Being Mimi

When Saleem was about four or five years old I can remember, people always asking, “do you want any more kids” or “when are you having another one?”  My response was always the same, “if God wants me to have some, he better send me a man with some because I’m not having anymore!”  It was a joke to me until Saleem was about ten or eleven and I decided that I really wanted to have another child.  Around that time I’d met my love.  Although he already had five, we thought we’d try for one more or maybe two since he was a twin and twins were known to run in his family.  Either way, we would be happy with what ever God decided to bless us with.

Unfortunately, we were not prepared for the news we’d receive a few months later.  Turns out, I had uterine fibroids and my doctors doubted that I’d ever be able to have another child.  Under my doctors’ care, I decided to put off having surgery in order to try to get pregnant one more time.  After about eight months, I had not gotten pregnant but my fibroids had grown so large they were pressing on other vital organs.  My doctor was afraid my kidneys would be dangerously affected.  When tests revealed just how much damage my fibroids were doing to my body, my doctor gave me two weeks to get things in order so that he could perform my hysterectomy.

The day I left my doctor’s office was one of the saddest days.  Not only was I faced with not being able to have another child but I struggled with having to have such a major surgery at thirty-two years old.  Needless to say, the days leading up to the surgery were some of the most difficult.  I didn’t want my parents or Saleem to worry about me so I put on a brave face, said the most positive things when anyone asked how I was doing and tried not to cry.

The surgery went well.  I recovered with good friends, family and my love taking care of me.  I returned to work and life moved on.  At the time, only three of my love’s children lived in the area and we were able to see them regularly.  So between his three and Saleem, we were often pretty busy having family movie nights, vacationing in some small town in Florida none of us had ever heard of and hanging out with the kids at one of their extracurricular events.

Time seems to have flown by.  The picture above is of me and who I refer to as “The Last of the Mohicans.”  These are my love’s youngest two…the twins and the last two at home.  They were three years old when their dad and I met.  I was blessed to be Saleem’s mom and to be apart of his everyday life and upbringing.  Even though God decided that having another child was not in the cards for me, I have been truly blessed to be Mimi to my love’s kids, especially these two.  I have been blessed to share in many firsts with the twins…their first day of kindergarten, their first day of middle school, their first day learning to drive, their first “unofficial” date and today, their first day at their first job.  In a few years, we will be dropping them off at their first day of college.

Prior to gaining full custody of the twins and their older sister almost four years ago, my love and I were weekend parents along with giving as much support during the week as needed.  Granted our lives have changed quite a bit now that the kids are with us full time and I must admit, I was not at all prepared as Saleem was out on his own by then.  I was enjoying being a semi-empty nester.  I understand now that even though all those years ago I joked about God sending me a man with kids, He has actually answered my prayers.  I am so grateful to have had this time with them.

 

Be careful what you ask for…:)

The Lives of Boys

If you know me, then you know I love to read. The more I read, the more I learn and the more I grow. Learning and growing are two of my favorite things to do. I think it is just a waste to be on this earth, living this life and never growing.  There is so much freedom in this life especially, in this country.  We shouldn’t waste it.

Somehow, in a recent morning quiet time I began reading the book of Revelation.  Not sure how that came to be but I learned quite a bit.  Growing up, my grandmother would always tell us how life simply repeated itself because people don’t learn from their mistakes or from the situations of those who came before them.  As I began reading Chapter 12 in Revelation, I was reminded of my grandmothers’ words.  Reading this chapter taught me about the strength of women and the struggle that will forever haunt young boys who, without proper guidance, will become men under attack.

From reading this particular chapter in the bible, I thought about my own life and the lives of the boys I raised.  When my love and I met, he had three boys and I had one.  So, I had the pleasure of raising four boys.  Saleem is now 25, DJ is 24, Jaylen is 21 and James is 15.  Our two oldest are out on their own, Jaylen is doing well in college and the baby, James, is still at home giving us a run for our money.  All of our boys are the sweetest, kindest human-beings I know.  After reading Revelation, I think there is one area where we may have failed them.  While we made every attempt to raise them to be respectful, thankful, grateful and to treat others as they wanted to be treated, I think we failed to teach them the undeniable power that they held within.

Yes, we took them to church, prayed with them and talked to them about developing a relationship with God, however, we didn’t tell them the story about how they’d be attacked on every side through no fault of their own.  We didn’t know to tell that that the attacks they’d face were due to the power and strength they possessed to stand as the kings they were born to be.  Our boys were born to be fighters, to stand up for what is right and to be examples of God on earth.  When we know better, we do better.  It’s never too late to turn and that is just what I intend to do.  I will work to remind my boys that they are true kings of God and within them, God has placed all they need to fight against any darkness that is meant to take them down.

 

Standing strong…:)

Summer Closing 2018

Seems like this summer has flown by!  As an educator I am often asked this question nearly all summer long, “are you ready to go back?”  I really don’t like that question.  Even when I’m not at school, I’m working.  Even though I decided to take a summer job at a department store and tutor the grandson of a friend of mine, I have also been meeting and planning with my team so that we are prepared when school actually goes back into session.  For most educators, not working all summer long is not an option.  We squeeze in some fun time with the family and maybe a vacation but a lot of us are planning, in trainings and preparing for the upcoming year.

I didn’t get an actually vacation this year but I did have some fun with my family, enjoyed my son and grandson for two weeks, and I even got to sleep in some days.  The best part of my summer was having lunch or dinner with friends I don’t often get to catch up with during the school year.

In an effort to get some cleaning and organizing done around the house, I finally got a chance to start working on the garage.  I got about half done when I came across a box that my aunt sent me over a year ago.  She’d been holding on to it since my mother passed away a few years ago.  I attempted to go through it when I first got it but didn’t get very far.  Although it was still very hard, I’m glad I was able to do it now.  After my mother passed away, I wasn’t able to have anything that belonged to her and that made me really sad.  However, while going through her box, I came across an old driver license and her last pastport.  It was awesome!  It may not sound like much but for me, to be able to have just those two things of hers meant the world to me.  To go from growing up in a house that reflected our family history to having it all lost after my mother’s death was very devastating for me.  Not only did I lose her but I lost many things that meant a lot to me and my parents.

I didn’t get to finish the other half of the garage but with about six more days of summer break left, my goal is to rest, rest, rest!  Goodness knows I’m going to need it!  I am looking forward to another successful school year.  I will have a new team this year which will be absolutely no problem for me because I am a serious social butterfly!  Meeting and getting to know new people is one of my favorite things to do.  I’m looking forward to seeing my students, coworkers and getting back to my routine.  This is going to be a great school year!

 

Give, live and enjoy…🙂

 

 

Summer 2018

I had a plan this summer!  I was going to rest…a lot, summer clean the house, clean the garage and spend my evenings with a glass of wine in one hand and a book in the other.  I am one month in and I have been just as busy thus far as I normally am during the school year.  Not sure how it happened but I think it’s my mother’s fault.  That lady never knew how to sit still for more than a few minutes and I believe I inherited that gene!

Being that we purchased our first home last summer, I thought it would be a great idea to work “part time” this summer and use that extra cash to paint and decorate.  Yes, I know, now…that was a bad idea!  Although I only work about twenty hours a week, it is a bit more than I bargained for.  The work is easy and my co-workers are pleasant enough but couple that with trying to fit in appointments for me and the kids, squeezing in all the things I intended to do this summer and it makes for some very long days.

The week school ended, my fifteen year old daughter announced that she signed up for a summer course to prepare her for dual enrollment in the fall.  The course is eighteen days, three hours a day, four days a week!  To make matters worse, she goes to a magnet school for business, the school is forty-five minutes from our house and there are no busses running in the summer.  Needless to say, my plans to sleep in are a bust.  I can’t be mad at her though, she is at least looking toward her future.  Now, if she does not pass this course, she will be grounded the rest of the summer for making me get up early for nothing!

I am optimistic!  I am certain I will have time to do most if not all of the things I had planned this summer.  There is still plenty of time to sleep in, read, write and clean.

Here’s to a restful July…:)

Spring Break

About two years ago my son moved to North Carolina and of course he took my grandson with him.  I was sad to see them go but my son is a young man now and has to make decisions that he thinks is best for him.  For now, North Carolina it is.  However, this praying mother will continue to ask God to find a way to bring him home or at the very least within a couple hours drive.

On the bright side of this decision, I get to travel to North Carolina to visit.  They live in this really cute, quiet little town that reminds me of one of those towns everybody ends up in on those Hallmark movies.  Unlike Florida, in North Carolina I got to actually see Spring.  Cool air, beautiful trees, gorgeous sunsets and at night, the most amazing star show I have ever witnessed.

My time spent in North Carolina was amazing.  My grandson is growing so fast and talking about everything in sight.  It was such a pleasure to simply sit and watch him play with his cars, color pictures or run around in the front yard.  I think we went to every kid museum, activity center and zoo within an hours drive.  To be the best Yaya possible, I must spoil him rotten!  My son is still the air I breathe.  Watching him with his son were some of the happiest moments of my time there.  My son has always been a loving kid and it definitely shows when he is with my grandson.  To say that I am a proud mom and Yaya is an understatement!

I would have loved for my parents to have met their great-grand.  My mother would have found a way to keep them here and my dad would have been the best babysitter ever.  I think of my parents every day.  My life has become about continuing to make them proud, living life in the manner in which they tried to raise me and leaving a legacy for my son.

Family is the village…:)

 

 

Not In Vain

Currently, I live with two teenagers.  If you have teenagers of your own, know teenagers that belong to someone else or remember clearly being one yourself, you know those lovely teen-formative years can be challenging.  Not only are they challenging to the teens themselves but they are even more challenging for the adults who have been dutiful chosen to raise them.

My love and I have had the distinct pleasure of raising a brood of seven so we’ve seen our fair share of shenanigans.  However, I must say that all of them are respectful, kind and caring young people.  Yet these last two…the twins…my, my, my! They are a hot mess!  I feel like I spend most of my days getting after them about keeping up with their homework, cleaning their rooms, and doing their chores.  Where ever they put things down is where it stays.  Let me or Dad put something down and it disappears with the quickness never to be seen again!

So day in and day out we work hard to bring up great, loving and caring human beings.  We get up early to make sure they are up and ready for school with a hot meal in their bellies.  We hit the bed long past our bedtime exhausted from running to practice, to after school appointments, making dinner, discussing various ways they can solve their problems without fighting, chasing after them to get in the shower and then to bed on time.

Just when we think it’s all for nothing and that we are failing at this parenting thing, there is a twinge of hope.  The boy twin came to us a few weeks ago and asked if he could transfer to a private school he had been researching.  He’d downloaded and read through the entire student handbook.  Even after reading all of the things he would be restricted to such as not wearing his earrings, not being able to wear his various pairs of shoes but also being required to wear a uniform, this boy was not deterred.  When we asked why he wanted to change schools, his reply, “it’s a smaller school with smaller classes and I’ll be able to get the attention I need.”  Huh, what!?  Then to top it all off, today I was typing in his responses to the questionnaire on the application and here is his exact response to the last question: “By the time I turn 25 I would like to be playing professional ball in the NFL, taking care of my family and creating a foundation that allows me to give back to my community and giving kids that are less fortunate a chance to make it out of the struggle.”

“Aaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh!”  That is the sound of my heart singing!  Something is sticking.  Forget the part about being in the NFL and taking care of his family, I’m just glad he’s thinking about others.  Community service and looking out for others is something his dad and I are passionate about so just to know he has some understanding of why we participate in community service events, why we make them do it and why it’s important makes my heart smile.

Today was a good day...:)

Raising Kids

Raising Kids

I am, by no means, an expert in the area of child rearing.  But there are many things I’ve learned over the years that have helped me to get through those tough moments when I look at one of babies and have to ask, “where on earth did you come from?”  I often find myself thinking back to my own childhood wondering if there were times when I worked my parents nerves so bad that they wished they could drop me off at the nearest shelter for the “Just Not Right” and walk away. I can recall a time some years back when my brother, sister and I were at my parents house.  Somehow, probably because of my brother, the conversation went to each of us tattling on the other about all of this stuff we’d done as kids that my parents had absolutely no knowledge of.  My parents laughed right along with us but I can remember my mother, clearly being shocked saying, “ya’ll were some bad kids.”

As a parent now, I often wonder what my kids might be keeping from me and then ask myself if I even really want to know because so much has changed since I was a child.  Although, my parents didn’t have to contend with the likes of cell phones, text messaging, Facebook, SnapChat, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube, I’m sure they probably said the same thing as they were doing their best to raise my siblings and me all while trying to shield us from the negative influences of society at that time.   I know that on a daily basis my children can be fed negative information at lightening speed and that is definitely a challenge to keep up with.

My only birth child, a son, will be 23 years old this year and for the past ten years I have had the wonderful opportunity and privilege to be apart of the lives of six other children ages 21, 19, 15, 13 (twins) and 2.  This crew has given my life partner and I a variety of challenges.  None of them so bad that made us wish we could drop them off at the nearest home for the “Misinformed Child” but I think we may have come close a few times.  Even with the crazy stunts they’ve pulled, I think our children are the best children a parent could ask for.

Recently, my life partner was giving a speech.  He chose to begin his speech with a scripture that I think his parents, my parents and our grandparents before them were probably very familiar with.  The scripture, Proverbs 22:6 says, train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. I think this particular scripture sums up our current efforts to give our children what they need to help them become kind, loving, respectful, well-rounded and successful human beings.

This is what we’ve learned thus far:

Family Time – family time is of the utmost importance.  It is during these moments when my partner and I like to make sure we are connecting those lines of communication with our children.  We make every effort to have open, honest conversations with them about whatever is on their hearts and in their heads.  Our family vacations are the best.  There is nothing like hearing one of the kids say, “hey, remember that time we went to…” or “remember when we did…?”

Choices – our children are going to make their own choices.  Some are going to be great but others, eh…not so great.  As parents, my love and I simply want to give the kids a good foundation so that they are able to make the best possible decisions even when we are not around.  We will love them and guide them through whatever challenges (or bad decisions) they may face.  We work very hard to let them know that we will always be there for them.

Dreams – our dreams and goals for our children may not be the dreams and goals they have for themselves.  We simply have to accept them for who they are and whatever dreams they choose to follow.  As long as the path they’ve chosen is not harmful to themselves or others, we will give them the support they need to make those dreams come true.

Love – most of all, give love and express love.  We hug and love on the kids daily.  We make it a priority to tell them how much we love and appreciate them.  We pray often that God will allow our conversations not only with each other but especially with our children to always be full of grace (Col 4:6).  We want our words to speak life into our children.

Blessed beyond measure…:)