So I was thinking about a plethora of things. Where do I even begin?!
"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way..." - A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
The last year or two of my life has been a perfect example of this quote. As a matter of fact, this has been the case in my life on more than one occasion. What's different this time around is my perspective and the way I'm handling the hand that life has dealt me. In times past, I would dwell on the worst. The bad would be magnified to the point of outweighing the good, regardless of how great the good was or how often good was present. I would allow the negatives in life to overshadow everything positive.
We're only 28 days into the new year and I already have had my share of really good and really bad experiences. The difference now, and what has been for at least the last year, is that I'm intentionally living my life with an attitude of gratitude, while also pondering the lessons I should be learning amidst any adversity. I'm thankful for everything that goes right, while also looking for the bright side in the things that go wrong. I'm believing that everything happens for a reason and that ALL things are working together for my good. I'm asking God what He is trying to show me and teach me. I'm even having conversations with myself to determine what I can do differently, what I can do better, what I can do more, what I can do less, what I can eliminate, and what I can add. I'm also understanding more and actually accepting that what I go through isn't just for me. My joy and good fortune should be shared with others as well as trials that are overcome and are testaments of faith, God's grace, hard work, perserverance, and consistency, so that people can relate, realize they aren't alone, and muster the strength to push through. It's awesome when good things happen without much effort, but some of the most beautiful things in nature occur after a storm or after extreme pressure has been applied. In life, going through the worst of times isn't easy, but in the end it's always worth it.
So I was thinking about how easy it can be at times to point out another person's faults, while completely ignoring our own. Why is that? How is it even possible to notice a speck in someone else's eye, when we have an entire freaking beam in our own? Is it narcissism that makes us comfortable in pointing a finger and not noticing the other fingers pointing right back at us? Does pride make us delusional and unable to recoginze our own flaws and missteps?? Or is it just plain selfishness, self-centeredness, and immaturity that makes us not accept responsibility for our own issues, makes us not look at the proverbial man in the mirror, but has us always peering at the man across the room?
I take the The 5 Love Languages quiz at least once a year (click here to find out more and/or to take the quiz). When I went to the site the other day, I saw something new called "apology languages". Like the 5 languages that are used to properly express love, Gary Chapman along with Jennifer Thomas have also identified 5 apology langauges to properly express regret. Also like the love languages, there is a quiz that determines what type of apology is most important to you or that you're most receptive to. My apology language is Accept Responsibility and this is the part of the descripion that stuck out to me: "...as adults, we must all admit that we make and will make mistakes. We are going to make poor decisions that hurt our mates (it says mates, but this also applies to children, friends, parents, etc), and we are going to have to admit that we were wrong. We have to accept responsibility for our own failures." I can't emphasize enough how important this is, not just when it's time to issue an apology, but in life period! We can be so quick to condemn and belittle others when they err, whether in general or against us, that it seems we are struck with temporary amnesia. When someone messes up in a different way than us, we tend to forget our evils and/or find ways to justify them! Let's all do better by,
So I was thinking about what today is and what/who this holiday represents. I can't help but wonder what Dr. King would think about the state of our country and what role he would play in the continued fight for justice and equality. Would he still be active in the struggle? How many more comparable leaders would he have groomed and mentored to follow his footsteps and continue his legacy?
Although we've made great strides forward as a nation, we've simultaneously taken tremendous leaps back. The phrase, "The more things change, the more they stay the same", rings true. Many of the problems faced during the civil rights movement and addressed in the famed, I Have a Dream speech, are still obstacles we have yet to overcome today.
This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy...Now is the time to lift the nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all God's children. It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment...There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality...No, no we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream. -Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I Have a Dream Speech at the March on Washington, August 1963
In the new millennium, we're still battling excessive police brutality and the wrongful murders of black men (and women). The leader of the free world is one who endorses hatred, misogyny, and divisiveness. He has made it more comfortable for people to display their true colors of racism and bigotry. We're in the middle of the longest government shutdown in the history of the country, where hundreds of thousands of government workers are not getting paid, some still reporting to work with no paycheck at the end of their 80 hours. Various government assistance programs are being adversely effected, all for a ridiculous wall that is being deemed as necesssary under the guise of concern for border control. Black men still account for the largest percentage of the prison population. These are just some of the hardships we face today. Even though circumstances seem bleak and we may experience feelings of helplessness and hopelessness, I continue to hold on to my faith in God, but also in Dr. King's dream, "I say to you today, my friends, though, even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream." We've come a long way, but we haven't quite reached the mountaintop. Let's keep striving and do whatever is in our power (vote, educate, be active in our communities, mentor, etc) to get us closer to seeing his dream come to fruition.
So I was thinking about my son and the complexities of parenting as a single, divorced mom. I was thinking about how there is no concrete formula for being a successful parent, how the decisions we make as parents impact our children, and how difficult it is to raise children. Mama nem never told me there would be days like some of the ones I've encountered in the last 16.5 years.
I really wish that someone had talked to me and given me the TRUE inside scoop on what it is to have children. I remember hearing the ideas of marriage and children being emphasized and applauded, but I don't recall anybody telling me the real deal about those life events, especially about having kids! Nobody mentioned to me that even if I followed the "first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes Cheryce with the baby carriage" ideology, I could still end up with a faded love, dissolved marriage, and just one person pushing that carriage. People talked about teething, potty training, and the terrible twos but they failed to mention the agonizing adolescence and tumultuous teens! All these things are extremely difficult when faced alone. Let me clarify, my son's father is 100% in his life, however, with us being in separate households, although we "co-parent", it's kinda like his father does his thing over there and I do my thing over here, while still trying to be on the same page. It's such a weird place to be in. If I'm being honest, many times I've wished that his father and I would have just stayed married and worked out some type of living arrangement. I understand more and more why people make the decision to "stay for the kids". Of course, it isn't good for children to witness unhealthy relationships. However, I also don't think that it was meant for children to be raised in single family households. It's like choosing the lesser of two evils. Either situation can be navigated with some level of success, but which one will have the greatest negative affect on the child (children)? Which has the potential to be most beneficial in the long run?
It's my prayer that people will start to take more time to think about how serious it is to become a parent. It's more than cute, cuddly babies and matching mother/daughter outfits. From the time of conception, every decision made has a direct or indirect affect on that child. We have the potential to make or break our children with every choice we make.
So I was thinking about how it's been a while since I've written! Hey y'all, Happy New Year! I am looking forward to a year of more consistency, exciting new opportunities, and moving forward with my dreams, even in the midst of fear and uncertainty. I turn 40 this year and I'm ecstatic about all the possiblities this new decade of life will bring.
Ok, so enough of the greetings and salutations. Let's get down to the nitty gritty. I've been noticing various success stories about the relationship of blended families. There are several celebrity famillies that have been in the spotlight, showcasing what appears to be the ideal blended family set-up. Even the situations that were initially presented to the public by the media as rocky, have evolved into seemingly magical fairy tales of parents, children, step-children, and step-parents deeply in love and living happily ever after. Well, I wish I may, I wish I might have the spell or the potion that would make my blended family live in harmony and be just right!
I mean seriously. What is it? One of my favorite scriptures in the bible is Eccelesiastes 10:19. The Message Bible translation says, "Laughter and bread go together, And wine gives sparkle to life—But it's money that makes the world go around." Is that it? Is it the lack of financial stress that makes it easier to deal? Do the unlimited resources and extra commas make major life changes more tolerable?? Whatever it is, I need the secret.
My son's father and I have not been together for almost 15 years. We separated in September of 2004 and were officially divorced in September of 2005. You would think that by now we would have perfected the concept of co-parenting and blended families, but um...no. My ex has been married twice since me, which means I have been (am) in the role of ex-wife/ baby mama twice, which can be a difficult role to have, especially when you do not establish some type of working relationship with the new bonus parent. And I believe therein lies (at least some of) the problem. When a parent is embarking on a new, long term relationship, it is their responsibility to make sure that the ex is introduced to the bonus parent. It's important that they meet the person, see who their child will be around, and have the chance to develop a respectful understanding in regard to the raising of the child. Otherwise, the door is left open for the ex and step-parent to come to conclusions about each other based on what they've heard or what they THINK they know of each other, which can lead to the overstepping of boundaries. For instance, my ex-husband's second wife was just somebody that my baby ended up coming home talking about a lot. Once I realized that this was somebody that his father was dating and serious about, I mentioned meeting her and tried to get something together, but it never happened. After they were married, we had minimal interaction with each other during pick-ups/drop-offs and things, but no official meeting. I formed an opinion about her based on what I heard from my son and other people who knew/met her. In turn, she formed an opinion about me based on what she heard from my ex and other people she met who knew me. She ended up making up a rule where I was supposed to only call HER when I had something to discuss about my son. I don't know what somebody told her or what she thought, but I politely told her that I had been there, done that, had the mug and t-shirt and didn't want to go back, so whenever I needed to talk about MY son with HIS father, I would do just that because I have NO obligation to her. So, when that relationship didn't work out and he was going to marry his third wife, I emphasized the importance of meeting and establishing some sort of rapport with his new wife because I didn't want the things that happened before to occur this time around. He assured me that this time would be different. Without going into too much detail, I can say that there have only been slight changes. The bottom line is, when a relationship has severed and people have moved on with children involved, the focus should be on the adults working together to ensure that the child doesn't miss a beat. Everyone should work in tandem, with the child's best interests at heart. Bonus parents should also keep in mind that as long as both parents are active in the child's life, there is no need to try to take the place of the child's mother or father. As long as there is respect for everybody's role and a proper focus on the child(children), we should all be able to live happily ever after in Blended Family Land like the Pinkett Smiths, Harts, and Swizzbeats nem! LOL