Six Week Reflections

I gave birth to our youngest daughter, who I will refer to on this blog as Itsy, exactly 6 weeks ago, on July 30, 2014. She came two weeks before my due date, induced because of her size (5 lbs, 0.2 oz). There’s a whole story to her birth, but I will save that for another time.

As I was thinking about this week’s blog post (during one of our middle of the night feedings), I had this overwhelming desire to do some sort of list. I’ve never been one to ignore my writing desires, so here are my 10 things I’ve learned in Itsy’s first 6 weeks of life:

10. While you should, in fact, say no to drugs, I said yes to the epidural and, from the moment that nice anesthesiologist administered it, I knew it was the right decision. Suddenly, I felt a cool sensation and all the pain just went away, it was like I was relaxing on the beach on a breezy summer day, only I was in the hospital in the Labor & Delivery rooms experiencing regular contractions. So, kind of like the beach, but not so much.

9. I learned why drugs are bad the next day when I started itching all over like a druggie going through rehab. We had visitors and all i wanted to do was tear off my clothes and roll around on sandpaper or anything that would make that itching stop.

8. The Game Show Network plays the same shows (and repeats episodes) between 2 and 6 am, in case you cared.

7. Lactation consultants manhandle your baby when they show you how to latch on, but they should come with a warning that says “don’t try this at home, or anywhere else for that matter.” You ever try to football hold a 5lb baby while nursing? I thought I was either squeezing her soft spot or she would slip through the opening in the hospital bed and end up on the floor. I will stick to cradle hold, thank you.

6. They send you home with the tiniest creature you’ve ever known, and they figure you know what you’re doing. Either that or they’re laughing as you walk away saying, “Poor kid.” Some days I’m still amazed they let me keep her.

5. Itsy may be little, but she has tons of personality. From the beginning, she made it known she knows what she does and does not want. You ever see a baby a couple days old purse her lips together when she was full? Amazing.

4. Google is simultaneously your friend and your enemy. You find yourself looking up everything about caring for your child, and with every search, you discover you’re doing it wrong, oh but wait, Dr. Sears says you’re doing it right, but, ummm, who is this famous Dr. Sears?

3. The best advice comes from other mothers who have been there, done that. Especially the ones that have done it recently or are currently in the same boat as you.

2. In spite of my pre-baby 8 solid hours of sleep requirement, I can, in fact, function off of anywhere from 3 to 7 hours of sleep. At least, that’s what I’m telling myself. Do they allow naps at work?

1. Being a mother is one of the most amazing experiences of my life. Even when Itsy has her “party all night” days/nights, she gives me this smile while looking into my eyes and it all becomes worth it. Until she poops in the tub during bath time. ūüėČ

Any lessons from the trenches you want to share? Share them in the comments below!

I Opened My Eyes and Saw You

I have many titles/roles in my life: ¬†wife, sister, daughter, friend, “boss,” employee, etc. etc. ¬†One of the most rewarding roles and titles I have is that of simply “Mommy.” ¬†There are so many things rolled into that. ¬†You are parent, disciplinarian, confidant, friend, protector and so many more things to your children. ¬†My role is particularly special, because I am really 2nd Mommy. ¬†My girls I love as my own, though I did not birth them and do not see them every single day. But every summer, I get to spend extra time with them, and that is very special to me.

For the past two weeks, our youngest, Miss Lady, has been with us. ¬†It’s been hectic: ¬†balancing camp drop off and pick up schedules with work and after-work responsibilities; ensuring dinner was ready at a decent hour and creating some semblance of a schedule so things weren’t chaotic in the mornings. ¬†Whew, I’m exhausted thinking about it. ¬†Even so, this summer was probably one of my favorites with Miss Lady.

About a month or so ago, I started a new bedtime routine with Miss Lady. ¬†I would say her prayers with her (well, listen while she said her prayers), tuck her in, and then she and I would just talk for about 10-15 minutes. ¬†Nothing major, I always ask the same questions: ¬†“What was your favorite part of today? ¬†What was your least favorite part of the day? What are you looking forward to tomorrow?” ¬†At first, she would answer the questions then I would kiss her goodnight and that would be that. ¬†It was a nice way to wind down the day and she would go right off to sleep. ¬†It set the stage for a restful night’s sleep. ¬†Then, over the past two weeks, something cool happened.

Our bedtime routine evolved from being questions I asked to her asking me bunches of questions and just being a conversation between mother and daughter. ¬†Miss Lady started asking about my day, and some of my life experiences. ¬†And I began to see the world through her eyes. ¬†She wonders what college will be like, and will she be ready for college. ¬†She is curious what our house is like when she isn’t there, what kinds of things Daddy and I do when she isn’t there, and is it boring or fun? ¬†She cares deeply about family, and whether people are happy or sad, tired or work too hard. ¬†She reminds me of me, because when I am working late, she always says “Don’t work too hard, Mommy.” ¬†Those are words I’ve spoken many times to both my mom and dad, and I know that they are genuine and heartfelt.

When it was time for Miss Lady to go back to her mom and stepdad, I was a little sad. And on Sunday, when I was leaving for church, I felt like something was missing. ¬†I didn’t have to fight to wake her up and get her going, or make sure she’d put on lotion and lip gloss (she is a very girly little girl). ¬†And while those things can be draining to any parent, I missed them. ¬†I miss that little voice in the house, her huge smile and giant hugs; the joy and laughter that she brings into our home and family.

Parenting is both enjoyable and draining. ¬†But there are few things more rewarding than being a parent. ¬†I’m thankful for my girls, and for the opportunity to spend some time with my baby girl the past couple of weeks. ¬†She turns 8 tomorrow, and it’s a little bittersweet. ¬†No more car seat (under VA laws), which means she’s really a big girl now. ¬†But she’ll always be my baby girl, and I’ll always be her Mommy. ¬†And I am grateful for those special moments we share, when everything slows down, and it’s just the two of us, talking and learning. ¬†It is in those moments that I see Miss Lady and the young lady she is growing into, and I am grateful and proud that God blessed me with the privilege of knowing and raising her.

Train Up a Child

 

Growing up, whenever my brother or I would get in trouble (usually him), Daddy would sit us down and go over his 3 rules.  I always remembered 2 of the 3; that third rule would elude me every time, which just irritated my dad.  The three rules were simple:

  1. Don’t lie to me.
  2. Don’t play games.
  3. Be responsible

That “Be responsible” rule and I just didn’t like each other. ¬†I couldn’t remember it at all, and never really got the whole thing. ¬†At least, not until I got older. ¬†Now, as an adult, I find myself reciting Daddy’s 3 rules. ¬†Funny thing is, I don’t recite them to my children very often. ¬†I recite them at work. ¬†They’re pretty basic guidelines for any interaction. ¬†“Don’t lie to me.” ¬†It shows a lack of integrity and character, and tells me that you can’t be trusted. ¬†“Don’t play games.” Nobody has time for foolishness. ¬†Be straight with me, and I’ll be straight with you. ¬†In my opinion, playing games puts you on the borderline of lying to me, and puts you in the category of someone I have to watch, because playing games puts you too close to lying. ¬†“Be responsible.” ¬†Do what you say you’re going to do. ¬†If you can’t, acknowledge it, own up to your mistakes. ¬†Man (or woman) up.

I’m sure there were points in my childhood that my dad wondered if I understood the three rules. ¬†I mean, outside of the times in trouble and the subsequent lectures and spankings, I don’t remember hearing the rules all of the time. ¬†And considering I had a hard time remembering “Be responsible,” I wouldn’t blame him for wondering if I was “getting it.” ¬†Yet, here I am, at 33, not only remembering the 3 rules, but reciting them and applying them in my own life.

“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” ¬†Proverbs 22:6. ¬†Whether you are a Christian or not, Bible reader or not, you’ve heard this scripture. ¬†Our job as parents is to teach and train our children. ¬†Sometimes, we question whether they get it. ¬†And yet, you have to trust that they do, either then or later on. ¬†And at some point in the future, be it tomorrow, next week, next month or next decade, they will go right back to the foundation that we give them. ¬†The question is, “WHAT are you training your child?” ¬†Are you training them to be responsible adults contributing to the world around them, or are you training them to be manipulative? ¬†Are you teaching them according to the Word of God, or are you teaching them to rebel against the Word? ¬†What you teach them today will be seen again in the future. ¬†let’s make sure they can return to those teachings and use them to make themselves and those around them better.

My dad taught me the 3 rules, among many other things.  They remind me to walk with integrity, to have good character, and give me a baseline with which to interact with others.  I share them with friends, with co-workers, and even my direct reports, so they understand my basic needs and expectations.  The 3 rules, which I learned 20+ years ago, continue to carry me, and I am thankful for the foundation my Daddy gave me, as it has helped me grow into a woman of integrity and character.  I pray that, as we continue to instill lessons into our girls, my husband and I pay it forward to them.

Remembering . . .

Two days ago, on July 18, 2011, a wonderful woman, Fredricka Sanders Creighton, went home to be with the Lord. ¬†I know this because I know that she had accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior. ¬†She was my paternal grandmother, and I loved her dearly. ¬†I’ve been thinking a lot the past couple days about her; remembering the time we shared with her. ¬†As I reflected on my life with Grandma, I found it ironic that, here I was, remembering, but the last several years robbed her of that same opportunity, due to the effects of the disease that took much of who “Mrs. Freddie Mae” really was: ¬†Alzheimer’s.

This post is not about Alzheimer’s though. I want to tell you about the woman who so effortlessly used to tell anyone who would ask about me and my brother and cousin. ¬†She had a bumper sticker on her car that read, “Let me tell you about my grandchildren.” ¬†And if you asked her, she would tell you. ¬†I distinctly remember hiding behind a pole in the Stamford Town Center (Stamford, CT) parking deck with my older brother and cousin, because some stranger saw the bumper sticker and asked Grandma about her grandchildren. ¬†She proceeded to start talking, and turned at one point to point to us, only to discover we were hiding. ¬†Kids, I tell you.

Grandma Creighton was a vibrant woman. She was full of life, and joy and smiles and hugs. ¬†When we were younger, she would always make clam dip for my Grandpa to go with his Lays Potato Chips (the yellow bag), and we would always beg Grandpa to share. ¬†I don’t know how she made that clam dip, but it was YUM-MY! ¬†Then there was the dream cake. ¬†It was a yellow cake with layers of some sort of creamy white icing (probably with Cool Whip in it), pineapples and coconut. ¬†I can still taste that cake. ¬†My 4th grade teacher, Mrs. Anderson, wrote me a note about that cake at the end of the school year. ¬†It was THAT good.

Grandma was a social butterfly; Mrs. Popularity. ¬†She never met a stranger, and made you feel like she’d known you since her childhood; even if you’d just met her 5 minutes ago. ¬†She was full of life and love. ¬†Never stuffy (though those plastic covers on the gold couches would have you think otherwise), always sassy and always with a hug to give; you know, the kind of hugs that only a Grandma can give. ¬†She loved music, and, even in recent years, would dance to the music. ¬†I guess that’s where I get it from; I always have a song playing in my head.

I’m going to miss my Grandma. ¬†She was a wonderful lady, and brought so much joy and love into our family. ¬†She showed me what love is really about, and taught me so much over the 33.5 years I got to share with her. ¬†I’m truly blessed to have had her so long, and am thankful to know that she is back home, with the Lord, rejoicing, dancing and singing with the constant songs of heaven’s choir.

Thank you, Grandma.  I love you, and I will see you later.

Pride

Yesterday my brother wrote in his blog about my decision to attend Spelman College.¬† Now, his blog wasn’t all about me.¬† He was using it as an example.¬† But as my day went on, and I prepared to write today’s blog, it brought back a lot of memories.

Anyone who knows me knows I love my alma mater.¬† Spelman College was a place that I dreamed of attending from the time I was 12 years old, and that dream came true when I graduated cum laude¬†with a BA in English in May 1999.¬† Many people ask me why I love Spelman¬†so much.¬† Spelman¬†is the place where I learned to be me.¬† It was a safe place where others looked liked me, but didn’t necessarily think like me.¬† That challenged me to dig deeper and discover my own truths, as Judy Gebre-Hiwet¬†taught me.¬† It was a place where I didn’t have to be reminded of my race or gender.¬† Instead, I could focus on my values, my thoughts, my beliefs and my character.¬† I went to Spelman a girl, and emerged a woman, empowered, and ready to take on the world and all it had in store for me.

Spelman¬†also gave me a true sense of sisterhood, and ultimately family.¬† You may have¬†heard the term, “SpelHouse.”¬† It’s a reference to the very close bond between the women of Spelman¬†College and those wonderful brothers across the street on that red clay hill; the brothers of Morehouse College.¬† SpelHouse¬†love is something else.¬† It is a deep bond that, when embraced, can hardly be broken.¬† Simple use of the term SpelHouse¬†encompasses friendship, family, support, encouragement, and all things in between.¬† It is that space between the friends that become family, those that you “ride or die” for.¬† To outsiders, it sounds like an exclusive organization. But, at its core, SpelHouse is a family.

I am grateful that God placed in me, at¬†a young age, the desire to attend Spelman¬†College.¬† I am even more grateful for the manifestation of that desire, and for the friends, excuse me, family, that I’ve made as a result of that journey.¬† You can’t take these experiences for granted, because they only last for a season, but their impacts last a lifetime.¬† So to my SpelHouse¬†family, I say thank you.¬† Thank you for pushing me, challenging me, supporting me and helping me to be the woman I am today.¬† I am so proud to be a part of you, and I pray that these words continue to¬†reign true:¬† “To my beloved Spelman, may her reach exceed her grasp.”*

*Plaque outside of Sister’s Chapel at Spelman¬†College, presented to Spelman College from the Class of 1986.

Letter to My Daughters

To my dearest girls,

I wanted to take some time to write you this letter. ¬†It was 4 years ago this month that you came into my life. ¬†You were only 2 and 9 at the time, and I didn’t realize that you would become a permanent part of my life just 15 months later.

I did not birth you. ¬†You each have a mother who loves you dearly. ¬†I did, however, choose you. ¬†When Daddy asked me to marry him, I didn’t just say yes to him. ¬†I said yes to both of you as well, to the opportunity to be a second mother to you, to love you and cherish you every day of my life. ¬†I said yes to being there for the good times and the bad. ¬†And I have never looked back.

I love you both so much. ¬†You are my baby girls. ¬†I look at you and see limitless possibilities for you. ¬†You are amazing young girls, and will grow up to be amazing women. ¬†There is so much greatness in you, I can’t even begin to accurately explain all that I see. ¬†It is clich√©, but your best and brightest days are truly ahead.

My pledge and commitment to you is to be the best parent I can be. ¬†You are both truly blessed; you have a mom and dad that love you unconditionally and a stepmother and stepfather that love you unconditionally. ¬†You have the benefit of having two sets of parents who love you, and I pray that you get to experience the benefit of that every day of your life. ¬†Not a day goes by that I don’t think about you, pray for you, miss you and continue to love you. ¬†I often wonder how you’re doing when you’re not with us; if you’re having a good day or a bad day; if you’re happy or sad; and if you think of us the way we think of you.

I know sometimes I can be hard on you. ¬†It is only to help you grow. ¬†But I hope you also enjoy the many good days that we have. ¬†The fun times, playing, dancing, or just talking. ¬†There is nothing sweeter than to hear your voices in the house, even when you’re driving me up a wall fighting with each other :-). ¬†I want to see you reach your full potential. ¬†Daddy and I have already been successful in our lives, and continue to drive for greater success. ¬†But even with all we do, ¬†we want to see you reach those levels and higher. ¬†We want to see you grow and develop into all that God has for you; and trust me when I tell you there is a lot He put in you from before you were even born. ¬†It is our job, as your parents, to help guide you down the path to discover that purpose for yourself.

I want to thank you for allowing me to be a part of your lives.  Thank you for loving me unconditionally, for reminding me not to take myself too seriously, and for being the wonderful, amazing young girls that you are.  I look forward to every day with you, to watching you grow up and to being there every step of the way.

With all my love, today and always,

Mom/2nd Mommy/Rasheeda