My little Ally was also fair, as was her father, and had an indistinct ethnic look about her; perhaps even a bit Polynesian-like. She became more exotic looking as she grew older. Ally was a cheerful child who loved life and loved to laugh. She was just like I remembered her mother when I first met Christina at age 3. I was 31 and was instantly drawn to her. I later learned that life had been cruel to Christina, and by age 12 she had become emotionally independent, guarded, controlling, and manipulative, and all with a smile on her face. At 16, she was unreachable. Always scheming to get what she wanted; by age 17 Christina determined that Mr. Charming, Amado, was going to be her husband and that he would be a father to Ally. Within a few months, Christina was again pregnant and moved in with Amado. This was the first time I felt I had “lost” Ally. As long as Christina was single and out having fun, I was needed to babysit Ally, sometimes for days at a time. Her mother’s selfishness and immaturity grieved me, but I was delighted to have Ally to myself as much as possible. I enrolled her in Mothers Day Out, Jr. Jazzercise, and dance classes. I took her to church. I sang to her, rocked her to sleep, showed her Shirley Temple movies, and took her shopping, to work with me and to my parents’ summer home in the mountains each year. I even let Christina tag along the first time, when Ally was 6 months old, as well as on business trips, just so I could have Ally with me. After that, she was fine with me taking Ally by herself. After all, it gave Christina more time to be a teenager. My husband, my mother and sisters all thought I was obsessed, and I suppose I was; but I saw it as fulfilling a mission and taking care of the gift that God had given me. When Christina moved in with Amado, she took Ally with her, and I was devastated. I was jealous of Amado and resentful of his new role in Ally’s life. In my mind, I was her protector and caretaker, because Christina was too selfish and immature to be so. My husband and my mom tried to convince me that Ally was not mine and that I did not have the right to be resentful. I couldn’t make them understand that God had given her to me. Yes, I knew she wasn’t mine, but I was supposed to see to her welfare. That meant giving her what she needed, but more importantly, I believed it meant that I was to keep her as close to me as possible and to shield her from the unhealthy lifestyle of Christina and Amado, and the constant arguing, yelling, and emotional neglect. To my relief, they allowed me to continue taking Ally to Mothers Day Out on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and more often than not, that turned in to her being with me from Monday night until Thursday afternoon and many weekend nights. Christina also was happy for me to take Ally to church with me on Sundays. I did not know that by then Christina not only had another out of wedlock pregnancy to deal with, and no marriage proposal from Amado, but that he had what she later referred to as a “drinking problem”, and that she was often left alone while Amado was out carousing in the sports clubs and strip bars. She did not have the emotional wherewithal to take care of a toddler. I was more than happy to take on that role. Every day I grew to love Ally more and more. My love for her was intense and consuming, and I saw her as my mission to protect and disciple and also to remove her from their dysfunction as often as possible.
After reading Slidebar’s A Life Without Regret Ain’t No Real Life At All, (see repost) I began to think about all my regrets. Not that I have to read about regretting to be reminded of mine, but Slidebar’s points really hit home with me. I have a ton of regrets. There are some that did not dramatically change my life’s path, and some that did. Though I know that I would not be the same person I am today, had I not been through those regretful experiences, I still wish I had not made some (most) of those choices! Now, I am one to believe that there are consequences to every action, but I also believe that we are supposed to experience certain things in life to become what we are to become, and that those things will happen regardless of the choices we make. After all, if God is God, what sense would it make for humans to have complete and total free will and control over every single aspect of, in, and about our lives?
I admit that I am a recovering perfectionist. I have been admittedly imperfect for nearly 20 years now. Until my recovery began, I did not want to be reminded of my regrets, but I still had them – lots of them. It is interesting to note that back when I was “perfect”, I tended to repeat many (most) of those regrettable choices.
I suppose there are some people who don’t have regrets, or maybe they truly don’t remember their really bad choices. It could be that they are that “glass is half full” kind of people, or perhaps they just haven’t gotten over their perfectionism yet.
Hey, boomers (and beyond) – Check this out. Do you admit that you have regrets?
“It is never too late to become what you might have been.” ~ George Eliot
I recently arrived at the half-way point in the human lifespan. While reaching this milestone hasn’t given me the desire to go buy a red sports car or have a lurid extra-marital affair, it has prompted a significant amount of thought and reflection.
A “Mid-life Review,” if you will.
I’m not obsessing about it, but I think it’s healthy to stop and consider the state of your life. Are you where you’d hoped you be by now? What have you done? What have you left undone? These are healthy questions to ask. They help you evaluate and make course corrections as needed.
As I go through this process, the word regret seems to cross my mind a lot. Regret is one of those words that’s considered bad, that to regret anything is bad. People…
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