One More Try?

My husband and I have been official empty-nesters for almost three years now, and it’s been nine years since we’ve had both of our kids living at home full time, so I’ve had plenty of time to get used to the idea that both my son and daughter are grown up and out on their own.  But planning my daughter’s wedding really drives home the fact that my kids are now bonafide, independent adults, so I suppose it’s only natural that lately I’ve found myself spending a lot of time reminiscing about the years I spent raising them.  I know I was the best parent I knew how to be, and I’m more than happy with the way my son and daughter turned out, but that doesn’t mean I don’t look back and find a lot of places where I wish I had done things differently.

I wish I was more patient when they were young, both my myself as I was learning what it meant to be a parent, as well as with my children.  I wish I had spent less time and energy trying to make sure everything was “just right,” and more time being spontaneous and accepting of the hectic, messy and joyous reality that small children bring.  I would like to be more certain that I didn’t let my frustrations with other areas of my life (too many rejection slips from the editors I sent my manuscripts to with such hope; too much turmoil and too many pay cuts with my husband’s job at the time) effect the way I treated my children, making me more demanding and impatient that I should have been.

Martha & DanielI would have liked to have spent less time worrying about the small stuff:  why my daughter barely talked she was a toddler (she’s been making up for that one ever since); whether my son would ever gain enough weight that his pants would quit slipping down over his hips (that was before “sagging” became a fashion statement); whether they were keeping up with the other kids in terms of their skills and abilities.   And when they were older, I wish I hadn’t taken it quite so personally when the world wasn’t always kind to them, and they didn’t make a sports team, or a former best friend suddenly dropped them, or they didn’t get a good grade on a project they worked so hard on.  It’s never easy for kids to learn that life isn’t always good or fair, but I’m afraid that I made it much worse when they had to deal with my disappointment as well as their own.

In short, what I’d really like is a “do over” for the times that I wasn’t as good of a mother as I wanted to be.  And of course I know I can’t have one, and that regretting the past is mostly a waste of time that benefits no one.  The most I can do at this point is to stop longing for a non-existent “do over” and simply resolve to try to “do better” from here on.  I may not be able to erase my past mistakes, parenting or otherwise, but I can learn from them and use them to help me become the kind of mother, and person, that I really want to be.   I may not get to have a “do over,” but I do have, and will always have, the chance to do better.

15 thoughts on “One More Try?

  1. I think every parent who came to the point in life you are at right now has had the same thoughts and regrets. But we can only do what we can do with the knowledge and resources we have in front of us in those moments. No parent is perfect and circumstance, pressures and influences factor into our behavior and decisions. We’re only human, after all..:) my guess is you did a great job easing your children and they were fortunate to have you as their Mom. ..:)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you George! You are always so kind. I think it is hard to look back at the things we did and see where we could have done better and not feel guilty. But as you said, we did the best we could with the knowledge and circumstances we had at the time. And it sure helps to know that others feel the same way! Thanks again…

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Amazingly true…. Lots of “do over” wishes for me too…but I find that though I wish I didn’t make mistakes in the past …ironically those mistakes were kinda necessary for me to learn to be better… My blessings now are the daily opportunities to be better with my grand babies and in turn with my grown children.

    Thank you Ann for another heart felt post xo

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I have tons of regrets myself. Hey, it makes us human! If we thought we were perfect, how could we try harder. But when they were little it was so hard to try to get it right! We were so busy just trying to cope with life in general, and I for one barely knew myself!! Hence my current blog–just starting to figure that out! My hope is that when they are parents they will get it and forgive. And then maybe I’ll be a grandparent and get to ‘do it right’ or at least “righter” by then…. ❤ 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Honestly, one of the first things I like about your blog was the name! I like the idea of a “second half” of our life where we get the chance to live a little more intentionally now that we have a better sense of self and are more mature. And it is amazing how many people have said that grandchildren do give us a chance for a parenting “do over.” I find that very hopeful!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Us mom’s are so relentlessly hard on ourselves. I have found the better the mother, the more this is true. So you might consider this. No matter how good of a mother we are, it is never good enough for the ones who really care. You obviously really care and always did.

    Liked by 1 person

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