Sunday, January 6

My Regrets Are Not Few

If you ever asked me, "What are you thinking?" and I answered, "nothing", I was lying. I am always thinking about something. I know it is why I have a hard time falling asleep. When my oldest daughter, Hey, told me at age 4 that she couldn't shut off her brain, I sympathized. I know exactly how that feels. However, I couldn't relate to what the heck would keep her brain buzzing late into the night. What does a 3 year old think about that can keep them awake?

I guess that is the price one pays for having a busy analytical mind. Many times I think we struggle in our relationship because we are very much alike. I suspect that like me, she reviews her day, thinks about how she could have done things differently and what the next day could hold.

My 7 1/2 years old Hey.
We both are stubborn and willful.  My mother says I was a better behaved little girl, but I think that was from fear of my father. My children don't have that threat in their minds. Other than her explosiveness, I see many of Hey's behavior and think that is how I felt when I was young. I remember the hate I felt for my parents. If left unchecked, I know Hey would become as much of a procrastinator and perfectionist as I am today. One motto we have now in our home: "Only God is perfect." That motto has served my children well.

There are so many things to think about. I spend way to much time second guessing the things that I say or do. I purposely try and stay away from anything that I did before my marriage. The choices I made as a teenager were reckless and stupid. It is a wonder I am alive today, not even considering my congenital heart defect. I say, "Thank you God I got married when I was 23 years old." Otherwise my list of regrets might have been longer. Many times I wish there weren't other people involved in those experiences or character building events. I created way to much drama in my teen years.

I think it all started in 7th grade when I cleaned out a friends locker since she was out sick. I knew the combination to her locker and was going to be able to get her things to her. I found a notebook of correspondence between her and another friend. They had written to each other as if it were a diary. 1st mistake, I read it. 2nd mistake, I talked about it with, who I thought, was a trusted friend in our social circle. The trusted friend turned out to be a social piranha. She used the incident to create my demise in the social community of 7th grade. I was no longer part of the in crowd. In fact, nasty gossip started being spread about me. What was ironic was that the owner of the locker had forgiven me and was over it.

My poor choices only got worse as I started 8th grade and all my friends had changed. I was an honor roll student every quarter in 7th grade since it was a point of competition in my old social circle. In 8th grade I didn't care. My new group of friends didn't care either. We spent most of our time figuring out how to party like our older high school siblings.

1990 picture young couple
Myself, 22 years old, with NASA before marriage.
I do know that my parents were smart in taking me out of that public school system and sending me to a private high school. I had to start over with new school friends and that made a big difference.

So why does this matter now? Well, I am the mother of two beautiful girls. As I said, my oldest, Hey, reminds me of myself in some ways. I realize she is only 7 1/2 years old, but all our interactions and her learning are cumulative. She is only 5 years away from when my world radically changed and my poor choices had residual effects. I don't want my daughters to have the emotional baggage I brought into my marriage.

I wonder, is there anything my Mom could have done to help? Is there some experience or conversation that would have helped me make better choices starting at the age of 13? What ground work do I need to do now that will keep my daughter from making poor choices? I spend a great deal of time examining my role in her life as her mother. I know I am over critical of my parenting, but I can't help it.  I have started to tell her how much I think about how I am her mother and what I could do better. I tell her when I am wrong or have made a mistake.

Wow, after reading this several times to edit it I realize what I need to change. It is to much about me! I need to change my focus. It needs to be all about God. I have to show my daughter how the Lord directs my life now. 

I believe I was on the path to where I am today. I just think that between the ages of 13 to 22, I took a huge detour. I believe if my faith was firmly grounded in God's Word much younger many of my regrets would not have occurred. Once I did start listening to the Lord He did miracles in my life. He has healed me in many ways, not just physically.

I can only hope that my talking to her and being honest will allow her to trust God and what He would have for her. As a family we talk about our values and faith. I pray that with all of that and sharing God's Word, once she is an adult, she will have few regrets.

Writing this was very helpful. The best thing I can do is continue to keep God in the center of my life. I now know that will be the best thing I can do for her and her sister.

"And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. 6 And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. 7 Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up." Deuteronomy 6:5-7

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