I have regrets, and not just a few. I'd love to say I have none or that there's no going back in time to change what I didn't know then, but to be honest, sometimes I did know.
I knew better, I knew how to do it differently, and I knew that even though kindness would be harder, it was still the thing to do rather than what I did. I knew a few more minutes here and there wouldn't have killed me. Sometimes I did know, and I did my own thing anyway.
I spread my regrets out on the kitchen table like a deck of cards. I console myself with the understanding that if not for everything I've done and said, good and bad, I wouldn't be here today – this loved and this loving. This life — the person I am, who I'm with, and what I have — is not my reward. It is my second chance, every day, to get it right, to make it right, and do right by others.
I regret having said, "Not now," "We'll see," and "Maybe later" as often as I did.
I am consoled with the knowledge my children never had to say "Mommy!" more than once when they tugged on my sleeve, and I did teach them to say — and they did say — "May I interrupt?"
I regret the one time when I should've kept my child home and didn't, and as much regret holding on when I should've let go – that one time.
I am consoled with the knowledge that I taught my children how to shamelessly scream, kick, and yell when they were in danger, how to run as fast and as hard as they could back home – the address of which they dutifully memorized no matter how many times it changed. They did run home, that one time, and they were hurt badly, but I see now how much worse it could've been and how well I handled it at the time, even though I had no idea what I was doing.
Later in their lives, when I should've let go, I am consoled by their now saying, “Whatever, mom. Listen, at least we knew you loved us when everyone else's parents were just dropping them off at the airport curb."
I regret having said, "You are a heartless bastard" instead of saying "I feel empty and lonely."
I am consoled by the knowledge that had there been no strengths between us at all, we wouldn't still be together, and I have since learned to start my sentences with "I feel" instead of "You are."
Perhaps that is the good of this life – learning so much from something that once seemed meaningless, and learning so much more from something that felt like it was too big and too overwhelming to deal with, much less learn from.
When they say, "It doesn't get any better than this," they're wrong; and "this" is never as big a thing as one might have expected.