Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but it can also be like a chain connecting us to feelings of guilt.
Oh, if I only knew about minimalism five years ago!
What do you wish you could go back and change?
I hope nothing. Every experience in our lives contains a lesson to be learnt, and sometimes these lessons repeat themselves until we finally “get it”.
Recently, I had a conversation with Miss 10 about some issues at school, namely friendships. She has had a bit of a rough time with friends at school, and hasn’t found that one true friend. She is usually the third wheel in a group of girls who have already built a solid friendship, so she tends to feel a little left out.
We spoke for a long time, and it was during this conversation that I was able to see another side to her situation. My heart ached for her, and I really felt sorry for what she was experiencing. I was also angry with some of the other kids at school and the way they had been behaving towards her.
I wished I could take back all her pain and the crap she had experienced over the past few years.
But then I had a light bulb moment.
Whenever I am experiencing something difficult in my life, I try to remind myself that there is a lesson to be learnt in this experience. Rather than feeling sorry for my daughter, and wishing I could protect her from these friendship problems, I decided to view her situation through different glasses.
I realised that these experiences were her “lessons to be learnt” and maybe they were repeating themselves because she had not yet learnt the lesson.
When I brought this up with her, it helped her make sense of what she had been going through. We even agreed that in a way, it was good that she was experiencing these issues now while still young, so that she could get a good understanding of what a true friend really is, and what behaviour is unacceptable. She could learn these lessons in a supportive environment, having her parents and her teacher to lean on. Then once she begins high school, she will have the opportunity to make new friends and will be a better judge of character.
But in this experience of listening to Miss 10, I also realised that a lesson had been presenting itself to me for a very long time but I was not “getting it”: I don’t think I was truly listening to the issues my daughter was coming to me with.
Each day she would come home and tell me about some of the arguments she was having with other girls, or incidents that I simply dismissed as petty arguments. You know how it is, one day girls argue then the next day they are best of friends.
But there was more to the story, and there was a lesson for me to learn: not to take my children’s issues lightly. Now, we cannot be problem solvers for every single thing that happens to our children, and we have to teach our children to be resilient, but I believe we also have to accept our children for who they are. Some are more sensitive than others, and that’s wonderful, because this world needs more sensitive people.
And what I may think is only petty or minor, could mean the world to my child. I can sit and listen to my child’s retelling of her day, or I could really listen to what she is saying and try to help her uncover what lesson she could learn.
I feel for those children who do not have the opportunity to spend quality time with their parents, or do not have anyone who can guide them through life’s tough moments, and help them uncover what lesson life is trying to teach them.
As parents, we can be our children’s “life teachers”, we can guide them on their journeys and help them uncover the lessons hiding behind every experience, no matter how small or insignificant we think an experience is.
And that’s where it helps to live a less busy life. We need to create more time for ourselves to spend with our children, to listen to their concerns and really be there for them. It’s not enough to listen with our ears, but keep our hearts and minds closed (or thinking about other things, such as what to cook for dinner or an upcoming client meeting).
Living an unbusy life also helps us to see things more clearly in our own lives- it helps us notice the things that we might normally think are small and trivial, when in fact they could be life changers in disguise!