In our parenting journey, our Lord has gently led us. Our children are still small, and we’re certainly not “parenting experts.” But as we seek to simply place our lives and little ones back into His hands each day, He faithfully shapes us through His refining.
When God suddenly placed our baby girl in our arms, our parenting journey began with a step of faith.
And each step after that, still calls us to faith.
We have parented “instinctively,” clinging to our Father’s hand, desiring that our relationship with our little ones would point them to the even greater relationship with our Savior.
Even before we knew of the term “attachment parenting,” apparently, that is what we were doing.
In Dr. Dobson’s book “Seven Solutions for Burned Out Parents,” he reminisces about his own childhood. He describes the memory of living in a one-bedroom home with his parents, and sleeping in a little bed next to theirs at night. When he would awake in the night, needing reassurance in the dark, his dad would simply hold out his hand to hold, allowing him to fall back asleep- comforted. In essence, he describes this experience as mirroring to our children the “accessibility” of Christ.
As a Christ-follower and a parent, I desire for my children to yearn for God’s voice, to call out to Him, and to know that we serve the God Who Sees. As we give Him our lives, He is always there, offering us Himself.
In keeping my children close during those early days, they eventually begin taking steps in life on their own with a secure foundation of knowing they are cared for, and have the safety of consistent boundaries.
The physical contact between parents and baby is so important. It is a sad state of affairs, that so many little ones today (at least in the US), are consistently deprived of this necessity.
It is not unusual for a new baby to be immediately scrubbed and placed in a plastic bassinet– under bright lights- directly after their birth, instead of snuggling with their mama. Soon, the family heads out, carrying their infant in a sturdy carseat “carrier”, where the child is dangled by a carseat handle, viewing the world from their parent’s knee level. After the car ride, the child often returns home to be contained in a crib, swing, seat, or even left in that carseat carrier, just brought into the home, and set on the floor. After the necessary feedings, changing, a few fun giggles & play, they are sent to bed in a crib- often in a room alone.
Does this experience sound familiar?
On some level, it is certainly tidy and convenient. But I believe it is not what God has called me to, in parenting.
No matter how much help I have available in my life, no one else can “be mama” to my little ones through the dark of the night or the wee morning hours; to offer the soothing comfort of mama’s breast.
When the blessings of children arrive at God’s designated spacing, there is often very little time to “rest up” before the next one arrives (“on demand” nursing can help with this, however). But I trust my Abba Father knows best, and He is faithful to carry me, and sustain me (even though I am certainly tired!). Better than anyone else, He knows my needs, and how to fill them.
As I pursue gentle birth, wear my little ones for at least the first two years, nursing “on demand” during those months of infancy (allowing them to self-wean/”schedule”), and sleep close, I am nurturing them during this season in a way that no one else can.
What a blessing it is, to snuggle a child close, wrapped up in my arms to offer assurance, new strength, or nourishment during their often challenging and overwhelming seasons of growth and change.
I am assisted in this intense journey, by my incredible husband (who consistently participates in baby-wearing and co-sleeping/night-soothing), by family members who cuddle fussy, teething little ones (so that mama can have a snack, nap, or shower!), and most of all- by my Lord, who continues to speak to me about sacrificial, missional living.
Through the weary days and long nights, I am offered His true comforting rest, the satisfying living water, which God has offered to women through the ages, such as for Hagar and the Samaritan woman. During challenging seasons of mothering, I have often been refreshed by meditating upon Psalm 23.
Above all, I want my little ones to truly know the God who carries us, who hears us, who cares. As their mama, I am charged to speak with them through everyday moments “when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up” (Deuteronomy 6), regularly impressing upon their hearts to know and obey our Lord.
I wouldn’t change a thing.
- When You Rise Up by R.C. Sproul, Jr.
- The Attachment Parenting Book by Dr. William Sears
- Seven Solutions for Burned Out Parents by Dr. James Dobson
- A Place of Quiet Rest by Nancy Leigh DeMoss
- Gentle Birth Choices by Barbara Harper
- Sacred Parenting: How Raising Children Shapes Our Souls by Gary Thomas
- The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding by La Leche League International
- Passionate Housewives Desperate For God by Jennie Chancey and Stacy McDonald
- Ina May’s Guide to Breastfeeding by Ina May Gaskin
- Open Embrace: A Protestant Couple Rethinks Contraception by Sam & Bethany Torode
- 40 Weeks- A Devotional Guide to Pregnancy by Jennifer Vanderlaan