I have a lot of mama friends who all have young children, and God has blessed me tremendously by these women. In our isolationist culture where few people have good friends, I am fortunate to call many amazing women close to my own age, as well has several "seasoned" Christian women, my friends. God knows that I need women to relate to, talk to, laugh with, cry with and celebrate life's seasons with - and He has been a faithful provider!
However, I've noticed a strange phenomenon among so many mamas - our mommy instinct is being called into question. We have been told by pop culture, contemporary authors and people claiming to be experts on our children, to ignore those feelings deep inside about what is best for our children, and to instead, listen to them. And we are doing it! We are being told what and how to do everything that relates to being a mama. There are instructions on exactly when to quit breastfeeding our nursling (or worse yet, being told to ignore the amazing benefits of breastfeeding, both nutritionally and emotionally), told exactly how we are to put our babes to sleep and that does NOT include us caring for them (even though so many moms feel such a strong desire to nurse their babe to sleep, a horrendous mistake claimed by many books), told exactly how many shots our children are supposed to receive and exactly when (although I am CONTINUOUSLY in the presence of mothers who feel extremely torn over this schedule), told when our babies are ready for solid food (although everything in nature screams otherwise), and by what age our babies are ready to be separated from us, even though at this age they can do absolutely nothing for themselves. Every time we go to almost any function, including church, it is almost expected we hand our children over for someone else to care for while we go off to do our own thing. We are told we are benefiting our family by leaving our children for the majority of their lives to pursue a career. (I am not even beginning to declare whether it is right or wrong to be a working mom - but to ignore the fact that babies are meant to be with their mamas would be questioning God's design of the mama/baby relationship).
Mamas, it's time to take back your family and listen to the instincts that God intentionally gave you. YOU know what is right for your children - no one else comes close to having that ability, other than the One who desires to guide us. If you are doing something that goes against that gentle mama voice that is alive in everyone of us, STOP. Talk to God. He loves our babies more than we are capable of - and he so greatly desires our children to be wonderfully cared for! If your precious baby is waking up several times a night to nurse just to be close to her mama (uh um, I'm talking about you, my sweet Haddie), nurse that cuddly baby! Our loving Father would not have placed that desire in her if it wasn't part of his design. If your almost three year old finds her way in to your bed in the middle of every night (uh um, I'm talking about you, my precious Emma), don't shoo her away because everyone tells you she should be sleeping on her own. The tender age of three may be almost adult-like in our crazy culture, but she's just a baby. She won't always need to stroke your hair for security (still talking about you, my darling Emma). Don't stop nursing your baby when they turn a year old because your doctor says it's no longer necessary. Your baby knows when to quit, and it most likely has nothing to do with your schedule. When your toddler doesn't want to be left in the nursery on a particular day, don't worry about what other mamas think - let that sweet child stay with his mama. Your body knows what your children need and the Holy Spirit will never guide you wrong. Trust the Spirit and ask for wisdom.
I'm so happy to have very young children still but already know how bittersweet it feels when they grow and change. I never want to look back and feel that I made my children be prematurely independent because I listened to advice that wasn't from God, and ignored my mama instincts. I fully intend on loving, guiding and sheltering my children for as long as God leads me to. Yes, I said "sheltering" - an action that our culture deems hazardous to our children. I have been blessed with a very loud mama instinct from the very beginning and have made efforts to never ignore it, regardless of how others have tried to make me feel (doctors included). God has given me the courage to follow my instinct even when it's been counter-cultural, and I have much peace in doing so knowing that my decisions have been thoroughly researched and discussed with my Creator.
My prayer for all mamas is to listen and follow your own mama instincts and to have God's peacefulness when doing so. Be courageous and know that you know what your children need and that no book or friend will fully know your family's dynamic or your child's personality. Go to God with every single one of your hard decisions, but don't forget to talk to him about the day-to-day decisions. He wants to guide us in everything! I'm praying daily for all of my mama friends. Each and every one of you inspires me and I am tremedously grateful for all of you!