One thing we all have in common: each and every one of us makes mistakes! Sometimes we fail to heed good advice and are forced to live with the inevitable consequences. Other times we stumble because we simply didn’t know better. Then there are those times when it doesn’t seem like we could have done anything different or better, but we still end up flat on our faces!
Most of us are terrified of failure and see mistakes as something to be avoided like bad fish at an all you can eat buffet! We find mistakes shameful and regrettable, completely missing the point that mistakes are how we learn and improve!
Think about it, how many life lessons really stick until we actually experience them?
Most of us seemed to grasp the notion that we shouldn’t run with scissors without trying it firsthand (although someone must have if all of our moms and grandmas are warning against it!), but how many of us believed loved ones who told us not to get too serious too fast about a new love, for instance? We either thought our situation was somehow different, that we were more knowledgeable or in control, or that for other reasons we would be just fine.
My first message for today is that we need not be so afraid of making mistakes. A mistake may mean that we’ve failed to achieve the desired outcome, but it certainly does not mean that we are a failure as a person! I wouldn’t know half the things I know today without making mistakes!
That time, as a brand new teenage driver, when I rolled through a stop sign right in front of a cop? You can bet that won’t happen again!
Last week when I forgot to plug in the crockpot before I left for work and ended up throwing away dinner for seven and scrambling for a replacement meal? I will most definitely check, even double check, the outlet before I make my next slow cooker concoction is attempted!
That time I married a man I had known only a short while because he seemed nice enough (even though something kept nagging at me telling me something was “off”)? Are you kidding? That was a monumental mistake and something I would never do again!
So, yea, I’m not perfect!
I have screwed up plenty with mistakes both big and small. I have already accepted the fact that I will continue to make mistakes for as long as I draw breath, but it’s okay! At least I know that I will continue to have new material to laugh about, shake my head at, or point to as an example of what not to do. If not for my benefit, I will always have wisdom to share with my kids.
A mistake becomes insanity if we keep repeating it and never learn from it. If I keep trying to pull pans out of the oven without an oven mitt, burning myself each time, then I should question what’s wrong with me. If I ever rush into another ill-matched marriage again, I know I will be punished in multiple ways, and will beg all of you to smack me!
So, how do we help our children to see the positive side of a mistake, such as a divorce? First, let me say that a divorce, itself, is not necessarily the mistake. In fact, a divorce may very well be the cure for a diseased marriage. The mistake was more likely in either the fact that the couple married, to begin with or how they conducted themselves while married. I used to feel shame for having been divorced, but I have come to have a healthier attitude about the fact that it was a necessary solution to a bigger problem.
My mistake, as I’ve already mentioned, was marrying a man too soon without really knowing what I was getting into. I followed-up on that mistake by bringing children into a situation that should have never happened. I wouldn’t trade my children for the world, so their existence in their situation is not at all a mistake, but instead a redeeming factor for my doomed union. My divorce and my marriage mistake are not their faults, but they live with the consequences as children of divorce living between two homes. It’s now my (and their dad’s) duty to help their lives remain as consistent and calm as possible.
Although I don’t want my children to have to feel the after-effects of my divorce, I do want them to learn from it.
I want them to see it as proof that things won’t always go the way we hope. Sometimes we will end up in situations that don’t work out well. When we find ourselves in a problematic situation, we should try out very best to work through them and improve them. We will always encounter some situations that can’t be salvaged, no matter how hard we try. When in a no-win situation, it’s okay to finally surrender and say “I’ve done all I can, there’s nothing else I can do, and this is now over!”
It’s important to me that my kids understand that marriage is very important and should be worked very hard for; however, I also want them to know that they deserve better than to be trapped in misery with the wrong person. If they end up with the wrong person, I don’t want them to feel like failures or as though their own family would reject them (as mine did) for going through with a divorce.
I hope that my children will know from my example that we can overcome heartbreaking circumstances and find wholeness and happiness again! I want the example of my struggle and my triumph to teach them that failures of any kind are not the end! If they learn anything from what has happened, then the experience has value and will add to the richness of their knowledge and time on this earth. I can’t spare them every possible painful experience in life, but I can model for them how to conquer those moments!
Statistics say that my children will be more prone to divorce because they come from divorced parents. I hope that will not be their fate, and I will do my best to teach and demonstrate the qualities necessary for a healthy relationship and for them to become strong individuals who can be happy whether in a relationship or not. If my children do follow in my footsteps and divorce one day, they will already know that although it is an unpleasant chapter, it is something they can make it through. More than just surviving, divorce is something they can emerge from quite successfully!
My mistakes stand as monuments to remind me and teach my children what to and not to do. Divorce is just one such thing that they can use as an example for their own life. Having been children of divorce, hopefully, they will do all they can to make the wisest choices in their partners and nurture their relationships. If, however, they divorce, it will be just another obstacle that they can, and will, overcome!