Today, my friend Joanne agreed to share a bit of her story and wisdom with us. Joanne became one of my first friends in South Florida after I joined the Mom’s Bible Study she was leading at CCC. After a short amount of time, she gave me the opportunity to lead the study with her and also embraced me as a part of the Women’s Ministry Team. I loved the opportunity to learn along side other Mom’s and to help contribute, decorate and coordinate some of the events at church. It was an incredible outlet during our transition.
Joanne and I have become close friends in a short amount of time. One of the things I appreciate most about our friendship is that she has earned the right to speak into my life. She is not only a great listener and compassionate friend, but also loves me enough to give me loving correction if needed. Joanne’s heart is big and full of compassion; she is constantly looking for ways to grow in God and is never satisfied with the status quo. This is a woman with many hats: Wife, Mom, Business Owner, Ministry Assistant, Bible Study Leader, Decorator, Event Planner, and recently became a Blogger: "Confessions of A Dirty Christian Woman", that's only the beginning of her list.
Joanne’s journey to Mommyhood was not an easy one, and she never takes the title of “Mommy” for granted:
My name is Joanne Cuchel, I was born in Brooklyn, New York, but have lived in S. Florida since I was eight years old. Two years after high school graduation, I met my husband
Vincent, and we have been married for 16 years now.
Currently, I am a busy wife and mother of one six-year-old girl, Lexi, whom we adopted in Nov of 2008. Lexi is a very strong-willed child but just as amazing as she is strong-willed. She is so bright, so creative, and so funny too and she really keeps me on my toes!
My husband, Vincent and I, struggled to have a child of our own for many years until we decided to adopt. Our first adoption endeavor was to adopt a daughter from China. We anxiously filled out all the paperwork, went through all the grueling processes and then waited, and waited, and waited. After being on the "waiting list" for two years, we were told that due to the summer Olympics coming to China that summer, the Chinese officials
decided to place a hold on any further adoptions, because they didn't want the eyes of the world to see them as the world's largest exporter of baby girls. As a result we were told that it could be another 5 to 7 years until we go our daughter. Heartbroken but determined we chose to look at other adoption options.
We worked with a birth mother for several months but she decided to place her baby with another couple. It was then that we found out about Lexi through an estranged relative at the time, and the rest is history.
Recently, I took a job working part-time at my church. Additionally, I lead a bible study for Moms once a week during the school year. I also plan and decorate for our church's
women's ministry events, and help my husband run our video production company. In my spare time (insert laugh) I love to read, cook, and enjoy party planning and decorating our home.
In the future, Lord willing, I hope to become a Christian speaker and author.
What would I do differently as a Mom is recognizing that when I first got Lexi, although she seemed older, she was just a two year old baby, and I would not have put such high expectations and demands on her. I wouldn't have been as hard on her or as crazy of a parent as I once was.
My Mommy confession is a character I invented named Mommy Monster. I would tell Lexi that it would possess my body and mind when Lexi was misbehaving and would threaten to eat daddy's brains, never bring back Mommy, and take Lexi to her secret hideaway filled with bugs and spiders and never bring her back if she wasn't good any more. Eventually, I confessed that she wasn’t real and mommy was pretending. I do feel really guilty about doing it…although Mommy Monster was quite effective!
The way I was parented did unfortunately shape how I parent. I find that I am my mother in too many situations...
My Non-negotiables - We are somewhat flexible but there are things that are absolutes like no dessert if you don't eat your dinner...etc.
My biggest fear - Lexi being adopted made me that I would not be able to love her as if she were my own. The answer I have found is absolutely yes!!!!
One thing I do for my kid but dread doing it is confrontation. I have had to do it several times in the 4 short years as a mom.
Something I said I would never do, but do anyway is forcing my kid to eat- but I find myself doing it anyway.
My biggest mommy Aha moment - Once Lexi asked me if I could pray with her to ask God to clean up her room. I told her that God doesn't clean up our messes we have to do that for ourselves. It suddenly hit me that I also need to stop asking God to do that very same thing. Also every time she says she loves me is an “Aha Moment”.
Best piece of advice to other Mom’s would be to forgive yourself when you make a mistake and don't forget to ask your child to forgive you too.