More random bits of great advice…
Once I was shedding bitter tears over a relationship that had gone bad. When my big sister heard me sobbing over the phone, she dropped everything to take a train from D.C. to New York to be with me in my hour of need. (It is so good to have siblings). With my sister by my side, I wailed about all the regrets I had. I bemoaned the years of my life I had lost by having misinvested it in a dead-end relationship. My sister quietly listened to every word I managed to choke out between sobs and then gave me a piece of advice I’ve returned to in my mind many times over the years.
“Live without regret,” she told me. “Every experience, even the most painful ones, make you more of a human being. Your life is richer and fuller for everything you go through. Maybe you learn how to be a more compassionate person, maybe you learn what to avoid in the future, and maybe you learn how it is that you really want your life to be.”
In retrospect, I realize that our mother would always give us a version of this truth when, as children, we confided our hurts to her. It would never fail to take us by surprise when she would say she was glad that someone had been mean to us, or had hurt our feelings. But then she would explain that now that we had experienced that pain, she knew we would never inflict it upon another person.
When I became a mother for the first time, I always sought advice from my second sister, the amazing mother of four. She has taught me a lot by example rather than with explicit advice. I admire the way she recognizes the kernel of goodness in each child and praises and nurtures it. She is also my role model for finding the humor in trying situations. One of the most useful practical pieces of advice she ever gave me was: “No matter what your baby is wearing, it can always be pulled down off the body rather than over the head. If you really can’t manage to pull it down and off the baby, you can always cut it off.” When her children were very young, she never went anywhere without a pair of scissors. My sister gained this valuable piece of wisdom the hard way and saved me a whole heap of trouble by passing it on to me. For those of you who have had babies, and have had the shocking experience of seeing mustard yellow poop shoot up the baby’s back and all the way to the neck, you’ll know exactly why this is such sound advice. (So much of parenting involves the management of all manner of bodily excretions)!
Aaand then there’s my third sibling: my “little” brother Teddy. In response to my request for the best advice he‘d ever gotten, he wrote with his characteristic brevity: “Aim for the throat.”
Yep. That’s my brother.
Friends have offered these pearls of wisdom:
K, (the mother of twins): “Keep twins on the same schedule, so Mommy can sleep too!” and “If it’s important to you, you will find a way. If it’s not, you’ll find an excuse.”
R: “In fits of rage, take one big deep breath before responding.”
R: “Never put off until tomorrow that which you can do today.”
J: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
F: “When you feel like screaming at your child, WHISPER!!!”
Finally, here’s a favorite piece of advice that the minister of my church gives every year at around this time to the college students in the congregation who are heading into exam period:
“Remember that your worth cannot be measured by grades, but has already been determined by the fact that you have been claimed as a child of God.”
What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten? Or conversely: “What’s the worst advice you’ve ever gotten?”
Hope you have a wonderful, wonderful weekend!