Puberty And Potty Training


As Jazmine eagerly awaits her body changes, Baby Grace shows then shies away from potty independence. It is quite the spectrum we have here in the Lee household. On one hand, we are watching our flower blossom.  On the other hand, our sweet cherub is turning into quite the tyrant.

As a mom who enjoys like-mindedness with other moms, it is hard to straddle this spectrum.  I am fully immersed in each but not exclusive to either. I can speak with some moms and be right in the boat with them in puberty discussions.  Other moms, our potty training woes cause us to click. The tricky part is when I need to leave one conversation to tend to the part of motherhood that I have but they don’t.  Discussing the necessity of undergarments for budding girls is cut short because I need to discipline the toddler who thought it was a great idea to remove things from shelves.  Exchanging funny toddler stories is cut short because my big kid has another activity to get to.

I am in a unique position not because it is exclusive to me but because in my circles, I am the white tiger in the room. I don’t quite fit. I used to struggle hugely in this area.  When it was only Jazmine and I was waist-deep in step-motherhood, I was still a white tiger. I hated not feeling fully apart of the mommy tribe because I had one child and not multiple to juggle on top of having blended family uniqueness.  That was a hard time. Praise God I learned a few things from that experience.

I am better able to accept my motherhood duality now. I can pass easily from puberty, to potty training, to being a step-mom to teenagers and back again seamlessly because it is ALL my life.  Each unique stage of life applies to me simultaneously.  I wear that fact as a crown.  In my bag, I keep snacks for the tyrant and spelling words for the blossoming one. On any given day, we could have teenage boys or our adult daughter over. It is my life and I am grateful to live it.


My Belly


I was in the best shape of my adult life in 2014. It was one year after we lost January and Jazmine was 5 years old. It took time, food tracking, and finding a fitness genre I love to be able to get back to a shape and scale numbers I formerly knew.  Baby Grace is a few months shy of 2 years old and I STILL am no where close to the fitness level I previously attained. Yes, things have changed.  I don’t have the time to spend in the gym or at my home gym like I had previously, I don’t teach classes anymore, and I have a few injuries that need healing. I still want my body back! (insert tears here).

I was looking at my stomach. I bemoaned as I noted the stretch marks, the C-section pouch, and the very newest addition post Baby Grace, my swollen upper belly.  (It is not swollen because I have an internal issue.  It is just loose where it was not like that before.) That is when I realized it.  My belly represents that I am a Mommy! My stretch marks, pouch, and swollen upper belly means that I have babies!  I asked (begged) God for children. He answered my snotting, slobbering sobs with an affirmative. I would rather have my belly, with all of its imperfections instead of having a day without my girls.


That’s It


I just got back from the doctors.

Everything is fine. No worries there, praise God.

But something still doesn’t feel right.

Despite my best efforts, I still don’t feel myself.

I talked with my best friend today.  She gave me permission to chill.

I needed someone to do it.  My husband gave me permission but I thought he was just being nice 🙂 When my best friend did it, I actually heard what she was saying.

After Baby Grace was born, I was rarely home. I stayed gone for reasons I’ve already extensively written about. I was always on the move. I literally could not sit still. In order for me to be in a good head space, I had to be gone. Now that we’ve moved, it is just the opposite.  I am happiest when I’m still. I am calm and at peace when I am home taking care of husband, children, and hearth. I felt bad about that. I thought I should remain active for my Jazmine’s sake. I asked jazmine if she wanted to go strawberry picking or go to the playground.  Her answer?  “No. I don’t want to go.” So there is no pressure there. She loves the pool and that is really easy and convenient to get to.  As soon as its hot enough, we can certainly get there.

Since we’ve moved and gotten settled, I’ve been trying too hard to “get back.” Get back to my regular exercise.  Get back to being active. Get back to going out with friends. Get back to going on field trips with Jazmine. Getback to my healthy eating. Get bak to life and what I was before Baby Grace was born but with her in tow.  I am still ob the road to “get back” but I am taking a different method.  I am taking a break from that thinking. I am resting through July. No purposeful exercise. No making daily step goals. No diets or dietary restrictions. No filling up the family calendar. No making plans to fill up the day. No ‘I gotta’ phrases because truly, there is rarely anything that absolutely has to get done.  None of it.

The ONLY thing I am going to do is stretch and drink more water.  That’s it.

Let the (true) healing begin.

(Originally penned August 2016)

How To Let Go And Let God

PreparingBabyLayetteLet Go and Let God is a song and a cliché within the church. Not that that saying has no truth, but it is often used so haphazardly that the full weight of the words is missed.

I long for more children. An itch has been scratched since having Baby Grace but it still feels that my family is not yet complete. I long for the boy my husband can father in the home; a boy from my womb. While we have been trying, I have not yet felt the desperation I had while waiting for Baby Grace to come. As Baby Grace continues to grow and out grow, I have not parted with a thing.  I have been, once again, hoarding but calling it wisdom.  Better to store and wait for another child than to give away and have to repurchase right? No.  Saving is wisdom.  Hoarding is folly.  Hoarding/Storing takes on the mindset that if we give it away, we could never again regain it. God provided the first time and He can and will provide again. Let go and let God.

During today’s sermon, God impressed upon me that I was hoarding his blessings.  He had to remind me that He provided for Baby Grace and He will provide for the next baby, whenever that happens.  I had to release my coveted Puj Baby Tub, stretchy car seat canopy, sneak-a-peak car seat cover, and nursing cover. My bargain bought breast pump, Close & Secure Portable Infant Sleeper, and my numerous baby wearing gear, all I released.  I released EVERYTHING over and over and over again until it was complete and real and not just lip service.

God provided before.  He will provide again. Why? Because He told me to let go. I didn’t decide to just let go and hope he’ll catch me because I desire for new. No. He told me to let go so I am. I know He will provide yet again because He did for Jazmine and Baby Grace.  I KNOW He will do it for whenever the next baby comes.  By the time you read this, I will have already made a call to see if a new mom needs anything I have and I will have sent a text asking another mom to come view my wares and to take whatever she needs. Whatever is left will be posted on my MOPS group Facebook page.  Whatever is left after that will be consigned at the next local Tot Swap for $1-$3.  I look forward to being a conduit for God’s blessings.

Addressing Problems In My Village


A village

I felt attacked.

The words of some of the members of my village felt like knife lunges.

When Jazmine was born, I didn’t understand the purpose of a village. I had heard of the term but didn’t apply it to me.  Growing up, we had community; neighborhood, church and the like. I never considered that to be my village as my adult understanding saw it. Those adults whom I was close to as a child were all out-of-state.  No one lived close.  Whenever my parents had to go out childless, I, being the eldest, was the babysitter. On very rare occasions did another adult watch us. In that respect, I did not grow up with a village.

So it was with Jazmine.  When she was born, I sought out companionship because being a stay-at-home mom was lonely and I felt insignificant. That drew me to MOPS. As a homeschooling mom of a preschool aged child, I felt unsure.  That drew me to our first co-op. I was seeking a community then to help me through those mom changes. I didn’t view that community as a village for my daughter.

Being a mom for a second time (still praising God over this long-awaited child), it’s finally starting to dawn on me that my daughters do indeed have a village.  Our families, mine and my husband’s, are in close proximity to us. We have good friends in close proximity to us that we do life with.  Our co-op community has become part of our village.  There are several adults that I trust my daughters with and whom Jazmine knows she can go too if ever she needs help. That is why it was so hurtful to hear a few in my village speak to and make decisions for me the way they did.

Being a second time around Mommy has opened my eyes to many things that I used to put up with (which is code for I-didn’t-like-it-at-all-but-never-addressed-it-directly-but-instead-complained-about-the-issue-and-the-person-to-anyone-who-would-listen). The length of time we waited for Baby Grace greatly enhanced my appreciation of being a mother. I can easily detect any assaults to my motherhood. How I deal with such assaults has changed drastically from when Jazmine was born to now with Baby Grace. I have identified a list of rules that must be met if someone is to be in my village.  I am confident in what I can demand from others regarding my authority over my children.

That being said, all that new-found freedom came with a cost. (Wisdom is costly).  I’ve had to address some things with people whom I considered well established members of my village whom ought to have known better than to even encroach upon the rules. Praise God that He has groomed me to handle it with gentleness and grace but not lacking an ounce of truth. I was able to accurately and compassionately state my expectations of them to them. It was not one-sided.  I too had to make adjustments to prevent problems that I was unaware were happening (refer to rule #2). The result was very favorable for me.  I am quite pleased with the outcome even though my village member seems to be having difficulty with the changes. I am confident they will get over it 🙂

When Help Hurts

One major knowledge nugget I learned from Jazmine to baby Grace, is that not all “help” is beneficial. 

New moms are often told to take all the help they can get. That peice of advice seeps in and becomes a way of thinking that lasts far past the newborn/infant stage. When you physically can’t, accept the help. However, there are many times in this motherhood journey where we have to figure it out. 

I remember thinking there was no way I could clean the house with a 4 month old Jazmine because she needed me so much. I reached out asking for family to watch her for a few hours so I could clean. It was then that, I truly believe, the Holy Spirit said, “clean the house with her.” Now, had I been baby wearing in the house, this would have been a no brainier but I wasn’t then and I was so used to how I had done things before Jazmine, adjusting didn’t even cross my brain. I am grateful no one came to my rescue. I am grateful I had to think through and accept that my cleaning day would forever be altered. What used to take me two hours to clean the entire house, is now broken up over several days. The days of the house being all fresh clean at one time is over. 

Tanya later admitted to my husband that when Bella was a baby, her mother did everything for her except nurse her. She bathed her, dressed her, walked with her, you name it. Then Scott came along.  Tanya was holding him and it was nightime and he was screaming. She asked her mother to take him for just a few minutes. See, motherhood had gotten rough there. Her mother later told my husband that the Holy Spirit told her “not to touch him.” Why? Because how would she ever learn? Motherhood was easy the first time around. She got all the attention but had to do minimal work. With Scott, she learned. With Bella, she didn’t. Tanya has often said and both Bella and Scott have repeated, that if Scott came first, there would have been no Bella. I think she means if Scott was born first and she had to do for Scott the first time  around, she would not have gotten pregnant again. 

I told my mother just yesterday that my Jazmine isn’t where I wanted her to be at 7yrs old in relation to her behavior while shopping. I find myself having to say don’t do, you know better, stop it etc way too much for my liking. But the truth is, I did it to myself. She didn’t shadow me at the stores. She wasn’t with me when I went shopping as often as I went and many times, a family member was with me to keep her occupied so I could think. I did us both a disservice. Children learn by observing and spending time with you. That is how they learn to imitate us. I chose and easy path because it was presented to be helpful and I justified my decision. I regret that now and there isn’t an errand that my children don’t go on with me anymore. 

Do I get time away by myself? Not yet but I will. Do I accept help? Yes. Yes I do but when it’s needed, not when it’s easy. I don’t need help holding the baby while I’m teaching Jazmine. I don’t need help packing a diaper bag. Those are things you have to learn how to do and get on with life.

Not all help offered or sought is beneficial in the long run. I am enjoying learning more lessons this time around. 

The Bad Guy….

I don’t know what to write.

The only thing I can do is ask for your prayers.

It has been suggested that I might suffer from postpartum anxiety. I thought I had a handle on it but then, this evening, wham! I was nursing baby Grace and had to hold back the tears.

I try to make a plan of action everyday to do what I need to do to keep myself at an even keel. One of my big support people seemed to turn against me today. I was speechless.  They thought my tone was harsh when I addressed a mature person we both know.  There was no discussion afterwards.  It had been decided I was harsh and out of order. I thought that person understood how hard that mature person makes my life. I thought I had accurately explained the pounds of flesh the mature person’s “help” cost me. I thought my big support person understood that any inch I would give the mature person would end up with them swimming all over me.  I guess they still felt I was the one out of line.

That crushed me.

Everyone should have a safe place. My big support person was my safe place emotionally speaking. They don’t make me feel safe anymore.  I feel exposed and alone. It used to be just a talk with my big support person would ease any anxiety or restlessness I was experiencing but now, just hearing their name adds pressure. They are now another thing I have to overcome in my day.

So, I am back to having early evening self talks where I tell myself that I am not crazy, that I am a good mother, and that everything will be okay. I am back to saying don’t cry Xara, at least don’t cry in front of them. I am back to taking deep breaths and praying a change comes sooner then later. I am back to fighting tears at inopportune times. I am back to restless sleep.

So, again, prayers are appreciated. Pray that I grow through this because right now, it seems as if I only have two options; learn from my past mistakes and stick to my guns or give others what they want, when and how they want it.





Protecting My Motherhood At All Cost!

Looking back, my greatest mistake with Jazmine was that I shared her too much. I tried to involve certain parties more than necessary to try to make up for their loss in other relationships. Noble thought but it cost me pounds of flesh. I didn’t think I had a right to speak up because of the position that person held in the family. Not to mention, this is my husbands family so that makes it all the more touchy.

It wasn’t until baby Grace was born that I realized just how much I gave away and how some things with Jazmine are what they are because of the decision I made seven years ago to try to include certain parties. It is a deep regret that I will NOT make again.

I AM MOMMY (hear me roar!)

With the exception of my husband, EVERYONE ELSE’s place is a FAR distant second! We are the most important relationships she can have. Period.  It is common for friends and family to want to forge a relationship with a baby from day one; establishing their importance in their life. That adults desire does not superseded my authority! If I say no, it’s no. My decision rules.

The problem I am having is that if I give an inch one day, folk think they can take a mile the next day. Ohhhh no! Not happening. Not this time. Folk will know their role even if I have to write it down for them.

I hate pulling rank. Why can’t folk just respect my position? Why does it require me to put them in their place? I wear baby Grace. I wear her as much as I wanted to wear  Jazmine but was fearful to do so because I thought I’d be perceived as a baby hog. Well guess what? She is my baby. My long awaited for baby and I WILL hog her all up. These years are precious and I am painfully aware that they don’t come back once they are gone. People try to vi for the same position as mine in my child’s life. If not the same position, then at least one of extreme importance as if they don’t forge it today, all is lost. The truth is, I could care less about any other relationship baby Grace had with anyone outside of Jazmine, her father, and I. If you are not one us, you get welcomed in on my (our) terms; not your own.

I WILL protect my mothrhood!

Post-Natal Recovery Past The Physical

While I was still pregnant, I gave myself loads of grace for my recovery period.  My plan was to put Lee academy in recess for three weeks and told myself I would do nothing unnecessary during that time once I was home after the baby was born.  I was prepared for a harder recovery period.  Once I understood that I was going to have another C-section, I resolved myself to the painful recovery.

Well, surprise, surprise! My recovery, though painful, was short-lived.

Once I was unhooked from everything, I was taking walks at the hospital and taking full laps around the Maternity Ward at that.  With Jazmine, I couldn’t make it all the way around without taking a break. This time around, I would do it at least twice in a 24 hour period. When I was discharged from the hospital and we were in the car, I walked back to the room to retrieve my cell phone.  It was a long walk for a post op patient and I wasn’t moving Xara fast but I wasn’t in pain. Once I got home, I was going up and down the stairs pretty well.

By the end of the week, I didn’t need to take any more prescription pain relieving drugs. I was doing really well.  I couldn’t drive but my mother and my husband would take me and the girls different places for as long as I could stand it. With all that great physical recovery going on,  I forgot about the rest of it.

My brain needs to recover.  My emotions need to recover.  I need to adjust to my new normal. For almost seven years, I’ve had one child. After she was potty trained, we were a get-up-and-go duo. No restrictions. Carefree. I could plan a long day and execute it.  Now, I have difficulty planning a shower!  That is to be expected and I relish this new long awaited normal but it is an adjustment to my mind. I have to remind myself not to get back to my maverick pace.

There are things I long to do.  I look forward to exercising again.  I can’t wait to walk a 5k with baby Grace in tow. Those things will have to wait.  They will come in time.

This recovery is different than expected or planned for but is still recovery.  My nights are very long and my days don’t begin until late morning. Our household runs a few hours behind what is considered a normal schedule. I have to extend grace to myself to accept that. I get out when I feel like the walls are closing in on me.  I cocoon myself away from extended family when I need to.  I stop berating myself when I am late with a blog post 🙂

My recovery is far past the physical. Now that I have experienced this, I look forward to helping others understand this too.