Sunday, April 17, 2005

Time for Weaning

My daughter will be two next month. If you had asked me 10 years ago about breastfeeding, I would have told you "Um, NO - go away, hippie." But I grew to be a bit of an earth mother and when my son was born, I wanted to try. He was a champion nurser - he had such a great latch naturally that my midwives brought other new moms in to my room to watch him nurse. They would proclaim "THAT is what a baby should look like when nursing."

My son loved to nurse. He refused to drink from a bottle. I figured it would be a challenge to wean him. But I was very wrong. My son weaned himself, gradually and without fuss. I got pregnant with my daughter when he was about 20 months old, and within a few weeks he no longer wanted mommy milk. That was fine with me - I was pregnant and tired and ready for that part of our relationship to end.

When my daughter was born, she had a tougher time getting it right. Her latch was never great, but I kept trying. I can say with a twinge of pride that my daughter never even tasted formula. She had mommy milk, either straight from the source or expressed just for her. But she was never as rigid as my son - she would take a bottle, a cup, whatever. She started eating table food early and was never picky. I figured she'd wean as easy as my soon.

SO, here we are. She will be two next month and she shows no signs of stopping. But I am ready and it is time. I have been either pregnant or nursing without a break for 5 years as of yesterday. I would like my body back, thank you very much. And she is just not ready to let it go.

Anyway, this process has made me ponder on the concept of "milk before meat". This is the excuse that we used as LDS missionaries as to why we kept more complex (and possibly disturbing) doctrines from potential and new converts. I have decided that metaphor just does not apply.

Babies drink milk because they can't digest meat. The milk my daughter received came from me - from the food and water I brought into my body. It was created by an amazing process within my body to ensure that she got every nutrient she needed to grow and develop. As she grew, the content of my milk physically changed to accomodate her needs. When she went through a growth spurt, I would produce more to keep up with her.

As she grew older, and showed interest in table food, I encouraged her to sample. To try a bit of everything, to see what she liked. I would give her a taste of what I was eating, cut into small pieces. Gradually, her meals became more meat and less milk.

Now she is ready to wean. She doesn't need my milk any longer. The only reason she nurses now is for comfort. It is peaceful to her and provides a connection with mommy after a long day or when she first wakes up in the morning. But she is ready now to start detaching from mommy and discovery the world by herself.

But in the church context, "milk before meat" never happens. The church does not encourage new members, or even life-long members to wean. The milk we receive is not complete. It is not designed to help us develop. The milk we get never changes. It does not grow with us as we learn more.

When we want meat, we are discouraged from sampling, from tasting, from venturing too far away from the milk the leaders provide for us. We are encouraged to stay close, to rely on what we get directly from them. Since we learn to like the feeling of comfort from being given easy to digest milk, we never learn to become independent and venture out on our own. We say "milk before meat", but in reality the meat is never offered - it is hidden away in the history we refuse to teach and the doctrines we refuse to acknowledge.

I remember crying just a little bit on the morning I nursed my son for the last time. As anxious as I am to wean my daughter, I know I will be sad to see that part of our relationship end. She will never be my little baby again. But I know she needs to grow, and I know weaning is a part of the process she must undergo to find her own way.

And I know that I am in the process of weaning too... I am learning how to find my own spiritual nourishment without having to rely on what someone else has given me.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

The Stages of Grief

When I first decided I was not happy at church, I thought it was me. I didn't fit in, I didn't understand the point of the rules... But one day I asked myself the question, "What if it isn't me? What if the church is flawed?" I did not even start with the assumption that the church wasn't true. My original thought was that someplace along the way, people took over and corrupted it. I never ever expected to discover that it was flawed from the very beginning.

I remember that moment - the realization that it was all a lie. I felt like someone I loved had died. And then the stages of grief began:

Denial: How can it not be true? This information is all from anti-Mormons. It is all a lie. The authors have an agenda. The Church has to be true. I used to know it was true. How could I have deceived myself? I will read the Mormon responses to these allegations - I'm sure they will clear up my questions...

Anger: The apologist response is bull. The facts aren't even disputed by the apologists! How could my entire inner frame of reference be based on a lie? How could I have believed this my whole life? Why were all these facts kept from me and whitewashed out of the history I was taught to cherish?

Bargaining: I will pray about this. Dear Lord, I want this to be true. I don't want to believe these men I believed in as my leaders have been deceiving me my whole life. Please... Please give me some verification that this is true and I will never doubt again. If you can show me this is true, I swear I will be better - I will follow all the rules.

Depression: It isn't true. I can't believe it isn't true. I nearly didn't marry my husband because of this church. I have given so much money to this church. I have whipped myself with guilt about things I did because the church told me they were wrong. I feel stupid for believing it. I feel hopeless without it. I have lost my faith and I feel empty.

Acceptance: Wait... looking back on my life, my greatest joys and most spiritual experiences have never been tied to "being LDS". It has been nature, family, good food, great art, music that makes my soul soar, the smiles of my children... I've always known God exists. It was never tied to a church or a person. I just need to find a new path.

Sunday, April 10, 2005


The definition of integrity is: The quality or condition of being whole or undivided; completeness.

I was reflecting on this value, and I believe that I have more integrity now than when I was actively attending Church. The truth is, for years, I have thought the rules were pretty stupid. I drank coffee, I drank wine, I had sex with my husband before we got married... The list could go on and on. I never believed that any of these actions made me a bad person, but I felt like they should make me feel guilty.

I realize now I didn't feel guilty, because those actions in and of themselves were not bad. Now that I've gotten rid of the guilt, I feel undivided. There is no competition between what I believe and what I think I should believe. There is no dissonance between my actions and what I think I should be doing. There is no more internal war about why I don't "fit in" with the ideal that was constantly presented to me.

Someone once told me integrity is making what you do on Saturday night agree with what you say you believe in on Sunday morning. I'm finally there. I feel whole, undivided and complete for the first time since I was a child. I have integrity.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Why the name? Why the title?

These are two questions I always want to ask every blogger, so I'll answer it myself.

I chose Jersey Cow because right now my twenty-three month old daughter and I are in the process of weaning. Rather, I am trying to wean her and she is resisting MIGHTILY. That child loves her mommy milk. Anyway, there are days I feel like nothing more than a magic boob, and when I was dealing with a case the other day involving dairy cows, I said - HEY! Yeah, that's me... I'm a dairy cow! Hence the nick name.

As for the title of the blog, it comes from one of my favorite songs by one of my favorite bands, Poi Dog Pondering. The song is Thanksgiving, and here are the lyrics:

Somehow I find myself far out of line
from the ones I had drawn
Wasn't the best of paths,
you could attest to that,
but I'm keeping on.
Would our paths cross
if every great loss
had turned out our gain?
Would our paths cross
if the pain it had cost us
was paid in vain?
There was no pot of gold,
hardly a rainbow
lighting my way
But I will be true
to the red, black and blues
that colored those days.
I owe my soul
to each fork in the road,
each misleading sign.
'Cause even in solitude,
no bitter attitude
can dissolve my sweetest find
Thanksgiving for every wrong move
that made it right.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Looking for further light and knowledge... Posted by Hello

Keep on truckin' Posted by Hello

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Ooooh, check me out... I have a blog!

I've been reading other people's blogs for months now, but finally decided to get one of my own. I have recently had a major life transformation, having come to the conclusion the religion I was raised with from my birth was a fraud. It has been a difficult few months, coming to terms with that... Many days I keep wishing it was true, thinking maybe I could just put the blinders back on again and muddle forward. No one in my family knows, except my husband - as I shared what I have learned he has also realized that he no longer believes it either. So we're taking this journey together.

That's all for now. Just a short post to get this blog going. It is late and I took some Tylenol PM that is starting to work... woooooooo...