There are days we long for a do-over. Yesterday’s poor food choices or the thoughtless remark made in a heated moment. Small things that add up. But what about the big stuff? Like a look back on your parenting and wondering if you’d do it all again in exactly the same way. Time provides insight and often, important lessons. I’m pleased to introduce my new friend, Sharron Cosby. She tells her story with transparency, as she looks back on her life as Mom. You may want to take a moment to learn from her story – and change yours while there’s still time.
by Sharron Cosby
A friend recently asked, “If you were granted a do-over with your children, what would you do differently?”
My first response, albeit unkind, was, “Probably not have any!” I quickly let her know I was joking, but there were days when the thought played dodge ball in my mind.
The question was posed after I shared my story of our addicted son. The heartaches our family suffered wreaked havoc on me spiritually, physically, emotionally and mentally. I feel like I have PTSD. Even now, with five years clean, his arriving late for dinner or coming into our home when we’re away jerks my memories back to the dark days of his active addiction.
I’ve often wondered what I’d do if a time machine appeared and afforded a second chance at child rearing. Here are a few things I want to believe I’d change:
- Employment outside our home. If I had the freedom to choose, I wouldn’t work outside the home. As our children got older, my presence in the afternoon was needed. The three-hour gap between school dismissal and the work-whistle blowing left space for mischief— our home became the shenanigans gathering place. I don’t think it would have been had I been at home. At the very least, I would have worked part-time.
- First things first. Each of our three children had their own vehicles. They had to work to pay for insurance and gas. Anything left over was fun money. Instead of focusing on earning money, their first focus should have been school. Our daughters worked in restaurants with college-aged kids. They participated in activities inappropriate for their teen years, but since they worked together, they were part of the crowd.
- Delay cars for kids. Cars aren’t a necessity if they’re not working. Of course then, I couldn’t work because they would need transportation. Already my resolve is fading. The responsibility to haul kids around isn’t alluring.
- Meet their friends’ parents. I allowed our children to stay overnight at friends’ homes without ever meeting the parents. I had no idea what kind of values and standards they had. They probably wondered the same about me.
- Ask the hard questions. I didn’t ask because I was afraid of the answers. In my heart of hearts, I knew there were problems, but I hoped by denying them they would go away. Or at least not be as bad as I envisioned.
- Work on my issues. I realize now, I parented out of my own hurts and hang-ups. My white picket fence dream of a perfect family drove my actions and inactions. I was unwilling to face my own inadequacies, side stepping them in hopes our family’s ship would right itself.
As I pondered a do-over, I came to the conclusion that even if I had made these changes I wasn’t guaranteed a different outcome. I could have been Mother of the Year, cooking, cleaning and chauffeuring kids all over town, but at the end of the day, my children had choices to make, independent of me. Would they still make the same heartbreaking choices? I don’t know.
One thing I do know is that I loved them and had their best interests at heart. Their father and I taught them to love God, their family and friends. They were never unloved. There were days I didn’t like them, but they were always loved—and they knew it.
I don’t need a time machine to provide me with a do-over. God’s Word tells me, “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning.” Lamentations 3:22-23a NIV.
Every day I have fresh opportunities to know Him deeply, to love unconditionally and to extend grace. I’m still their mom. They’re still my kids. There’s always tomorrow.
Sharron Cosby: With southern charm and a hopeFULL heart, author/speaker Sharron Cosby reaches out to families desperate for an anchor in their storms. Read her story in Praying for Your Addicted Loved One: 90 in 90 available on Amazon.