As I took my dog on her every-other-day walk through the neighborhood today, I was thinking about all of the things I did the first time around. I thought about major life events, such as having a child, purchasing a home, having surgery, or buying a new car. I also thought about minor life events, such as purchasing a throw rug for an entryway, organizing a space, or working on a landscaping project. Fortunately, life gives us opportunities to do things better the second time around. Of course, that’s if we actually learned anything from our initial (previous) experience. With many ‘firsts’, there is nothing to fall back on, no wisdom or prior experiences to help with navigation. Mistakes have yet to be made. Often, it’s a matter of ‘winging it’. If you’re lucky, nothing catastrophic will occur. Despite efforts made to do things right the first time around, there’ll likely be a significant amount of ‘bumps and bruises’ (literally and figuratively), definitely much more than the second. I wish I could say I always do things better the second time around, but that isn’t always the case.
When I look back at my life, I am happy to report that nobody died while in my care. That’s not to say that my first child didn’t wind up in the hospital when she was just over six months old and nearly died (from pneumonia); however, at least I had the sense to run her to the hospital in the nick of time, and the doctors and nurses were able to help her make a quick recovery. When I think about the ways in which I parented my first child, I feel kind of bad. I had her two months after I turned 21 years old. I call her my ‘Guinea pig’. As a new parent, I often didn’t realize the repercussions of my actions. I had expectations and a few tools to work with but I really didn’t know what on earth I was doing. Through trial and error with my first child, I learned how to better parent my two youngest children. My parenting style changed significantly. I wasn’t nearly as strict with them as I was with my first, and I had a lot more patience. She likes to tell me that her youngest brother ‘got away with murder’. No, he never killed anyone (that I know of), but he certainly got away with much more than she did.
After I had all of my babies, between my appendix scar, my hernia scar, my stretch marks (which made my stomach look like I’d been mauled by an angry tiger), and my saggy belly, the condition of my abdomen wasn’t good. I can also thank my constant weight battles as well. For these reasons, I decided to have a tummy tuck. When I was around 36 or 37, I went in for the procedure. It was pure hell! There was nipping and tucking and sucking and stitching. Once the surgery was complete, and I’d spent a few hours in recovery, the nurse assisted me in putting on a full-body compression garment, and I was sent home. The pain was excruciating, I cannot even describe it. My recovery was slow, but eventually life returned to ‘normal’. Four years later, after ‘destroying’ all of the beautiful work the surgeon did by getting fat and thin and fat and thin, I had another tummy tuck. Oh yes, I did! I wish I could say I did things differently the second time around, but I didn’t. Shortly after I recovered, I got fat again. Have you heard of the saying, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me”? All I can say is, “Shame on me.”
The first time my husband and I purchased a brand new car, we did it completely wrong! I still kick myself over how gullible we were. We had just moved stateside and had no vehicle to speak of. While visiting my husband’s parents, we decided to ‘take a gander’ at some of the new cars at a nearby dealership. After being met in the parking lot by a salesman, we pointed out a 4-door sedan that looked like it’d be a good fit for our family. We hadn’t done any research first through Consumer Reports or contacted a bank for pre-approval or made any price comparisons. We bought the first car we test drove. As it happened, it was a ‘dealer demo’, it wasn’t even brand new. We paid the full sticker price and agreed to a 60-month auto loan with an overinflated interest rate. Dumb, dumb, dumb! Thank goodness I had learned ‘a thing or two’ when I bought my second new vehicle years later. Nobody pulled the wool over my eyes that time! I did my homework and ended up getting an actual ‘brand new’ vehicle at a 0% interest rate. I even got the dealership to match the lesser price (for the same vehicle) at a different dealership. Score!
Most things we experience in life aren’t major, they’re actually fairly minor. I am glad we don’t just get one chance to do things right because we’d really be in a world of hurt if that was the case. I shared a little bit about my laundry room the other day, and how I went about organizing it so very wrong the first time. On the rows of shelving, I had heavy stuff on top, and light stuff on the bottom. I had saved countless (empty) bags and boxes, of which there was no rhyme or reason. I had also made some major faux pas by placing toxic bug killer on the lowest level of the shelving (where it’s accessible to pets and little people) and by storing a cardboard box full of archived files on the floor. When I made the effort to go through it a second time, although I wish I had done it right the first time, I made sure I went about it correctly. The tile, sheetrock, and painting supplies are no longer intermarried, they are all stored neatly and separately apart. I no longer waste a bunch of time looking for things I need. The only regret I have is that I waited so long to make it happen.
I spent the better part of today trying to ‘rework’ a pond in our backyard. When we first moved in, I called it our ‘redneck hot tub’. It was a poured concrete pond (in a crazy 8 shape) that had been decommissioned. Every water and electrical line to it had been cut (prior to us purchasing our home). The only thing it was really good for was producing mosquitos after water collected in it and became stagnant. A few years ago, we decided to use it as a place to ‘dump’ unwanted materials. Returning it to a functioning pond was too expensive and too much trouble. All kinds of crap wound up in the pond, dirt, gravel, old bricks, and a whole bunch of busted up concrete. Each time I look in the backyard, I am appalled by the unholy site. I am determined to ‘fix it’, even if it kills me. It’s such an eyesore compared to the rest of the landscaping. Had I done things correctly the first time, I would have put all of the concrete and bricks on the bottom and then layered the gravel and dirt over the top.
Because (for reasons unknown) I chose not to do it that way, I am now having to remove all of the heavy bricks and concrete chunks off the top, scoop out the dirt and gravel, and then put everything back (in reverse order). My God, concrete is heavy! I managed to fill up the wheelbarrow 4 times before my body said, “Hold it right there!” Just prior to that, I had smashed one of my fingers between two chunks of concrete and then nearly dumped one of the loads onto the grass when I was trying to maneuver the wheelbarrow around to the front of the house. It was time to ‘call it a day’. I am glad I can say I made some progress, albeit very little. My husband spent the day out in the yard as well. A few days ago, he did some research and learned the correct way to maintain berry bushes. All of these years, we just let them grow wild and they were a pain in the tookus to harvest. After removing a bunch of the plants, he fashioned some structures and strung wire between them. The wires should guide and support the plants as they grow, and make the berries much easier to pick.
If you’re one of those people that gets it right ‘the first time around’, I applaud you. I suppose it’s possible to do that with enough guidance and education. I don’t know if it’s because I don’t like to waste time ‘reading up’ on how to do things beforehand or what my deal is, but I usually have to do things at least twice (or more) to get it right. My husband spends hours reading manuals and doing tons of research before getting his hands dirty. Me? I usually get my hands dirty first and once I realize I went about whatever I was doing completely wrong, I think to myself, “Oh, crap!” What can I say? There must be a part of me, deep down, that is a glutton for punishment! Thank you so much for stopping by. For the folks that are ‘following’ me, I am grateful for you and the continued interest you have in reading my blog. I’m no poet laureate, but I love to write and I enjoy the opportunity to share stories about my life and family or to just make simple random observations. If all goes well and I haven’t run you off, I trust you will return tomorrow as will I.