Monday, June 8, 2015

I Don't Parent by a Label

Before our little trip out of town for my summer job, I posted a question on Instagram because I was concerned about leaving JaiseAnn. I mentioned that I was still nursing her and then made sure to include that I was more of a "crunchy-ish /attachment type parent." This wasn't to promote a specific style of parenting, but more of a way for me to justify my decision to continue nursing JaiseAnn and my hesitancy in leaving her. If other moms (groups of moms, moms they have websites devoted to) do it, then it's okay that I do it, too. My way of signaling that I'm not alone.

But I am alone. I am not a crunchy mom, or an attachment parent, I'm JaiseAnn's mom. There's only one of me. And I was chosen to be her mom for a reason. My parenting choices have very little to do with adhering to a group philosophy-even if parts of that philosophy do resonate with me as a mother-- and more (much more) to do with following my own heart and my own beliefs. I do what I feel is best for JaiseAnn. Those ideas my contradict with many groups of people and many different parenting labels, but they are the decisions that I feel are right through the only real lens that matters--the label of JaiseAnn's mom.

newborn photos

My faith teaches this idea of a veil that puts our memories of life before life on earth on hold and keeps the Spirit world--those who have passed that are now on the other side of the veil, out of sight. (You can read more about that here). There are many people who have experiences where they describe the veil as being thin-meaning they could feel things, understand things, and even see things they normally could not see. I had such an experience after JaiseAnn was born, but wasn't really aware that was what happened until only a few months ago.

After JaiseAnn was placed in my arms--everything just fit. I've described that experience in her birth story and I've described how it strengthened my faith as it was evident she had a spirit. She depended fully on me, but I could just tell her spirit was good. It was like holding heaven in my arms. I was overcome with so many emotions and feelings. My outlook on the world changed, my religious beliefs were strengthened, my political beliefs were strengthened, and my resolve to live a gospel-centered life became non-negotioable in a way that it had never been before. I couldn't watch our regular television shows.I couldn't read or watch anything with any hint of darkness. I could not put JaiseAnn down, I knew she was a gift and I knew this was the greatest work I'd ever have to do. When I tell people I didn't go back to work because I couldn't leave her, I mean that with all of my heart. I truly could not leave her--it wasn't a preference it was a necessity.

As hormones have leveled out, sleep has become more consistent (still not through the night--hopefully soon, though), and I've adapted to motherhood, I'm able to reflect on that time more clearly. I was discussing this with Zach the other day and I basically said, "It was the most spiritual experience of my life, but it was excruciating. It was so intense that it actually hurt." My husband is very insightful and said that that actually made sense. He mentioned that "No man can see God and live." He said that it's probably part of it, any prophets who saw parts of God experienced physical pain. I am not a prophet, but I am a mother and that role is a divine role and when I received it, I received a painfully strong impression that it was my most important role.

That spiritual experience combined with a little girl who was a momma's girl from birth--they say they don't form attachments, but she would cry if anyone but me held her. She wanted to be held in the hospital all night long by her mom. And I needed that experience. I needed to know she needed me. I needed to feel that. That knowledge has been the foundation of every decision I've made as JaiseAnn's mom.

She needs me. I was chosen for this. Sometimes I'll never understand why--I surely don't deserve her, but she is by far the greatest work I've ever done or ever will do. She is my contribution to the world and she's an amazing one.

I'm grateful for parenting groups that do adhere to some of the things that just felt right to me. They helped me through the hardest days--"No your daughter isn't abnormal." "Yes, she will sleep eventually." "Just keep doing what you're doing and it will be okay in time." There's nothing inherently wrong with these parenting groups, but I don't need them to defend my decisions or to back my choices. Being JaiseAnn's mom is a God-given calling. He chose me knowing very well how I would handle her--and I can't believe that is coincidence. In fact I know it's not. The label of "JaiseAnn's mom" was one given to me by a loving father. That label is all the reasoning behind every choice I've made as her mother.

Do you feel you adhere to one specific type of parenting group?

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