Lisa Casson

A Blessing in Disguise
29 August 2014 at 20:35 0

Everyone knows the peculiar comments we get from strangers and friends alike. One particular comment that stands out for me, especially because it's said so often, is people telling me how blessed Liya is to have us.

Honestly, most of the time we forget Liya is adopted. She is so much ours, that adoption has simply become a formality. I also long got over having "missed out" on pregnancy and birth, and even missing the first year of my daughter's life. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't easy - it was (and sometimes still is) very difficult and I felt isolated and different for a very long time. When I finally mourned for the children I could never 'have' and started to get to know my little Liya, I realised blood didn't define whether I loved my child or not, nor how much. I remember cradling Liya one night as she slept in my arms, and feeling so much love for this little soul it hurt.

Every day I thank God for giving us this little girl, and that is why I find it peculiar that people tell us she's blessed to have us. She is most certainly the most amazing thing that has ever happened to us.

This last Sunday, we had a baby blessing for her and another very special little girl in our lives, Juliette. We don't believe in Christening or baptising (babies specifically) because it isn't biblical. What is biblical is Jesus loving and blessing children, and that's just what our church did.

A very special friend in our church, Marc Ries, prayed over Liya and us, and it so touched my heart. We know from the last 5 short years that honouring God brings us so much joy, and his prayer will forever remind me to continue in that:

"Father God, I thank You for Bryan and Lisa.
Thank You for them in this body.

I pray for them as a couple and ask that You please protect their marriage, may it always be centred in You.

I ask Holy Spirit that you would help them to be obedient in fulfilling their God-given responsibilities as a husband and as a wife and that they would be an example to Liya.

Please help them to love and honour one another.

I charge them today to teach Liyalethu the truth about Your Word in line with your instruction to us in Deuteronomy 6:6-9:
'And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to Liya, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.'

May Biblical truth always be the foundation of their home; and may their home be a sanctuary where all who enter will be tangibly aware that Almighty God dwells in this place.

In your gracious, loving and all-powerful name I pray this, Jesus. Amen."

She is most certainly our blessing in disguise.

When Bryan Met Lisa
19 August 2014 at 11:44 1
Lusito Land 2008

This is Bryan and my "Love Story"; how we met and got hitched.

I met Bryan about a month after my 21st birthday (he claims we met previously, but I can't recall it clearly). I had been in some questionable relationships up until this point (I don't know how my mom loved me through it) but was now concentrating on the last year of college and an internship, which would be my very first exposure into the working world. And of course, that's where I met him when I wasn't even looking. He was such a dork - he had khaki pants, long hair in his face, and the first time I saw him he was hunched over his computer. I didn't for one second ever take fancy to him during my internship, until the last day - I got drunk and my judgement was compromised, and suddenly I was dating him. I remember telling my mom after we'd been out on a few dates "He's not my type. AT. ALL." I really wasn't keen on him, and I really didn't expect things to last. He, on the other hand, was telling his folks I would be the girl he'd marry.

A few short weeks down the line, I fell head of heels in love with him. It hit me by complete surprise, but once I let myself fall for him, our love just grew and grew. And that's how love works, doesn't it? Sometimes we're attracted to good looks, sometimes we fall in love with our best friend, sometimes we get drunk and land in Mr. Right's arms.

So here I was a young woman, just starting with life, and had met the man I would marry. We soon moved in together (into a stable which had been turned into a "home"...) and started our careers.

We both claimed to be Christians, but we had both wondered off that path, and I guess we were both trying to ignore it in our relationship - after all, we both knew deep in our hearts we shouldn't be living together. However, we were both drawn to a local church at the end of 2008, and this is where God really started working in our lives and hearts.

We had previously left a church, because they had told us we shouldn't be living together and the arrogant obnoxious youngster I was didn't want anyone telling me how I should live. When we found our new church (Village Church Lonehill), God slowly started working in our hearts. We were loved, and never once judged and a few months in, through the support of our love for each other, the church encouraged us to get married. We were never told, guilt-tripped or forced into anything. There was something very loving and understanding about their approach that can only have come from God himself. (And don't get me wrong - what we were doing was not ok - God loves us despite our hearts and lack of understanding, but he honours us when we honour him).

We got engaged in August 2009, and together we grew a real and proper love for God and each other. Near the end of 2009, we wanted to honour God fully before we got married, and I moved out. We only moved back in together after we were married in January 2010.

Our love story continues every day. It isn't perfect, and it most certainly isn't just between Bryan and I - it is a very serious and wonderful commitment we made before God 5 years ago, and every single day.

Your Adoption Questions… Answered!
7 August 2014 at 23:00 0
I get asked so many questions about Liya and her adoption. Wherever I go, whatever I do, people are so interested. Sometimes they ask questions or make statements which they clearly haven't thought through. And what is the right thing to ask, anyway? People are just interested. When we first adopted, I just wanted to blend in and feel normal which, with our family in particular, is not easy. The reels of ridiculous questions I got didn't make it easier. So I wanted to share some of those ridiculous questions and comments we've gotten so far for a good giggle, what I truly think when I hear them, and some things I would've preferred to hear...

Here we go:

"Is she adopted?"

This is the most common question, and for obvious reasons I guess... My immediate "Lisa" response is screaming sarcasm. This is a dumb question.  This would have been a much kinder and more thoughtful question: "Is this your daughter?"

"Why is she black?"

Yup, I've gotten this two or three times. It usually stumps us. There is no appropriate answer for this. Is it even a question?

"Just you wait, now that you've adopted, I bet you'll fall pregnant!"

Adoption was not our Plan B; it wasn't our while-we-wait action plan. Our plan was to start a family. Implying that we're still going to fall pregnant because it hasn't been hurtful enough not getting pregnant, doesn't make it better. It also makes our adopted daughter sound like a stand-in. Don't say it to an adoptive couple, ever.

"Are you still trying?"

Oh often, trust me.  Seriously though, we have chosen to 'stop trying'. Adoption changed our lives more than we could have ever imagined. When I wanted a baby, it was for selfish reasons I didn't quite understand. I just naturally wanted what most married couples want I guess. No matter what the situation though, all pregnancies, babies and children are very special and each situation can make or break you. Adoption made us. Please don't ask adoptive couples if they're still trying...

"What language does she speak?"

Seems ask-able, right? Except I got asked this, twice, before she was even a year old. She was able to mouth sounds like Ta and Da. Anyone know a 0-year old that speaks a language? I don't think this is ever appropriate to ask.

"When did you get her?"

I know you're trying to ask "When did you have her?" translated for adoptive parents. Please don't ask this unless we've been talking a while. She's not a gift, and she certainly wasn't delivered by the stork.  Try "How long have you been a family?"
  It's hard to say the right thing. For me personally, I feel the best when we are ignored (as an adoptive family!) and people aren't staring at us. This only really happens when we're around close family and friends. However, when there's lots of new families all over the place and the topic of conversation is when your family started, it can't be avoided. I also understand people are curious and want to connect with us. So stick to these two questions: "Is this your son/daughter?" and "When did you become a family?". You can't go wrong. Then you can kindly ask what our story is and I will tell you what I'd like to, the way I'd like to. Be sensitive around adoptive couples, be sensitive to new parents, and be sensitive to couples who don't have children yet or those who choose not to have children. Like a wise woman said to me recently "It's none of your damn business".
Liya’s 2nd Birthday
2 August 2014 at 15:00 1
Today, our little angel turned 2, and we celebrated her birthday at Let's Meat in Lonehill, with family and friends. She has been in our lives for just over a year, meaning we've been parents for just over a year (We survived! She survived!). We celebrated our first Mother's and Father's Day this year and learnt a whole BUNCH of new things I decided I wanted to honour her - and our other kids in the future - every year on their birthday, to mark and remember the special year gone by.

Memorable Days:

  • 3 Aug 2013: Celebrated her 1st birthday. Most of our family and friends met Liya this day, and celebrated her birthday and 'arrival' into our family.
  • 12 Sep: Took her first, adorable steps
  • 27 Oct: Visited great gran Sheilagh in CT! Also her first flight
  • 27 Dec: 12 day holiday with Uncle Mark & Aunty Colly
  • 24 Jan 2014: Started swimming lessons with daddy
  • 29 March: First signs of potty training at 21 months!!
  • 9 April: Welcomed her cousin, Madison, into the world

Liya's first words:

  • Ta
  • Dada
  • Mama
  • No (lol)

Some of Liya's first, and our favourite, 'sentences':

  • "I not naughty"
  • "Bye ouma. See you morrow"
  • "Food cold. Daddy naughty"
  • "Daddy come" with the hand gesturing daddy as we leave the house
  • "Pease" and "Tank you"
  • "Oupa? Kom skep!"
  • "Where's mommy/daddy?"
  • "No" and "Ja" are of course suitable answers for ALL questions
  • Pointing seriously at my food "Eat mommy"

Liya's favourite songs:

  • Twinkle Twinkle
  • I Love You (Barney)
  • Thank You Jesus (Prayer)
  • Baby Bible class songs (Biscuit song, goodbye etc.)
  • Old McDonald
What an incredible year it has been being Liya's mommy. Everyone who meets her, loves her; she has an amazing social personality, and she is super well-behaved. We are loving every second of watching her grow and learn, and all the hilarious things that come out of her mouth that are such a true reflection of her mom and dad (from shouting at the dogs, to demanding you eat your food and correcting us when we have song actions wrong). A special thanks to all our amazing family who have supported us, and loved her so dearly. It made our first year of parenting so amazing.

About Us
27 July 2014 at 21:55 0
My husband and I created this website in 2009 soon after we got engaged. We used as a wedding website, where people could find info on our upcoming wedding and RSVP to it. Soon after we were married, I began using it as a personal blog and I would write now on then on all sorts of random things, from holidays, to our pets, to eventful days such as The Home Affairs Saga. I used to only write once in a while, but have recently started writing more, with 2013 and 2014 being the most life changing years of my life (so far). Reading through some of my old posts, I realised it really captured our memories like nothing else could. So what started as a small wedding website, has developed into a life memoir for our family. I must warn you - my posts are brutally honest. You will not find perfect people in this family - we are broken, we make lots of mistakes and sometimes we want to kill each other. Despite everything, I know we are perfect for each other

A Little Bit About Our Family

At the time of writing this, we are a family of 4. Bryan, my best friend and husband, and father to our beautiful daughter and son. Me, a whirlwind of emotions, who tries (and sometimes fails) to be a good wife and mother inbetween. Our daughter Liya who is soon to be 6, and our son Tobi who is 3. We met and adopted Liya in 2013, when she was 11 months old and she forever changed our lives. In 2015, we adopted little Tobi at 3,5 months. The 'glue' of our family is our saviour, Jesus Christ. Bryan and I found our church in 2008 and together we found our place in His family. We honoured God with our marriage just over a year later as we said our vows in the very same church. We are still there, 10 years since we first found it, honouring God and Him honouring us and our family. Our church is more than just a building or a community, it's truly our spiritual family and the church we plan to grow in for the rest of our lives (God willing). I cannot imagine our lives any other way, and truly I know it was also God's plan for us.

A Little Bit of Personal History

Bryan was born in 1977 in Zimbabwe. His family lived in Harare, were well-off and happy, until they decided to move to the USA. Bryan spent 10 years travelling and working throughout the States, before he came to South Africa in 2005, where he began building his life from scratch with R700 to his name. I was born and bred in Joburg, South Africa, in 1987. I had a good childhood and not-so-good teen years, but the most important part of my youth was the Christian input from my mom. We went to church as a family, I got baptised at 13 and Jesus has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I felt like life really settled and made sense when I met Bryan at the age 21 (Bryan was 31). We had without a doubt found each other at the right time, and after such difficult teen years, I felt like I had finally found my place in the world, and my destiny with my soulmate. 3 eventful years into our marriage, we adopted the most beautiful little girl who we call Liyalethu. She was the answer to years of prayer and longing, and she changed our lives more than I could have ever imagined. In the total 8 short years, we have experienced hard adjustments and the incredible rewards of marriage, starting and running a successful business, infertility, life-changing missionary trips to Mozambique, adoption and mental illness. I wouldn't change a single thing. I stand now with a complete heart for Jesus, which has been purified by fire. I have the most amazing life I could have ever asked for but it has not been easy, and I am not even close to 'good enough'. But we have Jesus and that's all we ever needed, and all we'll ever need.

Mozambique Outreach 2014
19 July 2014 at 21:01 0
Tomorrow Bryan and I leave for our 3rd trip to Mozambique with a team of people from our church. It's just before 9pm and Bryan is FAST asleep (how does he do that??) and just 2 hours ago, we dropped Liya off at very good friends of ours. And for the first time I feel a little less excited and a little more sad, because we're leaving our baby at home. I miss her so much already. There's no way I can sleep at this time, so I decided there was no better time to start writing about our trip. This blog has become such a great life memoir for me, as I look back on when we first created it for our wedding, and some of my first posts when life seemed so simple and I seemed so naive. It's like looking through old photo albums, except I also get to see how much my thinking has developed and changed. So tomorrow I get up at 4am... 4 hours before I usually get up, lol. (I am really hoping to kill some bad habits while on this trip, but I know it won't be a problem). Mozambique is always such an incredible experience, mentally and physically, but especially spiritually. I am so excited to share what God is doing in Moz, and how He will change our lives once again. And it's so bittersweet, because every day I'll be missing my baby and thankful it's only 1 week. I'll post all my updates when we get back - in the meantime, please keep us in your prayers.
I’m No Instant-Mom
17 July 2014 at 23:32 1
"Growing up" is such a phenomenal experience: it's slow but we're aware of it, yet it still sneaks up on us. I, of course, have been 'growing up' for the last 27 years, every decade being WAY different to the last. However, today really made me realise how different I am, compared to how I assumed I would be (before I knew better). I couldn't grasp or understand how quickly your life can change, until this last year. Those who are close to me know I am really not a neurotic mother (or as my friend calls it "Helicopter Mom"). I naturally learn to relax about most things, be loving but firm, and make good decisions for my Liya. I choose my battles - for example, I would really prefer Liya not have sweets. She's just too little, and I am responsible for taking care of her and her health, until she can do so herself. I need to make good calls when I can. That said, it's almost impossible if we want to attend birthday parties, let ouma spoil her or let US spoil her. I just love giving her a treat on occasion, like marshmallows, lollies or sharing a bit of what I'm having. This sounds so mundane, but it is so hard finding a nice balance that doesn't push our boundaries too much while trying to not step on others' toes. Anyway, we loved the nursery school we put Liya into first. She would have been there a whole year in August, but the last couple of months it just hasn't been good enough for my daughter. They were too relaxed, couldn't say no to her and worst of all, the principal blatantly ignored my requests to do basic things: watch her more (should I really have to ask this of people watching my 1 year old?), don't let her put sand in her hair, don't let her have sweets... They never asked my permission to give her sweets, but all the other kids get, so how can they? Uhm, how about no sweets at school like most nursery schools?? Anyway, the whole point of my rant today is: I suddenly feel like a real mom. Of course it wasn't sudden; it's been building over the last year. But today it really hit me, as I stormed out of Liya's creche, clutching her and forcing back tears because I was so upset. I wanted with all my heart to protect her and give her the best. It felt like I needed to be angry about this, after I spoke to a principal who was giving me attitude about asking for simple requests for my child. As if it's not my prerogative. As if I was being completely irrational. I specially spoke to other mom's the day before to see if I was being absolute ridiculous asking our creche not to give my child a sucker that she could choke on. Most mom's were horrified she had sweets at all. Some don't even give their kids juice. Do you think I overreacted? There is a very good ending to my story today. It forced Bryan and I to go 'creche' shopping, which I had wanted to do for weeks, and God lead us right to the place we needed to be. I just really wanted to share today how 'mommy' I suddenly feel, and how it's not "instant" like I assumed it would be. I think a lot of mom's feel the same - we assume natural instincts and motherly... things will just magically kick in. But that's not the reality. It's just another experience we have to grow in. I want to protect and fight for Liya, no matter what. We will have many battles, but at least I know I want the best for her, even now when she doesn't understand and won't even remember. Even now.
My Raging Storm
2 July 2014 at 22:10 7
I have been wanting to share this post for a while - and although I am taking control of a problem I have had for so long, I still have a long way to go. However, in just the last couple of weeks, every time I share my story, I feel like someone can relate to it in some way. Hope you enjoy it, and as always, please feel free to leave comments or send me an email if you want to keep it private.
For a couple of years, even before fertility was a problem, I had a raging temper. It was so common, that it became part of my life and who I was. I didn't understand it for so long, and I was so good at hiding it from everyone close to me (except Bryan) that I never had to address it. I think Bryan just thought it was who I was and somehow loved me despite it. We both know our first year of marriage was difficult. Like any new couple, we were still getting to know each other and learning each other's good (and bad) habits. I think most newly weds battle a little, however my reactions to small things weren't justifiable. Something was amiss, we just didn't know what. Despite this, we loved each other dearly and we were definitely made for each other so, we were mostly happy. 2 years after we got married, we started trying for a baby. So I went off the pill, after being on it for probably 7 years. For the first year after that, it felt like my moods were better, so I assumed the pill had been making me so aggressive. After all, I had been on it so long, I couldn't remember much about my moods before that. However, my cycles were very irregular (sorry if this is over share, but it is a very important part of my story). I assumed it was being on the pill so long that had messed up my system a bit. After a year, when infertility started to become a reality, I really battled with not being able to fall pregnant, and believed with all my heart that having a baby would make me happy. I couldn't understand how couples tried for 5, 6 or 7 years, where I felt just one year was killing me. I lost interest in my work, I fought more with Bryan, and hated all my friends and family who were pregnant or had kids. After a long 2 years, we finally adopted the most perfect little baby girl, but a few days in, being a parent started to dawn on me, and I realised I still wasn't happy like I assumed I'd be. I was still miserable and battled to love this little being that needed me so much. My natural mother instincts kicked in, but I had not bonded with her as much as I needed (which I only realised about 6 months later). I couldn't understand why being a parent wasn't as amazing as I'd convinced myself it would be, and why I was still so unhappy. I think if I had just been "unhappy", I could've gone on like that for the rest of my life. The breaking point for me that made me seek help was my continued moods swings, that were now not only effecting Bryan, but Liya too. I was not the 'motherlike' figure I knew I could be, and I needed to fix this before Liya got older - the last thing I wanted was my daughter to be moody and miserable like me. At first, I thought the Mirena I had put in (a long-term form of contraception) was aggravating my moods again, like the pill had. (I had it put in, by the way, because I still couldn't handle my irregular cycle, and it was still killing me wondering each month if I was pregnant because I was so "late"). So I emailed my doctor to ask her about it, and got a short and insensitive reply, with her basically telling me to go see my doctor about getting an antidepressant. Now, after we got Liya and I realised I still wasn't happy, I started to consider maybe I was depressed (from not being able to fall pregnant specifically). I wanted to believe it was the contraceptives fault, but I started to wonder if there was more to it. So I went to see my GP, filled her in on what my lady doctor had said and my terrible moods swings. She asked me about my childhood and life, and basically came to the conclusion that it was some sort of depression and she prescribed antidepressants to help me cope. And that is where everything could've ended, and I would have probably been on antidepressants for the rest of my life. But it didn't. Something inside me told me to go get help, even though I finally had the "happy pills" I hoped would make everything better, even if artificially. So I asked my GP for a psychologist I could go see, and found my way to an amazing woman who could finally give me some answers.
During this time, I had distanced myself from God, because I couldn't live with myself. I knew what I was doing wasn't what Christ wanted for my life, and although I'd spent years praying about it, when it seemed like God was't answering, I became distant. I cannot explain the dark pit I had now found myself in. Maybe it was a mild form of depression from the not being able to fall pregnant and this constant guilt for 'who I was', but all I know is I was so unhappy and life wasn't worth living - I prayed every day that God would just take me out of the world, because it was killing me. I felt weak, a huge failure and I couldn't understand why I was so unhappy - I had a great husband and daughter, a stunning work-from-home job and all the wonderful things you could wish for in life. Why couldn't I deal with a few things going wrong? Never mind that, my life and happiness is based in my savior Jesus, so even if I didn't have all these good things, I had the amazing gift of eternal life, despite being so imperfect. So why wasn't I happy?? And although I felt so distanced from God, looking back, I can see how he never once left my side, and how he helped me to cope while he worked in my life. Although I was so often out of control, I never once went too far. God kept friends and family close to me, so I wouldn't lose my mind. He gave Bryan incredible strength and love to help me through this time, He gave us an incredible daughter who was well behaved and slept well anywhere, and the resources to help me with motherhood (a crèche and an amazing nanny). But most of all, he lead me to all the right doctors and he never let me give up.
Which takes me back to when I finally found my psychologist who had the answers... Not even 10 minutes into my first session with her, she told me it sounded like my hormones were out of control. She was right, however my understanding was so limited, I didn't really believe it myself for about 2 months after that. Finally, I got tangible results back from an endocrinologist (or hormone doctor) explaining EVERYTHING I had been feeling for so long. My hormones were totally out of control, to the point they were completely ruining my life. The results showed I had some sort of genetic "problem": I have almost no progesterone (a vital hormone in women for pregnancy and regulating cycles), no vitamin D3, and no serotonin, an important chemical needed for our happiness and well being. (Bare with me as I try explain what my doc told me). A happy person has between 3500 - 5000 serotonin. We need AT LEAST 1200. When I got my results back, I had 125. It was the most life-changing news I ever received (yes, even more life changing than getting our daughter - children were a norm I always expected to have, this is close to a chronic disorder). After learning this, I cannot explain it other than I felt like I was no longer drowning. For years, I battled with 'myself' and we tried to deal and live with it, and I almost accepted that I would be unhappy for the rest of my life. Now I was sitting in front of someone who was telling me we can fix it easily. I am still amazed. I thought I had depression, however I learnt that depression is actually set off by a tragedy and slowly turns into depression. With hormones, you're up and down and it's completely unpredictable. Speaking with a psychologist for just 2 short months made me realise I wasn't crazy, and every thing going on was not my fault. I had become so cynical and negative, that I believed it was just me, and this was life up until this point. Anyway, long story short, the fix is quite simple. I am on some natural remedies that are correcting the Vitamin D, Serotonin and progesterone problems and after only a month, I felt like they'd made the world of difference. My psychologist and hormone doctor said I have to be on the anti-depressants until my progesterone and serotonin come right. That I can live with. Hopefully, these natural remedies will work (I know for a fact the progesterone is coming right) and in a few months I can wean myself off the antidepressants. Don't get me wrong - I still have my moments, I'm still not perfect (and I'll never be), but I feel much more in control, my understanding of life goes a little bit deeper, my love for my Saviour has grown even more, and I have been much more open about my 'problem' (whereas I didn't want to tell anyone about how I was battling before). I have come so far, learnt so much and I pray every day that I will be 'better prepared' for the next storm. This isn't the end, it's just one chapter. But seeing how I grew, and how God turned this 'terrible thing' into something so beautiful, has forever changed my life. If I never had this problem, we would never of had Liya - Wow... Bring on the next storm Lord.
This 'season' of my life, and all I'm going through, always reminds me of this beautiful verse: "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." - Romans 8:28. It doesn't matter how imperfect we are, it doesn't matter what mistakes we've made or how useless we may think we are, God has an amazing plan for all of us. He can turn any person, any situation and any life completely around.
The Art of Parenting
22 June 2014 at 21:20 4
We have officially been parents for 11 months. It seems like a lifetime, yet when I think that it hasn't even been a year, I am blown away. Yet in these 11 short months, our world has totally been turned upside down. My whole world and outlook on life has changed, and although there has been many challenging and stressful times, the joy outweighs everything (Something I couldn't understand before I became a mom). You can read about our adoption story here. This post however, is less serious, and I hope I can put my own personal parenting experience into perspective for parents and non-parents alike. Firstly, my expectations of children and being a parent was totally skewed - I blame movies, advertising, Super Mom's and stock photos.

All children are apparently different

This is ridiculous. It means every child you have is different. You may nail parenting with one child, then BAM! you have another, and you have to start all over again. Why can't they all be the same, so we can have one instruction manual for this?? It's not like they're their own little person or anything.

Parenting is a trick

I love my child to bits, but it's HARD work and all your good effort may fail dismally one day. Why do we choose to raise tiny little human beings, when living is hard enough?? The human race is not perfect to begin with (Bryan and myself included) - I lose my temper, Bryan has forgotten to feed Liya on occasion, and we sit on 'technology' 90% of the day. I think we got tricked with some weird breeding instinct, so we don't go extinct.

Other parents make it look easy

When you're not a parent, raising children looks easy or at least doable (I mean, EVERYONE does it, there's however-many billion people on the planet, so of course it should be easy right?). Let me tell you, it is one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. I was convinced I'd be a stay-at-home mom once we got Liya, and promptly swallowed that dream 3 days after bringing her home. I didn't know what to do with her, and a toddler sticking everything into her mouth and throwing food on the floor was a bit scary... I soon missed work, and it was easier to drown myself in stuff I KNEW how to do. Additionally, there really are Super Mom's out there who are incredible at raising children (or at least it seems). I know I sometimes come across like I have it all together, but a lot falls to pieces at home. We're just less likely to share that over coffee than our child's first word.

Becoming a mom opened a whole new can of worms

There are tons of new emotions (good and bad), insecurities and discoveries I could have never imagined pre-parenthood, but I recently learnt this is quite normal. As soon as you become part of the 'Mom and Dad' world, you quickly learn that there are 1,000,000 ways to raise children and do things for them (and yourself). Think about how different every person is. Now think about how every child is different too. What about how we're (mostly) trying to live better, healthier lives? (But that doesn't mean we're all doing the same things the same way) Now try imagine just how many different new things you have to learn to raise YOUR child, with YOUR ideals? It is so scary and of course, you only learn this after it's too late. I think I was lucky - because we adopted, I never got inundated with advice. I, of course, was also never pregnant which is apparently a sign for "give me all your annoying advice even if I don't ask for it". We all have this flaw, myself included. I'm learning to wait to be asked for advice, and to take unwanted advice in my stride. It is an inevitable part of parenthood, and most of it is done in good faith. None of us are perfect and I have to keep reminding myself that.

Parenting is a new type of insecurity...

Picture this: Most of the time, you don't know what you're doing, sometimes children are loud and disruptive and sometimes you make bad decisions publicly... I often feel like a 'bad mom', and have heard all my close friends feeling the same way at least once. Honestly, we're winging it. We all have to figure out our own children and our own journey raising them. What made my journey a little more difficult at first, was how clearly obvious it was that I had adopted, so everyone was constantly staring at us. I reckon most mom's and their 'mistakes' blend in with life and they can get away with a lot of it, however I constantly have eyes on me. I used to think people were judging me (???) but I've recently realised they're only staring because it's unusual, and sometimes they admire us (I also bet half of it us in my head, like any insecurity). For a long time, I thought I was battling with the fact that we had adopted, but it was actually PARENTING that I was battling to adjust to. I have come a long way since.

All that said and done, becoming a mom was one of the best thing that ever happened to me

Like a lot of things I am learning as I become older and 'wiser', everything is a journey and God has put these things into place for good reasons. Parenting has been such a humbling experience - I thought I was pretty selfless, however I didn't realise how much I lived for myself until I was responsible for another life. Marriage is great, and it teaches you how to compromise for someone you love dearly, but you can still come and go as you please. Once we brought home Liya, we could no longer go out whenever we felt like it and a lot of our budget was put aside for her. We also have to really think about how we act and what we say now, because she is directly influenced by us. We love Liya to bits, despite how much she drains us and tests our limits. We know she is very new to this world, and we need to teach her, well, everything. I finally have a real glimpse into how much God loves and cares for us. The only difference is He is perfect, where we aren't. I used to get anxious thinking about all the things that can go wrong, like peer pressure or making mistakes, but mostly, I am afraid I am TOO imperfect to do this job God has given me. However, I lean on the fact that He IS perfect, and as long as I have Him in our lives, we will get through anything that comes our way. She is a genuine joy in our lives. I know most of this post has poked fun at a lot of the challenging parts of parenting, but jokes aside, Liya brings a lot of love and joy into our lives. Parents often say "It's the hardest job ever, but SO worth it" - both things an understatement in words, and something you can only learn once you have your own children. There was no way to prepare ourselves, but we had to travel this journey to get where we are now, and I wouldn't change a thing. I've learnt what a wonderful thing it is to grow and learn, by watching this little being having to learn EVERYTHING; I learnt to appreciate my Creator so much more; I've learnt what a joy it is to love someone so much, and be loved so much; most of all, I've learnt I'm not perfect, but that's ok. parenting
My Ink
12 May 2014 at 20:49 1
I recently got another tattoo, something I didn't think I'd ever do again. Yup again. Another one. Here are some photo's, courtesy of my uber talented husband: pheonix-back-top-web   pheonix-sitting-back-web I get asked a lot of questions (good and bad), and I also wanted to think through some of the common questions (for all tattoos) so I put together my own mini FAQ for the curious :) : [toggle title="Did it hurt?"] Yes, it hurt like hell. No, I did not get used to it and I did not start to enjoy it. I'd forgotten just how sore it was (or maybe cause my old one's were so small, it didn't hurt?). Of course, it's more/less sore in different places, and also the different lines (outline vs shading) have different levels of pain. The outline was killer. It took about 2 hours, and that's all I could take. The top of my back and arm was bearable (the most I did in one sitting though was 4 hours), the bottom half of my back was the worst pain ever (but not as bad as the outline).[/toggle] [toggle title="How long did it take?"] My Phoenix took a total of 14 hours, over 5 sessions. (6 if you count covering my old tattoo).[/toggle] [toggle title="Why a Phoenix?"] I have no exciting reason, except that I think Phoenix's are absolutely gorgeous. I took my time choosing it, with nothing specific in mind, except "I'll know what I want when I see it". Eventually I found a gorgeous Phoenix online, and combined it with another's tail feathers (peacock feathers). My tattoo artist elaborated on the design, and extended one of the wings to my arm, which has become the favourite part of the tattoo.[/toggle] [toggle title="How much did it cost?"] R17,000. I'm kidding. It cost me nothing :) We did it in exchange for my tattoo artists' website ( But if I had to pay for it, it would have cost me R17,000 (crazy right?)[/toggle] [toggle title="WHY WOULD YOU TATTOO YOUR BODY?!?!"] Ok no one really asks me this, but I see it on people's faces :) I know it's not everyone's cup of tea, but for me, it is one of the most beautiful things you can do to your body. I especially love this huge Phoenix, and I just love buying new tops and jewellery to compliment it.[/toggle] [toggle title="But how horrible is it going to look when you're old and saggy?"] Lol. I don't know about you, but when I'm THAT old, you won't be seeing my body (whether I have tattoos or not)[/toggle] [toggle title="How many tattoos do you have?"] At the time of writing this, 4. (And it will probably be 4 for a while).[/toggle] [toggle title="What are they?"]
  1. A small tribal dragon, bottom middle of my back. This was my first tattoo, and although I considered covering it, I've decided to keep it for sentimental purposes
  2. My Phoenix, which covered an old tattoo of a fairy. The fairy also meant a lot to me (my sister and I had the same one) but it really hadn't been done well. I covered it with white ink first, and the Phoenix now covers it completely.
  3. A gecko on my stomach, which I share with my lifelong best-friend, Thato. Also not done the best, and I am thinking about covering it with a new, detailed gecko.
  4. A dragonfly behind my ear, soon to be covered by a sort of abstract butterfly.
Yes I know it seems like I want to cover all my original tattoos (and honestly, I do), but only because they really weren't done well.[/toggle] [toggle title="So, if you could back, what would you do differently?"] I would have invested more time and money in choosing my first tattoo. These basic, small tattoos aren't worth it (unless it's something small and symbolic, on your wrist for example). I should have saved a bit more, researched a better tattoo artist, and gotten a much more detailed tattoo. I think 'back in the day', my small tattoos each cost about R400. I really could've done better.[/toggle] [toggle title="Will you let your children get tattoos?"] Yes of course, but not before they're 18. I'll make sure they think long and hard about it, and that they only get the best artist. I would love to get a tattoo with Liya one day, but if it's not her thing, that's cool too.[/toggle] [toggle title="Will you get more?"] I'd love to, but Bryan isn't the biggest fan (which is probably a good thing - it keeps me from going overboard :)). I really love my Phoenix because it is so stunning, but there is something special about the dragon, my first tattoo. This makes me want to get more tattoos that are meaningful, such as something for my faith, something for Bryan and of course, something for Liya. I also had a dream about a tattoo, and I'd love to add that. But we'll see. I have many years to think about it, decide and convince Bryan :)[/toggle] [toggle title="Isn't getting tattoos against your faith? "] This is a tough question, and I don't have an answer. I looked it up when thinking about this question, thinking I'd definitely find a 'no, it's ok!'. But I actually discovered that it isn't clear in scripture. There is one verse people always refer to in Leviticus, but in context, it is talking about pagan rituals. What I did find though was a verse in Romans that talks about glorifying God. I can honestly say I did not do it to glorify God, and that's a hard thing to admit and share. I have considered getting a tattoo for my faith (as mentioned above) to give me the opportunity to speak to people about my faith, but that is a different story. Perhaps getting this tattoo was a bit selfish, but so are a lot of other things I do (Like when it comes to clothes or even doing my nails - so where do I draw the line?) I had tattoos before I became a born again Christian, and after, and I'm sure I'll get more. I know God loves me the same, and for that I am eternally grateful. For clarification, the verse in Romans is:
"...everything that does not come from faith is sin."
My motives for getting a tattoo were not for faith or to glorify God. But I believe I can still use them in a way that does.[/toggle] If you have any other questions, leave them in the comments and I'd love to answer them (I will, however, not be answering any questions further relating to tattoos and my faith). Thanks for reading - hope you enjoyed this!