Finding the feminine image of God in the Bible and in women.

Archive Tag:nursing

Mother God in a Toddler-Sized Package

When we need something, sometimes the best thing to do is assume Mother God is giving us what we need, already. Then we can turn around to face what (or who) we think is taking something we need from us.

I learned this today. Sam’s sleep has been wonky the past few nights, as in, won’t be put down for the first part of the night. Finally, last night, I could at least sleep most of the night sitting up, with him sleeping on me. But, not well.

This morning, though, he wanted to nurse every ten minutes. I felt snappy and irritable. I wanted my coffee and muffin and to eat in peace for fifteen minutes. My sacred-coffee-space was being photo-1452882033718-1caccfcfe77f

I did get five minutes. But the little toddler hands holding my leg, the arms reaching up, the pattering of following feet, that all continued.

Finally, I gave up. When Joel showed up in the sitting room with Sam (now Joel was following me, too) complaining, “I don’t know what to do with him,” I said, with a tone, “Why don’t you read to him?” He responded according to my tone. I shot back something else that sounded perfectly rational and perfectly edgy.

I sat Sam down though and we read “Pooh’s Sunny Day.” I took him into the bedroom to nurse in the a/c. After a while of that, I realized I felt better. It occurred to me that Sam’s chasing me was good for me. My stress level from tiredness went way down due to all that good prolactin and oxytocin. I got my fix without coffee.

And Joel needed a break, too. His bruised rotator cuff is still hurting because he uses it so often. When he got to stop lifting a 25 pound-er, he cooked us a Chicken-Rice Paleo casserole, which was delicious.

Sam often delivers Mother God to me in a toddler-sized package. It was hard to see God’s gift this morning, but when I did, I could receive peace and give respite to Joel. Sam was meeting our needs, not standing in the way of getting them met.

What or who is chasing you that you’d wish would go away, but is actually Mother God’s gift to you? 


Divine Breasts

For from those divine breasts where it seems God is always sustaining the soul, there flow streams of milk bringing comfort to all the people.

–Teresa of Avila, The Interior Castle, p. 179-180

Recently, a fed-up dad posted a video on Facebook of him trying to eat and drink at a restaurant while wearing a white blanket over his head. He wanted to point out how ridiculous it is that our culture pressures women to entirely cover up their breasts and babies to feed their children.

My son Sam is 18 months old and loves to nurse. Worldwide, this is normal. Developmentally and biologically, this is normal. In the United States today, not so much. (Most babies wean by age one).

Breasts-on-the-loose are scary in our culture. They are objects of sexuality that are never proper to expose in public every day places.

But for my toddler, Sam, breasts are his safe place. He has always just thrown himself sideways knowing I’ll catch him, when he is ready to nurse. He gets tired or upset, and then gets to sink deep into soft mama, who gives sweet, warm milk and the chance to suck, which rights the world again.

In many countries around the world, it is a given for moms to suckle their children as they grow older and fully develop their immune systems, which doesn’t happen until age 4 or 5.

When mothers allow their children to grow out of breastfeeding, on their own terms, kids will wean anywhere from age 2 to age 7, typically. The same with bottles, or thumb-sucking. Kids need to suck for comfort. Weaning before a child is ready is always a sad event for both mom and baby.

The Healing Power of Mama-Milk

I tried to wean my oldest child, Marshall, when he was two, and had tooth decay, due to pressure from a dentist. It didn’t take me long to hear my son’s voice through his tears, reflecting feelings of grief and rejection. I decided then to follow my own instincts about what was best for my son. (It turns out that breastfeeding protects teeth, and that changing diet will work wonders for dental health.)

Marshall started to naturally forget about his “morning mama milk” just after his fifth birthday. It was about that time he began to show the more potent symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder. Inflexibility, crying often, and hitting. That was all new, post-weaning. Mama’s milk had been protective.

GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome) author Natasha Campbell-McBride says post-weaning is often when kids start to show symptoms of underlying conditions. There is powerful stuff in breast milk, so protective to the immune system it can stop cancer growth.

Due to the false advertising of formula companies, many in the U.S. don’t know about the healing power of breast milk. But some cultures understand without necessarily having done the studies. In Mongolia, for example, the women express milk for adults to drink, as well as breastfeed their children indefinitely.

Breastmilk and God

Mother God knows about it, too. It was Her idea, to create a drink so potent with life that it could, on its own, nourish a baby until she walks upright.

So it’s no wonder that God, or Her people, chose the name El Shaddai, which can be translated Breasted One. The apostle Peter also uses the metaphor of breastfeeding in speaking of God (I Pet. 2:2, 3):

Like newborn infants, long for the pure, spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.

Mother God is the safe Person who always welcomes us into the softness of Her center, who offers us the sweet milk of salvation. Sozo, the Greek word for salvation, also connotes safety and healing.

We can throw ourselves sideways and rest in Her as She holds us and rights our inner world again.