Jasmine is mommy to 4 year old Alexander Cree and founder of Mothering from Within She also run’s her family’s foundation, The Alexander Cree Foundation, as a way to raise money and give back to women and children. Since her son was diagnosed with Angelman Syndrome, they have created a portion of their foundation called Beautiful Rising Sun to raise money for research to find a cure.
To be honest I've never really been talented or super smart or necessarily "great" at any one thing, and I'm totally fine with that. I've always been kind and have been known for my smile, open mind, zest for life, my personality, free spirit and wild heart. But when I had my son, it was my first time experiencing being so good at something and it came so innately. My son has a rare, neurogenetic, severe mental disability called Angelman Syndrome. He is 4 and is non verbal, epileptic, has sleep issues at times, and the list goes on and on. We had no idea he had this condition until one month after his second birthday. However his entire life before us knowing the diagnosis was full of challenges and it was extremely hard for me, but I was able to handle them all, and do an amazing job, if I do say so myself.
Breastfeeding was extremely difficult for us, and obviously being that I didn't know he had Angelman when he was a newborn/infant/young toddler, I didn't know that we were having such a hard time because he had feeding difficulties. Feeding and GI issues are common among children with Angelman. Had Doctors known about my sweet boys diagnosis, they would've told me to stop nursing because it's nearly impossible for babies with issues like mine to breastfeed because they lack coordination, muscle ability and usually need special formula. Well we nursed exclusively for nearly two and a half years, he didn't like bottles so he got it all directly from my breasts, and I'm so proud of us! We have a unique situation.
Your outlook on life and perspective as a parent is so different from most other parents when your child has severe special needs. There are several challenges I've encountered as a mother from the moment I found out I was pregnant, and continue to encounter everyday, so I say this all to say, the thing that surprised me most about becoming a mom is my strength and resilience, and my ability to handle so many obstacles and extreme difficulties everyday with grace. I break down, feel like I can't take the extreme abnormalities at times, but I keep pushing. I take care of my son alone majority of the time. We've never lived near family or friends and his father has worked to provide for us and is now a student. When my fiancé is home, he's extremely helpful and hands on. But a lot of time it's just been Alexander and I his entire life. I can't believe I've done it, and continue to do it. I look in the mirror and I'm like “who is this woman?” Then my son comes and pulls on me and I go “yea, that's right, I'm Alexander Crees mommy!”
what do you wish someone else had told you about parenting so you would be better prepared?
The only thing I wish I were told about parenting would be to take home videos from day one! We don't have a ton, but we do have quite a bit of short clips. With the world of social media and iPhones, our generation has strayed away from the long home videos. We pick up our phones and take pictures of everything, and quick video clips. I don't see it much, but I love when I see or hear parents with babies around my sons age talking about home videos they have of their little ones, or taking out their real video cameras/camcorders to record. Other than the home videos, I don't wish I was told anything. I think there's so much beauty in the unexpected, and each parent/child dynamic is unique. I love learning and growing our own special way and allowing our son to guide us. I don't believe moms really need anyone to tell them anything, our instincts are unbelievably powerful, and our little ones come to teach us so much more than we could ever teach them. We just have to be sure to do less of controlling and freaking out and more of relaxing and listening, because our babies show us and teach us so much.
what is your biggest accomplishment you are most proud of?
I'm most proud of that the woman I am now is just an extension of the little girl I was. I've grown immensely due to life's extremely deep lessons and adventure. But I'm still smiley, unique, at times insecure, sassy, honest, outspoken, the bossy boss, kind hearted, sensitive, vulnerable, and graceful. I'm a work in progress but genuinely a good person. I always do things from a honest place of love and that makes me happy. I do the right thing even if it's not what will make me "win" or what others will praise. I live my truth the best I can, and love helping others along my way. What's most important to me is the mark I'll leave on this earth, the family I create and how happy I make them feel and how much they know I love and give myself to and for them...how I'm remembered when I leave this earth is important to me, and I'm most proud of that. Maybe someday I'll say I'm proud of some business venture I happened to succeed or some book I made bestseller for, or maybe another degree I'll obtain... or hopefully someday be known as a modern day "Mother Jasmine" who is known around the world for making our shared space, a better place, but for now, my biggest accomplishment that I'm most proud of is the mother and woman I am right now today.
what is your biggest pet peeve?
Unkind, shady, self absorbed, dishonest and just all around not good people. Especially when people use their race, religion, political view or economical status as a reason to not do good or their excuse for hurting others or not seeing themselves as equal human beings. I believe it's ok to be a good Buddhist, Muslim, democrat, atheist, republican, Christian, billionaire, celebrity or whatever, as long as you're being a good HUMAN FIRST. You are a human first, before all else - we have the same blood, when people don't see that, it pisses me off.
if you had a day kid free to do anything you want, what would you do?