If I Had a Do Over

“I want to have another baby.”

That’s what I texted my husband yesterday from work.

His response?

Crickets.  Oh…and he probably now has the local psychiatric hospital on speed dial.

There seems to be an epidemic of pregnant women in my city this week and they all seem to be at that 6-7 month time frame where you look beautiful and all is right with the world.  Not the 1-4 month time frame when you’re not really showing and you just feel fat not to mention exhausted and maybe sick.  Or the 8-10 month time frame when you pee 400 times a day, you’ve developed cankles, you can’t catch your breath and every time you look in the mirror you see a big, sweaty, puffy faced pregnant woman staring back at you.

Still…

Maybe all I want is a do over.  Maybe I just feel the last of my kids slipping away into adult hood and I’d just like to go back and do some of it over.  Okay…all of it over.  Not just because I miss being their “mommy” instead of their “mom” (or “mother” when they’re exasperated), but because I really would do some things differently if I could do it again.

First, I’d slow the hell down.  I wouldn’t be so worried about being on time and I’d stop to appreciate them trying to dress themselves, or tie their own shoes, or cut their own food.  I’d stop and help them rather than just doing it myself because we’re late.  So what if we’re late, no one ever died because they waited for their toddler to figure out there’s nowhere to put his head if he tries to wear his pants as a shirt.  But oh I wish I had slowed down long enough to take a picture.

Second, I’d get messy more often.  I was never a mom who worried about how dirty her kids got or how much of a mess they made while doing a project.  I once told a preschool teacher who expressed concern over the fact that I hadn’t sent in an overshirt on paint day that I bought clothes for children not models and if they got paint on them then that’s okay.  It just meant that shirt needed a little paint that day.  But I would have had even MORE messy moments.  More erupting volcanoes.  More big leaf piles.  More mud pies.  More rain dances.

And speaking of messy.  I would have lightened up drastically about how clean my house was.  I never made them clean their rooms and I didn’t harp (too much) about putting things away but every Saturday morning for most of their lives I cleaned the house.  If I had a do over I’d let the house go and spend Saturday morning watching cartoons or eating cereal or playing video games with them.  Sleepy morning kids are the best and I missed a lot because my toilets weren’t clean enough for me.

Here’s a biggie – I wouldn’t be so concerned with what other people thought.  There were often times when they were younger that I insisted they do something or say something because I was worried about what other people thought. Times when another parent would tell me something my child did and I would immediately believe them instead of talking to my child first and really listening to their reasoning.  Those moments brought back feelings from my own childhood and rather than recognizing that and correcting, I reacted badly.  

I finally came to my senses once when another parent told me that she didn’t call me to pick up my son from a party because she was going to “break him” of his habit of fleeing social situations that made him uncomfortable.  In that moment I realized that I had been more worried about what she thought than what my own child was experiencing.  I won’t repeat what I said to that woman but I never, ever made a mistake like that again.  If I had a do over I’d have never sent him to that party in the first place…I would have respected and honored his feelings.  None of those times (there were more – not many but some) would have ever even happened.

If I had a do over I wouldn’t have worried one single moment about whether or not I had “mommy time” or whether or not dad and I had “date night”.  I would have spent every single second with them that I could.  When our kids are young we have no idea just how freaking FAST time is going to fly.  We become overwhelmed with everything we have to do and seek the peace that a little adult time provides.  Doing it over I would realize that there was going to be plenty of time after they’ve grown to have adult time.  In fact, there is way too much adult time now.  I would have savored every bedtime, every dinner time, every bath time, play time, tv time and mommy time and I would have stretched them out as long as they would last.

A do over would allow me to seek out a job that didn’t require travel.  I spent a lot of time when my kids were little on the road for my career.  If I could do it again I’d make different choices about my job so that I would be home and not tucking them in via cell phone.  I’d be sure I was there for every recognition ceremony, every play, every game, every performance.  I would never let a “career” get in the way of my family.

Which brings me to my next point.  If I had a do over we would have led a simpler life.  I would have been an English teacher with crappy pay but great hours.  Following that dream I had would have allowed me summers with my kids.  I would have still sent them to camp but I would have been the one driving them and picking them up.  I would have been the one taking them for Slurpees after a hot day on the soccer field.  I would have been there to put ice on an arm after a baseball ran into it. 

For the record, I have awesome kids and a great and unique relationship with all six of them.  When the holidays arrive they all want to be at our house which I take as the highest compliment a parent could ever receive.  They are confident in the fact that they are loved with a fierceness unparalleled in the Universe and they wear that love everyday in the form of self-confidence, happiness, pride and self-esteem.  They come for guidance and advice now and my husband and I try our best to provide it while still letting them grow.  They are just plain good people and I’m proud to know them.

So if I had a do over would they be better people?

No.

But I would.

Namaste