We started off as a family of three, then overnight five, and now Jazmine, my 21-month-old niece, makes six.
Jazmine is my middle brother’s daughter. Her mom is incarcerated in the same prison as Eliza, believe it or not. My brother was doing the best he could with her but I knew that I could do better. My niece needed me.
I know that it worried my mother that my brother was raising her alone. And shortly after she died I decided to get her longterm. In fact, I took her home from the hospital that very night. I kept her for a week and relunctantly returned her back to my brother’s care after the funeral. I couldn’t stop thinking about her. My brother wasn’t doing so well dealing with his grief. He wasn’t taking good care of himself and thus was inacapable of taking appropriate care of Jazmine. I toyed with the idea of getting her on a permanent basis but I was just so tired! Then practical thoughts about daycare and really just starting all over again scared me into not taking action. I knew I would have to sacrifice a lot. I also knew that I would need my husband’s help and consent.
So I left it alone but God didn’t. He put it on my heart to get her and filled my head with constant thoughts of her. He reminded me that he would give me all the strength and resources I would need to take care of her. He cleared the path for me. Therefore I had no reason not to get her. Even before I could pose the question to my husband, he already knew what I needed to do. He immediatedly encouraged me to get her which relieved me greatly.
I had no idea how my brother would feel. When I approached him with my suggestion, he was pridefully hesitant at first. I think too that he may have been slightly offended because he thought he was doing just fine. I pointed out how he could not even comb her hair adequately or that he could hardly find a sitter for her while he was at work. I gently reminded him that I was there to help beacuse I was his sister–not a social worker. I also pointed out that she was my niece, too. I guess my arguement was convincing enough because he gave me permission to take her with me that following weekend.
That was over four months ago. Jazmine is like the daughter I never had. She is an adorable, smart, and inquistive child. I just really love her so, as does my husband. She is the little princess of the house. Just ask the boys!
Not to say that I haven’t had to get used to having a little one around. I have in a major way. I can no longer sleep in, we now have day care expenses, frequent diaper changes, the pain of teething, immunizations, potty training in the very near future (can’t seem to remember training Nicholas because he was SO easy!), carrying a diaper bag (can’t seem to do this! I just stuff a couple in my purse or stash them in the car. My husband finds this hilarious!), and pushing a stroller to name a few new routines that have been added to my already complicated life.
But she is a real peach. She often calls both me and my husband “Mommy,” which I find hilarious! Every time I whip out the camera she automatically says “Cheese!” She loves to talk on the phone and says “hello” just like Scooby Doo. One time I was talking to Rhonda on the phone when I noticed that someone had picked up the line. I was confident that it had been picked up at Rhonda’s house because only Jazmine and I were at home at the time. When Rhonda checked the phones in her house and gave the all clear, I realized that it could only be at my house. Still in disbelief I said “Jazmine?,” and just as clear as day, she said “what?” To this day, Rhonda and I still get a good laugh at that episode.
I am a neatnik and I think I may have rubbed off on her. When I sweep, she dashes to get the dustpan. After eating she meticiuosly picks up even the tiniest of crumbs. If the plate she is eating from is paper, she puts it in the trash pail afterwards without being prompted.
In a way she is helping me heal. I know that my mother would have wanted me to help my brother. If my mom is watching us, I know she is pleased. And that is a great feeling. So I actually feel quite lucky to have her. Even when she is being “Jazmania” as I like to call her when she is having one of her frequent temper tantrums. Still, I know I made the right decision. Yet I know we will all be sad to see her go upon her mom’s release.