As the Daily Prompt asks, what will I never write about? Never is such a strong word. As in wedding vows – ‘til death do us part – “never” represents a really long time! As we all know, circumstances change over a lifetime, so to rule something out forever seems wantonly short sighted, if we are to be honest with ourselves. What I might not have uttered 10 years ago is perhaps something I am comfortable with, or less reserved about, sharing now. So rather than focusing on the future “never,” let me look to the past, to something I swore I would never speak of, or at least admit – parental regret.
As parents, we are somehow supposed to innately know what needs to be done, what our children require from us and how often. We are supposed to provide them with not just food and shelter, but a host of other forms of sustenance in addition to our unconditional love. Above all we are supposed to regret nothing, having done everything right, right?
Not so much!
It was not long ago that my daughter, and only child, started high school and the reality that she would soon be leaving home really struck me the summer preceding her freshman year. Up to that point, it never felt like she would grow up and leave, and I didn’t want her to. But the realization hit me that in only four short years she would be gone and a great many feelings started to surface, raising uncomfortable questions. Not the least of which being, where did all the time go and what had I done with it?
I then realized I was guilty of having frittered away the most awesome years of her life. There, I admit it (as the tears start to well). I started looking back and seeing all of the little missed opportunities that I wish to God I could get back, but never will: drawing with her at the kitchen table instead of watching TV; spending a couple of hours talking to her about whatever, rather than bringing work home; having a tea party together instead of going out with friends. So many little things that, in retrospect, represent eons of time wasted and, over time, add up to a lot of regret.
During her four years of high school, I often reflected on those lost moments as the days ticked away. However, it heightened my consciousness and made me more aware of the need to take advantage of them when they presented themselves. While I deeply regret the time I was not so mindful, I am grateful for having accepted my regret when I did, rather than it dawning on me far too late in life, when I no longer had a chance to turn it around and make up for lost time.
So when I think about “never,” from the perspective of parenting, I would have to say never have such regrets, seize those moments as they greet you and recognize that you will never have them again.