Half Empty or Half Full?

I found myself looking at my contribution as a custodial stepmother to measure what I was bringing to the table. I always found the analogy of the half empty/half full glass of milk to be interesting so I applied it to my co-parenting situation.

To answer the question whether the glass is half empty or half full depends on the perspective of the one holding the glass. One parent may feel that he/she is doing everything possible for the sake of the child but in reality they are not pouring enough milk (time, money, resources) into the glass to nourish their child. We can describe their parenting level as the glass being half empty. Another parent may actually be doing everything possible to nourish the child and pours all of their milk (time, money and resources) to fill up the child. Their parenting level can be described as the glass being half full. Theoretically, each effort adds more milk to the cup in hopes of filling it to the brim. It seems unfair to have one parent do more than the other, right? I argue it’s all about your perspective. If both parents are lucky, they will see an overflow of what they poured into that child which then can be used to help others. How would you describe your parenting style?

As parents, we believe that we are doing all that we could to pour the right things into our child so that one day we can be proud to show off our accomplishment: a smart, respectable, mature, responsible, talented young person ready to take on the world. However, I challenge every parent to reconsider what else they may have poured into their child(ren). While you may have paid for sports or music lessons, have you also allowed the drama and negativity of your co-parenting to seep in? Is your child(ren) aware of the ongoing battle over him/her? Are they able to communicate this to you or do they internalize it? As co-parents, we must be mindful of what we pour into our children because if not, we can cause more damage which will result in expensive therapy now or later.

The Unforgiving Heart

I’ve always struggled with unforgiveness no matter the size of the offense. It’s deep rooted in me. I am guilty of putting grown adults on “time out” unbeknownst to them for something I had not forgiven them for. It was my problem not theirs. So I began to wonder…..

How do you forgive others who aren’t truly sorry? How do you overcome forgiving others when they are unaware of their offense? How do you overcome forgiving others when they don’t understand the depth of your pain? How do you overcome forgiving others when they are unapologetic? More importantly, how do you forgive yourself? How can you move forward with the person you forgave? Do you stop all interactions until the feelings pass? What if they are family or even a spouse or child? It’s much easier to forgive them, right? Does forgiving mean that you are weak? Does forgiving mean that you allow the same opportunity for another offense to occur? Are you supposed to resist the urge to speak your mind and destroy them with your venomous words if you have truly forgiven them? Is this a sign you are on the road to forgiveness when you choose not to unleash hell on them? What does forgiveness even look like? Is it an ongoing behavior that must be consistent without pretense? Are some people more unforgiving than others? Does it depend on your upbringing? Is it a learned behavior?

For years, this was a sore spot for me and honestly, it still is. Too many times, I confused forgiveness with being soft or passive out of fear of the offenses continuing. In retrospect, I would say my upbringing had alot to do with how I chose to forgive others. In my family, we held grudges for so long that people often forgot what they were originally mad about and instead of dropping the matter altogether, the cycle continued for years. I knew it was unhealthy to hold these grudges but my pride wouldn’t allow me to give in.  Every now and again, the BM (Biological Mom) needed grace and I was ruthless in withholding it. I had been scarred pretty early on in my stepmom journey so it took very little effort to spark an outburst. The few times when I tried to convince myself that I had actually committed the act of forgiveness, I would find myself in a situation that proved to me how wrong I was. I would hear people say that forgiveness is for you and by doing so, it would free the burden in your heart. After a while, I decided that forgiving BM took too much effort and I would never learn the lesson. Eventually, I began to look at forgiveness in a practical way because as humans, we all mess up and will continue until the end of time. Everyone has at least one thing in their life they just can’t get right. Just think about how draining it would it be to have someone constantly holding that over your head. Get the point? Choose to forgive over and over if you have to. It’s not a one time thing and then you’re done. Forgiveness takes daily discipline.

Unforgiveness freezes time while forgiveness allows the sun to rise daily and the moon to take its place. Whether you choose to hold onto grudges or forgive with no expectations, only you can decide how to use your time.