Our son George just recently turned one year old. As you might expect, the last year of our lives has been marked by great joy, new experiences, and total exhaustion. It turns out that babies need to eat all the time. When George was first born, he needed to be fed every hour and a half. As you can imagine, this grueling schedule was quite disruptive to adult sleep patterns. For our first few months as parents, the boundaries between day and night seemed to dissolve. For George, it was always lunchtime.
Fortunately, the Baby Eating Cycle of Doom (technical term) slows down a little bit as they get a little older. At this stage in the game, George only needs fed about once every three hours. Even better, he usually doesn’t need fed that often at night. Lately, we’re even occasionally able to sleep through the night without getting up to feed George. (Parents will know how miraculous this is!)
We’re making progress. George has been eating solid foods for many months now. More of his calories come from regular, adult food than from milk at this point. Still, the milk connection is strong. Usually, if George is really upset and nothing else seems to do the trick, the answer is milk. In fact, milk is rarely a bad answer. Whenever tensions are high and emotions out of control, milk has the power to put everything in perspective.
What I’m saying is, my boy is addicted to milk. Seriously, he freaks out if he goes without it for more than a few hours. And when he sees me preparing that bottle, he starts weeping like a man being reunited with his family after years of separation. “Hello, my name is George. I’m a milk-o-holic.”
The time is coming when we’ll begin weaning George from breast milk altogether. The process has already begun: We recently started introducing cow’s milk in his sippy cup. (George is not a fan.) Based on George’s attachment to breast milk, I know this will be a tough transition for all of us. Trying to quit cold-turkey would be a mistake; but over time, we’re hopeful we can help him make the transition. After all, what would all his friends say if he were still breast-feeding in high school?
George’s attachment to milk is making me more aware of the many ways that I allow myself to get stuck in behaviors that no longer serve me. I become attached to so many things that are vital, necessary, and good in their right season, but which have perhaps outlived their usefulness. Mother’s milk is good, but it’s for babies, not adults.
The process of weaning never ends. It’s a lifelong journey, not only of releasing that which is no longer necessary, but also of embracing the delicious and wonderful things that come with new life stages. George must give up milk so that he can enjoy solid food. And in my own way, so must I.
What are the ways in which I am still spiritually breast-feeding, when God wants me to grow into greater maturity? What are the things that I must surrender so that I can fully embrace what God has next for me? What delightful, amazing discoveries await me when I choose to grow?