But What If There Were Second Chances?

Originally published August 2016

Seriously—what if you had a second chance? It’s not hard to imagine the concept. Books, movies, TV shows, I’m sure—there’s been endless hours of creativity pored into answering that question. And as part of our blogging group’s monthly exercise, now we’ve been asked the same.

And—no joke—minutes before we were emailed the topic, I was hugging my sophomore daughter goodnight at 8:45, as she heads to bed to wake at 5 a.m. for swim practice, telling her how proud I am of all she does. Good grades, swim team, yearbook …

“I never did those things,” I said.

“You did soccer,” she replied.

“Yeah, my senior year. Big deal.”

“You did newspaper.”

“I did do newspaper.” (Once a writer, always a writer.)

“Did you do student council?”

“Nope. I ran for treasurer in 7th grade. Nearly passed out in front of the entire student body during my speech. Got my butt kicked. Never tried again. I was too scared.”

And there you have it.

It’s not any specific time or place I wish I could go back and experience, although high school would be a great place to start. But if I could have a do-over in anything, it would be simply to not be so damn scared.

Scared of trying. Maybe I could have been in show choir, or a play.

Scared of being alone. Maybe I would have chosen boyfriends more carefully. Or not at all.

Scared of worst case scenarios. Anxiety in my adult life is never far. Parenting is never easy, but when you are a worrier, when you are scared, you can bypass the moments of joy. And there are as many of those as there are scary times. I would like that second chance to divert the energy I spent worrying into energy spent loving. Because if there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s that being scared and worrying has absolutely zero effect on the outcome.

Really—I can be scared one of my kids is never going to get his act together. Or that another one is going to injure themselves on a paddleboard and miss a season of sports. Or that another is going to live with me forever. But none of that energy spent affects any outcome, positively or negatively. If I could go back and do it over, with the blessing of hindsight, maybe outcomes wouldn’t change. I’d still probably lose the election for student council. But I could have appreciated the attempt. And maybe a kid is going to live with me forever. But at least I’ll have company.

Enjoy more, worry less. Easy to say, so very hard to do.

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