Clichés can be so annoying, but the problem is they’re clichés for a reason… because they’re usually true. One of my least favorites is “hindsight is 20/20.” Because it’s SOOOO true, and it’s so annoying that it’s true! Why can’t we just see what we’re going to see later when we’re in the moment? Why can’t we have perspective for the future NOW?
I think we can, but it takes a bit of extra effort. It requires raising your head up out of the situation and looking beyond. Thinking in a sort of out-of-body way about the current situation.
I remember when I was in the trenches of babyhood and toddlerhood. The trenches, people. When someone mentions trenches, I think of a deep, muddy pit with barbed wire all around and gunfire going off in every direction. Basically every WWI movie you’ve ever seen. Raising my head above the situation at that moment in time meant I was putting my head in the gunfire. And climbing out of the trench to make a run for it? Forget about it! (I’m not 100% sure what this analogy is referring to, but I know it’s deep. HAHAHA!!! Oh my gosh! I’m turning into my dad!)
A year or two ago I started to see the light at the end of the toddler tunnel, and now I’m full blown into the “young kid” tunnel with a five and seven year old. It’s funny now to hear my friends who are still in the baby and toddler stages. Funny in an “oh I’m so wise now” way. Ha! Because “hindsight is 20/20.” When your six year old daughter comes home from first grade one day and asks you what sex is because she heard two second graders talking about it? That’s the moment when you look back at the toddler years and think, “What was all the fuss about?! It was SO eeeaaasy compared to this!” Now I have to teach morals and character and help choose friends and explain why God killed all the people in the flood in a practical way and educate their little brains. There are so many more things to deal with now that they can rationalize and think and speak clearly and have their own opinions and be surrounded by and influenced by a very sinful world. Ugh!
Would I go back? Nope. I’m all about moving forward! But I definitely look back and know that I didn’t spend enough time there in the trenches. I didn’t cherish those moments. I didn’t engage enough or teach enough or play enough. I wasn’t looking ahead to see what I was going to miss when I looked back. I was just trying to survive. Sure I have regrets, but I don’t live there. I can’t go back, so I move forward.
But I think with major hindsight comes major adjustment, hopefully. That’s how we grow and change and improve, right? There are so many reasons why I decided to homeschool, but one of them was honestly to make up for some of that lost time. I realized I was a little too loose with my parenting in different areas, and I wanted to make up for some of that. It’s never too late to readjust, to make amends, to refocus and redirect. And that’s the usefulness of hindsight, not to complain and live in the depths of despair and regret. There’s nothing useful or beneficial about that. But to allow that newfound wisdom to help you move forward into your future and also to pay more attention to your present so that there are less regrets later.
Here’s another cliché, “it goes by so fast.” You blink and you have to explain sex to your kid before their friends at school do. Baby and toddler mamas, it’s going to come really, really soon. So enjoy those innocent babies as long as you can. Revel in the poop and pee and messy faces. When they knock over that glass of milk and you feel like you’re at the end of your rope, be glad you don’t have to explain to your son why his pee pee is “strong and mighty” that day. (Those are words I’ve heard, friends. Hilariously terrifying words!) Live each moment of every day instead of just getting through it. Be thankful for the simplicity of babies and toddlers. Try to raise your head above the trenches to see what’s coming and then tuck back in with those babies for a while because the trenches are relatively peaceful compared to the battlefield you’re getting ready to encounter.
I’m on the other side now of those exhausting early years. I’m glad I am. I enjoy my kids and love their personalities and getting to spend time with them now. But looking back I realize how simple life really was during those years. If you’re in them now, I know you’re probably calling me crazy (and maybe some other unsavory choice words). I don’t blame you! I’m not trying to sound like a know-it-all. I just know that it’s so easy to lose the focus of the future and get buried in today instead of enjoying it while you can.
“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” –Matthew 6:34
That scripture has a pretty negative bent to it, but the point is, focus on today. Tomorrow will come soon enough. Live for today cause pretty soon you’ll be on the other side. And instead of longing for the future, use it to help you appreciate today. Have Present 20/20.