A wise person once said that in life, there are no regrets–only opportunities to learn lessons.
I’m willing to bet that person was probably not a mother.
One of the most shocking things I realized about motherhood that no one really talks about is the insane amount of daily guilt you experience. This list is just the tip of the am-I-doing-this-right-yet iceberg:
1. BEING CAMERA SHY
I was never one to love the camera. I’m not photogenic, and 99% of the photos I do end up putting on social media still make me cringe.
My sudden marriage at 23 and even more sudden divorce had left me as a shell of the smart, confident, strong woman I once was before meeting my ex-husband. My self-esteem had taken a nosedive, and although my physical flaws never bothered me much growing up, I suddenly became hyper aware of my “big nose, wide hips, horse face, and bug eyes,” as I was constantly told at that time.
Because of my idiotic insecurities, I have maybe a handful of pictures of Dre and I up to a few years ago. My heart breaks with regret every time I see a photo shoot of a mother with her baby or toddler.
I don’t regret having low self-esteem. I have my own laundry list of lessons that came from that. What I do regret is letting it get in the way of capturing these memories.
Don’t ever let your insecurities prevent you from capturing these precious moments with your child.
If anything, I wish I would have at least taken more pictures and stashed them away somewhere for no one to see them. Then, of course, I would inevitably find them 20 years later, look myself over–smiling and glowing as I hold my newborn with pride–and I would say to myself, “Damn, what a stupid little girl I was for not knowing I was beautiful.”
2. NOT CO-SLEEPING MORE OFTEN
I didn’t just hear horror stories about the repercussions of allowing your child to get used to sleeping in your bed; I lived it.
I slept in my parents bed until the 4th grade. Yes, grade, as in really freakin’ old.
The real kicker? The only reason why I stopped at that time is because my parents divorced!
Creepy? Yes. Fun? Absolutely! My parents worked from dusk till dawn, so that time with them was special for me. Only problem was the feeling wasn’t exactly mutual.
My father loved it. He couldn’t get enough, no matter how loudly my little brother and I giggled over sibling inside jokes under the covers or how much sleep he lost due to my kicking and tossing.
My mother hated it. I remember her getting angry at my father for not standing up to me, saying she never had any time alone with him, that she couldn’t sleep with me in the bed because I moved too much. The night would usually end with my dad and I curled up together in the dead center of the bed while my poor mother slept on the couch.
So when Dre was born, I vowed to make sure he never got used to sleeping in bed with me.
Little did I know that 6 years later, I would be the one sneaking into his bed in the middle of the night. But I have to do so quietly. If he wakes, he politely tells me to please go back to my bed. He’s gotten so used to sleeping alone that he’s grown to prefer it.
He knows I enjoy it so sometimes he will “let” me sleep with him. When I do, I just savor every smell and touch and little snore and obsess over my regret of not doing it sooner.
3. EXPECTING A BABY TO MAKE ME FEEL MORE “GROWN UP”
Blame it on too many movies or not having enough experience with babies or maybe even my quarter-life crisis, but I really was so naive as to think that having a baby would shake the dwelling adolescent stage that seemed to haunt me after college.
As I began to show, I was disappointed to find I felt more like a cast member of Teen Mom than a woman.
Ok, no worries. It’ll change once the baby gets here. Wrong.
Ok, no worries. It’ll change once I get the hang of things after a couple of years. Wrong again.
Dre turns 6 this month and I still feel like a 14-year-old girl whose parents abandoned her and her baby brother while they ran off to Hawaii and never returned.
We’ve grown up together. We are growing up together.
My regret is the expectation I had. I don’t regret at all that I haven’t fully matured.
I’m the mom sneaking up behind my toddler to shock him with an ice cube down his shirt. We fight over who gets to play with his new Lego set first. “It’s mine, Mom!” “Hold on. Give me two minutes with it.” “It’s a gift, Mom. Don’t be rude.”
We have traditional sit-down dinners….about twice a week. Otherwise, we’re eating arroz con camarones on a makeshift pallet while reading an Archie comic and listening to the Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack for the umpteenth time.
Be comfortable with the kind of mom you are…and the kind of mom you aren’t.
4. BUYING SO MANY CLOTHES
No matter how many hundreds of times you hear others advise you not to buy so many clothes for your rapidly-growing child, we all get stuck in the trap.
I had figured that being a boy mom would make it easy to follow that advice, but stacks of onesies and soft pants quickly piled up and would have to be returned. I just couldn’t get to putting them on him before he was already needing a bigger size.
That didn’t change much over the years. I would open my son’s drawers and be embarrassed to see tags on clothes he’s never worn and hasn’t even been able to fit in months.
One of our resolutions this year is to go through our clothes monthly to make note of what we have and what needs to be donated.
So far this year, so good!
…Yes, I know it’s only March. But humor me.
5. WORKING TOO MUCH
When my ex-husband moved out, I became responsible for all the bills overnight. (In hindsight, I still can’t decide if it were a smart or ignorant decision to separate from him on a whim without a plan in place.)
I immediately went into full-on hustle mode juggling a full-time job, an unpaid publishing internship, a part-time job at Bone Daddy’s waiting tables in the required four-inch Mary Jane heels, booty shorts, and crop top (talk about pressure to lose the baby weight!), and working all night on my first novel.
As you can imagine, Dre’s early years are almost a blur of memories.
I barely even have many pictures or videos of him at that time because if I was off, I was so busy caught up in trying to overcompensate my absence that I would go months forgetting to take out the camera.
If I could do it over, I would have cut down on my hours by at least a third, accepted the fact that not all the bills will be paid every month, and just took that extra time to slow down and be with him.
The bills never left, and they never will. But Dre’s early years were gone in a flash, and those I will never get back.
Do you have any parenting regrets you’re brave enough to share?