If I could do it over…
I never wanted to be a mom (which is the subject of a different blog post discussion), but… If I could be a mom all over again – I would! That does not mean that I want babies again. Rather, I want MY babies again! I would love to relive the milestones, the experiences and most every childhood moment with both Emily and Clayton. When my kids were born, people warned me to cherish the moments because it all goes by so fast. I listened and I think I worked hard to heed that counsel, and even though I don’t regret most of those moments, I still didn’t notice how quickly time was passing. I am sad that I will not ever go to another concert, play, art show or baseball game. I won’t drive to practices, make lunches or help with homework ever again! I actually miss the rhythm of the school days and year. I didn’t realize how much I would miss the days of family vacations, dinner time conversations and reading stories before bed. Gone are making of Halloween costumes, traditions that come with the holidays and seasons, visits to the park and the library and all the family movie and game nights in the basement in Waukegan. All those treasured moments that I had the fortune of sharing with my kids are done. They are memories.
As I write this, the waves of nostalgia wash over me and I recognize that there are many parts of parenting that I am glad to never repeat, as well as to acknowledge that I am very proud of my adult children and I am grateful for the moments we are currently making into memories. I guess I grew fond of being responsible for these two amazing human beings that I have had the privilege of partnering with the Holy One and Jim in raising. I no longer look forward to the prospect of being accountable for just me. This process of empty nesting feels more like the notions I used to have of grief, where loss is followed by a sad time that you push through to get to the other side. You finish the task of parenting and then you move on. I don’t have to move on! I am still their mom. I just need to get used to the change in scenery. (BTW- The other kind of grief I have come to know has no other side; instead it’s learning to adjust and adapt and accept the complete alteration of who I am and seeing life and self differently).
Doing it over is one thing, but would I do any of it differently? This is hard for me to write on many levels, partly because I did such a good job as a mom (NOT!) and partly because rehashing what I did and didn’t do in the past is dangerous. It is what it is and dwelling on mistakes is not a healthy practice. I am not a perfect parent – just ask my kids. But I really was good enough and I am not going to have a second chance anyway. So, as I reflect on the joyful and sometimes daunting job of being a parent, I do wish some of it was different.
Because I am a list person I will list them but not with numbers, since they are not in a particular order:
- I would let the dishes wait. There are many things I probably missed because cleaning up actually helped me relax. Or I would have made you pitch in more and learn how to clean up. we missed some good conversations that we could have had over a sink of hot soapy water.
- I would NOT let the dishes wait. I would have been better with follow-through and consequences in regards to chores and responsibilities. When parents constantly remind kids of important items or tasks, the kids learn dependence on others for functions they should be taking ownership of themselves. We actually enable them to rely on others rather than on themselves, and sadly, we’re encouraging them to blame others when things go wrong instead of claiming accountability for their lives.
- I would have been more patient with teaching you both how to do stuff, rather than just do it myself. I wish I had been more patient to teach you how to sew and cook and garden.
- I would have encouraged in direct proportion to correction. I did encourage but I corrected way more.
- I would have worked harder on manners and eye contact…
- I would have taken a picture in the same spot or pose every birthday as well as a family pic at every holiday, whether you wanted me to or not. And I would have been in more of them with your dad and you. People matter way more than places.
- I would have given you less stuff and not collected all the beanie babies, McDonald toys, etc. That was a huge waste of time and energy.
- I would have made you finish your projects. Even though we told you to try your best and never give up, we were often too busy or lazy to make you really complete the things you started.
- I wish I would have written down the stories you made up and that dad told at bedtimes.
- I wish I would have written down the sayings and funny perspectives you kids had – I really don’t remember things as well as I would like to think I do.
- I would not have used sarcasm, raised my voice or been angry when correcting you – ever!
- I would have acknowledged and affirmed your learning differences with pride rather than embarrassment or fear.
- I would have made you support each others’ activities more. Honoring each other by showing up and building up.
- I would have had more celebrations of ordinary days.
- I would have finished scrap books.
- I would have insisted on less junk food and more family exercise.
- Allowed myself grace when I made mistakes – trusted myself and God when I did blow it. He can work it out in spite of me.
- Allowed you the grace to change your attitude or look for success too soon.
- I would have made sure you made some decisions rather than always training you to yield to others and letting them choose everything.
- I would have had you both go to counseling when your dad got sick and taken a trip as a family after your dad died.
- Hug you more. Bless you more. Celebrate you more. Pray more.
I am grateful for you both and even though I don’t get a do-over, I am humbled to be your mom, with all my faults and successes. Hopefully your therapy won’t wipe out your savings and I pray that you will be better parents of my grandkids than dad and I were for you. I love being your mom. I miss when you were little but I love the people you have become – by God’s grace.