How did we become a homeschooling-sailing family? I wasn’t always a mother and I didn’t always want to homeschool or travel. But the reality of a child to her mother has changed many an ambitious woman. As many good stories, this one begins with the birth of a chubby baby.
Birth of the Child
When we lived in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, I gave birth to a 9.12 lb baby boy. He and I both stopped breathing the same day due to complications, requiring IV meds, and NICU care.
I remember when the nursing staff asked me to leave my son while they moved his IV port into a head vein. “It’s easier if you’re not here,” the head nurse said.
I remember driving home 12 days after his stay at the NICU. Our car stalled on that terrible icy hill and we all, baby F. sipping his oxygen, slid down the hill backwards a few feet before we gained our traction.
This painting is from a picture Dale took of me in those first weeks when we had F. home. We were just figuring out he wasn’t typical. He cried unless we held him or fed him around the clock. Six years later, we would get a formal diagnosis but in those days, all we had was Dale’s intuition and a steady supply of milk. I nursed baby F. around the clock.
Mother and Child
Did the wisemen from the East find Mary nursing her baby when they arrived? In those early days with Jesus, Mary would have been unaware of how Herod’s sword hid behind these men’s visit. She was about to become a Jewish immigrant in the land of Pharaoh. The gold, frankincense and myrrh ideal capital for any start-up costs in Egypt (Thank you, Dale Fincher, for this insight).
I imagine Mary watching others visit her son. Anna and Simeon in the temple, living so long because God promised they wouldn’t die until they saw His salvation. And then the flight to Egypt, fleeing to the land where another king tried to kill all the baby boys. Out of the fire into the frying-pan. But with God guiding Joseph in a dream, Mary packed Jesus up and took to the road. I imagine she nursed him along the way.
Mary’s faith to bear a child without any honeymoon seems obvious because we know it ends well. Jesus arrives, Mary survives, and the sheep bleat happily around them. Joseph remains steady and remarkably understanding with chartable dreams that lead to the pyramids. It actually sounds exotic, sort of like sailing the world.
But Mary didn’t know if she would keep her home, or Joseph, or even the baby. In the end, she doesn’t keep any of them.
Work + Life, Mother + Child
I nursed baby F. around the clock despite the experts’ advice. One doctor informed me, “Your frequent nursing could be part of the cause of his frequent ear infections.” Dale and I ran our Christian non-profit (with speaking invitations, four regularly posting blogs, a 10 person writing team and a publishing arm) from our 750-square-foot cabin in the Rocky Mountains. We built a home, we ran gatherings for married couples and college students, we spoke and wrote books. We toted F. along for the ride, he slept better in baby carriers anyways. And I nursed him along the way.
By the time F. was two he had flown on 32 flights, one was a flight-for-life emergency when he stopped breathing, again. But despite his above-average airline experience, he could not sleep through the night. At the time I couldn’t see the connection.
I’m forty-four now and I know more about motherhood and careers. I have yet to find a working mom who is satisfied with her contributions to both work and home. Where do you find such a creature?
F. is thirteen now. You can hear him speak up at our Back Porch Conversation podcast. We interview him about artificial intelligence and being a teenager. After F. we had another boy. O. our youngest is eight. In O,’s eight years he’s been on less than 10 planes.
F doesn’t get ear infections anymore. And I haven’t written a book since he was five.
I paint pictures. And soon I will sail the world with these guys. But it all started with nursing a chubby baby.
We have spent most of December selling our home in Exeter to downsize and move to a beach rental. Here on the Atlantic coast the wind and waves cut colder than anything the Rocky Mountains’ boasted. We are learning to cook without a microwave and I am learning to style with less clothing. The time has been rich with learning but less painting than usual. I have, however, had plenty of time for seeing God point out new places to heal. Healing will always be a drum I want to beat for you. And sailing marks a spike of healing in my journey.
If you haven’t had a moment to watch my trailer for my COVID painting exhibition, the Saving Lives Virtual Exhibition, you can enjoy the 1 minute preview at my YouTube Channel @Jonalyn_Fincher. Or just click to my blog post by clicking the title. You’ll find my preview in the Artist’s Note. As a subscriber to my blog, you will be first to hear when the entire Virtual Exhibition Tickets open for sale.
Until then, Merry Christmas, my friends!