When Great Advice Comes Too Late

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I read a lot.  Books, magazines, cereal boxes – if it has words, I’m all over it. So obviously I really love how many great blogs there are out there, and how much terrific information we can grab instantaneously.  It is an exciting time for someone who is a Constant Learner.

There is so much that is funny, and smart, and truth-telling.

I’ve read some terrific stuff lately –

This bit, about finding out what you’re really good at.  I’m in school now, but I’ll be on the job trail again soon.

QBQ is one of my favorite blogs, asking what the “Question Behind the Question” is, and always encouraging personal accountability.  Plus, this one made me smile because I, too, have heard the “wait five minutes and the weather will change” bit of nonsense in EVERY state.

However, sometimes I read information that, well, comes a little too late.  It’s aimed at someone in a stage of life I’ve already passed, or it’s something that would have worked for the girls several years ago and absolutely would not work now.  Yet, if I’d read it when the girls were younger, it could and probably would make things easier NOW.

This article, on 10 Tips for Talking To Your Kids, has a mom who has lots of tips about how to help her kids when awkward conversation topics come up.  It’s easy to tell she’s dealt with some topics that as Moms, we probably wish we could skip sometimes. I liked her advice, and her approach to parenting seemed to be fairly similar to mine in that she appears to deal with things head on and honestly.  She suggested a journal for each girl, that would have the MOST awkward and private topics, and could be shared back and forth between herself and her daughter.

Sigh.

That would have worked brilliantly with Little G. When she was younger, she’d have shared this back and forth with me and I think it would have grown into a habit we could have really enjoyed – and, starting earlier, it would ease some conversations we have now that she’s firmly in high school.  However, because she is now in high school and she is finding her own voice and trying to do what she can to appropriately step away from us – if I suggested this now, I’d either get the wrath of the ages, or she’d laugh herself silly.

The advice is terrific, just a little too late.

So what do you do when the tips are tardy?  Do you shake your fist at the fates?  Do you laugh?  Do you cry a little, bittersweet at missed chances?

Well, sometimes I do a little of all of these.  It can be an emotional time, when a child is getting closer and closer to testing their wings. (I find it particularly ironic and a little nasty that we are dealing with their hormones at the same time that ours begin to go nuts, but that’s a topic for another day.)

I try to keep focused, though, and tuck the advice away for others. I turn the focus back to TODAY, and on to US, and I remind myself all the things that we have done that work for us.  What routines did we use, what lucky little thing did we try that worked like a charm…what things did we try that didn’t work at all, but taught us something important about our girls….

All of that is still relevant, and we are not less-than because of missed opportunities. All we are given is this day, this time, to change things or to do what we can.

Reading great advice that came a little too late isn’t something that should make me sad or angry or (especially not) cause me to think less of my own parenting skills.  It’s still great advice.  And, most importantly, I can still feel confident about the  choices that we did make that worked for us, the ones that maybe some day I can share with someone else.

One thing I have done, some years more faithfully than others, is keep what I call a “planner journal” – I would get those weekly student planners, and when we did something I would write it in that day’s little box.  If the girls said something funny, or if they got in trouble and I wanted to remember (or remind their future selves) that they are still lovable and loved, I’d write it.  Movie theater ticket stubs, school programs, little bits of this and that – they all went into the journals.  I stopped doing one for Big G several years ago, but I’ve tried to keep up with one for Little G until she is on her own.  I don’t know if either of them will ever read these, but they are here.

And they remind me, past, present and future, to keep reading and writing – in case someone out there needs this today.

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