This is Anne- with her lovely family (her son, Will, and her husband, Allen). I first met Anne when we crossed paths from time to time on a huge internet community for pregnancy and parenting. We got to know each other when we ended up on the same birth board- Will is the same age as Zach. I haven't stayed in touch with that birth board but I did make some friends on that board and we stay in touch on Facebook.
Anne always struck me with her wisdom and her faith.
She once gave me the greatest compliment- she said I was a woman who lived my faith and that she saw my spirituality through how I lived.
Anne is a woman, a mother, who moves me.
Unfortunately, sometimes tragedy defines who a person is. Tragedy can be something that helps us see who we really are and how we really live. Anne is one of those people. She very openly shared a tragedy on our internet community. It wasn't her openness that struck me and settled in this deep admiration. It was her faith and spirituality that came shining through. So often, tragedy means questioning faith. For Anne, her faith was what carried her through in a truly remarkable and inspiring way.
Anne is a busy a mother. She is Allen's wife, Will's mom, a senior pastor of a small church, a violin teacher, and caretaker to her own mother. In her "spare" time, she enjoys cooking and gardening.
Something I learned about Anne is that prior to having Will, she believed she was the kind of mom who would let her child "cry it out," would quickly switch from nursing to formula, would embrace her relationship with a frequent babysitter, and would have various pieces of equipment for carrying baby (stroller, for example). Instead, she followed her instinct and has ended up a "crunchy" mom who breastfeeds, babywears, homeschools, and attachment parents her son.
One of the reasons I admire Anne the way I do is that she is a woman of action.
She had a traumatic birth experience with her son. It impacted her relationship with her husband, her mothering of her son, and her son's first months of life.
As she recovered from it and worked to piece life back into a normal place, Anne decided to take action. She learned about ICAN (International Cesarean Awareness Network) but had no local network. So she started one.
I asked Anne about faith and spirituality and mothering. As she said, this is a big subject for a pastor!
Here's what I know. Anne isn't a mom who just goes to church with her family and teaches her son different Bible lessons and goes about her life with an undercurrent of faith. Anne is a mom who lives her faith every single moment of the day. She knows and believes in her purpose and her relationship with God. Her focus is on her faith and her relationship with Christ is what guides her choices.
Anne is a wise mother- and gained her wisdom through the hard knocks of life. Growing up wasn't easy. She shared a story with me about learning to drive and saving up for driving school and having to abandon that plan and the impact that had on her in those formative teenage years and how that all came full circle when she met her husband.
I think anyone who has experienced hard times and learned from them, recovered from them, healed from them, grown out of them... is better and stronger for it. I know it is true for me- and I know it is true for Anne.
I asked Anne what she would want other mothers to know:
There is no right or wrong way to be a Mom for everyone out there, no blanket formula for parenting. Listen to the Lord and the best way to relate to your child's and family's needs will be revealed to you in due time. Your parenting style will be a little different from anyone else's, simply because your family and your child are unique. Follow your gut and nudging from God above anything written by experts or mentioned by well-intentioned friends and loved ones. God can help you to be the kind of mom that you are meant to be.
How do you define success in parenting?
Success in parenting to me means that I am doing what God wants me to do in relation to my child. I know when I've messed up because my gut tells me so. Luckily, I serve a forgiving God who is willing to extend grace, help me grow and show me how to do things differently. The ultimate goal is to raise Will to be a strong man of God who is able to live out God's dreams for his life.
Something else that I admire about Anne- and something that I have had to learn along the way- is that she practices what she preaches about her priorities. God, marriage, child, work. They are, of course, all connected. But something Anne learned in the course of parenting a high needs baby, of suffering a personal tragedy, of enduring a traumatic birth, of living with and later being an addict... through all of the life lessons that have been thrown in her path... is that her husband is her partner and the relationship with him needs care and attention.
Make your marriage a priority in your parenting. Talk with your spouse about how to keep your marriage first after God, while still meeting your children's needs. One day, your kids are going to grow up and leave the nest. You want to make sure that you still have spice in your marriage and that you still have a strong bond and communication with your spouse. Plus, modeling relationships as they should be to your children will help them to grow up and select healthy and fulfilling relationships for their own lives. It teaches them boundaries, love, respect, patience, faith, problem solving and many other indispensable skills. Take time for your marriage!
In many ways, Anne is like a soul sister to me. I can't say that we are close friends or that we even stay in touch regularly. We stay connected on Facebook but don't know each other in any sort of a truly intimate way.
However, through her openness, her life experience, her faith and spirituality, her gentle leadership, her wisdom, her grace...
She is a Mother Who Moves Me.