The Intersection of Independence (Bottle-feeding is Emotional)


Ten weeks of 1-2 night feedings was starting to grate on me. Don’t get me wrong – I’ve been so blessed to have a kid who gets good long stretches of sleep. But waking up constantly at 2 or 3 every morning – well – we all know that two fragmented four hour sessions is just not the same as 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep. (That’s my extensive Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child knowledge talking. Sometimes I’d like to tell Dr. Weissbluth what he can do with his healthy sleep habits…but I digress).

Anyway, we’d been trying to get Benjamin on the bottle for several weeks now, and he was just not having it. My opinion is that it’s because my child is super smart and is not easily fooled, possessing an extremely strong sense of what’s real and what’s not. (Hey, I have to tell myself something to make me feel better…)

Well, PTL, my offspring accepted his first bottle from his dad a few days ago at 3 in the morning. I was awake when it happened, waiting apprehensively in our bedroom and trying to interpret the quietness coming from Ben’s nursery.

After several minutes, Matt came back with the joyous news – Benjamin took the bottle! Fireworks went off. Confetti dropped from the ceiling. Visions of solo outings pranced through my head, and I could hardly get back to sleep due to my excitement. That’s my boy, I thought. This kid was moving up in the world.

And then, just as suddenly, a string of strange thoughts crept into my mind.

Did he seriously just take a bottle from his dad? That easily? He didn’t even ask about me? Dad, I love you but…where’s mom? What’s next? Smiling at complete strangers? Crawling? Sprinting? Moving out? 

It’s funny how Benjamin’s small step towards independence elicited both joy and a tiny twinge of sadness. I wholeheartedly desire to see Benjamin hit all those major milestones – both developmentally and spiritually. But it definitely has a bittersweet taste, and in that moment when I got that great news, I suddenly felt like I better understood what my mom meant when she would always say, “Mary, you promised you would never grow up.”

The next day during tummy time, Benjamin lifted his head high, held it there, and looked me in the eyes. I half expected him to hop up and go running around the room. Yeah, I teared up (sappy mom moment).

Because somewhere at the intersection of joy and sadness, there is this thing called independence – and I think it’s where those purely sweet moments of life grind to a halt and park for a moment.

I think the family design is meant to represent many things about our spiritual life in relation to God. And I couldn’t help but wonder what kind of joy God might feel when he sees his children growing, maturing, and stepping out in faith. What must it be like to see someone who was lost in their sin, now living in freedom through Christ?

But that is really where the analogy ends. Because one day, Benjamin will leave home and, hopefully, start a family of his own. He will be independent, and his relationship with his parents will continue, but change forever.

Conversely, the dependence that a Christ-follower must have on God remains constant throughout the relationship. It brings to mind 1 Peter 2:2:

“Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation – if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.”

When Ben’s hungry – you’d better get out of the way. That there is a kid on a mission. In the same way, the true Christ-follower’s desire for God and his Word should be insatiable. We never become “free” of our need for God. We actually find the most freedom when we admit how desperately we need him and go to him as our ultimate source of strength and hope.

One day, Benjamin won’t need me like he does now. But my hope is that, during the short time he is with us, he will learn to depend on and hope in his heavenly Father – and that he’ll learn this by knowing that he can trust in and depend on his parents.

Here’s to learning dependence – one bottle-feeding at a time.

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