It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye

Last year was tough for me. I was full of anxiety just thinking about transitioning our then 5-year-old daughter from a small close-knit private pre-school to public school. I researched every school, the district policy, interviewed teachers and administrator friends for advice. We teetered with the idea of homeschooling, bought curriculums and even made our spare bedroom a sudo-classroom. And I definitely prayed a lot. We finally decided to give public school a try. I figured, what’s the worse that can happen? We could be unhappy, pull her out and try something different.

After her initial assessment and being in Kindergarten for two days, the group consensus was to move her up to First Grade. With this change came even more apprehension. She was transitioning to public school, larger classes and she’s small in stature. Was this the right decision? Was she mature enough to handle it and if she wasn’t would her self-esteem survive putting her back? So back in my prayer closet I went.

We were assured by her school’s administration that she’d be fine and had a great First Grade teacher and we would very soon agree. Her teacher wasn’t much taller than my daughter, she was petite, smiled a lot and kept in constant contact with me about Morgan’s progress. She was young, full of energy and seemed to be a real go getter; you know the type that looks forward to challenges. In fact, she was a marathon runner and to me that spoke volumes about her personality. Marathon runners are in for the long haul, run through cramps, rain, extreme temperatures etc… She was just what the doctor ordered, in this case what we needed.

Morgan didn’t just exist in First Grade, she excelled both academically and socially. She also fell in love with her teacher and truthfully so did I. Right before Christmas break I told her, I really think she should consider teaching Second Grade. I know, I know totally selfish move. Of course she laughed and said it was a little early to sweat Second Grade, plus she said “Morgan will be fine.” Yes, Morgan will be fine, but what about me? I guess, back to the prayer closet I go.

As the end of the school year fast approaches, Morgan has talked about leaving her teacher every day. Today, my baby cried because it was her favorite teacher’s last day in the classroom. She’s transitioning to another career. I am happy for her, I really am, as I believe whole heartedly in re-inventing yourself. The reality is sometimes you really don’t know how much a person that you may not even know that well means to you until it’s time to say goodbye.

Morgan wasn’t the only one sad today. I understand the Blessing in having a God-fearing, talented teacher dedicated to giving her all. I am eternally grateful for the memories she’s created for my daughter and the foundation she has helped to build. So before I go back in prayer closet for an equally awesome Second Grade teacher, I say thank you, thank you , thank you Kate Faulkner and may you continue to leap into your greatness.MEandMs.F

God’s Sick Day

mommy daughter prayer

If it’s true that the squeaky wheel gets the oil then now I know how come I am so Blessed. I am a squeaker. I pray about everything. Lord, thank you for the air I breathe. Lord, thank you for hot water and lights. I must call His name fifty times a day. So imagine my daily prayers for my children, oh they are quite lengthy. But included in the long list of personal requests has always been for them to have their very own personal relationship with God. Since they were born, I prayed each night that they would hear and feel God speaking and leading them each day. That they will feel comfortable calling on Him whenever and wherever they like and need to.

Tonight, He gave me confirmation of my prayers. During our last cuddle of the night Morgan whispered to me “Mommy, I don’t think God was feeling well today.” I respond with a slight chuckle and ask her why she would think that. “I think He’s sick because I didn’t hear Him talk to me all day today.” Since we haven’t spoken about her daily talks with God I was a bit surprised, but mighty happy. Hallelujah He heard my prayer.

“Morgan, God doesn’t get sick. He’s God, but are you sure you didn’t hear God all day?” I ask. “Nope, nothing all day,” she says. “Well what about when you had those scissors and was just about to cut one of daddy’s suits?” I ask. “You didn’t hear God telling you that’s not a good idea?”

She chuckles and says “yes, but it was just a whisper so I couldn’t really hear it that well.” So I remind her that God doesn’t need to speak loud, but we certainly have to be willing to be good listeners if we intend to hear what He has to say. I then have a flashback of earlier that afternoon and thank God for His timing because had I walked down the hall 30 seconds later, my husband’s blazer would have needed some serious repair.

So no, I don’t go to church every Sunday and I don’t go around quoting scriptures, but I have my very own personal relationship with God. I believe in prayer and depending on how tough my mommy day is, I may hit my knees for more patience several times, sometimes back to back. I am always glad of His immediate response and the older my children get the more I am reminded of the power of a praying mother.

Pray for your children. Pray for their safety, for their values and their morals. Pray for their spirit and for their talents. Pray for their emotional, physical and mental wellbeing. Pray for their relationships with you, their family and friends and with Him.  Pray that they hear Him, feel Him and allow Him to guide them in their decisions. Pray they don’t forget the lessons you try to teach them. If you don’t do anything else, pray, pray, pray.

We Can’t Be Friends

No matter how many times she says it, it irritates me to the same level each time. Usually the conversation goes something like this: “Morgan can you please stop?” followed by “Morgan, I asked you to stop, next time I say it you’re going to get a pop.” And then she responds with full princess girl attitude “FINE, then, I am not your friend” and tries to stomp away usually followed by “and I’m never going to be your friend.” At which point, my woosaw abruptly ends with a demand to come back in my presence.

When she slowly walks back, unsure as to the wrath she will face I sternly remind her that no I am not her friend. I am her momma a job given to me by God and that job is WAY more important than being her friend. Recently, I have found myself  having to explain and reiterate this same point way too often for my liking.

In fact, I was so excited to see a local author Toshiba Austin-Smith write a children’s book entitled “I’m Not Your Friend, Mommy” that I bought several copies for my ”friends” with daughters. It’s perfect for toddlers and momma’s standing in the need of prayer to deal with what I hope is just a phase. The mere title is comforting. I guess misery truly does loves company. Whew, so I’m not alone, you mean I didn’t necessarily do something wrong to give her the impression that I cared about being her friend?

Yeah, in that respect I guess I am old school. I honestly could care less about us being friends, at least at this stage in her life. The thing about being a mommy is, you only get one shot to get it right and we all screw up in some regard. My goal is to minimize my screw ups and lessen the load of issues in her luggage set she carries into life.

The book tells a short story similar to my example of a mom who has to remind her daughter of the important role of a mother to raise and “train a child in the way he/she should go” and ends with this:

Today, my child, I am not your friend. But I will be your mother until the end. I will help you learn all you should know. And as you mature, I will let you go. When you look back over the years, You’ll understand my dilemma and share my tears. Yet know that God was there to see me through. He showed me love, and I passed it to you.

Preach my sista. Now that’s real talk. So I really need my daughter to understand how unimpressed I am by her un-friending me at the drop of a hat. This ain’t Facebook, this is life. The idea of being in the same category as her acquaintances at school that share books or toys with her is insulting. I have no interest in competing with them. My responsibility in raising her is almost overwhelming and if she tells me that nonsense one more time… Heaven help us both!

Friends

Mary for a Day

One of the greatest things I love about my Jack and Jill of America family is the ability to expose my daughter to different cultural and historical events. So I was excited about them asking her to dress as Mary in the Langston Hughes nativity scene on the Christmas Parade float. Now, please understand that this was a learning curve for me. Somewhat embarrassed to say, I was unfamiliar with the Langston Hughes nativity scene. Langston Hughes, the poet and playwright…yes, a special nativity scene; not so much. Thank God for Google.

So here’s what I learned, the Black Nativity is a retelling of the classic Nativity story with an entirely black cast that was first performed off-broadway on December 11, 1961. It was full of traditional gospel Christmas carols, and was one of the first plays written by an African-American to be staged there.

Our local Jack and Jill of America teen group decorated the float and we were instructed to dress children according to the characters and mothers to wear traditional African American clothes. Now, at just 3-years-old, my daughter has only seen two parades. I mean the way I see it, she has a lot more living to do. The way she sees it, she is late coming to the parade party.

“I never been in a parade before,” she reminds me. “I’m so excited.” Her excitement preceded her knowledge of wearing a special costume. Like most toddlers her age, dress up of any kind is the “bees knees.” She loves it. “Morgan, would you like to play Mary on the parade float Saturday?” “Who’s Mary?” I make a note to myself to tighten up on making it to Sunday school and remind her that she was Jesus’ mother. She then asks “do I get to dress up?” When I tell her there’s a costume she jumps in the air and I guess by her reaction she’s down for whatever.

When her costume arrives, she asks to try it on and as I suspect it’s about two sizes too big. She’s so tiny so in true momma fashion I stay up late the night before with needle and thread making intro to sewing adjustments. I also find a baby doll and wrap it up in a white blanket and introduced him as “Baby Jesus.” I explain that she is a mommy and she has to keep him warm and safe while we are on the float. She assures me that I have given her a menial task and she’s got it and will be in character at the appropriate time.

When we board the float, she is assigned a spot at the front and is told which one of her friends is portraying Joseph. “Who’s Joseph?” she asks and once again I am reminded to set the alarm clock early enough to make Sunday school. “He was Jesus’ dad on earth,” I respond. I remind her to wave, to smile and to keep “Jesus” with her at all times.

As soon as the float starts to move, she throws Jesus on the floor and in true diva fashion stands up, uses both hands to wave to both sides of the crowd, throws candy, blows kisses and shouts Merry Christmas to parade goers. I remind her about being Mary and ask her where baby Jesus is? “He’s on the floor, because Joseph wouldn’t take a turn holding him,” she says. “But don’t worry mommy, he’s okay. God is taking care of him, I promise.”

And in between chuckles, I too make a series of promises. I promise to remember her excitement and joy when she experiences something new. I promise to be there for as many of those moments for her as I possibly can and Lord have mercy, I have got to get my baby to Sunday school.

Nativity

Let me get my Bible

Every day the good Lord allows me to be woken up by one of my children I begin with a small prayer to be kind, enjoy the ride and be patient. It always starts out great, lots of hugs and kisses, snuggling and singing. But usually by the end of the day, after dinner has been served my patience starts wearing a little thin. How many times to do I have to repeat myself? How many times do I have to ask a toddler to listen? How many times can I be pooped on, peed on, spit up on without snapping back?

So the other day I must have asked Morgan to do something or other fifty times too many and I found my voice getting higher and higher. Oh my gosh, am I going to be one of those mommies that go around yelling all the time? I refuse.  In an effort to keep my sanity and not put her over my knee, I humbly ask her to sit on my lap so we can talk. “Morgan lately, I feel like you don’t listen to me when I am speaking to you and it makes me really upset. I don’t like to raise my voice and I don’t want to be a mommy who yells all the time. I really need you to listen to me, okay?” She apologetically says she is sorry and I am hopeful that she will at least try.

Within five minutes, we are at it again. “Morgan please be quiet, your brother is not feeling well and trying to sleep.” Two minutes pass and I find myself totally irritated. “Morgan REALLY, I am so going to pop your butt if I have to talk to you again. This is ridiculous.” And then she says it.

“Let me get my bible.” So I immediately look to my husband because I really can’t believe that an almost 3-year-old is pulling out scripture to prove her point with her momma. My husband hides his laughter behind a sheet of paper he is working on as she proudly trots her 24 pound butt to the end of the sofa to get her child bible her uncle and auntie gave her for Christmas in 2010. She gets the mini child version with a man with a staff and a lamb on the front and holds in one hand and waves it in my face and says “The bible says….the bible says…the bible says to BE NICE mommy.”

Are you serious right now. I am telling you people, I can’t make this stuff up. So I say “no, the bible says to honor thy mother and father. That’s what the bible says.” She indignantly replies “No, no, it says to be nice, so you can’t pop my butt, because the bible says to be nice.”

So, I know all the textbooks say not to break character when disciplining but they obviously did not have one of THESE type children. At this point, I am cracking up. This little girl is trying to talk me down from whopping her butt by using her children’s bible.

Not to be upstaged by her, I end the conversation by reminding her that the bible also says to honor thy mother and father. Truthfully, I am not sure she bought it, but the laughter she caused did provide her a reprieve until bedtime on the pop on the butt.

I honestly don’t think I have EVER pulled out the bible to prove a point, but I do know enough of it to have caught a few versus.

Proverbs 22:6

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.

So despite our occasional Sunday sleep-ins, I went to bed that night a little more confident in the fact that obviously we are doing something right. I think.