Shep was born at home two and a half years ago. He had a serious tongue tie and a pitifully weak sucking reflex and I just about spent my last dime and an awful lot of time and energy to be able to nurse him at all.
This was not my first rodeo. I had already been through this three times before and this time, thankfully, I had the support and the people around me I needed to make it work this time. Other times, with other babies, I did not have all I needed and I was not able to make it work. Those babies are half grown now, and doing fine. You definitely couldn’t pick them out of a line up, if you know what I’m saying. Fed is best, you know. So don’t read this and hear me saying anything else, ok? Every mother does her best and it’s all good, hard work and it all really does come out in the wash. Be free.
Shepherd needed more milk than I had to offer for the first few weeks and keeping him fed was a real community effort. Nursing mothers from miles around brought coolers of frozen milk for Shep and then we were able to pass the leftovers to a third freezer for a third baby who needed it. That was truly a beautiful thing to witness. Motherhood is very communal or it is very dry, ask me how I know.
I truly didn’t believe my body would ever kick in and produce enough milk to grow him but I did my best every day to give him all I could. Drop by drop, moment by moment, breath by breath. I remember whispering, “daily bread, daily bread, daily bread,” over his tiny head as I offered what I had again and again, allowing myself to trust that my broken body, with all it’s flaws, might really be enough.
And then one day I thought it might be safe to try a feeding without the little top-off bottle that had been my security for all those weary weeks. And he was fine. Hallelujah! The tongue-tie revision, the following stretches for his tiny mouth, the chiropractic treatments 30 minutes from home, the expensive hospital grade pump and the hours it represented, the sacrifice and care of so many people who cared for us while we worked this through, it was all worth it. For once, the stars had aligned and all was well.
And I was changed.
Turns out, that constant whispered daily bread prayer had sunk itself down deep in my soul and it had become like a banner over my life. Enough, enough, always enough is my resting place now. I’m making my home here now.
Two and a half years ago, my holy work was to pour myself out for him and work very hard to keep him fed and be with him. Today, it’s my holy work to hold him and rock him and help him be brave as he learns how to sleep and feel comfort without giving him what he is so sure he needs. It’s such a dance, this mothering life.
I remembered as I rocked this sweaty toddler to sleep for his first non-nurse-to-sleep nap today that broken bodies, offered up and released for the good of another have always been enough. Day after day, night after night, I have reached down deep underneath the exhaustion, isolation, and monotany that can sometimes characterize motherhood and I have found that there was enough. Enough milk, yours, mine and ours. Enough grace, enough strength, enough herbs and medicine, enough wisdom, hallelujah, there has been enough. At the end of my very best, the Creator who feeds the birds and colors the flowers has met me in my lack over and over and over again. He has made me a source of life and light and love for my children, in spite of all that I am and am not. Where there once was a dry bone valley, now I see plenty to go around. It really is a miracle.
And that’s the Kingdom of God here on earth. The God who came near and offered his broken body for all of us is still drawing us in, filling us up, and setting us free. It’s Kingdom work to liberate the captives, restore sight to the blind, release all the oppressed, and to proclaim God’s wild love to the whole world. It’s Kingdom work to feed babies, yours and not yours, and to fight to keep them in their mothers’ arms. It’s Kingdom work to nurse and rock through the night hours while the house is quiet and still. It’s holy rebellion to keep not quitting, to keep showing up with the little bit you have and trusting that in the economy of the Kingdom of the risen and always resurrecting God, it will be enough.
So as you go on and do whatever is next for you, remember that you are not alone here. You are seen and loved beyond measure. The work you are doing to restore the Shalom of God in the lives of the people around you and in the great big world is good and it’s enough. Nothing is wasted here and all of it counts, every single drop. The hard seasons of learning to bring your empty cup and holding your breath until it’s filled don’t last forever and you really will become that tall tree, planted by the river and bringing forth plenty of good fruit. I believe it for me and I believe it for you. Go on. Do the next thing and then the next and enough, enough, enough, daily bread, daily bread, daily bread will be your home, too. The Kingdom of God is already within you, haven’t you heard?. Bring your empty cup and there will be enough.