Confessions of an Unintentional Domestic Goddess

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Priorities and Regrets

We all have them. If we didn’t, nothing would ever get done. Priorities are how you arrange your life.  When I was in college, my biggest priority was my next exam or project that was due. I have been teaching my daughter, the first thing she must do when she gets home from school, is finish the homework that is due the next day, before working on the diorama that isnt’ due until the end of next week.

Priorities bring some sort of order to our lives. The things that take precedence over others and must be completed first or get your attention before anything else. When I was younger, work was my priority. I didn’t have much of a love life, so work was what I had. In my college years, my priority was getting the highest grades I could. When I got married, that was kind of a tricky balancing act. I am very fortunate in that my wonderful husband understands the necessity for education and that sometimes, my studies would be more demanding of my time. He never made me feel guilty for spending too much time at the library or studying for mid-terms or boards.

When I became a mother, my children’s well-being and happiness became my priority. So much so, that I put my career on the shelf to devote myself 100% to their upbringing. I wanted to know my children and for them to know me and learn their values and morals from us and not someone who’s only investment in their lives was the $7 an hour they were being paid to watch after them. Family is my first priority, my children, my husband, my extended family. (I do understand that not everyone is able financially to stay home with their children, or want to do it. I do not condemn anyone’s personal choice in that matter, as we are all different.) 

Family is my priority because in the end, they are what matters most. I may lose my home, my car, everything I own, but if I have my family, I’ll be fine.  They may annoy me, drive me insane, make me laugh til I cry, or just flat cry, but they are what matters, above all. Period.  

Other people have other priorities. Sometimes we may think they’re out of whack. For some, it’s a clean house. For them to feel good, their homes must be spotless and Better Homes and Gardens ready at all times. Others, it’s their jobs and climbing the corporate ladder. Or maybe it’s buying the next, greatest tech gadget or newer, bigger, better home.  Material things do not equal happiness. It’s just stuff. Your house/car/media room may be the cleanest, biggest, newest, bestest on the block. But if your family is suffering or unhappy, what’s the point? In the end, what they want is you, not the junk you can buy for them.

I had to have a real difficult heart to heart with my husband a year ago. His boss was demon-spawn and he was working himself silly only to be beaten down every single day. To the point that he was constantly exhausted and didn’t want to do anything with us. I explained that we would be happier if he took a pay cut and was able to spend more time with us. We wanted him, not necessarily that paycheck. Of course, we need a paycheck to live, but we can live with less if it means he’s happier and able to be there for us, physically and mentally. I knew that if things continued on the way they were, eventually, he would regret the time lost to that thankless job and evil boss. His priority was taking care of us, but it was at the expense of the well-being of our family. Thankfully, he was offered a new job working for his former boss, whom he really liked and respected. Yes, it involved a serious pay cut, but the pay off: he’s happier, less stressed, and able to spend time and have fun with all of us.

When I made the decision to give up my career, I did it because I knew if I had the opportunity to be with them when they were little and didn’t do it, I’d regret it when I was older. I don’t want to have any regrets over things I didn’t do. I’d rather look back and say, ‘wow, that wasn’t the smartest thing I’ve ever done, but I learned from it.’  The regret I do have that I think may be too late to do anything about, I was 2 classes shy of getting my bachelor’s degree. I was mistaken when I thought I had more time to complete those two courses and now I’m too late. I can deal with that more than I could deal with regret over not spending good time with my precious children when they were little. They are the most important things in my life, and I have not regretted a minute of it.

So tell me, what are your priorities? Do you have any regrets?  Do your priorities cause you to miss once-in-a-lifetime events or miss special times with the people who matter most to you? Maybe it’s time to re-evaluate.

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What were you doing 20 years ago?

Yeah, right, as if! ‘You expect me to remember something that far back?’ you’re thinking. And I hear ya, loud and clear. Normally, my memory is what a friend of mine called ‘half-timers’. No disrespect to those with Alzheimer’s, but I can only remember what I”m supposed to remember half of the time, hence ‘half-timers’.

No, really, I’m asking that question because I just realized what I was doing 20 years ago and it really surprised me.  For a few reasons. First of all, my memory certainly isn’t what it used to be. Most days I can barely remember what I ate for dinner the night before, let alone what happened two decades ago. See above paragraph.

TWO DECADES. Man that sounds like such a long time. To some people it is a lifetime, literally. Others, a drop in the bucket. Me, well, kind of in between those two I suppose.

I realized that twenty years ago, I left everything I knew behind and moved to Los Angeles. Yup. I was 23 and thought I had nothing to lose and no better offers, so why not? I can always come home. Twenty years ago, I spent my first Thanksgiving and Christmas ever away from my family because I couldn’t afford to com home. It was tough. Thankfully, my roommate’s ex-boyfriend’s family took me in. Yeah, sounds like a tv show, huh? They were very kind and shared their holidays with a lonely little Okie girl who was basically an orphan. the fact that they lived in a freaking gorgeous home, I’m talking Better Homes and Gardens gorgeous, in Dana Point (Orange County,on the shore) completely blew me away. I’d come from very humble beginnings and was just floored by how everything was done there. They were not pretentious at all, which was almost what I was expecting.

I still have a difficult time comprehending that 1990 was 20 years ago, I think I’m stuck in a time warp. It still seems like it should be just a few years ago.I’m not saying there haven’t been bumps and bruises along the way. I’ve got plenty of scars to show for those years, physical and otherwise. But even though I’ve been through and done many things that should make my life feel longer, I don’t feel old. I was 33 when my first child was born and I didn’t feel like I was old enough to have children! To this day, I claim 36 and seriously do not feel like I should be as old as that calendar tells me I really am. Unfortunately, my stupid knees joyfully remind me on a regular basis that the mileage on my chassis has not been as easy as maybe it could’ve been! Isn’t that what they say? It isn’t the years, it’s the mileage. some days the mileage feels like all highway. Other days, it’s the 405 in LA at rush hour.

Anyway, I was just reminiscing and thinking of how life-changing that move was and how thankful I am that I had the guts to do it. I discovered that I’m stronger than I thought I was. I can do anything that I put my mind to. People are not always what they seem at first glance. Earthquakes can be fun, especially when they’re small and dont’ cause damage. Traffic in SoCal really is as bad as they say it is. The cost of living in LA is really as insane as they say it is. And, if you have an opportunity to do something, take it. Don’t let once-in-a-lifetime chances pass you by. Never, ever live with regret, life is too short to say, ‘I really wish I would’ve…..’

Now, I will be really worried if the next 20 go by just as quickly. I just want to enjoy my life, my children growing and the next adventure with my wonderful husband. Life is good, I suppose I must remember to slow down and enjoy every day with all of me.

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