At ground level

A column about LIFE

Some regrets, but we can move forward

I feel like I’ve been sloppy at work lately. Just too much on my mind. So, I’ve been berating myself about mistakes I’ve made at work. You see, I have this tendency to beat up on myself if I don’t get things right. The thoughts below were inspired when I made one of those errors, which seems minor now compared to other things in life …

There was a time I could say I had no regrets in life. Even mistakes I made in my youth, I felt, were well worth it because they made me who I am today. As I got older the mistakes got bigger, and now, I can say, I have some regrets.

The piece below, written by the late Erma Bombeck, my favorite columnist, puts things in perspective. There are mistakes and then there are MISTAKES. It reminds me that I should not dwell too much on mistakes at work because they are minute compared to more important things in life that I need to focus on, so my major regrets will be less as I move forward in life.

Many versions of “If I had to Live My Life Over” have been circulated on the Internet. The piece below, according to, is the original penned by Bombeck. It has been incorrectly noted that she wrote the article when she was ill with cancer. Actually, she wrote it in 1979 at the age of 52, according to  She died in 1996, at the age of 69. It’s a good read whenever we think things are going bad for us because it reminds us about what is really important about life. It reminds us to stop working so hard and, instead, stop and smell the roses. I admire people who are able to do that. I have to be reminded of this every so often.

If I Had to Live My Life Over

By Erma Bombeck

Someone asked me the other day if I had my life to live over would I change anything.

My answer was no, but then I thought about it and changed my mind.

If I had my life to live over again I would have waxed less and listened more.

Instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy and complaining about the shadow over my feet, I’d have cherished every minute of it and realized that the wonderment growing inside me was to be my only chance in life to assist God in a miracle.

I would never have insisted the car windows be rolled up on a summer day because my hair had just been teased and sprayed.

I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained and the sofa faded.

I would have eaten popcorn in the “good” living room and worried less about the dirt when you lit the fireplace.

I would have taken the time to listen to my grandfather ramble about his youth.

I would have burnt the pink candle that was sculptured like a rose before it melted while being stored

I would have sat cross-legged on the lawn with my children and never worried about grass stains.

I would have cried and laughed less while watching television … and more while watching real life.

I would have shared more of the responsibility carried by my husband which I took for granted.

I would have eaten less cottage cheese and more ice cream.

I would have gone to bed when I was sick, instead of pretending the Earth would go into a holding pattern if I weren’t there for a day.

I would never have bought ANYTHING just because it was practical/wouldn’t show soil/guaranteed to last a lifetime.

When my child kissed me impetuously, I would never have said, “Later. Now, go get washed up for dinner.”

There would have been more I love yous … more I’m sorrys … more I’m listenings … but mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute of it … look at it and really see it … try it on … live it … exhaust it … and never give that minute back until there was nothing left of it.

I feel the same way as Erma Bombeck did. If I had to live my life over, I would hug my three children even more tightly than I did when they were toddlers, and even more when they would grow up to be teen-agers. In fact, I would give them a million more hugs and kisses and I love yous. I would take more time to listen to them and probe more when I thought something was wrong. I would go on even more trips with them. I would laugh more with them. I would watch less TV, unless it was with them. I would relax more and worry less about keeping the house impeccably clean. I would worry less about saving money and, instead, I would treat my kids out to a fancy dinner more often.


Instead of resenting having to raise them alone, because that’s what it seemed like, I would seize the moment and cherish the opportunity to do so. I would scold less and not get so uptight when they spill something on the carpet. After all, they didn’t do it on purpose. I would have hugged my eldest tight, instead of screaming when she spilled the pitcher of juice inside the refrigerator that I had just cleaned.


I would have spent more time with my son and been more enthusiastic about his ball games.

Maybe that’s why parents are often better as grandparents … We all come to this realization when we see our children with their own children.


My two older children are now grown-up, but my 15-year-old is still around – though not for long. So I try to remember all these lessons.

I no longer dust my blinds every week, and there are times I even leave the dirty dishes in the sink overnight if it means spending a late night with my daughter, listening to her talk about how her day went, or what she plans to wear to school the next day.

Regrets? Having lived more than a half a century, I now have some. I probably will have more down the road; but this time, I’m a little more aware of what’s important. I know it’s not a clean house or what people think. And I promise not to have to wait till I become a grandparent to cherish life and exhaust every minute with my three children.

And mistakes at work? I will probably continue to fret over them, but when I do that, I will try to remember the daughter that’s still home, her older sister and brother, and what’s more important, and make sure the fretting will last no more than a few minutes, so I can move forward with my family.

September 24, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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