No Regrets Parenthood

Older son is getting married in three weeks. I’m feeling increasingly sentimental as the date approaches, flashing through childhood memories preserved in photos, astounded at how 22 years can have passed so very quickly. So when he sent me song choices for the mother-son dance, my initial inclination was to pick the tear jerker that was circulating on Facebook several months ago, with a slideshow of children exuding cuteness while the mother/artist sings lyrics asking her child to slow down, don’t grow up too fast. It’s a beautiful song, brought me to tears. It would have been the obvious choice.

Instead, I picked My Wish by Rascal Flatts. The lyrics are about moving forward and wishing him all the wonderful things life has to offer, along with the strength to make it through the tough spots. I told my son that I have cherished every moment of his childhood, but I don’t need to go back. The whole point of raising him was to get him to this place, a place of independence and confidence and capability, and I am excited to witness his next steps forward, cheering from the sidelines while his wife walks beside him. We’re both stepping into a new phase of our lives and I couldn’t be happier.

Parents of children who are still growing up, I want to encourage you to check in with yourself and your family experience. Are you being someone who will look back with regret and wish, someday, that you had been more present—physically and emotionally—and that you could have those moments back so you could make more of them? Or are you really living an engaged, attentive family experience so that you can look back and think, “Yeah, it was fun, and not every day was perfect, but we connected and communicated and stayed engaged. I would do it all over again—because I loved doing it, not because I missed it!”

To avoid becoming the parent who looks back saying, “I wish we could have slowed down,” SLOW DOWN NOW! Look at your work schedule and the kids’ schedule, and determine whether you’re in balance as a family. If you’re not, look for one place you can cut back on an activity or obligation so that you have time to just enjoy BEING together. Try that for a few weeks, and if you’re still feeling out of balance, find another way to make time and energy for family time.

It’s all so very worth it. Some days are long and you think it will never be nap time, or they’ll never demand less of your time, you’ll never have time for yourself! But long days evolve into years that pass quickly, and before you know it, you will be looking at an adult instead of a child. So celebrate who they are now and where you are now so that someday, you will celebrate looking forward!

Eva Dwight offers life coaching to parents and teens. For more information, go to www.creativecoachingconversations.com.