Monday, September 21, 2009

What NOT to Regret-A Life Lesson

I remember, after I had 3 children, I needed to do some soul-searching and life-changing. Out of necessity, I had grown a hobby into a business. I was still at home all week, but I would fit "work" into times when my husband was home...on a week night or a weekend. It was a lucrative business, and it helped so much during the years when we needed it to. (I did faux painting and murals for interior designers and clients.) I worked hard at both jobs...being at home and painting...taking care of my kids and my clients. I often did samples at nap time, returned phone calls when kids were busy, and met with decorators in the hour or two I would employ a sitter.

It seemed like the dream job because it allowed me to do both things, stay at home and make great money. But the truth was, when my 3rd child came along, I was running myself ragged. Stretching myself thin, trying to do to much. My heart was in one place, my mind in another. It was nice to not have to budget so much, to have extra money for "things", but after awhile I began to realize that I was sacrificing my state of mind and more than ever, my family, my little ones, needed me to have their full attention.

I think when we mothers try to do too much something or someone pays the price. Sometimes it's the kids, sometimes it's the marriage, sometimes it's us. In this case, it was me.

I remember older ladies stopping me in the grocery store and admiring my children and saying,
"Those were the best days of my life."
or
"What I would do to have those days back."
or
"It goes so fast. It's gone in a blink of an eye."

I felt at the time, this general malaise in my heart.

I did some soul searching and talked (and probably cried) with Jeff and made the decision that if I would regret anything in life, it would NOT be spending these precious days of raising my children without a feeling of peace. I want to know, when I am that old lady in the supermarket that I spend quiet days, loving and having fun, and learning and NOT missing the small moments. I did not ever, ever want to have regrets. I don't think I could live with myself.

I quit. I was proud of the business I grew, but it had served it's purpose and I let it go without a look back. Things were tight again, but I was OK with it. Because the peace in my heart was worth more than anything.

I have found one of the best ways to examine the course of my life is to ask myself, "Will I regret this?" I picture myself in a rocking chair on a front porch, watching my grandchildren, or great grandchildren play on the lawn. Will I look back with peace in my heart? Will I say,"I wish I would have slowed down and savored every moment?" It's not really a fun thing to do, but it always enables me to spit out the right answer.  It enables me to stay focused, run against the grain of the times, and enjoy the small moments. It reminds me to stay strong and centered about what I want to believe...that simply raising my children, being a mother and a wife, is enough, when everything we read and hear and see is sending me the opposite message.  It helps me establish priorities and to say yes to the things that really count in the end.

Slow down and everything you are chasing will come around and catch you. ~John De Paola

52 comments :

  1. Beautiful reminder. I love the new pic of you on the sidebar.

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  2. Love the way your mind works! You just seem to say so eloquently what I think and feel. Thank you

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  3. What a wonderful perspective. We don't hear this message enough these days.

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  4. I have just started reading your blog (stumbled on it from Meg Duerksen's blog)...and I love it. I am a stay at home mom of two girls, a three year old and a five month old. Lately I have been unsettled about my role and not having a "side job" to contribute to our family's funds. My husband works hard at a business he started with four partners, but things have been very tight lately. I am the only wife/mom of the group of five families in the business that does not have a paying job, and sometimes I feel very bad about that and think about going back to teaching or at least subsitute teaching. My husband has been very supportive and reminds me that then I would not truly be "staying home" with our girls. He knows me well enough to know that I do not want to look back and have missed this time with them. Anyway, this post really hit home for me and has given me more peace about the situation. Thank you!! (I think I will bookmark it as a reminder later, too!) ~Meaghan

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  5. Absolutely love your thoughts here... so very very true. I really needed this reminder!! Thank you.

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  6. This is something that I have struggled with a lot. And made a lot of changes to try to to balance it all.

    In the end I have found that I do my best when I am mom, and anything else is extra. I delegate and go with the flow. Business is not what it once was, and I am ok with that.

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  7. I too have felt that tug and am so glad I made the choice to stay home with my children.
    Is it a sacrifice? YES! Is it worth it? YOU BET!
    I love your blog and love coming to it for a little reminder of what's most important in my life!
    Have a good week!

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  8. What a cute little face! My kids love playing at the kitchen sink, too. Thanks for reminding me of what's important in life.

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  9. You have such a great perspective. Thanks for helping us remember why we do what we do.

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  10. Once again. Telepathic! I have been doing a home business for a year now and my renewal is due at the end of next month. As I haven't been very successful in it, even though its great money when I do have a party, its getting those parties that are hard. I don't have the time the business needs to make it successful have 2 very little ones. I have been going back and forth on if I am going to continue. I just love your blog and it gives such great advice for me and my hectic world. Thank you again! -Kelsee

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  11. My children are grown with children of their own now. I wish I'd read this when they were young. Most of the time I just felt like I was treading water trying to stay afloat. I wonder if I would have heeded the advice to enjoy those precious years that flew by all too fast. I try to impart this to my daughters and hope they learn from my regrets.

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  12. This is another beautiful post. Too bad we don't hear more of it.

    No one can give 100% to everything, and these days will be over in a blink of an eye. The little details can always wait until later.

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  13. Such a beautifully written post. You sum up my ideas of motherhood very well. Thank you for letting us glimpse into your life.

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  14. I so deeply agree with everything you just said. I have blogged about this a few times over the past months. Just slow down, enjoy it all, because it goes by so quickly. Enjoy the moment. Live in the present. Take it all in.
    I try to remind myself of this each day. It is so strong in my heart right now. Thank you for putting it into words.

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  15. Thank you! I needed to hear this today.

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  16. Exactly what I have been thinking this week. Thank you for posting. And for being totally honest.

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  17. I think your post is a sort of "sign" for me right now.

    I am really struggling with studying for the CPA Exam now. I just can't seem to find the time, I am so stressed about it, and my family is suffering.

    I think I need to just put it off for now and savor my family and children while I can :)

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  18. Great reminder! Why is it that it feels like the days are long, but the years are short?

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  19. Thank you for that! There are times when I feel guilty. I feel like if I worked and didn't stay home with our kids, we could have nicer things without the stress of money. However, I know that wouldn't be the case. If it's not the stress of money, it would be the stress of work and not raising our children like I want them to be raised. Me staying home while my husband works long hours, won't be forever. Like you mentioned, when we are old in rocking chairs on the front porch we will be happy with the children we raised. We won't remember the nice outfit we had to say no to.

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  20. Beautifully written. I think I needed this today. Thank you, Sarah.

    XO*Tricia

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  21. I came accross your blog just a few days ago(via The Nester) and it has been a gift. I have just had my third son and have recently struggled with remaining at home, embracing the infant stages again, and finding peace with who I am right now. Thank you for your words of wisdom. I am taking them to heart.

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  22. I just made a similar decision as you...it meant less money in our pockets and we will be cutting back on EVERYTHING...but the payoff is me getting to be mom more hours in the day and enjoy my childrens lives!
    Congratulations to you...

    Alyssa
    lifeoflyssie.com

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  23. Thank you for these words today. :) I often hear those little old ladies telling me to appreciate my stage and far too much I internally roll my eyes and think, "Yeah right." I do know this stage is going to go by so quickly, and I want to enjoy it. I guess I needed an attitude adjustment today. :)

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  24. thank you so much! Your blog is always a treat to read and today was especially touching.

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  25. Thank you, thank you, thank you for this beautiful post. That's exactly what I needed to be reminded just about now.

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  26. So refreshing--as always! Thank you!

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  27. You did the right thing...they do grow up very fast...I know...mine are both adults now...22 and 19! I gave up my career to stay home with my girls and I don't regret it at all! Come over for a visit if you have the time, thanks.

    Blessings,
    Linda

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  28. I love this post. I was thinking something similar the other day and now I can ask myself the question...Will I regret this? Thanks Sarah.

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  29. Another perfect post Sarah! And can I just say that those pictures of your little helper are DARLING. He is too cute.

    I wrote a post awhile back reflecting on this same thing...thinking about how someday I know I'll miss the craziness that is being a stay at home mom. I even mentioned the ladies in the supermarket. :) You have such a great way of writing what we all deep down know to be true!

    http://kennyanderin.blogspot.com/2009/04/i-suppose-someday-ill-miss.html

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  30. Thank you for writing this! This is part of the reason I stepped away from my blog, at least while my little ones need me so much, round the clock. It's not that I couldn't do both, but not always with that feeling of absolute peace you mention.

    Meredith

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  31. Thank you so much for this post today! I look around at all my mommy friends and sometimes wonder if I should be doing "more" (working part time? working from home? more volunteer work?) with my time, but I know I would regret not being able to enjoy this time with my son. Life as a SAHM is crazy enough already! Even though we have to make some sacrifices for me to stay home, I wouldn't trade this experience for one minute.

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  32. Beautiful pictures and once again a lovely post, very well said. It is amazing to me that we all seem to have these little old ladies stop us in the store and tell us the same things....maybe it is time we listen.

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  33. This post really inspired me. I am a SAHM and I am finishing up school right now and things are tight because of it, but I feel that if I don't finish, I will regret it. This post just reminds me so much more of what I am trying to accomplish.

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  34. Thank you for your sweet honesty. I've been struggling with those same feelings. I don't think it's a coincidence that I read your post today :) nor the billboard that read "Coincidence is when God chooses to remain anonymous". Thank you so much and enjoy those little ones - they are precious!!

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  35. Wow! This is exactly my story too. And actually my best customer sent me the link to your post telling me I made a GREAT decision in "retiring" too. So sweet of her to say even though I know she really misses my work.

    I haven't regretted the decision to bring my focus, and most importantly my time, back around to my family and my marriage, one bit. It was so freeing.

    Thanks for a great post!

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  36. Sarah, different topic but wanted to thank you for the Picasa tutorial. Took me a LONG time but finally got the banner I wanted. Thanks! I'm blogging at maisymak.blogspot.com. I've really enjoyed your work and your viewpoints on motherhood.

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  37. Thanks so much for putting words to what I've known in my heart -

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  38. You are wise beyond your years!

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  39. You are very creative person and your language is up to the mark in this post. All the images in your post is looking so cute i like the first one a boy standing on a chair. That is awesome.

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  40. Can you post some pictures of your kitchen cabinets and you kitchen in general? I saw a picture of one of the cabinets on this post and am thinking of ordering new ones and I really like yours!!! Thanks! -Brittany

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  41. What a refreshment! I'm the mother of four beautiful daughters, with one child on the way. I'm home full time, and like you, I had to make the choice of what would get my time. It seems it's a battle I fight constantly, even when I'm always here, so thank you the reminder, and the fresh perspective. --Cheri

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  42. Your post caught my eye - I am a faux finisher as well- didnt start my company or career until the kids were in school full time, but it STILL is a huge balancing game. I often feel that no one understands all the time and effort required, with this type of work, behind the scenes. Kudos to you! I love your story, your family photo is lovely, I can't imagine the challenge of trying to be a mother to 5 children, a wife and then working outside the home as well. Nothing worse than regrets.....

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  43. Thanks so much, I came across your blog through another it is a blessing. I am a writer but just have been wondering why I am not writing. This helps me know for sure, the reason is because I love spending time with my family most of all. The years are flying by. I want this, the words will come in their own season

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  44. Your posts just speak to me at the right moments. I get all teary, and thankful at the same time. Thankful for the precious gift of beautiful children, and the fleeting glimpse at their lives. Thanks, friend.

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  45. I found your blog from Erin's and I am so glad I did--it is Fantastic and I will have to come back when I get a few more minutes. Love what you said and how you said it. Thank you!

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  46. I am teary, this is so timely for me right now, just skipped over to your blog from a link at the the small notebook. Take care and thanks for the reminder.

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  47. Loved what you said... excellent, brilliant...

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  48. This is a powerful message and sincerely appreciated from a mom who left a teaching career to savor the small moments. Thank you for the affirmation that I made the right choice for me and my family.

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  49. Thank you for this. I just stumbled upon your blog and I am loving it. I also stay at home, have 3 young children and can relate to so many of your posts.

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  50. I'm slightly addicted to your blog. I've been reading through old posts (just found you a month or so ago) and love them! I have to comment here: I also had a little business while I was pregnant with my third, and then while she was a newborn. I was pretty passionate about it and, to be completely honest, thrived on the status it gave me as a small business owner. However, I was also literally dizzy from lack of sleep. And when I finally examined my heart, I realized I hadn't felt truly happy in months. So I made the hard decision to just let it all go (a timely computer crash helped) and man, it was like a huge weight had lifted. I love being with my (now) four babies with a whole heart & mind!

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  51. Beautiful. And I love that way of deciding whether how to invest your time. It is hard to live a life and not have ANY regrets. I regret we didn't get Christmas lights up outside this year. Did we miss an opportunity while our kids are young enough to be enthralled with lights? Or was it better to have a bit more peace at home during the season, without the extra bling. There are always choices to be made. :-)

    Dixie

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  52. Beautiful. Such a reminder. I am really struggling as a new mom to three and this resonates with me so much.

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