What I regret, and what I don’t

We’ve had so many changes in our family recently: Sarah graduating from college, Nate marrying Hunter, Julia receiving her mission call, Sarah leaving for graduate school, and the other four children beginning a new school year–including one as a senior in high school.

With these significant events have come lots of conversations, blessings and challenges. I continue to learn more about who my children are at this stage in their lives, and I see what I have seen before: that children aren’t static. They change. Their personalities unfold. They meet challenges, they learn, they grow. Sometimes they make choices we as parents don’t agree with. Sometimes they do things we are so proud of, and sometimes they don’t.

Through it all I am learning that I love our children so much, no matter what.

I’m also learning that I have some regrets and some feelings of gratitude, or non-regrets, for lack of a better word. I don’t regret having taught each child to pray, to read, to go to Heavenly Father and His words and His Son for help. These are things that I am terribly grateful that someone told me to do and that I did.

Some regrets I have are things that maybe we just learn as parents and gain experience. I have heard them from others: I wish I had played with my children a little more. I wish I had known them better and been more in tune with their hearts and minds. Girls might be easier in that regard, whereas it might be harder with boys and moms. I’m not sure. We only have 2 sons! And speaking for our 5 daughters, again, I can only speak for my own experience as every person in the world is individual. I wish I had been gentler and laughed more. I wish I had understood sons better.

But more than anything, I feel grateful that we taught them to pray, to read the scriptures, to fast, to try to keep all the commandments, to go to church, to work hard in school and at work, to help at home. I know we have done those things, albeit imperfectly, and I’m grateful, because I know they have the tools in their toolbelt to move forward with whatever they face as they enter these adult phases of their lives.

Alas, regrets are part of learning as we go as parents, right? So our younger children benefit from the perspective we gain as older (more tired) parents. Lucky them. And the older ones got the energy and drive we had as younger parents. Lucky them.

I’m grateful in all of it that I didn’t have to be a perfect parent. And that I’m still learning and working on changing. I still have hope that I will learn more and more and that because of the atonement of Jesus Christ, my faults and weaknesses won’t prevent any of our children from realizing their potential.

Right now I’m hearing in my mind those comforting words of Elder Jeffrey R. Holland to mothers:

“When you have come to the Lord in meekness and lowliness of heart and, as one mother said, “pounded on the doors of heaven to ask for, to plead for, to demand guidance and wisdom and help for this wondrous task,” that door is thrown open to provide you the influence and the help of all eternity. Claim the promises of the Savior of the world. Ask for the healing balm of the Atonement for whatever may be troubling you or your children. Know that in faith things will be made right in spite of you, or more correctly, because of you” (“Because She Is a Mother”)

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