God placed on my heart to put my testimony out there. Being transparent, genuine, and authentic is not just for the hearer, but also for the one speaking.
My husband and I were married December 22, 2002. He had asked me to marry him July 11 (or 12th; it’s shameful that I can’t remember) of that same year. I wanted to be married before the new year so we could start the new year off as husband and wife. I know many people were looking at my belly to see if we had another reason to get married so quickly but there wasn’t. I just wanted to bring in the new year as man and wife.
Except for two of my closest girlfriends, our engagement was pretty much a surprise to everyone that knew us. We were friends for a few years before any other feelings grew. We had a Christmas wedding and just had a beautiful time with our friends and family.
Our first year of marriage was different then what I think most married couples faced because we had three children added to the mix. (Our oldest daughter was 4, our oldest son was 7 months, and our youngest son was born two days after we were married. Our oldest daughter and youngest son share the same mother and live in Maryland. Our oldest son and his mother live in Virginia). So, not only were we figuring out how to share the housework, who paid the bills, and what married life is all about, we also were trying to create a real family environment.
Within the first few months of our marriage, we had our first experience with child support in two states, trying to figure out a schedule were we could see the children regularly, trying to get oldest separation anxiety prone son to like us, and, not to mention all of the regular first year of marriage challenges plus a whole host of other things that stem from having children out of wedlock by two different women! Talk about a whirlwind of emotions!
I was as ready for all of this as I could have possibly been but there is nothing like being in it. There were many times that I cried myself to sleep, had long extended pity parties, blamed my husband for everything, tried to make him feel guilty for past decisions, shut myself off emotionally and physically, and tried to make my husband leave me because I didn’t want the divorce to be my fault. There are probably many more things that I did during that time. It was not the best of times but it wasn’t the worst of times either now that I think back over it. I can see that it wasn’t the worst of times now but it certainly felt like it back then.
In the summer of 2004, my husband and I had our second experience in the court system. Let me just say that I can see just how quickly an already unpleasant situation can turn ugly. In the end, my husband released all things regarding our children to the Lord and grew spiritually through this great unpleasantness.
By October 2004, my husband was laid off from his new job within two weeks of his start date. I was the only breadwinner for a month. Our cushion that would have carried us for that short time of one income was previously spent on a lawyer. Our zero credit card debt was no more. I couldn’t pay our expenses plus child support with just my salary so we moved in with my mother-in-law. My husband was employed again by the end of November. We had a six month plan to recover financially and move back out on our own. God had other plans.
When my husband got his new job, there was also opportunity for me as well at that same location in what was then my current line of work. I applied and started working there as well. As it happens, our new employer started having problems in the industry (we worked in real estate) and my husband, seeing the writing on the wall, started looking for another job. He was employed by another company in January 2005. I stayed where we were. By February 2005, I was unemployed. I filed for unemployment and looked for a job but could find no employment with a comparable salary to what we needed to enable us to move back out. Our six month plan was officially shot.
After seeking God’s face, my husband said that he wanted me to stay home. This was a huge adjustment for me. I always wanted to be a stay at home mom but I wasn’t a mom. Our children didn’t live with us and, at that time, I said that we were not going to have any children ever. I didn’t know how to be a stay at home wife.
Summer 2005 was pretty rough. I had my oldest son with me for a good portion of time that summer. I was trying to think of free things we could do or do things that got us out of the house but didn’t require a lot of driving so we spent a lot of time at friends houses and at my parents house. As my Mommy says, sometimes it’s just nice to look at someone else’s four walls.
By Fall 2005 my husband and I began our Amway Global business. This is where I really started to grow and mature. So many things happened in next three years following beginning our business. I learned how to be a business owner, I ceased to think like a employee, I learned what it meant to be a helpmeet to my husband, and I learned people skills. My husband has always had an entraprenurial spirit and already knew many of these things but all I knew was a W-2 income and 401K. I read. I grew. I matured. I overcome to become instead of succumbing to things. It was a time of testing whose I was and deciding ultimately on doing what God wants when He wants and how He wants rather then making my own path. It was such a blessing although, again, it didn’t feel like it a lot of the times.
In 2006, my husband started his own business as well and in the fall of 2007, I finally got on board with him. Previously, when beginning Amway, I took the reigns and began building our business. I forsook my husband. I stopped listening to him and listened to everyone one else. I did not regard his opinion as valid. I was very disrespectful and completely out of order. It is not Amway’s fault nor the fault of those whom I was associates with. On the contrary. I received very good advice on what my conduct should be towards my husband but I decided not to head it. My poor perspective of my husband made me succetable to my own devices in which I made many bad financial decisions with money he didn’t even know about because I didn’t grant him access. I know I know. I was horrible. Praise God for forgiveness! I finally learned how to work with my husband instead of fighting against him.
June 2008, I found out I was pregnant. Talk about surprise! We had been married for 6 years! I knew my body! Talk about divine appointments! I grew, in more ways then one, during my pregnancy. I began to understand what a godly mother is. You don’t become godly for your children. You become godly for you. Your decision to “not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Rom 12:2) is reflected in all parts of your life. Your children, and your husband for that matter, bask in the good fruit that you bear from making the decision to do so.
March 12, 2009 at 5:48AM, ten days later than her due date, Ms. Jazmine Imani Lee was born via C-section. I was high as a kite until early afternoon the same day. After my C-section, I had surgery to remove a cyst that grew along with her in my uterus. (Gotta love drugs). The birth of our daughter was such a beautiful experience. I look forward to the day when we can actively on purpose try for another.
The next year, in a nutshell, was all about motherhood. Two weeks of some normal baby blues and adjustments, new baby doctor’s appointments, acclimating to our permanent family of 3 and our every other weekend family of 6, making space, looking for a place to live, wanting to know what time Jazmine’s mother was going to pick her up Sunday, and when our child support check was going to come. (Smile. That was a bit of humor).
I have gone from bonus mom to a bonus mom who is also a mom and I have learned this from the transition. Motherhood is motherhood regardless of your marital status. Period. Staying up all night with a sick baby, taking her to doctor’s appointments, taking her to birthday parties or paid for activities, changing diapers, discipline, carrying diaper bag, baby, your pocketbook, Bible, keys, and yourself to and from where ever is MOTHERHOOD! Because a woman has decided to be a single parent (regardless of how she became a single parent because there are many many many situations that make it possible) or a woman is married before having children, the basics of motherhood is the same. I am not saying, however, that being a married mother is not any easier than being a single mother. What I am saying is that the role of a mother is the same regardless of whether you are married or single. The state of your marriage or the state of your singleness will determine if you take on other responsibilities outside the basics of motherhood.
Present day. Our oldest daughter is 11, our oldest son will be 8 in a five days, our youngest son is 7, and our youngest daughter is 14 months. Our business, the one my husband started, is good. We are still Amway Independent Business Owners but we are currently not sharing the business as an opportunity; working with only customers at the present time. I am now a stay-at-home-Mom and I love it! We still live with my mother-in-law in her house. Can we move? Yes. We can afford it but it doesn’t feel right. We are not at peace about it. Trust me, I have a ongoing list of things I want to buy for my house, what I want to do in my own space, etc etc but if we have learned anything throughout all our years here is that God’s time is perfect. I do not want to move out only to find that we have to move back because we were disobedient. All the conditions look good to buy a house but God hasn’t given a clear word therefore, we are not moving. I love my husband. I support him. If anyone attacks him, they attack me and I am not to be played with. I’ve said that I am a sinner saved by grace but mess with my husband and I will show you just how saved by grace I really am! I’m joking…kind of…not really…just don’t try me.