If I could go back in time to change anything, would I? Would you?
Looking back over the years, I have a few regrets–many of them relating to things I’ve done (or not done) with my kids. There are all the times I wasn’t as patient as I should have been, the times I yelled or snapped, the days I nitpicked the negative, the moments when I flipped out over inconsequential things. I could sit here for hours culling up example after example about where I’ve gone wrong. I could wish to have those moments back to do them “right,” but I’m learning that there’s some good in them too, actually.
My kids have learned some important lessons through my parental failings. They’ve learned we’re all human and make mistakes–even grown ups. They’ve learned that some mistakes can be fixed … and others cannot. They’ve learned we have to be careful and thoughtful with our words and actions because once we’ve said or done something, it can’t be taken back. They’ve learned the value of saying “I’m sorry” and that a sincere apology can be very meaningful. They’ve learned whether or not that apology fixes everything, they need to take responsibility for their actions and try to make things right. They’ve also learned a lot about the value of forgiving and moving on.
My kids aren’t the only ones who’ve learned … I’ve had my share of lessons as I’ve sorted out the mistakes I’ve made.
I’ve learned that a kiss and some cuddle time can help heal hurt feelings. I’ve learned we’re often more critical of ourselves than others are of us. I’ve learned that pausing to count to ten–or even just five–helps settle a temper and offer perspective. I’ve learned everyone can benefit from a timeout. And I’ve learned listening and hearing are two very different things.
Recognizing that I’m not perfect–and I won’t ever be–has been one of the hardest and most beneficial lessons I’ve learned–and it’s made me a better parent because it helps me remember my kids aren’t perfect either. I know I don’t have all the answers; I don’t have to.
Being transparent, available, and vulnerable with my kids is important; it shows my humanity. That means they’ll see me fumble and falter, which includes falling down–and they’ll see me getting back up, brushing myself off and doing what I need to do to correct the problem. They’ll see me make mistakes and try my best to fix them. They’ll see that even when things go wrong, it’s not the end of the world. They’re learning by my examples that sometimes life is hard–made that way by our own choices and actions. They also get to see sometimes, some days, it’s about putting one foot in front of the other and doing the hard work to make things right. They’re learning that it’s ok to be mad, but it doesn’t last forever.
As my kids grow up and develop new relationships and have kids of their own, they’ll make mistakes. When they say or do something that upsets or hurts someone they care about, they’ll have had enough experience and practice to know what they need to do … and they’ll know it probably won’t be broken forever. Hopefully, when they have kids of their own some day, they’ll remember the mistakes and lessons we’ve all learned.
Everything you’ve ever done is what’s made you who you are today. I may not be perfectly satisfied with where I am and I might want to make changes and improvements for the future, but I’ve learned so much along the way. I’m a work in progress … a much improved, but still not perfect, work in progress.
Although the honest feedback and sting of the moment can be difficult, I know there’s something good to come from every mistake. So, even if I could go back in time to right the wrongs, I’m just not sure I would. Instead, I’d rather do my best to continue learning and applying the knowledge from every situation and mistake. I don’t want to spend my energy wishing for moments back to redo. Instead I’ll spend my energy on taking what I’ve learned and trying my best to put it into action. I may not get it right today … or tomorrow, but I’ll keep trying.
If you could go back in time to change anything, would you?
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- Finding nine
- Janine’s Confessions of a Mommyaholic
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