Got a Rod to Spare

“Spare the rod; spoil the child.” If I have heard it once, I’ve heard it a thousand times. A little over a year ago, I attended a training and the lecturer made mention at how the saying has been misinterpreted. He said we all think it means to spank our children when necessary, but the passage references sheepherders and they used two tools, the staff and the rod. He said the staff was used to guide sheep; bring them back coax them and the rod was used to keep away other animals or to protect the sheep. His theory is if herders beat their sheep they would run away. So his interpretation of “spare the rod spoil the child” is not to spank them, but to protect your children from predators, lest they spoil.

Now I’m not one for a whole lot of preaching and I am fully aware that every parent has an opinion on spanking, some stronger than others. So let me agree to disagree with some of you right now. I found the lecturers interpretation very interesting, I had never heard it put that way, but the saying “spare the rod, spoil the child,” is not in the bible. However, what it does say is:

Proverbs 13:24 (NKJV)

[24] He who spares his rod hates his son,

But he who loves him disciplines him promptly.

A few weeks ago at a family function, I raised the issue to a group of mothers of all ages to get their opinion on spanking. Some in the crowd felt strongly that spanking was not an option, they argued their points of violence begets violence and how spanking helps to raise bullies. Others argued, the importance of children being disciplined and having respect for authority and understanding rules and consequences.

“Respect is a two way street,” one mother and grandmother said. “Where is the respect for the child?” I read an article about a month ago about how we have become a generation of child-centered homes. The author highlighted how indulgent parents have become. How our children run our homes and our lives. Little Johnny decides what he eats, what time he goes to bed, what he does throughout the course of the day and parents have become the flunkies.

Ouch, I remember thinking, he stepped all over my toes. So where is the middle ground? Give your child some control, the books say, it will enhance cognitive thinking skills and enforce their personal authority. I can’t really say I disagree with that. I think it’s important for my children to be able to make decisions and that takes practice. But I also believe it to be my job to keep them safe. So, anything than can cause them harm will cause me to spank their butt. So playing in a parking lot will definitely get them a pop.

Proverbs 22:15 (NKJV)

[15] Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child;

The rod of correction will drive it far from him.

So no, my children do not have free reign to disrespect adults, have temper tantrums just because and throw things when they don’t get their way. My daughter clearly knows that if mommy gets to the number 5 the consequences go beyond a time out.

That’s right, I use time out too. I don’t think spanking is the “only” means of discipline, but I’m definitely not opposed to it, time out or re-directing. So to spank or not to spank, like most parenting decisions is personal and to some very sensitive. To me, no matter what your method, like most things with children, consistency is the key.

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Operation Get Your Body Back

At just 5’4” I’ve always aired on the petite side. In college I was unable to donate blood because I didn’t weigh the mandatory 110 pounds. I was a solid size 4 for most of my adult life. And yes my wedding dress was a two piece; it was a beach wedding. As I reminisce about the old me, I am determined to not let it just be a wading memory of yesteryear.

While it’s true my daddy’s genetics helped some, the truth is I have always worked out. I was very athletic, an avid runner, and up for just about any sporting activity. My eating habits aren’t too shabby either. My mom says I eat “rabbit” food. I have an affinity for fruits and veggies, don’t fry anything but fish and have never been a big dessert kind of girl.

Having said that, the current me has two babies – both by C-Section, in my late 30s and not nearly enough money for a personal chef or enough free time to spend half the day in the gym.

I gained so much weight with my daughter I was almost unrecognizable. I had to have my wedding rings re-sized and my feet jumped up a size. I was one doughnut shy of 200 pounds by her birth and happy as a lark, until after delivery. Like a lot of us, I struggled with my self-esteem a bit after she was born and was happy to get to my pre-pregnancy weight before trying for our son.

I didn’t gain quite as much with him, but enough to tip the scale to an uncomfortable number for me. So for Christmas I asked for 20 sessions for a personal trainer and as soon as I was cleared by the doctor I got back in the gym. Clearly, my mind was in the right place but my body wasn’t. I struggled. My knees ached, my back ached, I had two babies and was purely exhausted. An annual check up revealed that I wasn’t experiencing just old age on top of baby weight gain, but the cartilage in my knees was weak and my body wasn’t ready to jump back in as quickly as I had hoped.

So I sat down for a few months and plotted by comeback. I began a vitamin regimen, including Glucosamine for the cartilage issue and started acupuncture treatments for all other aches and pains and overall alignment and tune up. Last month, I got back in the game. I joined a fitness boot camp in hopes of jump starting operation get your body back.

Four weeks later, 10 pounds lighter, two sizes smaller I am on my way. No, I have not arrived, which is why I am determined to run at least 3 miles, at least 3 days per week and doing insanity workouts in between with my husband. But it’s tough.

Scheduling workout time is a major ordeal in our house now. Initially mid-morning workouts were perfect. Princess was in school and the baby could come to the gym nursery or join me on a run in the running stroller. But now school is out, I am catching hell trying to figure out a new system. Anything after their bedtime is a crap shoot. Most nights, I am so exhausted I turn in, when they fall asleep and I can’t imagine setting an alarm clock to shorten my 4-5 hours of sleep for any reason. But something has to give, and like most things mommies do, I have to just make it happen.  And the nights when I fall short, I don’t beat myself up, but I make a vow to do better the next day.

The moral of the story is, we find time for things we prioritize like our children’s weekly dance lessons, or stocking ingredients for our husband’s favorite meal, gardening or clipping coupons and now it’s time to choose fitness.

Who’s with me? Operation Get Your Body Back is a mommy commitment to being better and doing more to be healthier, sexier, more energetic moms. It doesn’t matter how old your children are, how tight your schedule is or how small your commitment is. What matters is choosing us, prioritizing us and putting the work in, to get your desired results.

My beginning weight was 171

My current weight is 158

My short-term goal is 150 (pre-pregnancy weight)

My long-term goal is 135 (wedding weight)

The Continents

If you try to call me after 7 p.m., especially on a weeknight, you’re short. Leave a message cause that’s when I am in the thick of things. Wrapping up dinner, washing dishes, making night time bottles, preparing bed time snacks, running bath water, pulling out school clothes for the next day and the list goes on and on. The routine is on auto-pilot and some nights run together or become a blur. But then there are those special times that capture your attention and force you to take a breath and enjoy the scenery and the moment.

Last week, I experienced one of those times. The bath water was running and the color changing tablet was taking effect and the bubbles were making a mountain near the faucet. I sat on the edge of the tub and grabbed an outdated copy of O Magazine and began to thumb through it. Of course my children believe their sole purpose is to make sure I never have a moment of peace and tranquility so not to be outdone, my toddler princess barges in and asks to read my book.

I pass her the magazine and give up on the thought of a quick escape through reading and reach to turn the water off. She flips the cover page and instantly gets excited. “Mommy, I see the continents.” You do I reply, not really listening. “Hmmm mmm,” she says, “this is Australia.” Okay so I stop and decide to look at the page, just in case this chick knows something unexpected.

And low and behold, there is a world map, including Australia staring at me in bright yellow and red print. So, I am amazed. I mean she is 3-years-old and I know I didn’t learn the continents until about the 4th grade, so I call to her daddy and I ask her to tell him what she just told me. She points to the picture and repeats “these are the continents and this is Australia.”

So here’s when it gets interesting. He says, “wow baby girl, that’s great. What other continents do you know.” Without hesitation, I lie to you not, this girl, repeats all seven continents.

Are you freaking kidding me, why didn’t I think to ask the follow up question? I was so elated that my bright little baby could recognize a world map, continents and correctly point out Australia that I didn’t think to ask her what else she knew. So believe it or not, I am not telling this story to brag about my child, but to highlight how I sold her short. I mean, even if she didn’t know any of the other continents, what a wonderful teachable moment I would have missed.

How many times has she told me something and I let it go in one ear and out the other? How many times was she expressing herself and her excitement about learning something or seeing something and I dismiss it? I have no idea how many opportunities I have missed to investigate the world she lives in? But I do know I will try my best to seize more of those moments even in the midst of a mundane routine.

Just Half the Equation

For the last two weeks I have had the privilege of being a guest speaker on a national radio show for Solomon University. The topic “Girl, you know you need a man, so stop frontin” was open and honest dialogue about a generation of women brought up with the misnomer that we don’t need a man. Now, before you guys think I’ve been kidnapped by aliens and replaced with a clone from 1950s, just hear me out. My mother and grandmother were strong chocolate mothers that felt it imperative that I further my education and buy my own house and my own car.

I heard I don’t need a man so much it became my mantra. I believed it. Bought it, hook line and sinker. Believed it so much I repeated to every man I dated at least 100 times, usually during a disagreement. By the time I met my husband, I had perfected the statement, “I don’t need you so if you are unhappy, then leave.” It wasn’t until he actually left one night that I realized the hurtful lie I had been screaming from the mountaintop.

It was a lie that built a mighty high wall of expectations, and dug a deep well of low tolerance. It created a thick layer of the heart that was difficult to penetrate. It was unfair and it was untrue.

The reality is I do need him. He keeps me calm. He removes my anxiety. He shares my pain. He salutes my achievements. He’s my parenthood partner and my eternal friend. Now, of course I am independent in the sense that if I had to go it alone, I could and I believe I’d do a bang up job. But it’s not how God intended for it be. My God wanted me to have someone to tap and say your turn in the middle of the night when the baby monitor beeps. My God wanted me to have someone that would listen nonstop to my baby stories with enthusiasm. My God wanted me have someone to laugh at my corny jokes and to think when my mommy brain kicks in and I forget what day it is. My God wanted me to have someone to step in with my children when I feel overwhelmed. I am convinced He did not intend for me to go it alone.

There is value in independence and self-confidence in your abilities. And there is a fine line between co-dependence and self-reliance. So how can I tweak the message for my daughter? How can I teach her the value of being able to take care of herself with the importance of being willing to allow someone to love her?

For the past few weeks my daughter has talked incessantly about marriage. “I’m going to get married when I get big,” she says. “I’m going to get married first, then have babies she says.” With concern, I try to figure out her attraction to marriage. She’s three. She shouldn’t be thinking about her wedding. Lord, please don’t let my daughter grow up to be one of those needy women, who have to be in a relationship to feel whole, I pray. Lord, please don’t let my daughter be boy crazy at a much too early age. Lord, please, Lord please.

And then it hits me, well actually my husband said there was no need to worry. He said she speaks about marriage because she sees it everyday. It’s a large part of her existence. Ah ha, so maybe I don’t need to lose sleep trying to figure out the perfect way to tweak the message on balance between self-reliance, independence and partnership. Maybe, I just need to live it and let her watch.

You can listen to the radio show at http://tobtr.com/s/3076721

Tears for DJ

I don’t cry a lot. I never have. But I’ve been crying for days and I can’t seem to stop. My husbands’ teenage cousin was shot and killed during a domestic violence dispute on April 22, 2012. The label domestic dispute doesn’t seem to do this incident justice. It was a hostage situation, and he sacrificed his life for his mom’s. His murderer was her ex-boyfriend.

Derwin Watts, Jr. also known as DJ was a star athlete and an honor roll student. He was tall with a thin build and a quirky sense of humor. I got to know DJ early in my relationship with my husband because he was one year younger than my baby brother. They visited us together during the summer. I know his laugh, I know his temperament and I know he loved his mother. I know for a fact, he was a good kid with a bright future.  I know his accuser and I love his mother.

I will not pretend to know all the details of that horrible evening but according to Wavy TV-10 what we do know is that the ex-boyfriend entered my cousin’s home uninvited late at night and used furniture to barricade them in before they knew he was inside. He then waited for his first victim to enter the hallway on his way to the restroom and shot him in the chest. In a fumbled attempt to get away, the perpetrator aimed the gun at DJ’s mother and he jumped in front of her to protect her and was shot. He died a short time later at a nearby hospital.

So my heart hurts. It’s heavy with grief and sorrow and I can’t seem to stop crying. A Chocolate Mother has lost a son and I am sorry.  DJ wasn’t the only one killed that night. His mothers’ friend Michael Temple also died. I am sure the specific facts of this case will continue to unravel, but one thing we know is that domestic violence is to blame.  This is the second family member within a year to lose their life in a domestic dispute. On August 4, 2011, our cousin DeAnna Bazemore, was also tragically killed.

Domestic violence is a sensitive subject with me. My father was a physically abusive alcoholic for years. And although my parents finally divorced and my daddy has been sober for over 20 years, I am still haunted by the ghost of my domestic violence past that once landed us in a battered women’s shelter. I am all too familiar with the fear and anxiety of going home after school and the bruises and the fights that become second nature. And according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence I am not alone, one in four women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime.

Statistically I was twice as likely as those that didn’t share my experience to end up in an abusive relationship. I was plagued by fear that I would end up continuing the cycle and was determined to rise above it. And I did, and yet incidence like what happened to DJ continue to rub off the scabs that cover my old scars.

And so I continue to cry. I shed tears for the life of a young man that didn’t deserve to die. My eyes water for a mother who has lost a child. I cry for a family that may never overcome the wounds caused by domestic violence and I cringe at the thought of a vicious cycle continuing to take root.

During my daughter’s bedtime prayer she asked God to give DJ a “BIG” pair of wings. I trust her request will be granted and I know he’s one of the brightest stars in the sky. Rest in Peace little cousin and may your demise not be in vain.

If you are a victim of domestic violence and ready for help, the National Domestic Violence Hotline is 1-800-799-7233.