Living with regrets

When they are born, children don’t come with manuals. As parents, we are left to do the best we can with the resources we have. Some of us have better resources than other; some of us have to do the best we can with what we have and the what we learned from our parents.

My family means the world to me, and I tried to do the best job I could to be the best parent I could be. I would do anything for each of them. My heart is so full of love for them that, at times, I feel like I can’t contain it. But, I know that, in some ways, I failed miserably as a parent. And no matter how much I love them, it doesn’t change the fact that I have regrets and wish I had done some things differently.

Some things that I thought were so important when my kids were small have proven over time not to be that important. I wish I could go back and do some things again, knowing what I know now. More patience, more fun. But, we never get that chance. Never. Ever. One shot. That’s it. I can never make the wrongs right. And, when a child dies, the opportunities to do better or to make new memories are gone. When I remember those days when I didn’t do such a good job, the regrets weigh heavy.

I hope my kids remember the good things more than the bad. How I got up every year at 3 a.m. to make cinnamon rolls for Christmas morning. The looking for weeks for the perfect things to put in their Easter baskets, and then getting up at 7 a.m. to put them together so they would be waiting when they got up first thing on Easter morning. The way I tried to keep our refrigerator and pantry stocked with things they and their friends liked so they would always have their favorites to eat. Keeping lots of things in the house for crafts so they and their friends would always have something to do. Glue, glitter, fabric paint, paper, pens, stickers. Baking, picking strawberries. 4th of July celebrations. Making Halloween costumes. Christmas morning traditions. Birthday parties. Ice skating lessons, roller blading. Sewing a birthday gift outfit from scratch for one of Jenna’s friends from a sketch she drew when she was 5. On and on. So much of what I did, I did with them in mind. I hope they know that.

I did try. I hope they remember that and forgive the rest. I am not perfect – far from it. I can’t change the past, no matter how much I wish I could. And, so, I have to live with regret. None of us are perfect. I know that. I guess that’s where extending grace and forgiveness to ourselves and to each other has to be.

© 2017 Rebecca R. Carney