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  • Writer's picturePat Birnie

Mom Regrets - July 11, 2018

Regrets….I had a few, but then again – too few to mention (Frank Sinatra)

As I started to mull over the topic of regret, I realize that I can’t say those words without going into full Sinatra “I Did it My Way”. This is an OLD song, even before my time, but it sure is a classic. I looked up and read the lyrics – and they are really great! It was just a song that my parents loved, but the message has held up. I think this is my favourite verse:

Yes, there were times, I'm sure you knew When I bit off more than I could chew But through it all, when there was doubt I ate it up and spit it out I faced it all and I stood tall And did it my way

What’s my point you ask? We will all have regrets – I’ll say I have too many to mention, and certainly a few that I will not be sharing publicly! My children are now grown (ranging in age from 26 to 36). To this day I think motherhood is what defines me more than anything. I believe it is the most important thing I’ve ever done, and absolutely the hardest. For many years, I was plagued with so much regret and guilt over not being a good enough mother.

A little over 20 years ago I “bit off more than I could chew” when I made the choice to end a very destructive and dysfunctional alcohol-fueled marriage and go it alone with my 4, 5 ½, 7 & 13 year old children. I had to deal with the kids’ emotional fallout (but always knew I made the right choice). I was spread very thin over those years taking care of everything – sports, finances, homework, discipline, appointments – you know, the list is endless! I have often beat myself up that I just didn’t play enough!! It’s like I remember every time I chose to say ‘no I don’t have time right now’, because I chose to do dishes, laundry, make lunches or other necessary tasks. If I were to have a do-over, for sure I’d make different choices, but we don’t get do-overs in life.

Over recent years I have asked each of my children what they remember of their growing up time in our messy little house. Guess what – they ALL came up with happy memories of things we did together! On occasion I shared an incident that I’d beat myself up for – when I wished I’d taken more time. I was surprised to find they didn’t even remember it! One guy said he loved when I’d wrestle on the floor with them after dinner. They didn’t know this was just a chance for me to lay down for ½ hour!!

What’s my message to you? I have three:

1. Please don’t be too hard on yourself. There is always more to do than there are hours in the day – you will never be done. Be kind to yourself – you are doing amazing!

2. Your house does NOT have to be perfect. You can have a clean house when they all move out (and surprisingly having a “kidless” house happens before you have time to blink). I am proudest of the days I left the dishes in the sink & went to the park or cuddled up for story time.

3. Take time for yourself. It is the best gift you can give your family.Even through all the crazy years, I knew that if I didn’t carve out some time for ME each day (usually for a run) I just couldn’t be the mom I wanted to be.I remember taking my young kids off to a 5 k race and them telling a complete stranger “my mom runs to get away from us”. Yup – true story!

I'm pretty sure you are doing a good - wait no, a GREAT job. So start having more fun & worrying less ! Your kids will thank you for it, if not now, then down the road.

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