Parenting requires adaptability

 

Certificate of Completion

If you’re like me and have more than one kid, you have probably come to the realization that your kids, although they may have (or not) come from the same mother and father, are NOT the same people. For example, my son is the oldest, and then I have my girls. My son Jayden was an easy-going, cheerful, good-natured baby. He learned best by repetition, and his memory is CRAZY. He has taught himself multiple facts on numerous subjects through repetition and memorization. Ask him when any of the states received their statehood, he’ll give you an exact date. Ask him the specifications on any number of rollercoasters, he has them filed away in his obviously vast memory banks. As smart as he is, he has to be reminded EVERY.SINGLE.DAY to clean up after himself and take the same medications for his asthma that he has been routinely taking since he was three, which drives me NUTS.

Then came Layla. A bit more tempestuous than her older brother, she is also more independent, and appears to learn from observation and more visual methods than simple recitation. She has picked up things from me when I didn’t even know she was watching. In terms of her learning style, memorization is not her strong suit. She is an active learner. If I am trying to teach her something, it needs some type of action, activity, song or something that engages her to get it, and she requires a bit more time than Jayden. Admittedly that frustrated me for a minute, but I really had to check myself. God made her the way he wanted her, and who asked me to decide how she should learn??? Nobody.

As for my baby girl, we’ll see what works for her. Right now I catch her mimicking me a lot. I was surprised last night when, in her bath, she took her washcloth and started pretending to wash out the little cup I use to rinse her. Apparently she has been watching me wash dishes.

As parents we cannot try to fit our kids into the bubbles we have conceptualized for them. It’s just not fair to them, and it is not good parenting. We might be expecting them to do something that they just mentally cannot do! We also have to be careful not to make comparisons between our children. Because Jayden learned easily with flash cards and such, does that mean that Layla’s capacity to learn is less? No, it just means the methods to teach her need adaptation.  Even if a child has a learning disability, that doesn’t mean they cannot learn. It just means someone has to be responsible, caring and patient enough to find out the best way to help them learn.

Parents, do your best to not favor one child over another as well. Make all of your children an equal priority. If you have multiple children, you really need to be checking yourself on a regular to make sure that you are not showing more devotion to the needs and presence of one child over another. If you don’t necessarily relate to one kid as opposed to the other, that’s your problem. Find some common ground. It’s YOUR job to adapt to them, not the other way around.

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You will never know it all.

I know some people like to think they know everything, but it is impossible.

My son celebrated his eleventh birthday on October 6th. The night before his birthday I stayed awake for quite some time, marveling at the fact that I have been a mother for over a decade. It wasn’t anything I signed up for… All three of my children were pleasant surprises, but with my son being the first, he was a MAJOR pleasant surprise.

I was approaching my mid-twenties and in my first good serious relationship with my now-husband. Although things were going well between us I still had no intention on getting married and having kids. But God had other plans. And yes, although me and my husband were not married when Jayden was born, he is STILL a gift from God. You cannot say that God is responsible for giving life and then act as though that only applies to children born to married parents. I tell people whenever we get on the subject to please refrain from ascribing my sin of premarital sex to my innocent son.

Either way it goes, we were just having fun, getting to know each other, exploring our independence. I was still recovering from being raped and entered into the relationship quite precariously. That is another reason why I wasn’t interested in moving too fast. But alas, a baby kind of prods things along. I am confident that neither of us was quite ready for a baby.  I was none too thrilled when my pregnancy was confirmed via multiple pregnancy tests.

And then something happened. On Friday, October 6th, 2006 at 3:17 p.m., the most beautiful little boy I had ever seen entered the world. I forgot all about my trepidation about being a parent as soon as I saw him, and the full force of how much I loved him was exhibited shortly thereafter. He was born with some issues and there was a chance he would have to have surgery. I cried like never before. The very thought of anything being wrong with my precious bundle hurt like a stab to the heart.

Luckily, God saw fit to correct the problem, allowing Jayden to avoid surgery, and here we are. If there is one thing I have learned about being a parent, it is that I will never learn EVERYTHING. Sometimes when my kids get sick, I have no idea what they have caught or how, and have to do a bit of detective work just to figure out the best way to take care of them. Sometimes they get into little moods and I don’t know why, and I have to either pry it out of them or give them space. I have to protect them and let go at the same time. There is no handbook for any of that. How could there be? Each child is different and has a different trajectory laid out by God for their life.

Studying the Word of God is just as complicated as parenting in the sense that there is so much to know, and some of it we learn as we go along, making mistakes as we do. In addition to reading what is there, we also have to consider what is NOT there. We don’t want to add to or take away from the Word–it doesn’t need our help. I have been a student with Moody Bible Institute for years and there hasn’t been a single class that I’ve taken and said, “I already knew all of that.” Nah. It is impossible. What’s cool about that though is that you’ll never get bored or complacent–at least, you shouldn’t. Just like you should never get bored with your developing children and instead look for opportunities to challenge them and engage them, so should you approach your relationship with Christ, with that same zeal.  Do I sometimes get tired of hearing about the exact specifications of the latest rollercoaster? Do I sometimes feel like a total idiot because he comes up with such good questions that I can do nothing further than point him toward Google? Do I sometimes get tired of hearing “I’m hungry” eleventy-seven times a day? You betcha. Sometimes when Jayden decides he has something to tell me–usually, actually–I am in the process of enjoying a quiet moment to myself. But do I want him to withdraw because I don’t pay him any attention? Do I want him to go ask someone out there in the world the questions he should be trusting with his parents? Nope.

Parenting is a journey. It is exhausting mentally and physically, but I must admit, watching my boy become a young man is exciting. People remark about his kindness all the time. We sent him to school on Friday with 48 cupcakes for himself and his friends. When we went to pick him up he only had one left that he was saving for Layla. He hadn’t eaten any of them because he wanted to make sure his friends got one, and there were some people who looked kind of sad and left out when they saw Jayden handing out the cupcakes, so he bypassed his own desires to make them happy.

Both in parenting and in the pursuit of a true relationship with Christ there are boundless rewards, and time put into your kids and time put into God will result in very healthy returns. Kids these days have a lot of ways they can get off track. It is up to  Mommy and Daddy to steer them in the right direction. Just like kids need their parents to guide them, we have to treat the Word of God like our guidebook as well, and try to keep from falling into laziness where we fail to adequately digest the Word.

Jayden also decided to push past his apprehension of water in order that he may be baptized. He has been saved for years, declaring his faith in Jesus from a young age, but was too frightened to be baptized. Last Sunday, completely on his own, he went to the front of the church and stated his desires. I have never been so proud of him. Typically the pastor has new candidates for baptism undergo a six-week class making sure they understand salvation and what it means to be a Christian, but our pastor acknowledged that Jayden already understands all of that and the class would be a waste of his time.

That’s my boy!

 

Praying with no action behind it?

statue-of-liberty-crying

Just like the rest of America, I have been watching the developments around the country, confused, appalled, amazed, saddened… experiencing a mishmash of emotions as I have tried to commandeer hurricane relief initiatives within my church and watching the shooting in Vegas unfold overnight. At times I find myself wondering, what kind of world are we living in? How much longer will God allow his children to suffer the corruption, injustice and coldness of this world?

In my extremely humble opinion, God is trying to call our attention not only to Him, but through Him, OURSELVES. God is love, and those of us who claim to love God should be showing it in these perilous times. People should not have to guess whether or not a person who claims to be a Christian is, in fact, a Christian. If a stranger happens to peruse your social media sites, they should be able to tell that you are a person who fights for justice and against injustice. If they happen to get a hold of your Facebook posts, hopefully they will not see you referring to people of other races using slurs. They might be confused if you are one of those people who idolizes the symbols associated with America more than you care about the actual inhabitants of the country, who are, whether you like them or not, God’s beloved creations too.

I am astounded and embarrassed by the inaction of some people who claim to be Christian. A lot of people who want to hold up the blood-stained banner don’t also want to appreciate that that blood was shed for everybody, not just those within their group. When I saw people on social media arguing over the logistics of getting aid to Puerto Rico IMMEDIATELY, I was amazed, and not in a good way. Amazed that people saw fit to waste time discussing debt when people were in need of the most basic of supplies. Amazed that people wanted to go back and forth about political talking points when fellow humans (not just fellow Americans, because we shouldn’t be nationalists and care only for people in this country) didn’t have adequate food and water. And now with this shooting, amazed that people don’t think anything should be done about America’s gun problem, because 1) there is no way to get the illegal guns off the streets and 2) more laws won’t help.

Soooo… when we see something that is detrimental to the very lives of our fellow citizenry, we do nothing? That’s where we are now, America?

I’ve seen numerous “Christians” (and I am sorry, I know I cannot judge whether one is saved or not so I won’t try, but the actions of some people don’t give off that appearance, hence the quotation marks) making these very points, hurling unabashed vitriol at the inhabitants of Puerto Rico, as if they asked for the hurricanes themselves. Vitriol that I did not see spewed forth regarding the people in Texas and Florida. To see them being labeled as lazy while they have nothing was extremely saddening. I really felt bad for the people who were making such awful declarations because I am quite positive God is not pleased with them. These events give us the chance to unify and make positive changes and it is infuriating to see that people are so selfishly resistant.

Of course we have seen our fellow citizens rise to the occasion and help, and those are the stories I love to read. After the shooting in Vegas, people were lining up to donate blood for the victims. I thought that was absolutely wonderful. More stories came out about people who saved other people from being shot, and one I saw earlier was about a woman who stayed with a dying stranger.

America DOES have it in us to do better, but to do better requires action. I see lots of Christians sending forth thoughts and prayers. Of course prayers are important, but what is this Christian thing all about? Christian means “Christ-like”. Jesus was love. Love is an ACTION word. When we love people, we put it into action. We have to show it. So for people who say that thoughts and prayers aren’t enough, I absolutely agree. Action has to be put behind those thoughts and prayers in order for meaningful change to happen. Change will not happen and America will see many more dark and bloody days unless people stop being so disgustingly selfish.

So who’s the weaker sex, really????

As I was growing up, I was always disgusted by the idea of a man having say over me in any capacity. That was why I typically shunned relationships and marriage. My first relationship in high school was over just as fast as it started because he started making requests of me that didn’t go over too smoothly. Yes, I liked him just fine, but I still wanted to be left to my own devices. He was a threat to my freedom. That and he tried to pressure me into having sex and that was a huge flipping no-no.

In college my disdain about the concept of marriage continued. I didn’t like how guys flip-flopped. On one hand they wanted to be seen as strong and dominant, but when things didn’t go their way, they were the biggest babies you’d ever see. In my dealings with men I was often told I was overly aggressive, cold and detached… and I don’t deny that. I don’t know how to explain why, but even though I may have liked a particular guy just fine, I only wanted him around WHEN I wanted him around, and I didn’t have much patience for the emotional stuff that takes place in a relationship. Oh, I hurt your feelings? Suck it up and move on. Oh, you’re mad about something I did? What, you expect me to apologize and I didn’t even do anything wrong??? Dream on.

Obviously my sentiments have changed over the years. I can admit that my thinking was faulty back then, but it was because after coming out of my strict Dad’s household (I don’t hold it against him, he did what he thought was best), I was NOT about to have any guy ever in life again tell me what to do.

I’ve come to realize that there doesn’t need to be a power struggle in a relationship, and definitely not in marriage. In class we talked about a few Scriptures that men use to justify their domination over their girlfriends or wives. Some of the very themes are ones I used in my soon-to-be-published manuscript, and I was happy to contribute my thoughts, especially since me and Matt often jokingly go back and forth about which is the “weaker” sex… Obviously it’s men, because after all, women were created to “help” man… which obviously meant he was lacking, and no one else had to be created to “help” woman, right??? Need I mention pregnancy and childbirth?? LOL!

There is no “weaker” sex. There are complementary sexes–complementary for reproduction. Power struggles can be diminished in our relationships if we are more forthcoming with each other while we’re dating as to what we expect and what we want. If you’re attracted to a man who is interested in a woman who desires to be a housewife and raise a family and you don’t want to give up your career, keep looking. If you are comfortable with the typical gender roles in a marriage with a breadwinner husband and homemaker mother, go find a partner who either feels the same or is willing to adapt. Don’t go find someone with a different set of ideals from your own and try to mold them. They will be miserable and it won’t work.

At the end of the day we ought to appreciate that God put us here for each other’s companionship and enjoyment. God didn’t have to create intimacy. Am I saying I always want Matt’s input on everything? Nah, sometimes I get annoyed when he provides an unsolicited opinion, I’ll admit it. But would I trade that in for the love and friendship? Not a chance. The desire for power in any setting derives from unhealthy pride. It is pride that allows a person to think his (or her) way is the ONLY way. It is pride that enables a person to overlook the misery they may be inflicting upon their partner, just so that they can be satisfied. When you really love someone, you will be content to relinquish some of that power and control so that they can be happy, too. Pride comes when you forget who your sovereign God is. That is why we always need to be looking to heaven for guidance. We’re human; sometimes we might start “smelling” ourselves, as we say, and thinking we’re so smart and so important. Only when we remember God do we realize true humility, because while we can try to compare ourselves to other people, there is no comparison between us and God.

(Low key though–if you want a visual aid as to who is the weaker sex, come to my house when I get sick versus when Matt gets sick and you’ll have your answer…LOL!!)

 

weaker sex

Jesus was considered “fake news” too…

Just because you disagree with something doesn’t make it fake.

I haven’t yet figured out a way to talk to people who refuse facts without getting angry.  Mind you, I don’t get angry right away, but I am tired of providing people with facts that I can support with actual evidence only to still be argued against and eventually disrespected. I am not just talking about racial matters or in cases involving discussion of our sloppy political arena here in America, but in matters concerning God, religion, and Christianity as well.

Recent examples:

On a discussion board about former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley who was recently acquitted of murdering a Black man although it appeared as though he had planted a gun on the deceased, several posters decided to use that forum to suggest that cops have every reason to be afraid in Black cities because of Black on Black crime and to classify Black Lives Matter as a racist, terrorist organization. When I merely mentioned that more White people kill cops than Black and that Black Lives Matter has advocated heavily for White victims of police brutality as well as Black, those comments were not well-received.

On another board that discussed dumping more money into our military, I remarked that that much money could do worlds of good for healthcare, education and infrastructure, and that it is interesting that America can find all the money in the world for war but can’t figure out that the best way to decrease violence here is by decreasing poverty with…you guessed it… investments in the healthcare, education and infrastructure that will provide all Americans with a better standard of living. Those comments were not well-received and I was accused of disrespecting the military. “Why wouldn’t you want our soldiers to get more help?” Um, because they probably won’t. That money is going right into somebody’s pockets. War is profitable. And pointless. I was also accused of being a socialist and told that if I hated America so much, I should leave. I’ve been told that on multiple occasions. And that insinuation right there, ladies and gentlemen, is almost guaranteed to infuriate me to almost cussing.

And now, for the most recent meme I attempted to combat:

god gender

Jesus take the daggone wheel.

This was posted by a person who has full-fledged jumped into the Atheism-under-the-guise-of-Black-empowerment bandwagon. By that, I am referring to the growing group of Black people who think a Black person can’t be woke and still accept the White man’s religion. Now, it doesn’t bother me when a person is an atheist. That is their right. But before people try to combat Christianity it would help if they did their research instead of blindly accepting the unverified information they see in random Facebook memes.

Basic remedial Bible 101–John 4:24 tells us that God is SPIRIT. Although as the author of all created things God can come in any form he wishes, his true form is…not a form. You know what I appreciate about Islam? They prohibit visual depictions of Muhammad. One of the most unfortunate developments in Christianity, in my humble opinion, was when people took it upon themselves, based on their own biases and not Bible fact, to portray God, Jesus, angels, etc. Because of this, it has been widely accepted that God the father is an older White man with a balding head and a beard (sometimes he is shown with long White hair); Jesus has either brown or blond hair and blue eyes; and angels are women. What good did this do? All it did was cause division and confusion. I doubt that God is pleased.

But I digress.

The poster asked, “If there was a God, shouldn’t he be beyond the confines of gender?” Since a question was posed, I assumed that meant the poster knew he might get answers…How foolish of me. When I informed the poster that God is genderless and that male pronouns are typically ascribed to God–I mean how else are we to refer to God? It? He/she? Who really wants to read that?–you’d have thought I attacked his mom. He responded with immediate vitriol. According to him, it’s a shame that someone as intelligent as me has been so badly brainwashed, and that I’m the one who needs to do some research.

Unbeknownst to him and all of the other people in the aforementioned situations, I do tons of research. I read voraciously. I don’t read only the things that I agree with. I read things that I find absurd, if nothing else to understand the people that subscribe to those beliefs and ways of life. I studied psychology and sociology as an undergrad. People are flipping fascinating to me. My soft heart towards vulnerable populations–society’s underdogs–is why I have a hard time ignoring the posts that deride minorities and provide false information about vulnerable populations. And this heart that loves God and truly is saddened by the realization that these people who are railing against him simply because they believe the religion was foisted on us by our White slavemasters might find themselves in Hell makes it difficult not to gently correct them.

What am I concluding in all of this? Unfortunately some people cannot be helped. Shrugs. Or, maybe it is not me that can help them. Maybe I’ve planted a seed that someone else can cultivate.

Yet I still wonder why people can’t accept that people have other views and outlooks on life. Does that mean that they don’t respect or appreciate those of other people? It doesn’t have to. Why when I describe my experience as a Black American am I told to get over it or leave? Why despite the evidence that poor people aren’t bad does this stereotype still pervade? Because I believe in Jesus, does that suddenly make me less Black??

I hate the day that “Fake News” became the battlecry used by people to mask their blindness. If the term is used to call out errors in reporting, fine. But when people are given statistics, links to resources and websites, personal testimony, etc… “Fake news!” Because you don’t believe it??? Well, there were a ton of people who thought Jesus was fake news when He came too. Wonder what they’d say now…

Let’s talk ladies…

When I get to heaven, one of the first things I’d like to do is find Eve and give her an open-handed slap in da mouf. Not “the mouth”. Da MOUF.

I can’t think of a bigger pain in the hindparts than this whole menstrual cycle garbage. Mine has been wonky to the nth degree over the past several years. There has been absolutely no rhyme or reason to it. I went without it for seven months and was told that I was probably going to go through early menopause. Next thing I know, I am pregnant.

Now, the stupid thing shows up whenever it gets good and flipping ready and it is making me crazy. Of course my hormones are out of wack also, so nothing is working as it should. My skin is an absolute mess. I am having a hard time keeping my temper, I am bloated and cannot lose weight, and I am not a happy camper. Then add in the symptoms of this mystery illness and you have a Stephanie who is close to detonation.

I wonder how much of this can be attributed to the illness, which I believe is an autoimmune disease, and how much is just nature? 

Whatever it is I am crabby and want to be left alone. Out of ALL the ways God could have punished Eve we get THIS. I just want to UNDERSTAND my flipping body again!!!! I’m so angry I could scream now. 

Or eat a pound of chocolate and get mad because I’m fat.