Nursing a baby is a little like being on a tether- you can never be too far away from the child lest they get hungry. This makes me feel like I’m in boob jail. Every 2.5-3 hours the hungry squawks cause me to leave the talk I’m writing on my laptop, the bathroom I’m trying to clean or the 4-year old who I’m playing Legos with. The boobs are on lockdown.
When Oz was first born, the delight of having a new baby was coupled with remembering the days of an infant and what that entails. Deciding to stay at the coffee shop to work for another hour, running out to the shop to pick up some bagels, or even having a family outing now needs to have nursing time factored in. The boob clock is always ticking. It puts a bit of a cramp on spontaneity. Or on getting much done for that matter.
Some of the most passionate posts I’ve seen on Facebook revolve around college sports, changes in the layout of Facebook and breastfeeding. Recently one friend was incensed that while in the waiting room of the pediatrician, a mother was complaining about her engorged breasts because of her newborn baby. When asked if breastfeeding was helping, she replied, “no way, these (pointing to her chest) are only for my husband.” On the other end of things are other moms I’m friends with who get their kids involved with demonstrations to support breastfeeding.
Though it can be inconvenient at times, I feel like it’s a small sacrifice to give Os the best nutrition I can and to bond with him. I’m thankful that I’m even physiologically able to do so. I know for many moms it just isn’t an option because of an injury, malnutrition, or fear of infecting their baby with HIV like so many of the moms and babies my sister-in-law, Rachel works with in Kenya. This fall I’ve been able to take Os with me on all my trips for work. The kid has been to Columbus, OH, Morgantown, WV, Madison, WI and Detroit, MI in his first 5 months of life. When I’m sharing Jesus with students at interactive art and outreach booths I’m holding him in one arm, letting another staff or student hold him or letting him sleep in his stroller nearby. Though I might feel like I’m in boob jail some of the time, I’m hugely grateful to work for InterVarsity which bends over backwards to empower working moms. I’ve been blogging about 10 things I’ve learned with InterVarsity in 10 years and integration is one of the key things that I’ve learned. Though much of our lives are segregated work/home, work/family, colleagues/friends I’m privledged to have a job where my life is fairly integrated. As a mom that’s looked like bringing my nursing baby with me when I preach the gospel on campus. It’s meant throwing on a load of laundry when I take a break from writing a talk. It’s meant being at a conference and teaching students how to share their faith and having a black light dance party with them all in the same day. Yes, my job is pretty rad.
Though it can feel crazy at times, I’m thankful for the opportunity to demonstrate that ministry doesn’t need to stop because one has kids. Years before I became a mom, I was angry with God for the prospect of him leading me to have kids, thus ripping me away from doing a job I loved. During a week in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan at InterVarsity’s training camp, Cedar Campus, I can remember talking to another staff member about my fear of having kids and resentment towards God. Wary of what life would look like with kids, I shared “I don’t even think it’s possible to breastfeed a baby and travel around to preach the gospel!” She stared at me with a pained and perplexed expression and responded, “WHY do you think that God is out to get you?” Her question made me think for a long time why I saw kids as a burden rather than a blessing to my life and ministry. And why my view of God was so messed up.
Now I know that yes, you can breastfeed a baby and travel around to preach the gospel. You can if Jesus calls you to do so and gives you strength to do so. I hope that the women (and men) I minister to on campus will remember that crazy lady who brought her baby to their meetings and taught them about Jesus. That someday as they begin families they’ll have a mental picture that I didn’t have as a college student about what life can look like as a minister mom.