Hindsight Parenting: Learning & Practicing What Not to Do
The Experience of Hindsight
Hindsight. It isn’t just for parents who have raised children for 10-20 years. It really is a super power that ANYONE can have. Making friends with and becoming wise because of Hindsight can happen to each and every human who has ever made a mistake or has been dissatisfied with any aspect of their lives. John Reyes once said, “Over the last few years my education was not from books, it wasn’t from some fancy Ivy League School masters degree program; it came from my own personal experiences which were costly…but priceless in things I learned.” I am sure that Reyes, in this quote, was talking about my friend Hindsight. You see we have all experienced things were not proud of, not fond of, things we wish we could have done over. It is that EXPERIENCE that brings Hindsight to our front door. And if we are lucky enough to have the universe hand us a situation where we can choose differently, where we can be wiser, where we can look back upon what didn’t work and do things that will work instead, then we should consider ourselves very lucky. Very lucky indeed, because it is within these moments in which we gain a modicum of wisdom and, yes, maturity as well.
This is the sort of experience that I was faced with Tuesday night when my presence was summoned to a certain institution because choices made by a beloved son. He was in trouble, real trouble and as I quickly changed out of my pajamas and threw on a pair of sweats and a sweatshirt it dawned on me that I had no compass as far as how to act, what to do, what to say when I arrived and laid eyes upon him. Should I be supportive, emotional, firm, rejecting? How? How should one act towards her child when he’s acted without though, putting him and others at risk?
Dealing with Hindsight as much as I have, I recognized that familiar “no compass” feeling as a sign that somewhere deep in the recesses of my cavernous soul, I knew that I didn’t want to act in the way that I was “taught.” My upbringing was one in which you never brought shame upon your family. That making a consummate mistake would be enough for one to be cut off. Aunts, uncles, even a grandmother was held at bay and sometimes never seen because their choices and life styles were deemed not good enough or perhaps not worthy of familial fuzzies. Being at the stinging end of these rejections for immature and reputation damaging choices that I had made, I knew that hurt and damage that complete and utter rejection could cause. What’s more, the message that that rejection sent was one in which the reject felt that they were and would always be the sum total of those mistakes; nothing else, not flesh, not bone, not good deeds or intelligence, not talent, not human….just bad choices worthy of rejection. And as I drove towards the institution that I had been summoned to, I was sure, absolutely sure that I didn’t want to act like that. My son has troubles, makes poor choices, sometimes seems like he is drowning in anger and rage, but his sum total is much much more than this turbulent time. And yet, familial learning is so deeply entrenched that Hindsight may be able to help you know what you DON’T want to do, but it may not be able to help you with what you DO want to do.
So before I entered the building in which my son sat clearly troubled, clearly IN trouble, Hindsight reminded me that although HE may not know how I should act, someone that I had in my life was ALWAYS willing to help shape and mold me and give me a compass that always seemed to point me in the correct direction. So despite the late hour, I dialed her number, presented my dilemma and she, as usual, lovingly, patiently and firmly pulled me up by my bootstraps and gave me concrete directions on what my role as his mother needed to be. So I turned off the ignition, blew my nose and wiped my tear streaked face. I took a deep breath and walked up the ramp with Hindsight’s hand on the center of my back and my right hand firmly squeezed into my husband’s left hand. The automatic doors swooshed open, I was ushered into a room to find a crumbling son seated in a chair. I swept him up in my arms and whispered that whatever happened I’d be with him for each step and while the consequences that he faced may not be in my control, nothing that happened from this point would ever change the fact that I loved him. I would stand by him. I would help him face each moment that came. I would never reject or abandoned him. And even though the magnitude of the situation was great, his shoulders relaxed, he scooched over in the bed that he was in, I climbed in and held his hand. We sat in silence. He panicked. I listened. He apologized. I loved. He pleaded for my help. I was truthful with him that it was out of my hands. But I was there. There was no doubt that my love for him transcended any decision, any choice, any trouble that he was experiencing. I will always love you, my son. Even if you don’t love yourself. You can count on me. I was pretty sure that around 3 am in a sleepy stupor, I saw Hindsight nod proudly at me. I nodded back, and returned my attention to a distraught child. MY distraught child, who no matter the decisions would have my love…not my approval mind you, I am no push over. But I was there. I am there. I will be there encouraging and supporting, picking up the pieces when he crashes and smashes into bits. Hindsight taught me that rejection of a family member is the selfish answer…for in rejection one is saying, “I don’t like the way you are making me look.” Hindsight, good ol’ Hindsight helped me to remember that my experiences with rejection made it so that I didn’t want to continue with that learned behavior
And so it can be with you, dear reader. Start to look for your Hindsight. Start to be aware of the anxious feeling of not knowing how to handle a situation because you didn’t like the way it was handle in your previous life. It is at that moment that your soul is opened to having Hindsight enter your life and start helping you to use your experiences to better your life. Listen to him readers. His wisdom is infinite, and the longer you allow him to infiltrate your life the more astute you will become. Learning from experience may be hard…but it is certainly worthwhile.
Have you ever experienced Hindsight in your life? I’d love to hear how you have used it to change your outlook on problems and dilemmas and everyday living. Please let me know in the comments section below.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Logan has lived in Glens Falls, NY all her life. By day, she is an educator with 20 years experience, a mom to Aidan and Gannan, her two teenage boys, a new mommy to a beautiful daughter, Ila, and wife to the love of her life, Jeffrey. By night, weekends and any spare time she can find, Logan writes. She loves memoir and also adores writing essays about the challenges of parenthood. This year she started a parenting blog called A Muddled Mother, an honest place where mothers aren’t afraid to speak of the complications and difficulties that we all inevitably experience. Logan has been published in various children’s and parenting magazines including Today’s Motherhood, Eye on Education, Faces, and Appleseed. Logan’s previous column for Hilltown Families, Snakes and Snails: Teenage Boys Tales ran bi-monthly from June 2010-Feb. 2011, sharing stories of her first time around as a parent of two teenage boys. — Check out Hindsight Parenting: Raising Kids the Second Time Around every first and third Tuesday of the month.