Luke 1:36

Nov. 5 - St. Elizabe_353719

I have looked at moms who had children spaced out in age and wondered what it was that made them want to do it again. What was it that made that momma have a baby when she had a seventh grader and third grader already? Now, I fit the bill.  I have a Kindergartener and want a baby. That is an entire six year difference! That means that if I were to conceive today, in six years, I would have a sixth grader and a Kindergartener! Who does that?

Luke 1:36 says this

36 Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren.

This verse comes after the angel Gabriel spoke to Mary to tell her she would conceive and give birth to Jesus. Our Pastor preached from this verse today. He said, God assured Mary that the impossible was possible for her from what He had already did for her cousin Elizabeth. Elizabeth was already sixth months pregnant when Gabriel appeared to Mary.

That stopped me cold. I have heard and seen the testimony of other mothers who conceived after being told they never would.  Who had children, lost several to miscarriages, then gave birth to twins.  Who after being told she would never conceive, adopted and then conceived twins. Who after being diagnosed with PCOS had four children. Who after trying for years to conceive again after her first child without success, had a baby boy 10 years later.

God has already assured me that the impossible is possible for me from what He has done for others around me. I have no choice but to believe God.

(Originally penned 2013) 

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Getting My Jazmine Back

I gave away so much with her. I rationalized it of course. I had noble intentions but as my mother says, hindsight is 20/20.

My daughter needs me. She wants me. All her other relationships in her life will stem from our mother/daughter relationship first. Sure, she will be close with other people, but no one else is Mommy but me.

I’ve had to have a few conversations with my soon to be seven year old about what Mommy says goes and asking Mommy first before anyone else (except for her father,my husband).  She had had to relearn this but she is slowly but surely  coming to understand this. She is spending more and more time with me. Baby Grace’s arrival has helped this process along no doubt. Jazmine does not want to miss a minute of time with her baby sister. 

For whatever the reason we are gelling once again, I am grateful. I can’t teach her all she needs to know if she is not underfoot. My priorities for her growth are different from non nuclear family members so, even though I know she learns from being around others, the lessons her father and I hold as priority only happen when she is spending time with us.

I thought I had to balance the time I spent with my daughter with the time she was available to be with other family members. If that is not stinking thinking, I don’t know what is. 

I want both of my girls to have and develop meaningful relationships with family but it can never ever again happen at the cost of my relationship with them. 

Today, I Grew As A Parent

My husband had business to attend to so I took the opportunity for Jazmine and I to take a trip with my Anderson (my maiden name) family to see my grandmother. It was a 2-2 1/2 hour car ride. At six, I expect Jazmine to do well on car trips and she did.

During our visit, although very pleasant, there were two incidences that I intervened in that at previous times, I would have shrunk back from.  Up until today,  I would usually defer to those I grew up with if there was something Jazmine was doing or had done that needed to be corrected. If one of my Anderson family stepped in and over rode me  in how I was disciplining, I would generally differ to them since I was new at this parenting thing.

That stopped today.

While on our visit, we had a family dinner. Jazmine has a favorite Aunt she prefers to sit next to.  Next to. Not just at the same table, not on the same side, not across from, but next too. She has learned from watching us, her parents, and in her other social interactions, the accepted custom that you place your belongings wherever you are going to sit.  She did that.  She placed her belonging on a chair right next to where her favorite Aunt was going to sit.  When we returned to the table, her belongings were moved.  I was puzzled and so was she.  I let her sit where she originally picked out her spot.  Other family members returned and moved Jazmine to sit across from her favorite Aunt.  That did not go over well with Ms. Jazmine (I didn’t expect it to) and it did not go over well with me either.

After it was explained to me, I understood the reason.  Another family member had moved so, logistically speaking, there would be more room at the table if Jazmine and her favorite Aunt sat across from each other instead of next too one another. The six-year-old, my daughter, did not process that well.  I explained it to her but then told her she was right.  She placed her belongings where she wanted them and she had every right to expect them to be where she placed them when she returned. I also comforted her and told her that she was still sitting near her favorite Aunt and that she, Jazmine, would be okay.

I then walked to my seat and politely but firmly, told said family member that moved Jazmine’s seat, not to move her seat anymore. Those things, though understood by all the adults (Jazmine was the only child on the trip), was hard to process from someone else especially when it went against what she has been taught from her father and I.  (Hindsight says that Jazmine’s belongings could have been moved by said family member but the emotional reaction Jazmine had should have been differed to her mother, me, who was right there, so I could handle it.)  The adults seemed to chalk it up as me, Xara, being too lenient on my daughter but we went on with our meal and everyone had a nice time.

The return trip home as a bit different.  Every adult was tired. Two adults, including myself, were pregnant and it was pretty clear that everyone in the car, except for me, was expecting a quiet trip home.  I think I was the only one acutely aware that there was a six-year old in the car.

Six year olds are going to do what they are supposed to do…be six.  Quiet to a six-year old is just an opportunity to have a solo performance of whatever they want to say, sing, or make funny/odd sounds.  I expected it but I have said six-year old with me all the time.  All the adults in the car have had experience with six-year olds but they don’t live with one.  One adult was telling Jazmine to keep it down. I intervened.  Could Jazmine keep it down? Yes.  Yes, she could. Could that  other adult to speak to Jazmine with authority?  Yes.  Yes, that adult could.  So, what was the problem? I was there.  I, the six-year olds mother, was there. I heard the noise.  I let it happen. The other adult, dare I say adults, did not care for it as much. My child was confused.  I could tell.  I know her. She knows to listen and respect adults, and this was her family, but her mother was right there and not addressing her in the same tone.  She was still making her sounds but was a bit hesitant, not knowing whom to obey.  That is when I intervened.  Six can’t process like an adult can and adults can not expect them too.  I pointed out how much noise the grown children in the car made at that age but it fell on deaf ears.

I understand that as well.  When Jazmine was four years old, I realized, I no longer had the patience to deal with two-year olds. My child was out of that stage so I no longer had to live in it.  The adults in the car are out of childhood stage and raising children of that age.  They don’t have long-term patience for that especially, when a child really starts to act their age.

What I learned from those to incidences today, was that I have to be an advocate for my child regardless of whom I am around.  I can not waiver from who she knows me to be when it’s just me and her or me, her, and my husband.  I can not turn into someone she is not familiar with when I am around other family.  I can not turn into someone other than her mother when I am around my Anderson family. I can not take a backseat when other trusted adults are around.  Jazmine looks to me as the final say.  I can’t all of a sudden turn wishy-washy.  That does not build confidence in our mother and daughter relationship.  I can not back down from what her father and I have instilled in her just because it is not the Anderson way.  I am a Lee now.  Jazmine is a Lee.  I greatly appreciate the upbringing and home training I received as an Anderson however Jazmine has not been brought up the exact same way.  Many similarities but uniquely Lee. I can not turn back into an Anderson when I am around my Anderson family when it comes to raising my Lee child. I must have her back at all times when the Anderson home-training and Lee-fundamentals clash. No one is wrong.  Growing up, the Anderson way was my rule book but, like I said, I am a Lee now. My husband cleaves to me and we are a unified Lee family. We Lee’s may do it differently and I, Xara Lee will not allow Jazmine Lee to feel unsure about whom to follow.

 

The Breastplate of Righteousness

One part of the full armor of God is the breastplate of righteousness (Eph. 6:1-15) I have always understood the application of righteousness as doing the right thing even when it is difficult.  I have prayed this over my family and visualize me putting on the full armor of God on myself, husband, and daughter daily as I pray these verses.

When I think of the breastplate of righteousness, I would always apply it outside of the home.  One practical example that always came to mind was going back to the cashier if noticing that she gave me incorrect change resulting in her giving me more money back than was due.  That is a bit outdated for me to use now since I mostly swipe everything (and by swipe I mean using my debit card; not stealing).  A better example to keep in my mind’s eye is putting the shopping cart back when I am in the parking lot.  I try to park close to a cart corral so I don’t have to travel far to return the cart.   Recently, I was much further away from one. It is bone cold where I live right now and taking that walk after grocery shopping for the month was not a walk I wanted to take.  I did it anyway.  It was hard but it was the right thing to do. Putting the cart back where it was convenient for me (between my car and the one next to me) would have been inconvenient and inconsiderate to my neighbor.

That was the extent of my thoughts on putting on God’s righteousness in daily life…until today.

Jazmine stayed with her grandmother last night while I went to the gym.  That is normal practice for us; nothing out of the ordinary.  I gave her her instructions for while I was gone and told her grandmother too. Jazmine was asleep when I came home, as she should have been, and her grandmother said nothing to me about her behavior.

This morning, during our school hour, Jazmine let me know that she misbehaved last night with her grandmother.  Her actions were very disappointing and require discipline.  The most timely discipline action is removing an unexpected reward from her.  A movie comes out today that she and I REALLY enjoyed seeing in the theater.  I marked the DVD release date on our family calendar so we could get it. I have been looking forward to today for few weeks now. Jazmine had no idea that her father and I had this in the works.  She has no idea how many times we thought about how to make this day really special.  I was so excited for it!  But she was disobedient and this isn’t the first time she was disobedient in this manner.  I couldn’t let it go.  I couldn’t lessen the discipline she needed for me to get what I wanted her to have.

I was mulling over my own feelings of disappointment when I realized what I was praying for every day.  The breastplate of righteousness is not only to be worn when we venture out of our home.  It is to be worn inside the home too.  Disciplining Jazmine when I would rather let something slide in order for us to have the exciting day I had envisioned is evidence of wearing the breastplate of righteousness!

I am not going out slaying giants everyday.  There are days when I don’t even leave the house!  It is not as if satan’s only battle plans rest with me leaving home.  The sneak-sly attacks are always around.  Praise God for understanding so I was able to stand against this sneak-sly attack.

A Mother’s Honor (song included)

 

It is my honor to wash your stinking butt

It is my privilege to brush your dirty teeth

It is my joy to lotion your ashy tail

I am your Momma!

 

I made up and sang this song to Jazmine one night after I was beginning to despair the nightly routine…brushing teeth, bath, and lotioning her up.   In motherhood, the days are long but the years are so short.  I didn’t want to bemoan that moment and our nightly cleaning rituals simply because I didn’t want to do it.  This song reminded me, and assured my girl, that Mommy loves her and prefers to be there in that moment with her.

This is my first time uploading anything to YouTube.

It’s a funny song. We enjoy it.  Feel free to sing it to your children too to get you through those long days 🙂

(Thank you A Mama’s Story for the Monday morning link-up)

Xara’s Only Child

In college, I was required by one of my courses to watch China’s Only Child.  I had no idea China had real rules against having more than one child!  The documentary went on to describe the “pro’s and con’s” of having a girl or a boy as your only child.  I felt bad for all the women in that predicament.

I now find myself in that category.

I know I will have more children but for now, I have one.  More often than not, when my child is spoken of she is referred to as “only”.  Friends say it.  Family says it.  Heck even I say it but I didn’t realize until today that that one term “only” belittles my mothering journey and impairs my view of my motherhood.

Before, when I was solely Bonus mom, I longed for the day I could be a “real” mother.  When I could be in charge of the care of the upbringing of a child.  I was closest to being a “real” mother for Anthony but a necessary evil for Bella and Scott. So, when the day came that I was making big girl decisions for my daughter, I felt validated. That validation lasted until she was around two and questions of if baby number two was in production were frequently asked. It felt like people were saying, “You are not a real mother unless you have more than one child”.  It feels as if I, married SAHM of one, compared to a married woman with two or more children and a single mother of one child come out as inefficient.  The latter women held as heroines whereas I am somehow lax in my abilities because I have (seemingly) ample time and energy and only one child to worry about.

It seems as though people think my mothering of a singleton is easy. It seems as though the masses think I could be, should be doing a better job at it than I am because I only have one child. There are plenty of examples of this.  I show up to church late with my one child in tow (who had to skip breakfast in hopes of making it on time. Fail!) and Mommy of many was on time with well fed children. I get to co-op on time with my one child and practically every other family is late and the tone is very understanding because they have at least three children per household.

(shoulder shrug)

I am tired of hearing about the tales and woes of family with two or more children. No.  Let me rephrase that.  I don’t tire of hearing family stories but I do tire of hearing stories that are heavily emphasized with, “Well, I have ‘x’ number of children and (insert newest hardship here)”. I don’t want to hear all of that. Those stories are heavily laced with “you have it so easy” undertones and “the trials of your motherhood journey are nothing compared to mine” overlay that I feel disqualified by the time you finish telling me a happy tale.

I don’t have time for that.

Note to self: When(ever) our family expands and we are on the other side of this fence with more than two children experiencing the fun-loving yet utterly chaotic roller coaster ride of parenting more than one child, NEVER EVER use words, phrases, or impressionistic statements that would cause her to feel disqualified for having one child.  Let her into the FULL FLEDGED ranks of motherhood at the babies first breath. DO NOT keep her waiting in the lobby of the motherhood clubhouse until she is pregnant with her second child. DO explain the levels of motherhood that she has been exposed to and DO tell her that you are the member that they can’t kick out who tells all the secrets of the society.  DO tell her that she can trust you to be straight forward with the veiled insults and innuendos she hears.  DO tell her that you will help her navigate it all as best you can. DO tell her that she is as much a mother as Susanna Wesley and Michelle Duggar with her “only” child.

Fear Is…Something

Before Jazmine was even thought of, my husband and I dedicated her to the Lord.  We dedicated her again when we knew we were pregnant, the day she was born, and formally at church when she was three months old.  I didn’t ever want to hold on to my child more than I held to the Lord.  Giving her back to the Lord kept me from clinging to her so tightly.  It also helped me to remember that, after the Lord, my husband is first and the then children.

Because we dedicated her to the Lord, whenever she gets sick, I automatically go into a panic of “Lord, are you taking her back?”.  I get so scared.  I enjoy being Jazmine’s mom.  Even when she is sick and I am held hostage indoors and have to sleep with her curled up like a she-cub on my chest, I love it.  I enjoy it so much.

All I know to do, and this is what I practice, is to enjoy each and every day with her.  Each phase, each uh-oh, each “Jazmine, are you seriously putting dirt in your hair after I just washed it last night?”, each “Jazmine, come back here” and she runs away, each hug, each kiss, each high-five, each and every moment including the really offensive diaper moments because someday it will end.

One phase ends and another begins.  There will be another phase of her childhood and another phase to my motherhood.  Often times I want to bottle her up so I can capture each and every precious moment just in case God takes her home before me.   But I can’t, I won’t, I refuse to live in fear for God didn’t give me a spirit of fear (2 Tim. 1:7).  But He has given unto us, a spirit of power, a spirit of love and a sound mind.  ‘Bout time I use some of that sound mind don’t you think?

Knowing Why I Do What I Do

One of the biggest things I’ve had to learn since becoming a mother was knowing why I do what I do.

There are so many schools of thought out there.  Couple that with a mother’s desire to do the very best for her child and you are facing a very daunting task.

I was so overwhelmed!  I am the oldest of four and my family foster cared infants for about 10 years.  I thought for certain all of that combined experience would have helped me in my motherhood journey.  I also that thought becoming a mother after being an bonus mom for five years better prepared me for motherhood.  Neither of those experiences hurt but it sure didn’t provide the security I thought it would have for all of the new things I experienced in motherhood.  I always had someone coming behind me to make sure I did right.  (Not that I set out to make mistakes or didn’t take my responsibilities as a sister or an bonus mom seriously but I did always have someone checking up on me regardless of what I did.)

I knew the mechanics of motherhood.  I knew how to bathe an infant, change a diaper, and soothe crying (which came much easier since I was the mother this time) but it took me a lot longer to be comfortable in my own skin.  I knew how I wanted to mother her.  I knew I wanted to stay at home.  I knew I wanted to nurse her for at least a year.  I knew I wanted to make her baby food.  I knew I wanted to teach her sign language.  I didn’t know how to react to people who didn’t agree or understand why I was doing these things with Jazmine.

I got the ugly face from women when I was still nursing my Jaz after she started eating baby food.  I got a look of confusion from people when the saw that I wasn’t feeding Jazmine jarred baby food.  I got the stank face from people when they saw that I was teaching Jazmine to sign when she couldn’t even talk.

That was all very scary for me.  I only wanted to do what was best for Jazmine.  I listened to many trains of thought to see which ones settled within me; which ones I believed and could live by.  I remember getting so frustrated and just praying to God asking Him to help me do right by Jazmine.  I was begging Him to let me know if I was doing something that was not the best thing for her.  It was then when He whispered that I was not to do right by Jazmine.  I was to do right by Him and Jazmine would be taken care off.  (What a load off !)

I refocused on Christ.  I made sure everything I did or didn’t do was in service to Him.  I checked my motives to make sure that there was no negative or sinful root as the cause for my actions.  (I still continue to check my motives.  Haughtiness in motherhood can sneak up on you if you are not careful!)

Regarding mothering Jazmine, I am resolved that if what I am doing is not a sin against the Lord, follows His commandments and His principles, and won’t kill her, than I’m okay with it.