Have you ever thought, “If I’d only known then….?”
Now that our youngest child has entered the world of the college freshman, I’ve become a little reflected lately. So today I’m sharing 21 things I’ve learned in the past twenty plus years of being a wife and a mom. If you’re in a life stage where your marriage and kids and younger than mine, consider these 21 truths a gift from someone who’s made many mistakes along the way, so you don’t have to. If you’re in my life stage or beyond I think you’ll enjoy these, too. Maybe a thing or two will resonate with you, or maybe you’ll just want to share them with a friend, co-worker, daughter or neighbor. You might even want to add a few of your own.
Here’s what I know now that I wished I had known way back then…
1. Feel your feelings. But don’t live by them.
(If I lived by my feelings I would be divorced 20 times over and in jail for the murder of at least one, if not all of my children. OK…so maybe this is just a bit exaggerated, but you get the point.)
2. I never regretted following God’s instructions about the way I should love and live.
3. I always regretted not following God’s instructions.
4. Conflicts are almost never about the issue you’re arguing about. At their root, conflicts are usually power struggles.
5. I was always glad I listened. I wasn’t always glad I talked.
6. Listen to your gut. Say “no” when you think you should. Probe by asking the tough questions when you’re unsure. Trust until you have a reason not to.
7. Don’t fear your child’s anger. Sometimes being tough is the most loving thing you can do.
8. Love your husband the way he needs to be loved, not necessarily the way you need to be loved.
9. Make the choice to do the right thing, even if you don’t feel like it.
10. Sincerely apologize when you don’t chose to do the right thing, even if you don’t feel like it.
11. Take care of yourself—body, soul and spirit. Allow your husband to do the same.
12. Talk with (not at) your kids about your own faith journey. Share what God is teaching you, both through your successes and your failures. When it’s real for you, it’s much more likely to become real for them.
13. Laugh every day. Pray every day. Say “I love you” every day.
14. Allow your husband to be imperfect. Your kids, too. And while you’re at it, allow yourself to be imperfect, as well. Love covers a multitude of sins. Maybe that’s why love expresses itself best in a family.
15. Keep the problem, the problem. Don’t make your spouse, your child or even yourself, the problem.
16. Quality time versus quantity time is a myth. You need quantity time because you never know when the quality time will happen.
17. Eat dinner together without distraction several times a week, even if it’s Taco Bell.
18. Don’t underestimate the importance of sex. You didn’t get married to have a roommate and neither did your husband.
19. Know your child’s friends well and monitor what goes on, where. This goes double if your child is a teenager. Better to be strict now than sorry later.
20. Make it a point to have fun with your spouse and kids. The fun you have today will be the happy memories you have tomorrow.
21. Never, ever underestimate the power of your prayers for your family.