Hindsight is 20/20

They say hindsight is 20/20. How different would my life look if I had a little crystal ball that let me peek into the future? How would my days change? We all get the same amount of hours each day and countless times I’ve laid in bed and wondered if I’ve made my hours count. Did I spend my time on things that matter or did I waste my day on things that won’t matter a hill of beans in the end? It dawned on me recently, I might not have a crystal ball but I do have access to the next best thing.

If I want to learn how to play the piano, I spend time with someone who has already learned.   If I want to know the best places to eat at Disney, I ask someone who has already been.   It only makes sense that if I want to know what parts of motherhood I need to lean into, I should go to ones who have already walked the line.   Women who have spent time in the trenches of motherhood and emerged wiser, better, stronger.

There are some women in my life that just ooze wisdom, and I’m using ooze in the best sense of the word. Picture the bird lady in the park. As she walks away she probably drops seeds behind her and the little birds follow to get the last of the seeds. That’s me – I’m the little bird, trailing behind hoping to pick up some seeds of wisdom. They’ve all raised kids and they all still have their hair so I know they did it without pulling it all out. So I asked them if they could travel in a time machine and go back to tell their younger selves one thing, what would it be? Here’s what they had to say:

The booklet “Tyranny of the Urgent” explained my life!  The urgent things called loudly to me (dishes, laundry, etc.,   and many other good things to do) but then I did not have time for the really important things with my preschoolers (taking a walk to see the trees changing, sitting and reading the same book again, building another block building, making another tent in the living room and having lunch in it, etc.)  Also, if financially possible, I would have someone else clean the kitchen floor and the bathroom while we played a game, went to the zoo, or had a playdate at the park.

When talking about rules to my kids: Instead of focusing on the rule itself I would stress more about God’s character as the reason for the rule.   For example, we don’t lie because God is a God of truth, or we are kind because God is a God of love. 

Enjoy every moment, they grow up so fast

How the house looks for entertaining isn’t nearly as important as the people helping you get ready for the party.  

Stay present, yesterday is past.  

The biggest difference I see is how I am as a gramma.  When they are here I am all in, messes don’t matter, meals are simple, things are not time based but child based.  

If I could go back I would worry less about “getting everything done” and focus more on each child and their individual needs.  

I would not compare what other familes/kids are doing but what we value as followers of Christ.  When my heart is focused on Christ and filled by Him, my home is a reflection of that and not a source of “filling” myself.  Therefore I am wholly open to pour into the kids without competing with the culture of the day.

I wish I would have been more transparent and authentic as a young mom.  Too often I was concerned with appearing like I had it all togehter, even when things were falling apart.

I wish I wouldn’t have equated asking for help with being weak and incapable.

In my quest to look good on the outside, I made too many beds, wrote too many papers and did too many class projects, all because the kids couldn’t do it quite well enough.  So to my younger self I would say: show weakness and vulnerability – it might take you off your self-made pedestal, but it also makes you more real.  Not only will other women appreciate that and be drawn to it, but it is a much better example for your kids.

Instead of making sure my house was perfect before we played, I would have just spent more time playing.

Only talk positive about your child.  If you continue to say negative things about your children there is a good chance they will become what you say they are.

Psalm 127:1a states: “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain….”  This is a song of Solomon, who most likely was referring to the temple he built for the Lord. But the Psalm also applies to our own  houses, our families and our legacies. It’s easy for young mothers to jump right into overactivity. It seems so right to help your children become socialized, athletic and talented. And there are many good lessons to be learned through such activities. But is the Lord building your house? Are we asking Him for that blessing? Are we teaching our children to run to the Lord with their prayers as the first response to their young troubles? Do we offer to come along side and pray with them for God’s guidance, or do we teach them to turn first to ourselves, or teachers, or coaches? 

You had asked what I would tell my younger self. I wish I was more of a “knee-jerk” prayer partner  with my children. Yes, our family prayed together. We prayed during crises, or family Bible Studies, or before meals. But I wished I taught them to pray like I pray, for everything and anytime. If I had it to do over again, I would have  prayed with them for the everyday things: for new school friends, to perfect that gymnastic hip kip, to pass the geometry test, to overcome failures,  for courage to try again, for the fever to go away, or to control that temper. If the Lord builds the house, everyone in that house should be looking toward Him for their answers. 

Don’t be so concerned that every thing is/looks perfect to others – children’s clothes, hair, behavior, manners, etc.  I’d lighten up, enjoy the journey more. I’d laugh at mess ups more. 

I spent my twenties doing this tug-o-war between who I thought I was and who He was calling me to be. I wasted too much time trying to be the picture of perfect I had in my mind that I missed soo much.  I missed opportunites to be a better friend because I was equated vulnerability to weakness.  I closed my home when the dishes weren’t done and the floors weren’t swept.  I missed opportunites to serve because I felt inadquate in my quest for perfection. 

I want my thirties to be less about trying to be someone and more about just being. Less about fitting into a mold and more about breaking molds. Less about Pinterest projects and more about playing princesses and pirates.  Less about perfection and more about real life.  Less about future plans and more about living in the moment.   When I get to my forties I want to look back on my thirties and say ‘that was time well spent.’ Diane Ackerman said “I don’t want to get to the end of my life and find that I have just lived the length of it.  I want to have lived the width of it as well.” 

 “Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forward” (Soren Kierkegaard). Thankful for these women that give us glimpes into their “backward” to help make our “forward” better, richer.