Watch Your Mouth

People are always talking about forgiveness. I can’t tell you how many times someone asked me what I’d do if my father died during the time I refused to speak to him.

When he finally apologized to me, I had written off his words  and challenged him to changed behavior. Except not for me. I told him to be a better grandfather than he was a father. At the time, I had my nieces and nephew in mind.

I never thought through what that would mean or look like in the event I had my own children. In fact I never directly told him about my pregnancy. I just showed up to his job several times until I was visibly expecting, at which point he feigned surprise as I’m sure my aunt or one of my uncles probably already told him.

And then it began. I was challenged to make my actions match my words. Was I going to allow him the chance to be better to my child than he was to me? What would that look like? What would my expectations or boundaries be? All things I was ill-prepared to even envision.

It was harder than I ever imagined. Despite reopening lines of communication with him in 2017 by the time I gave birth in 2020 we hadn’t really established a relationship. Layer on top of that, I wasn’t feeling mentally or financially prepared for motherhood and I gave birth in the middle of a pandemic.

I did my best to handle the requests to be involved in my child’s life. I’d be lying ig I said they weren’t triggering. I literally had a panic attack one time while we were shopping for my child, because he disappeared in the store after telling me to wait in line. I stood there craning my neck around the store yearning for a glimpse of his presence as we moved closer and closer to the register.

It’s been nearly two years and every encounter continues to be an exercise in faith and boundaries. How can I communicate the boundary of respecting  my time? Why do I keep showing up for the possibility of disappointment? How do I protect my child from inconsistency without denying him the opportunity to show he’s grown? Do I owe it to him to redeem himself?

I ain’t got the answers SWAY! Only endless questions with each experience. One thing I’ve learned though is to watch your mouth when calling someone else to a challenge. You never know when it’ll be your turn to meet them in the ring.

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