Monthly Archives: November 2013

Manifesto of an OCD Momma

*Disclaimer: Obsessive compulsive disorder is a serious struggle that many people face daily in their own lives and in the lives of those they love. Unfortunately, our society at large is neither kind towards those who face this struggle, nor does it boast a clear understanding of what it entails. For example, it is not at all uncommon for someone to proclaim, “I am OCD about my house being clean,” or to hear someone say, “She has OCD about how she looks.” These comments are not only ignorant, they can be very hurtful. In this post my intention is not only to comment on parenting practices, but to also comment on our society’s desire to label and discard those who are different. However, if you find my words distasteful or offensive, please do not hesitate to contact me or comment below, as that is not in any way my intention.

Moment of Truth

The other day, someone I love and care about very much declared to me angrily that I have OCD (for those less familiar with mental health jargon, obsessive compulsive disorder) when it comes to parenting and that there is “something wrong” with my brain. Her words pierced me deeply – the labeling, the disdain, the absence of kindness.

Verdict: Guilty as Charged

Since then I have done a lot of praying, a lot of thinking, a lot of soul-searching. The evidence all points in one direction. Not only do I in fact have OCD, I have an extra stigmatized, albeit rare variety classified as “OCD: Seeing Through the Smoke-Screen of Mainstream Parenting Practices.”  And yes, I definitely have a severe, pervasive and incurable case of it.

Even though her words were really hard to hear (being serious here), I am not actually shocked to learn that my rejection of consumerist, convenience-oriented, parent-centric parenting practices have landed me a “mentally ill” label. If my rejection of mainstream parenting practices did not immediately land me in the “sick box,” what would the crib, stroller, and clip-on toy manufacturers do? What would the formula and baby food industries do? What would corporate America do? What would the “baby sleep trainers” do? What would Dobson, Tripp, Pearle, and Fitzpatrick do? What would obstetricians and hospitals do?

They would lose money. And this would be utterly catastrophic. But don’t worry. There is hope for them. By labeling me as crazy you are helping them protect their bottom line. By distancing yourself from me you are helping them protect their bottom line. And by labeling me and distancing yourself from me because I parent differently than your husband, mother, friend, baby book, church, pediatrician, etc. have instructed you to parent, you are letting me know that you are not at peace with your own parenting choices. Your momma heart must be so heavy. I grieve for you.

Symptomology

But what if you aren’t worrying about the bottom lines of the baby industries? What if my parenting choices don’t rile up repressed feelings of fear for you? What if you have sensed for some time that you have “OCD: Seeing Through the Smoke-Screen of Mainstream Parenting Practices” too? Admitting there is a problem is half the battle, so in hopes of helping you decipher if you yourself belong in the “sick box,” I have outlined many of my parenting obsessions and compulsions below. Please note that you need only possess one or more of these obsession/compulsion pairs to be certifiable according to your friends, family, and complete strangers. For your children’s sake, for your sake, and for our world’s sake, I pray that you are just as sick as I am.

Complusion: Babywearing

Obsession: Knowing that this…

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…not only leads to less crying and fussing as it is the way babies and young children were designed to be transported, it is physiologicallyneurologically and psychologically preferable to this:

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Compulsion: Breastfeeding a toddler

Obsession: Knowing that this…

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…is not only normal, it is nutritionally, intellectually, immunologically, and psychologically superior to this:

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Compulsion: Bedsharing

Obsession: Knowing that this…

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… not only reduces the incidence of SIDS, decreases “sleep obsession,” increases breastfeeding, and results in more sleep for moms, it is physiologically better than this recent fad:

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Compulsion: Comforting distressed babies and children

Obsession: Knowing that this…

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… is a biologically hard-wired response to a distressed child. Leaving children to “cry-it-out,” on the other hand, negatively impacts lifelong health,  decreases intelligence, impedes self-regulation, fosters mental illness, impoverishes brain development, and corrodes trust. What’s more it is a myth that “self-soothing” results from this:

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Compulsion: Using gentle, punishment-free discipline that guides rather than harms

Obsession: Knowing that this…

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…is both respectful and effective and does not result in permanent brain damage, increased rates of aggression, higher incidences of obesity, increased violence and depressionhigher incidences of cancer, heart disease, and asthma, and sexual impairment like this does: 

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*I recognize that I have not fully showcased here all of my obsessions and their corresponding compulsions. As my teething boy permits, I will be sure to update.

How “Sick” Are You?

In the meantime, I would love to hear from those of you who also live with this “disease.” What are your parenting obsessions and compulsions? How did you find out you were “sick?” How have your friends and loved ones reacted?

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Five Questions For You

Dear Christian Parent Who Spanks,

I understand that you believe that God desires for parents to hit their children. Even though I disagree with you on this, I beg you to please stick with me for a few more minutes. I have a few questions for you that I sincerely believe will help me to reach a better understanding of your perspective.

Your staying?! Thank you.

Here goes!

Question #1: Do you believe a diet high in saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol is correlated with developing high cholesterol?

Question #2: If yes, how did you come to possess this belief?

Question #3: If you came to possess this belief by information gleaned from doctors (who gleaned it from studies), why do you respect this information?

Question #4: Are you aware that numerous studies are showing that spanking children is correlated with negative outcomes? If you are not aware of them, I have included a few links here:

Question #5: Do the studies on cholesterol carry more weight in your mind than the studies on the negative impacts of spanking children? Why or why not?

I want to hear from you! Please comment below or contact me privately at graceformysheep  at gmail dot com.

Thank you very much for taking the time to engage in this discussion.

Your sister in Christ,

Steph

Letter To A “Sleep Training” Baby

Dear Precious Little One Left To Cry,

I cannot imagine how confused you must be. Just moments ago you were nestled warm and safe in the arms of your sweet momma, the primary being God has entrusted to nourish, comfort, and care for you during this brief yet delicate time in your life.

But now you lie alone in the dark, removed from her familiar, comforting embrace. You cry out for her, communicating in the way God designed you to. Perhaps you are still hungry? Perhaps your diaper is suddenly full? Perhaps your hands are cold? Perhaps you are scared? Perhaps your clothing is bunched beneath your back? Perhaps your stomach hurts? Perhaps your toe is caught on a thread in your sock? Perhaps your muscles ache? Perhaps you are lonely? Perhaps you crave nearness to your momma like I desire nearness to my Heavenly Father?

Just moments ago your momma had scooped you up when you cried out for her. This is what she has done ever since you were born, and you have come to trust that your needs matter to her, that she is your small, albeit secure island in the midst of a raging world. In this instance you were hungry, and although she speaks an entirely different language than you do, a language with words, your momma worked quickly to translate your cry, brought you to her breast, and thus your need for nourishment was met. As you suckled, you relaxed in her arms, your trust in her affirmed.

Letter To A “Sleep Training” Baby

But now she is not coming to scoop you up into her arms, to translate your cry, to meet your need. Completely helpless and dependent, you cry out again for her, your God-given instincts compelling you to use your voice to get her attention. Still she does not come. Still your need for her remains.

You continue to cry out for your momma – five, ten, fifteen, twenty, twenty-five, thirty minutes – your breath catching, your head throbbing, your body trembling from the stress hormones that flood your tiny veins. What you cannot yet understand is that your momma has fears that are holding her hostage outside your nursery door. You see, Little One, your momma has lived for many years in a culture that has ceaselessly shouted to her that neediness and dependency are more than not okay – they are to be purposefully avoided at all costs. Oh how my heart breaks for you, Little One. Oh how it breaks for your sweet momma.

Perhaps she has been told by a friend that you should be “sleeping through the night” by now? Perhaps she has been told by a pediatrician that you are capable of sleeping for x hours because you are x months old? Perhaps she has been told by her mother that she needs to stop “coddling” you now or you will still be needing to be rocked/nursed to sleep when you are in college? Perhaps she has been told by a “baby whisperer” that your sleep is something she must be in control of? Perhaps she has been told by fellow believers that you are capable of destroying her marriage if she “gives in” to her instincts to comfort you? Perhaps she has been told by a pastor that good Christian parents demand obedience from their children in all things, at all times? Surely she has been told by the culture at-large that success stems from independence, and that dependency is failure.

While I do not know the specific reasons, I can say with certainty that your momma fears in a very real way that your wakefulness is an indication that she is failing you, the very being she loves beyond measure. And this fear is so palpable and so strong that it is preventing her body from throwing open the door to your nursery, running to you, scooping you up in her arms, and comforting you as God designed her to. Instead, she stands paralyzed, her heart racing, her mind spinning, her palms sweating. She may be silent, Little One, but she is hurting so badly.

Soon your little body will exhaust itself, your crying will cease, and sleep will come over you. The Lord is good, he is gracious. He will not allow you to continue in agony much longer. I pray your relief comes soon. When you are grown up you will not be able to recall specifically this night or any others like it from your infancy. You may, however, always wonder why you fear night’s darkness, the sensation of being alone, or the sound of a baby crying.

But your momma? She will always remember this night and any others like it. Someday her heart will break when she recollects how she ignored your cries for her comfort, how her paralyzing fear to meet you in your neediness was not of the Lord. I pray you will be gracious to her, and that the Great Comforter will wrap her in his arms and comfort her with his truth.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” 2 Corinthians 1: 3-4 ESV

With love for you and your momma,

Steph

Proverbs Series: Introduction

“But Stephanie, Proverbs and parenting without punishment are mutually exclusive! They absolutely cannot go together!”

Join me as I embark on an in-depth exploration of the Book of Proverbs here at Grace For My Sheep. Please pray with me that the Lord will work through this study to share His truth, encourage us as parents, and ultimately display the gospel.

In this series I will be focusing primarily on the verses that have come to be regarded amongst Christians as applicable to childrearing in particular. These verses, which I am obtaining from the English Standard Version, include the following:

  • “On the lips of him who has understanding, wisdom is found, but a rod is for the back of him who lacks sense.” Proverbs 10:13 ESV
  • “Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.” Proverbs 13:24 ESV
  • “Discipline your son, for there is hope; do not set your heart on putting him to death.” Proverbs 19:18 ESV
  • “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him.” Proverbs 22:15 ESV
  • “Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you strike him with a rod, he will not die. If you strike him with the rod, you will save his soul from Sheol.” Proverbs 23:13-14 ESV
  • “The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.” Proverbs 29:15 ESV

Please know that while my personal relationship with the Lord combined with my exploration of his Word has led me to feel very strongly that the Lord does not desire for parents to physically harm their children in any way, I do welcome you to share your thoughts, opinions, and experiences here, even if they are contrary to my own. I would be wrong and entirely hypocritical if I encouraged my child to speak openly with me and then forbid others to do so as well. When we come together as believers to discuss difficult topics, we not only grow in our understanding of the Truth and of one another, we encounter opportunities to put the gospel into action.

Stay tuned!

Proverbs Series: Part #1 coming soon…

18 Reasons Why My Parenting Won’t Impress You

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1. My child does not sleep for more than four hours straight. Or maybe he does? I don’t know. I am not counting.

2. I am not stressed out by #1.

3. I will not ask you (or any “baby sleep experts”) to help me “train” my child to know that his needs are not important to me after 7:30 pm or during scheduled nap times.

4. My child sleeps in my bed with myself and my husband.

5. My husband and I love #4.

6. My child nurses when he falls asleep, when he wakes up, when he gets hurt/scared/frustrated, and any other time he expresses that he needs to.

7. I will allow my child to nurse until he decides that he no longer needs to.

8. I prioritize my child’s need to nurse anytime, anywhere over your desire to live in denial that breasts were designed to feed babies and young children.

9. I am much more concerned with allowing my child to freely explore his child-safe surroundings than I am teaching him the meaning of the word “no.”

10. I will not teach my child to blindly obey you, simply because you are an adult. Pharaoh, Lot’s Wife, and Jezebel were adults too.

11. I will never flick, slap, hit, or otherwise inflict physical pain purposefully on my child.

12. I will teach my child that flicking, slapping, hitting, or otherwise inflicting physical pain on those who are smaller, weaker is not Christ-like in any and every circumstance.

13. My child is not a “good baby.” He sometimes cries when I leave him and always seeks immediate contact with me when I return. I am very thankful about this “inconvenient” reality. It is indicative of a secure attachment, whereas a “good baby” can be indicative of an insecure attachment.

14. I incorporate research into my parenting choices, as well as the Word. You might find this wrong, but please keep in mind that I do not judge your incorporation of science into your medical choices.

15. I will teach my child that his penis is a wonderful gift from God. I will not shame him for touching a part of himself that society wants him to consider “dirty.”

16. I will never send my child away from me – to a corner, to his room – when he has made a wrong choice.

17. I extend grace to my child when he has made a wrong choice just like the Lord extends grace to me.

18. I do not miss your approval of me enough to change #1-17.

My Heart Hurts

Dear Little One I Never Met,

It is hard to talk about you. A lump wells up in my throat and my eyes swell with hot tears. I was so excited to learn that you were growing in my tummy. I loved you the moment I saw those two pink lines, and I was so excited to meet you. The day that your heart stopped beating is forever etched in my memory – the crisp Minnesota air, the excitement of Christmas, the sheer despair.

Some people think that because you never breathed air I should not grieve the loss of knowing you. They say you were just a glob of tissue, that I could have other babies. I was numb then, but now I can speak up. Your were just as much as any of us were at that point in our lives. And knowing you were a tiny human created by God, knit together in His glorious image, I was right to want you intensely, to grieve my loss of knowing you intensely.

I miss you everyday darling. We will know each other someday. 

Love,
Momma

*In memorial of all the children that left this earth and their families before taking their first breath of oxygen or shortly thereafter.