If I had it to do over again..... give me a minute while I bask in the joy of the chance to right the wrongs and correct the missteps.... if I could try again I'd do less for them. I'd leave more bumps in the road and not try to solve their problems to spare them pain. That's not a terrible regret, but it's there.
We each have our own do-over lists, I'm sure, whether we concentrate on the parenting we received or the parenting we doled out... or both. I brought my "I will never do THAT when I'm a mom" list to my child rearing and laughed when I heard G'ma coming out of my mouth. I can say that I was aware when I was aping inappropriate behaviors and that I tried to stop myself before I was too far gone.
In the year I was examining the concept of patience as a New Year's Resolution; I learned to be patient with myself, too. I'd never done this before; I couldn't be perfect right away. Everything was so new, and kept on getting newer. The problems didn't go away as much as they morphed into a new incarnation of the same old thing.
The decisions come upon you when you are least prepared. Expect the unexpected and you'll be on the right track, trusting your instincts when all else fails can help you set your sails in the right direction, but seeking the perfect solution will get you nowhere, fast. Those are the lessons I'd share, if anyone asked.
I remember sitting on Little Cuter's bed, she pouring her heart out, I wondering what I could say that would be useful/helpful/meaningful. I could comfort; she was always willing to receive a back rub to help her relax. I could listen; when she was on a roll there was no stopping her. I was stymied at creating a teachable moment, at turning a trauma into a triumph of the will, at making lemonade out of this particular lemon.
She was in first grade.
I became increasingly incompetent as the years went on, or so I felt. As they share their childhood memories with me, I become aware of the phrases that stuck, of the reactions that had an impact. Big Cuter, sharing his thoughts on privacy and the interwebs, reminded his father that "Mom once said I should never do anything I didn't want printed on the front page of the New York Times. I remembered that, so I live my life on-line and I don't worry." Mom got that line from her father; it was a good thing he was lurking in my head when I shared that bit of wisdom with my son. I didn't think it up myself; I'm not that good.
Most of my best lines have come from others. Seret and TBG come at acceptance from the same place:
She: It is what it is. Smile and move on
He: Once you've said yes, smile and move on.I second guess everything. Having these two in my life steers me closer to moving forward than anything else I've encountered, and both phrases rattled around in my head as I moved through parenting the Cuters. Knowing that I am not omnipotent, looking forward instead of reliving the moment - those were lessons I hope made their way from my brain to my childrens' hearts.
I don't suppose that I'll know what they really heard until I watch them parent their own kids. For now, I'm offering free advice to my friends who are in the throes of it, and biding my time. I'm feeling free to judge those I feel are lacking and those who are surpassing expectations. I'm sharing the love and getting lots back in return.
I'm not sure all my answers are the right ones, but they fit comfortably within my soul.