My therapist says something to me almost every single time we meet… which until she went on maternity leave, was every week! What she says, usually through laughter, is “you have GOT to write a book!”
Recently, during a ladies group meeting at my home, the topic of my “signature” on a few signs around the house came up in conversation. I simply explained to the group, “that's the name I go by around here.” The name? When I sign my name on notes at home it's simply, “The Royal Empress” but when my children hear me calling they usually quickly run to me while answering, “yes Great Empress!?” as they impress me with their most humble and respectful bows.
Truly, this is not an achievement I can brag about, as my children came up with this on their own. You see, it started a long time ago, before they were even born!
I read The Good Earth by Pearl S Buck back in 2003 and fell in love with her description of China. I read every single one of her books in the next few years. Nothing could quench my thirst for learning more about China. I devoured books about the history of China, but I preferred historical fiction.
My favorite was reading about Imperial families and especially the Empresses of China. Over the next decade I read and learned all I could about the Chinese Empires. As I learned I watched plenty of documentaries and other historical movies about Emperors and Empresses. I love learning about other cultures and I simply I took my children along with me on my learning adventure.
I started believing I would visit China after my last child was born in 2008. I knew I couldn't go while she was still a toddler, but I believed one day soon I would go. As I dreamed and planned to go to China, I talked with my children about the country, it's history, the people there and what I imagined it would be like. I practiced speaking Mandarin Chinese and I learned Chinese Calligraphy and I taught them too.
When my dream finally became a reality in 2015, I took my oldest daughter, Macey and we explored China. It was not a tour that many American's go on. We were roughing it a little bit. I wanted to see what REAL China was like from North to South. I packed a lot in and I know it was more “adventure” than my daughter had expected, but I still get goosebumps when I think about our time in China! I actually cried when I stepped in the Forbidden City and again on the Great Wall.
My two youngest children Harm and Shawna kept in touch with me via WeChat (a mobile text and voice messaging communication service developed by Tencent China) during my time away from home. I knew the firewall would prevent me sharing a lot on Facebook, etc.. I sent photos via WeChat of the palace, guards, the Great Wall as well as detailed messages to them daily about what life was really like as I observed everything around me.
Harm really became fascinated with studying the Chinese military and history of China. He already had wanted to come with me so much. It was after my return from this trip that the children started playing a little game with me. I have a super-fun relationship with my children. I'm not a perfect mom or super mom by any means; I mess up, I yell, I act ugly and I have to apologize. However, we are also very close and they love and respect me and for that I feel truly blessed.
Their game began with calling me the “Great Empress” or “Royal Empress” even though I never once asked them to do this and it was a little embarrassing at first. Especially when they did it in front of other people. My son pretends (but he would not say he was pretending) to be the General of my Royal Imperial Empresses Army, RIEA for short. I asked my son why he called me the Great Empress and he said, “well you are the mistress of the household!” ha ha ha
If I drop something on the floor both younger children run forth and retrieve it for me while holding it up to me like I really AM royalty, while saying something like, “the Empress should never have to bend down.” All of this is done joyfully on their part.
I have a thing about putting my bare feet on the ground and since we don't wear shoes in the house, I always wear slippers inside. The children tell their Daddy, “have you ever noticed that the Empress' royal feet never touch the ground?” To which he wholeheartedly agrees, with a wink towards me, that the Empress' feet should NEVER!
When I call my children, they come immediately, quickly and cheerfully. Not only because they have learned through our character studies, that this is the right thing to do, but because they WANT to. I have spent time nurturing and building a relationship with them and they actually want to please me. It's not at all important to me that they call me Great Empress, but it's fun for them, and after I got used to it, well, it's fun for me too.
I know this fun stage will pass and even though they both assure me they will never become “teenagers” I know there will be rough patches ahead in our relationships. I know they honor me, even when the day comes that they stop calling me Great Empress. When I say “honor” I mean their internal attitude that accompanies their behavior not the name they choose to call me. Labels are just labels.
You see, when we Honor God we teach our children by example to honor us, so our obedience should not be reluctant or begrudging, but instead coupled with respect and regard. I love that this game has encouraged them to be quick to respond, obedient, cheerful and imaginative. Yet, I am reminded of Ephesians 6:1-4 “Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise; That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”
The name may be in fun, but they take the honoring part very seriously. That is until I'm truly old, and then they can just call me The Dragon Empress!