Staring out my kitchen window this morning at the snow, still falling from last night, I thought about, and could almost see my sons playing outside. Waiting for the snow plow to blow his horn indicating it was time for my neighbors and I to move our cars, I remembered how willing (and excited) my sons were to move the car, when their driver’s licenses were so new. Just then my phone rang – it was a text from a neighbor. “Would you like me to move your car for you?” He has known my kids since preschool, knows I am now alone, and knows how little I enjoy snow! How kind. But instead, I cleaned it off, jumped in and drove the half-mile to my mom’s home, where I found my son cleaning the heavy snow off of her roof. (A proud Mama moment).
“Do you need anything, Mum?” Rory asked when he called earlier this morning. “No thanks, honey. I’m just waiting for the sign to move the car!” Meanwhile, I filed some paperwork that had been stacking up for months on my desk. Not long into that task I came across a file with “activities” the kids had brought home from school that I felt were special enough to save. Soon I found myself laughing…. No, I was cracking up. Out loud. Like….. really, really loud.
In this reflective season of living alone and enjoying the peace and quiet it brings, there are times when I not-so-constructively go over some parenting regrets. And then, there are snowy mornings when I get to enjoy a flannel-pajama’d sleep-in, staring out the window remembering snowball fights and building forts, and some laughs at the “art” my sons brought home from school. Then, I remember many of the things I don’t regret.
Today, God gave this Mama her very own SNOW DAY! So I have decided to list just a few of those things that I don’t regret so that the next time I hear those whispers of things reminding me what I might do differently, I’ll re-read this and remember these instead.
I don’t regret having children. I don’t regret leaving an unhealthy marriage and returning to the United States. I do not regret raising them alone. I do not regret telling anyone I dated, that I had zero interest in entertaining the thought of getting married while my children were living with me. (I do, however, regret ALL of my dating during those years. It was purposeless, and a waste of time).
I do not regret never letting my babies cry themselves to sleep, and holding them until they fell asleep. I don’t regret letting them crawl into bed with me and snuggle any time they wanted. I don’t regret waitressing my way through school. I don’t regret letting family care for them while I was waitressing and going to school. (The waitress skills came in handy for my nursing job, and THAT is no joke!)
I don’t regret shopping at thrift stores. I don’t regret accepting hand-me-down’s from parents of older children who knew how wasteful it was to buy name-brand expensive clothes that would fit the kids for 3 weeks. I don’t regret play dates. I’m glad my house was always open to visitors. I’m glad kids loved coming to my house. I don’t regret buying tubs of cookie dough so that I could bake 3 or 4 cookies just before the kids got off of the bus so that the house always had a smell of “home” that would stay with them for the rest of their lives!
I don’t regret saving money (and letting them watch me do it), so that some day I could take them on a cool vacation. The coolest one was our trip to California when we visited every hockey arena, and the kids had saved their money for hockey jerseys from each team. They got to stick their feet in the Pacific Ocean and see the Redwood Trees. I don’t regret our trip to Hawaii – not because it was Hawaii, but because they got to meet the three best pals I got to spend two years in Korea with – life-long friends. The kinds of friends I prayed my kids would make some day, and know for decades and decades, and tell stories about to their kids.
I don’t regret volunteering at school to dissect the pig heart when Rory was in 4th grade (even though I have not been able to eat pot roast ever since.) I don’t regret working from home. Even though we didn’t have a lot of money, I was always home and my sons never spent one day in day care. I don’t regret the time Rory insisted on going to latch key (he thought he was missing out on something), so I signed him up, got up early and took him a few times just to please him. (That lasted a week). I don’t regret anything we’ve ever done at the kitchen table. I don’t regret teaching Rory and Ian how to scrub toilets and clean floors on their hands and knees, and NOT with a sloppy mop.
I don’t regret Sunday “family nights” watching cop movies and Disney movies from inside of some of the forts we would build using dining room chairs and every blanket we owned in the house. I don’t regret letting them stand on the backs of chairs to help me at the kitchen counter cooking or baking. I don’t regret that they both wore kilts and learned how to Irish dance and play the tin whistle.
I don’t regret making them save half of everything they earned at their first jobs. I don’t regret asking their pediatrician (since birth) to speak with them about abstinence, (rather than safe sex), and firing him after he and his entire office staff laughed at me and said he was going to offer them condoms.
I don’t regret living in a trailer park for five years. The parents who would not allow their children into the trailer park and insisted my sons had to go to their house for play time – provided my children with an example of how not to make assumptions about people. (And I’d say they turned out pretty good, despite having lived in a trailer park!)
I don’t regret going back to school. I don’t regret working 2 jobs (one from home, one part time in the hospital, and several cleaning jobs). It taught my kids how to work hard – not because I told them to, but because I showed them how to). I don’t regret insisting that if girls came over, they visited upstairs and never, ever in their rooms. It was not okay to be alone. And I don’t regret having a curfew, and making sure that THEY made sure their friends got home safely.
What I refuse to do now – is to list my regrets. But what I will say is that every last one of them have to do with TIME. I’d be willing to bet most people’s regrets in life also have something to do with TIME. As I’ve aged, it has gone by faster. We cannot go back in time, we cannot borrow time, buy time, or negotiate for more time. And – NONE of us know how much of it we have. I’m coming to the conclusion that we slow down as we age, more so because we are getting wiser about our time, and less so because of our aches and pains. (Or at least, I hope so!)
If you’ll excuse me now, I am going to call my old neighbor who used to like to have snow ball fights while we were shoveling snow. I think it’s TIME for one of those again…
And, perhaps a few snow angels too.