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May, 2012
Perspective

Perspective

A few weeks ago Adam and I were watching the news when a story came on about moms who breastfeed their children until they wean themselves, even if that means nursing a six year old child. Time magazine had stirred up the controversy the week before by giving their cover to the topic.

As we watched the interview I turned to Adam and said, “There are moms who breastfeed their kids till they’re six? I’ll be happy if I make it six months with Autumn.”

Nursing my babies has not come easily. During each pregnancy, I’ve had a new strategy. With Autumn, I thought maybe our home birth would help. I thought if I wasn’t separated from her at all the first week of her life, I might magically produce more milk than I did for Sky and Micah (I didn’t). I also thought if I ate more or differently this time, or mastered the SNS, or saw the lactation consultant early enough I would make enough milk (I didn’t).

My babies have all had formula. Lots of it. Way more formula than breast milk. I think I’ve started to come to terms with it. My mom and Adam have both helped me tremendously, reassuring me that I’ve done everything I can and reminding me that our children have all been healthy anyway. I know they’re right, so I’m mostly okay about it. But then something—like seeing a picture of someone breastfeeding her six year old under the title “Are You Mom Enough?”—will trigger my frustration and guilt all over again.

A few days after the news story, some friends started passing around a post written by Kristen Howerton in response to the Time article. You really should head over there right now and read it because it’s amazing, but in case you don’t, here’s the general idea: There is no point in allowing the media to manipulate us into arguments over whether or not it’s good to breastfeed a child through kindergarten. Why waste our time criticizing well-meaning mothers over the absolute perfect way to parent when there are some children in the world with no parents at all? Why aren’t we all worked up about that?

My breastfeeding struggles have always been about my babies and me. But now when something stirs up that familiar sting of disappointment, I think of Kristen’s post. And I feel a little less sad for Autumn and a little less sorry for myself. My mind goes to the orphans in the world and God’s love and concern for them. I think about friends I have who’ve adopted needy children and I’m reminded to pray for them. I should allow God to lift my head up, away from my own problems more often.

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” – James 1:27

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A Slow Life

Things have been intense at our house recently. There’s the usual chaos of life with little kids, plus two colds, one sore throat, a fever, and two yucky rashes.

The doctor’s rash prescription includes six (!) mini-baths a day for Skylar and since I’m also trying to pump four or five times a day to increase my milk supply for Autumn (a whole other story), my days have been a whirlwind—put Sky in the bath, listen to Micah say, “My turn take a bath now too?”, explain to him again about “Sissy’s owies”, get Sky out of the bath, cover her with cream, nurse Autumn, bottle-feed her, pump, and start the cycle over. Oh, and food, diaper changes, cuddles, naps, and usually a few temper tantrums are squeezed in there somewhere too.

I basically run around my house like a maniac most days. I told Adam I wish we had a camera set up so the two of us could watch parts of my day later and laugh about them.

Like one morning last week, when Sky and Micah discovered a cricket in the bathroom and decided to “make a home for him” complete with toys and blankets and snacks. It’s crazy how fast two little kids can make a mess, isn’t it?

The other night I went out to the store when Adam came home from work, hoping to pick up a prescription and a week’s worth of groceries in under an hour so I could get back before the kids’ bedtime. As I raced around the store I marveled at the other shoppers, who calmly walked through the aisles, reading labels and looking at lists.

Who would have thought the life of a stay-at-home-mom would be so, well, rushed? The irony is that our desire to live a slower-paced life is a big part of why I’m home with the kids full time instead of out working.

Maybe things will slow down when our kids are a little older?

For some reason I feel like you experienced moms are laughing at me right now.

Maybe there will always be something driving us forward a bit more quickly than we’d like. I guess we can’t control everything. But we can still have goals, right? Adam and I have realized this year that our ideal family life is slow and simple. Breakfast at the table and school together at home. More playing in the yard and less hurrying into the van. Time to have friends and family over for dinner.

I’m not sure how our future will look. The Bible says a man makes His plans, but the Lord orders His steps. So for now we’ll keep trying to slow things down and hopefully accept whatever actually happens with grace.

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Feeding the Kids

Feeding the Kids

I haven’t baked a single loaf of bread since Autumn’s birth three months ago. And while I wish I’d found time to do some freezer cooking at the end of my pregnancy, I didn’t. So we’ve been eating lots of processed food at our house. And cheap grocery store eggs.

Maybe that’s why Saturday was so much fun. I’d asked Miss Janet, a friend from church, if I could come to her farm to buy some of the fresh eggs she sells. “Of course!” she said quickly, and soon the errand turned into an event for my friend Amy and me and our kids. We got to see Janet’s chickens, horses, cows, her turkey, and her two very sweet dogs. She let the kids gather eggs right out of the hen house and pet the animals. Then we all picked veggies from her garden—squash and purple and yellow beans—and ate lunch together on her porch.

Janet wouldn’t even let me pay her for the eggs. I almost felt like I’d invited us over, but Amy said, “Don’t worry about it. Janet’s just like that. She is so generous.”

That night Adam and I grilled the veggies and I folded a couple of the eggs into a batch of cookies. I mixed the bright orange yokes in with some oats and raw honey and wheat flour, and wow, it felt good to watch my kids eat homemade cookies later instead of goldfish crackers or pretzel sticks.

I’m trying not to feel guilty about all the processed food I’ve given my kids over the past few months. I wish I was one of those all-natural mamas who cooks everything from scratch and avoids the microwave and breastfeeds around the clock and then somehow blogs about it all too. But the truth is I’m still adjusting to my days alone with three little ones and right now I’m proud of myself if I manage to fold one load of laundry.

I think God cares about what we eat and what we feed our kids. But He also tells us not to worry about it. Jesus always brought it back to the main thing: being fed spiritually. Janet shared real food with us (her yummy, organic, fresh food!) and she reminded me how wonderful it is when someone goes out of their way to be kind. It made me wonder, do my kids ever see me showing that sort of concern for others?

I’ll be happy when I have a little more time to spend in my kitchen. One of these days I’m going to bake bread with my kids again and I can’t wait. Maybe we’ll even give it away.

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Copyright 2013 - Linnea Curington