Lessons From a Mom with a Few Regrets

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The truth is…

“We all have regrets in our parenting, but it’s ok. God is good, all the time.”

So.

Here it is the final week of high school for my son, a week I honestly didn’t think would ever come. When they were babies, I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to have a kid in college. With college memories still very fresh in my mind, it seemed like 18 years would take forever.

Over the weekend, I had a chance to connect with a mom of three little tiny kids—all boys under the age of 5. As I talked with her, I could see that she was weary, but happy to have a morning to her self, which included a beverage from Dutch Bros. made just the way she liked it, and encouragement at a women’s event with other women and moms. I listened as she described her rambunctious household that bustled with energy and little boy (loud) voices. Her eyes, though tired, lit up as she described each son by name. I could see how much she loves these boys just by what topics she talked about, like how proud she was of her 5-year old’s progress in school, the needed potty training of her two-year-old, and so on.

Naturally, talking to her brought memories back to my mind of my own little rambunctious, loud, energetic boy, who repeatedly launched himself off the fireplace mantle into a bean bag chair yelling “To infinity and beyond!” the whole way down. The one, who at age 4, climbed to the tippy top of a tree in the front yard, just to (I’m pretty sure) see the shock and alarm on my face—”Look at me, mom!” “Yes, Andrew. I see you! Wow! You sure are up high. You should probably try to come down now, very slowly….” (Oy vey…head slap)!

My new friend mentioned how she and her husband weren’t getting much sleep, because throughout the night, each little boy, one-by-one would make their way to her bedside, and she wasn’t sure what to do. Her friends gave her their two cents, as friends do, giving her books to read, articles, and advice. Everyone has their opinion for her. For those of you who know me, I, of course, have my own opinions…so, I asked her if I could give her a couple of pieces of advice, from the point of view of a mom whose son is about to launch. I told her four things.

  1. It goes really, really, fast, so do your best to enjoy every age and stage. When you’re in the middle of things, you don’t think it will ever end. If you’re like me, you probably look forward to the next phase. I admit, I’ve enjoyed them getting a little older and more self-sufficient, but man, those years when they were young were so amazing! Not only did they grow, but I did as well. I love looking at pictures of their sweet little faces, remembering how simple things were back then. Now things are more complicated and there is more at stake. Treasure the simplicity now while you can.
  2. No matter what, don’t hover over your kids to keep them from failing. I mean this mainly in the context of school work. Being of the generation of “helicopter” parents, I admit I was (for him) a mom who did more than assist on his 5th grade state project or other school reports that seemed (to me) impossible for him to be able to do on his own. This of course translated into me helping him with his plant project in 9th grade, and, well…you can see the pattern (I got an “A” by-the-way!). The truth of the matter is that I didn’t want him to fail. But really what it did was stunt his ability to tackle hard things and experience the natural consequences when he didn’t apply himself. I finally got a clue right about his junior year and pulled way, way back, and I’m hoping it’s not too late as he goes off on his own to college next fall. We’ll see!
  3. I wished I had not been as rigid about him coming into my bed. I, too, read all the books about kids sleeping in their own beds. But boy, do I wish that sometimes I would have thrown that book out the window and just let him in. I think he could have used some more snuggle time with his mama; there can’t ever be enough of that when they’re young. Yes, mom and dad need to sleep and some boundaries should be kept, but there will be plenty of time when they will absolutely not want to come into bed with you anymore.
  4. Be careful and protective of the voices and advice you listen to. Seriously, there is a book for every topic under the sun out there and it can be completely overwhelming. When you listen to too many voices, you start to doubt yourself as a parent; you’re not sure which way to turn, to the right or the left. I am an avid book reader and I love books, but sometimes you have to first go to the Source—the One who has the right answer every time, for every situation.

    I love the verse that says,

    “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

    I’ve never not had success when going to God first with concerns and issues about parenting. Go to Him first, other sources later. Yes, God does work through other authors, books, people, etc., but let Him be the one to guide you to just the right one. This will be especially helpful as they get older in the teen years.

Sure, I have some regrets about the way I handled things sometimes. There are things I should have done that I didn’t do and things I shouldn’t have done that I did. But, the good news is that God is good! Despite any shortcomings or regrets I have, my son made it through, and we’ll proudly watch him cross the stage into a big-boy chapter of his own this Saturday. On-lookers will have no idea what it took to get him to that point—our road through elementary and high school as a family has not been easy, to say the least.

I’m absolutely holding it together just fine…at least for now, at this moment. The emotions I’m feeling today are unexpected. I was the mom who skipped for joy when I dropped the kids off at Kindergarten. No tears for me…I couldn’t wait to get home and do something for myself for once. Now I break into tears at the grocery store or wherever—there’s no predicting when they’ll come! I’m happy to say that even though I’m an emotional mess, I’m excited for what’s coming in this next phase of his life, and yes, for mine, too. For once, I don’t want to wish it away. I want to treasure it and hold on. I just hope I can hold it together through the ceremony! But, I know if I don’t, it’s ok. God is good, all the time.

So what about you? Do you have any regrets to share? Things you wish you would have done or did but shouldn’t have? Share it by leaving me a comment below! I would love to hear your story.

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