I have a four-year-old boy, a two-year-old boy, and a two-month-old girl, so my day is filled with constant noise: kids laughing, crying, yelling, an unending stream of questions, my oldest son's audible stream of consciousness, more laughing, singing, more crying, battery-operated toys, simulated automobile and dinosaur sounds...and when Liam runs out of things to say, he just hums or makes funny noises.
Some days, the biggest treat for me is a quiet car ride by myself. I have come to appreciate silence even more now that I've become a mom.
A noisy house is such a blessing. If you think my hands are full, know that my heart is overflowing. However, with all the noise, it seems my voice is drowned out; Liam is usually so focused on what he is saying that often times he simply doesn't hear my instructions. I hate yelling; it's not something Kelley and I want in our home, so our goal is to train our children to respond to our inside voices; to tune in, even if that means they have to be quieter to hear us.
I love how God uses situations in my own day-to-day parenting to teach me about Himself. I can become so focused on my own plans, or problems, or stresses, that I can't hear His quiet voice beckoning me to His side.
Eva and I have fought through her feedings for two months now. It has been a struggle from the beginning, from when she broke skin on both sides and I needed Percocet just to nurse her, to oversupply, to reflux, to food intolerances, to now her not gaining weight. She screams through feedings more often than not. I have had to eliminate so many foods from my diet that I'm basically eating rabbit food and water. I had to pump and bottle-feed both of my boys, so I wanted nothing more than to nurse my third and last baby, without all the complications of pumping, washing bottles and pump parts, mixing in formula, and heating to the right temperature. I wanted to keep things simple and savor these precious moments where it's just her and me looking into each other's eyes and connecting.
I love the experience of nursing and how it bonds mother and child, but it's becoming a huge source of stress and a forced, unsuccessful effort. I am exhausted from lack of sleep, burnt out from feeding in two-hour increments, and HANGRY. I have had to pump and supplement with formula, and somehow my milk supply, which has been at least double what was needed with all three of my kids, has almost completely disappeared within a week. And yet I have held my ideals closed-fisted until my knuckles have turned white because nursing my baby is what I wanted. I have grieved that what so many women seem to enjoy with ease has been such a struggle for me and my babies, and I've blamed myself for our lack of success, allowing guilt to drive my actions. I have allowed my plan, my insecurities—this fear of failure—to scream so loud that I haven't been able to hear the voice of the Lord gently instructing me to be at peace.
He won't yell. Just like I do with the boys, He stands close by, waiting until I stop running in circles...until I slow down, get quiet, and tune in. Only then can I hear His best.
Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him. // Psalm 37:7
When I silence the distractions, I can hear Him more clearly: Everything will be alright. I am a good mom, and the method I use to feed my baby doesn't change that. I am choosing to do what's best for the whole family and what maintains a peaceful environment in our home. And parenthood is about doing what my child needs, not necessarily what I want. A year from now, this decision isn't going to matter. My daughter will be well fed, and I won't have missed this phase because I've been stuck in a corner pumping or strung out because of stressful feedings. It will all work out.
Pausing to hear His voice calms the storm and brings order to the chaos. His is the only voice that matters.
The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. // Psalm 23:2