Have you ever felt regret? We moms are pretty hard on ourselves sometimes. Every decision is weighed so heavily.
Maybe the regret is because you worked when the kids were small…or didn’t. Perhaps you’ve got a heavy heart about sending your little one to preschool…or not. How about competitive sports? Do you feel bad about pushing too hard? Or not enough? I venture to say everyone look back and wish we had done something differently.
Last weekend I had the opportunity to hear an extraordinary author, Jon Acuff, speak at a conference and he said something that really resonated. Forgive me because I’ll likely muddle his words, but they were something like, “Regret consumes your present so that you can’t have a future.”
My regret? When my children were younger I felt the strong need to have a job. Talk about seeing greener grass on the other side of the fence. I had the ability to be a stay-at-home mom and less than two years into it, I wanted out. I felt the need for something that was just mine. Plus, who could turn down extra money for their family?
Looking back, I lucked out. I found a part-time work-from-home job. Perfect, right? Not entirely.
Flash forward to about a year ago. My children and I were watching one of those cake-baking competition shows on television and the contestants were honoring their mothers. The elements of the cake were to represent their personalities and likes. “What would you put on a cake for me?” I asked, giddy with anticipation. They looked at each other and said, almost simultaneously, “a laptop.” I felt my shoulders slump and I exhaled the breath I had been holding. Really? A laptop is the first thing that came to their minds? And then the past eight years flashed before my eyes.
“Mommy is on a (phone) meeting. Shhhhh…”
“I’ll play with you as soon as I’m done with this.”
“Just a second.”
“Just a minute.”
“In a bit.”
All of the time we spent at the library, fun at the park, days at the beach, weekends camping, snuggling on the couch and every other good thing went out of my head. None of it mattered. My kids picked the laptop for my cake and that, obviously, meant that I neglected them. I was in an undeniable funk about it and have carried it around for quite a while.
Then when I heard Jon’s words about regret getting in the way of the future, I was like “wait a minute!” Could these feelings be what feed the doubt I have about doing huge things with my writing? Do I equate taking next steps towards greater success with more time on the computer? Suddenly all of these things seemed related and when I put them together, I almost felt relief.
Let’s just dream for a minute. Say I finish that novel I’ve been working on forever and the kids decide to put that on my cake. Would I feel this same despair? No! I’d be like, “Heck yeah, put my book on the cake! In fact, make the whole cake a book!”
So why the hang up about the laptop? It’s been my dream to make a living as a writer and I do that now. Go me! But would I go back and change the amount of time I spent on it in my children’s presence? Yes, without question. I can let that act as a guide for my future, though. I can reach for success but put it in its during-the-school-day and after-the-kids-go-to-bed place, so that even if that stupid laptop makes it on the cake, it’s among things like flowers, a pair of cool flip flops, and a sandcastle.
When you think about your own regrets, remember this one thing. We make the best decisions we can with the information we have at the time. We’re thinkers and weigh the choices carefully. Despite that, sometimes things don’t work out as we didn’t anticipate and that doesn’t make us bad moms. It just shows that we’re human and without the ability to tell the future.
Don’t let the moments you wish you could change about your past, stand in the way of your bright and beautiful tomorrow. You’re worth giving yourself a solid second chance at either doing it differently this time or going an entirely new direction that’s right for you now.
This article was featured on page 12 of the April 2013 issue of Parent News. You can have a look at the full magazine, filled with events, articles, and tips online every month or pick it up while you’re out and about.
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