“I kinda feel guilty every time we make her a bottle.”
This is what I said to Luke as he was getting ready to give Karina a bottle the other night.
I normally breastfeed her, but every other day or so she gets a bottle of formula. We did this with Clara too. (Don’t even ask about Leyna, as if I can remember a whole four years ago.) It’s mostly intentional- having her used to getting a bottle makes it easy for me to be gone for the evening and not have to worry about her needing to eat.
It also was a way for me to get a bit of reprieve during that first month of absolutely horribly painful nursing. I don’t know exactly what it is with me and breastfeeding, but it’s never come easy. This last time I was *this* close to switching over to a bottle completely. Thanks to a good balance of encouragement, a great lactation consultant, and the grace of God, I was able to finally make it work. But good heavens, I feel like no amount of PG rated language could POSSIBLY express the pain I was in.
Anyways, to bring that tangent full circle, I felt a kind of duty to make breastfeeding work. A sense of duty that tipped into unhealthy territory, I must say. The kind of duty that makes me feel bad for giving her any formula at all. The kind of duty that also makes me feel bad for letting other people care for her so I can eat or shower or read or sleep.
Here is what goes on in my Mama psyche: I somehow think I should be e.ver.y.thing to my baby. Newsflash: I can’t… and I shouldn’t try. I am not God, ok? I mean, I might occasionally make the mistake of thinking I am, but I’m oh so definitely not.
You see, it’s easy for me to play the martyr. To take the thing on, whatever the thing is, and get my sense of worth from succeeding at the thing if it freaking kills me. So, when my baby gets a bottle and therefore it isn’t me doing the whole thing, I feel like I’m failing.
This is insane, ok?
To quote the very quotable Mark Driscoll, “Who do you think you are!?” Who do I think I am that I need to be everything to my child? Who do I think I am that I shouldn’t need help- be it in mothering or in any other endeavor? Who do I think I am that I should be trying to get my sense of value from being a martyr or a super-mom?
It’s like I want the satisfaction of being able to say ‘yeah, I did all of that, no help, just me, because I’m just that awesome.’ Time to get over it, folks. Because it will never be the case, and even if I thought it was the case, I would be wrong. I can not take credit for the growth of my child any more than I can take credit for holding the universe together. One person gets the credit, and His name isn’t Laura.
Oh, He lets me participate, even gives me responsibility and some say so. But without Him, none of this works. Without Him, I don’t take my next breath. Without Him holding the universe in existence, the whole thing disintegrates.
So maybe it’s time to lay off the self importance. Maybe it’s time to stop getting so much of my identity from what I think I do or how needed I think I am. Ultimate value has already been placed on me, regardless of any actions. Maybe it’s time to rest in being a recipient of God’s sustaining grace instead of trying to pretend I can do it all myself.