Do you ever wish that you knew things before, that might have helped you now?
Or looked back and thought if you knew what you knew now, you might have done things differently then? Too confusing?
This past weekend, I taught a session at a conference about things I wish I had known as a young leader. It got me thinking of other things that I wish I had known. Not because I have regret, or because I would have done things differently. But because I’m basically a middle-aged woman, with about half her life left (give or take) and I know some stuff. Maybe it’s not even the right stuff, but it’s all I’ve got.
So, I thought I’d do a little series, called “What I Didn’t Know.”
I decided to start with parenting, (since both of my kids are officially “adults” now) with the hopes to encourage in our knowing and not knowing – and everything in between.
So, here goes.
What I Didn’t Know About Parenting. That I kinda know now.
- I didn’t know that in the middle of all my sleepless nights and exhaustion, one day I would actually physically yearn to have little sticky arms around my neck. Even closing my eyes at times to go back in my memories to remember how that felt. I know now that those tired days were the more incredible days of my life. I didn’t know that when I wished time would go faster, in the future I would do all I could to make time slow down.
- I didn’t know that someday when my kids were older I would occasionally go into their room at night and look at them. I can’t help it, when they sleep they look like little kid versions of themselves. (Don’t tell them I do this because I know how creepy it sounds and they will start to lock their doors or move out. I promise I don’t do this often.) I know now that my heart stops and rewinds in those moments, because I look and see their whole lifetime lived in their faces. Sometimes I just need precious reminders of all those past stages of love, even if that makes me a crazy-stalker-mom.
- I didn’t know that I couldn’t control everything forever. When I think about some of the things that I made into huge deals, I feel a little ridiculous. I would have chilled more and tried to understand that kids go through phases and that letting them have some space to try new things, and even push boundaries isn’t always bad. I know now that I didn’t always pick my battles well, and that so many times I could have released a little bit of control and everything would have been ok. Releasing a little bit then, would have made it easier now.
- I didn’t know that each transition was leading to a good-bye. Kids grow up. You think it’s so far away, but it comes faster than you think. I know now that changing family dynamics is something that is more difficult than I ever imagined. No one really explained that to me. Embrace and go with all the mini letting-go stages, they will help you along the way. Every stage leads to the next good-bye, and from kindergarten up – this is the path you’re on! Love, feel and embrace it all. You’ll cry a lot, but that’s what love does to us.
- I didn’t know that I wouldn’t be able to fix everything. I’d always try. The hardest thing is to see your child struggling, hurting and going through pain when there is nothing you can do. I know now that sometimes you just have to step back and let them learn to process on their own, and make their own choices and decisions. It’s hard when you can’t make everything better. So just be there. Ready when needed. Present. Steady and true.
- I didn’t know that biting my tongue is a daily discipline. Did I say I’ve mastered all these skills? I definitely haven’t. (This has been an almost 21 year process.) 3 different towels a day for 3 showers a day? Bite tongue. Oh, you borrowed my shampoo and I’m now in the shower with none? Bite tongue. Oh, you spilled an entire can of coke down the stairs? Bite tongue. Oh, you don’t approve of the way I’ve loaded the dishwasher? Bite tongue. I know now that my tongue is a beaten-down-scarred piece of my body but nothing is sacred in the fight for peace and sanity.
- I didn’t know that we didn’t have to strive for perfection. I wasted a lot of time wondering if we were doing it right, or if we were keeping up with other families around us. Did our kids have everything everyone else did? Was I as a good as the other moms? Did I work too much? Do they feel like I’m too busy for them? I know now that we were equipped and that unconditional love in the middle of imperfection and mess is what our kids really needed. We gave what we had and did our best and that was enough.
All this knowing.
And not knowing.
And everything in between.
We could write lists for days.
All of us
Imperfect families, living in a mess of grace.
Going through life one day at a time. Doing what we can, with what we have been given.
Don’t give up.
We always press on.
Doing our best with what we know, what we didn’t know and everything in between.