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  • Writer's pictureStephanie Valentine

Jab, Hook, Cross, Uppercut

Many of you know that I really enjoy kickboxing. This intense exercise isolates different muscles, based on the type of punch you throw. Being able to throw the combinations keeps your opponent off guard and creates some wonderful back muscles. Raising children is like this in a way. You have to have a few arrows in your quiver to be successful.

The four basic punches are the jab, hook, cross and uppercut. I equate regular, punctual church attendance as the jab, making Sunday School a priority is the hook, trying to live a consistent life in front of your children is the cross. The uppercut is the punch that really puts your opponent on his butt. You need someone besides you that is influential, comes from a loving place, and is as passionate about the Lord as you are to reinforce the very things you have taught them. For our family, that person is my sister-in-law, Auntie J.

You never know how the circumstances of life are going to change. I have been blessed with wonderful sisters-in-love from my brothers. It has been a bonus to cultivate a loving relationship with my husband’s sisters. There is something you have to know about Jamaican mothers. Good, bad or indifferent, they are going to defend their sons at all costs. Anyone who has a different opinion runs the risk of fury from said mother. There is a saying that we love our sons and raise our daughters. This is often true of Jamaican moms.

We were going through transitional phases with our husbands at the same time. She had also moved to Georgia with her hubby and moved close to where we were living. After it was clear that we would be raising these six men on our own, we agreed that it made sense to work together to at least get the fellas together for holidays. I so appreciated Auntie J’s commitment even though it was at the peril of upsetting her mom. Auntie was more motivated by her love for her nephews, than the possible retribution from her mom.

Auntie J became a teacher at the high school where all 6 of our guys attended. She went back to her maiden name and I kept my married name so we had the same last name. People oftentimes thought that we had the same mother and father. We didn’t have the same mother, but we had the same heavenly Father in common. Auntie J, among other things, leads the Fellowship of Christian Athletes on the high school campus. Students have to come early on Friday morning and you don’t have to be an athlete to participate. The students are responsible for leading the service. This peer lead worship really matured my guys. It was the uppercut to spiritually make them the men they are today.

My sons think the world of Auntie J. I am not sure that I have properly thanked Auntie for her influence and encouragement. We have so much unspoken admiration for each other. We are there for each other in good and challenging times. People are always amazed that we didn’t occupy the same womb. They always say that we have the same spirit. It goes back to us having the same heavenly Father.

This week is the 29th anniversary of her entering the sisterhood of motherhood (a phrase I was introduced to by my mother-in-law’s sister). Auntie, thank you for your prayers and sacrifices over the years. You are a blessing to a wide range of children, but I want to take this opportunity to thank you for what you have done and continue to mean to mine. We love you.

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