My apologies ahead of time for those who had a mini panic attack thinking they had been whisked back to high school English courses and needing to write essays on Robert Frost. I assure you that while there will be an assignment at the end of this, I won't be grading it and this is the only time I will be referencing Frost's poetry at all.
I am less than a month from my 42nd birthday and while I would like to think I have done the best I can in my life so far with what I have been given, the truth is, I really haven't. There are times when I try and reflect to points of my life where I let my anger get the best of me or my desires would cloud my judgment or even moments of choosing inactivity because I just didn't have the energy to do what was needed to be done. I feel like everyone has a moment they would love to have back. Maybe some of us have more than one and that is OK too. As the saying goes, hindsight is 20/20, right? If we always had the right answer or the perfect comeback or placed the right bet then how much different would our lives be? Honestly, I am not sure how life would have as much meaning as it does if we weren't able to learn from our mistakes and for that to occur, some bad choices need to occur.
Now I figure some of you there reading this might think, "Hey, having all the answers would be a great thing!" (it isn't) or for others, "I already know everything and am already perfect" (you aren't). Just try to think of it this way, if you knew the best path to take every single time there would be a point where life really wouldn't be a challenge. It would be too much of a good thing and I know, for me at least, I would be bored. But what about the REALLY big things? What about the things you said or did that ended up costing you an opportunity at something really beneficial or maybe a family member from your life?
I've made a ton of mistakes in my life. Everything from burning food to signing up for the Disney Movie Club even though Disney + exists.
One of the worst moments of my life came as a parent and I really debated on whether or not to reveal this because it definitely doesn't paint me in a positive light. I like to think of myself as a pretty neutral, relaxed, even goofy person except when it comes to things like phobic or racist dialogue. In one of the darkest points of my early parenting, our son came home from my brother's house after my wife and I got off work that day. He was around 2 or 3 years old at the time and, for the most part, he seemed to be in a completely good mood. He was eagerly telling his about his day and what he saw watching YouTube with his uncle when he said something that to this very day I will swear on a stack of bibles was the "N" word. Both my wife and I stopped dead in our tracks and looked at each other because we both heard it the same way. We asked him to explain it a second and a third time and each time it kept coming back to what we both heard as a very hurtful word. Admittedly, I lost it with him at that point. I yelled about how bad it was to use language like that and how that was never acceptable in our house. I was on a warpath ready to have it out with my brother for showing him any videos that would even contain language like that. In the end, my anger got so bad I actually did end up spanking him because he shutdown and wouldn't talk to us anymore.
I ended up sending him to his room after so I could cool off. A few hours pass and I still couldn't shake the feeling something wasn't right (well, besides my behavior anyway). So very calmly, I went back to his room and talked to him again and for a fourth and fifth time asked him to repeat the story and again the result were the same, so I decided to change tactics. I asked him to describe what happened in the video. As he went into details my heart sunk. I am in tears right now even typing this up because of it. In his story, he was describing a lizard.
For whatever reason, he was struggling to say the word correctly. Once everything had fallen into place, I started bawling right in front of him. I had flown off the handle and punished him over a lizard. I couldn't apologize enough that night. I told him how wrong I was and that mommy promised to never EVER get that mad again. I am happy to say that I have been able to keep my promise on that, but I hated that I made that choice to begin with.
I have a lot of choices I regret, but I think they built me into who I am today. That choice, however, would be the only one I wish I could have back, regardless of any possible reflection I was able to do within myself to fix the issue. There are things I would like to fix despite the choices I made. I would really like to have a relationship with my parents. I would love an even closer relationship with my children than I already do have. I'd love to be to look at myself in a mirror and not just break down into tears because of years of letting self hatred build up. All of those though became the way they are now because of choices I made then. Going forward I hope I can find a better road to take and make the right choices so that I can make those things a reality.
So, my assignment to you is this; take a moment to think about some of those choices you have made. I just want you to really challenge yourself to analyze those ones that haunt you the most. Was it a choice that made you a better person despite how bad it was at the time? Is it a choice that has stunted your growth as a person because of how crippling it was? Finally, is that choice something that will make you second guess future choices because of the impact it may have?
Don't worry, I won't ask you to share them with the rest of the class. All I want today is for us to really think about our choices whether it be here in a post saying something negative or offline in your own personal life. In the end though, whether you want to do the assignment or not, that's your choice.