It used to be that when my mom and I would talk about the past, she would often say to me, “I should have done that differently”. Depending on the situation I would either agree with her and ask her why she didn’t, or reassure her that she did a good job regardless of the choices she made.
But sometimes behind her back I would judgementally say to myself, “Yes, why didn’t you?” She was a wonderful fun loving, kind hearted mom, and sometimes it just makes sense to keep my mouth shut.
Until recently, I didn’t get why she cared to criticize herself in the first place.
So many times I’ve listened to the sadness and regret in someone’s voice while they talked about raising a family and navigating life, and how they wished they would have handled situations differently.
To be honest, I’m so glad those little thought bubbles don’t appear above our heads when we think. So many times I’ve secretly judged a person and wondered too, why they did things the way they did.
Suddenly I’m realizing I’m a hypocrite. Not because I’ve made exactly the same choices or decisions as someone else, but because I’ve made my own shitty ones. Also grateful, that those secretly critiquing me, don’t have thought bubbles floating above their heads either!
I suddenly have the urge to call the kids and ask them if there is anything from their childhood that has scarred them for life, or if there’s things they might be bitter about.
Maybe I can explain. But most likely when my eyes fill with tears as I try to justify each one of my past moves, they won’t understand either.
But one day they will.
When we find ourselves sitting in our rocking chair wishing for a second chance for a do over, we need to learn not to regret the decisions we’ve made in the past.
Life ain’t easy, for anyone. If we breezed right on through without ever having to make decisions, how would we know when we’re having a good day? We’d miss out on the euphoria when something really great happens. I personally love those moments. They are little reminders that even though life can be challenging, it’s not all that bad.
You’re a mom raising a bunch of yard apes, trying to feed your husband’s appetite, and not just his appetite for food. You’re busy making a home, dressed in your Cinderella shoes, and running your own taxi service while you shuttle everyone in all different directions. And, if you’re not busy enough, maybe you’re working too, just so you can afford to raise the next great all star.
You are being molded to make decisions on the fly and the choices you make will play a part in how life moves forward. Even though I believe someone in the universe already knows whether we will pick option A or option B, why can’t they just save us the hassle of the decision process.
Regardless, you choose what works for you at the time. Sometimes you have to pick your battles and the best you can muster is to say, “Fuck it”, and do what seems the easiest for you to deal with in the moment.
For example. My oldest younger brother left home at 16 (I think) and my youngest brother had to take on the extra chores with no increase in allowance. On Friday nights he would show up looking for his pay and mom would give it to him. For doing nothing!
It made me so angry that she would do that but she justified it by telling herself that hopefully it would keep him from going to jail.
Fast forward to now. I think back to our oldest being hard to discipline for what felt like a long time (you know the saying…the days feel like years and the years feel like days). His dad wanted to kick him out and I wouldn’t let him because it brought back memories of my brother, who had recently passed away, basically homeless.
Then the day came when his dad, no longer caring about my mama bear instincts, kicked him out of the house to fend for himself. Because deep down I finally agreed and didn’t argue this time, I ran to my room and prayed that he would be ok and worked at convincing myself that we were making the right decision. An hour later he was back to get his homework, which I found rather unusual lol, and the very next day he was back home, following all the rules and never giving us any more trouble.
If someone else had told me their child was behaving the way ours had, without hesitation my thought bubble would be filled with the words, “Kick him out and teach him a lesson with some tough love!” But yet, for so long I couldn’t do it with my own kid. Thinking back about it now, I finally understand why my mom made some of the decisions she did.
There's a Moral to the Story
Usually our intention is to do the thing that we think will have the least impact, or cause the least amount of grief or harm as a result. And most of the time it’s the tougher choice that would have done the most amount of good. If I could have found the strength to support my husband’s decision on tough love the first time, I could have saved us from all the crap we went through until we finally followed through.
But who the hell knows all that when you’re training on the job.
No matter how old you get and no matter what’s happening in life, there will always be decisions to be made. The moral of the story is, do what feels right at the time. Don’t regret your choices and remember that we all do what we need to do to survive the moment. The decisions and choices we make are what lead us to where we’re going.
So, just do YOU!