Sometimes the hardest thing to deal with in life is the “what could have been’s”, ‘what should have been’s” and “what I should have done better.”
Especially when, by the time you realize your mistake, it is seemingly too late to turn back. And then the regrets become a running tape in your head on auto loop. Reminding you constantly that you messed up. Or didn’t follow through. Or didn’t take a chance.
I have had a lot of regrets and I have made a lot of decision in my life based on the wrong emotion or a twisted way of reasoning. And I have paid dearly for those decisions. I am not the only one. That is for sure. There are a lot of people that walk around talking about their past as if it were the best times of their lives because the time they are in now seems so uninspiring. And their futures seem even less rosey.
I am very happy with where I am in life now. There are some things I would go back and redo, some decisions I would reverse, but – over all – I am a very lucky woman. And I know how much I have been blessed.
That is until I get to bedtime every night and realize that my regrets about motherhood are the hardest and deepest that I have.
I should have been better about a bedtime routine. I should have done better about a consistent style. I should have been more determined to have my ex help me instead of banishing him to the room because he was too tired or too irritated to really be of help.
I could have followed the advice of other moms, taken into account their experience, their quality of advice and their heartfelt truth in sharing it. I could have done it better.
Now, I have three daughters who reject bedtime and, at the mere mention of it, spin themselves into such a fit that I can not even fathom how to handle three fits at once. The games are ridiculous and redundant, the time it takes to get them to finally lay down is a waste and the entire experience leaves me in tears almost every night of my life.
And them too. And I regret it every.single.night.
I have no one to blame but myself. I know I should have instilled a structure that was unbreakable. Demanded the respect it takes to get them to mind without punishment, been a PARENT.
Instead, I was lax, lazy and full of excuses.
“But they are all so close together and it is hard to put all three down at once.”
Hmm.. moms of triplets do it.
“But I don’t have time to read four stories every night to all three of them!”
Seems that the three hour battle every night is more time consuming.
“It is just so much easier to let them pass out in the living room and then carry them to their beds later.”
Right… and when they are up all night looking for you because they never learned to fall asleep and stay asleep in their rooms, that makes life a lot easier, too?
Motherhood regrets are bad. They are the worse, I think. Because others see the mistakes you have made, knowing you know better, and judge. Even if they don’t want to.
You can be in a bad marriage and put on a brave face – done it. You can work in a job that you hate because you were too afraid to follow your passion – done it. You can hide the bills in the desk that you don’t know how you’ll ever pay and wish you had never racked up – done it.
But children are a reflection of you that no mirror can match. And mine at bedtime, especially, are a reflection of my bad parenting decisions.
It’s funny… my mom said the last time that she was here, “For children with such an undisciplined lifestyle, they sure are happy!”
But I am not?
I suppose the one thing about it all is that it is not too late. As long as you are willing to work at bettering yourself as a parent, it can get better. And so I’ll read more books, talk to more people, leave my excuses on this page, and struggle for a little while so that in the long run it is all OK. It’s going to be hard. It is going to be taxing. It is going to be full of mistakes while I work on getting it right.
But, once I am done and my kids are sleeping better, I am feeling less apprehensive about bedtime and I actually get an hour or two alone at night with no kids up and in our faces, there will be peace. And no regrets. Because I will have done what I am supposed to and everyone will have been rewarded for it.
And that is the truth about motherhood regrets.
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**Originally Published 6/7/2012**
Mine are 19 and 21. I have regrets but time has taught me a valuable lesson. In our society, women are praised for being strong and independent. We are incredibly underestimated, but when it comes to child rearing, we were never meant to do it alone. No matter how strong or smart we are, raising human beings is a monuments task. We need backup, we need help. Before the industrial revolution, generations lived under the same roof, the older ladies helped the younger, the older kids helped the younger kids. It’s looked upon in modern times as archaic and weak. We fail to realize the value of this example and lifestyle. There was a network of love and work for the common good. We live in an age with every modern convenience imaginable, but the stuff that makes up a good parent has little to do with technology. It has to do with a network of love, the banning together of human souls to share the work, wisdom, tears and joy linked arm and arm. Seeing this lived out in front of them, teaches kids to be naturally compassionate, selfless, hardworking, considerate and helps them value the greater good.
Sandy – you know what, I could not agree more! I am generally alone in my parenting. My husband works 70+ hours a week and there is no parents or aunt who can help me. Getting away from my kids for a break to recharge is rare, but having someone else to come up with ideas and creative methods never happens. Thank you for your words… I’ll work it out… it is what we do, after all :)
aww Lori. I know what you mean about regrets, but you are a wonderful loving mother who has happy kids. THAT’S a big deal! (Have you seen the movie “People Like Us” yet? Now THAT is regret AND dysfunction.) YOU my dear are lovely. And you will get through this. These may be annoying speed bumps but at the core of it, you’re a strong woman with strong principles and you’re teaching your kids love, hard work and giving them a good life and providing for them. You’re doing a GOOD JOB. I know it’s easy to see what’s gone wrong but there are so many rights. Sending you *hugs* and good sleep vibes. xoxox
ps. Not a single one of us listened to parenting advice when we were first-timers. It’s because we have to live through it ourselves, no one can tell us, it’s just the way it is. We’ll even try to tell first-time moms so they can avoid our mistakes but they won’t listen either. bahahahaha!
NO, and I can not wait to see it on the 21st! Coming from you and all you have been through lately, I am beyond touched with your kind words! YOU are the amazing one and I so appreciate your super kind words!
And your right, no new mom I try to help now listens either! LOL
Parenting is harder than any job I have ever had. It is a relationship built on love and one that EVERYONE in your life and even complete strangers will give you advice on. But, in the end, take head in what your mom said – you have happy children and that is the biggest reflection of all in my mind. Happy children come from families where they feel loved, supported and cared for. And, those to me are the things you need to focus on.
Thank you Kerrie… that means a lot to me. I know that in the end, that is true. It just gets hard knowing that things would be calmer if I had done things differently But I’ll take happy kids over everything else!
Haha I feel regret after I yell at the kids. I try not to get frustrated about the little things but sometimes after a long day of crappy work, it just sometimes overflows to them. I need to have a bit more restraint and be happier for them.
I try to live life without regret. I don’t regret my mistakes but, I learn from them. :)
I think parenting is always something you can learn more about and change at any time… I love that you are looking at things with your eyes opened and doing the homework to make life the way you want it…
I think all moms feel this way at some point. I think all that matters is our kids grow up to be well rounded adults. If they know you love them, you are making the right efforts, and they are provided with the necessities, they will turn out fine in the end.
What a great retrospective piece! I often worried that my mother had many regrets when raising me; I didn’t make it easy on her. I bet she could have used some words of wisdom like these!
I think the things I regret are the things that I felt out of control for in the first place. Being in pain almost all the time makes me not the mom I want to be. All I can do is try harder to be the person I want to be, as you said.
I definitely have some regrets with my parenting decisions, but I think every parent does. I am glad that my kids turned out okay even with all the things I look back on and wish I had done differently.
Parenting is all about small corrections. Kids are like a barge. It takes a lot to change their course, but once you do, they’re set on it. It’s the beauty and the danger of parenting. You’ll get it. Just reading your post, I can tell you’re a kick butt mom. So the kids fight you at bed time. You’re mom had the most important observation. They’re happy. Boom. You’re doing it right.
Don’t beat yourself up about the little things. You are raising three little girls by yourself. They are all young enough to easily adjust to new schedules anyhow. Start putting them to bed a little earlier each night.
Being a parent, there will always be times when we don’t know exactly what we should do. Sometimes, we may not always make the best of choices. But, we just have to move on and learn from our mistakes! Parenting is a beautiful yet scary thing, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
I have been talking to my best friend about this lately.
We all have our parenting regrets. You’re soo right about it never being too late to change course though….it’s a journey.
I’m glad you shared this. That quote resonates with me. I can completley relate to your bed time struggle.
Being a mom is so hard! I am with you, I definitely have some retreats and my oldest is only 3.5! The thing is I think you have to give yourself more credit. All we can do as moms is our best day in and day out. If we do that then everything will work out!
I hate having regrets because once its done its too late! I am hoping mine teach me lessons and I do not make the same mistakes!
Being a mom isn’t the easiest thing I’ve ever done but it is so rewarding (well as long as I ignore my Teenagers and their I know it all mom knows nothing stage)…I don’t regret anything I’ve done or did… If there were ups and downs I’ve always learned a lesson or the kids did.. there are no regrets just make it better the next time around… I never look back, always look ahead and the future always lets you make it better.. you are the best MOM ever no matter what you do and one day.. a very long day away .. the kids will be proud of their Mom and what they did… That’s my story and I’m sticking to it :-) (Yes.. I have a 14 and 19 year old and a 6 year old… looking into the future.. far into the future right now..lol..past the TEENAGE stage…lol