beautiful thing, in fact, the story of their life. For one day they will cease looking to us as their whole consolation, and will instead search for themselves.  And just as in weaning I provided healthy food for them to eat, so too I hope to provide spiritual food for them to grow on.  So that when the time comes for them to search on their own, they know what healthy food is, and how to find it.

Watching a child grow before your eyes is a beautiful thing, and I know that as one sweet moment fades, so many more are yet to be discovered.  Thank you so much Lord for the privelege and joy of raising children.  It is the most beautiful thing in the world!

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