Ever since I announced to my parents that I had found someone who will marry me, they have been full of advice. My dad in particular. He and I sat down together one night and he told me something he’d probably been holding in for years. “Dave,” he said, “I hope you don’t make the same mistakes in marriage as I did.” He told me how he wished he had more of a career for his family and that’s why he pushed me through school. He wished he treated his wife better and that’s why he enforced that I treat my mother with respect.
“Remember,” he said, “just because you’re not making the same mistakes as me, doesn’t mean you won’t make mistakes.”
I realized then that my whole life my father raised me to be better than he turned out. Maybe that’s what his father did to him. My dad has been trying to shelter me from choices he made which led him down the wrong path.
I believe in learning through mistakes. When I was five years old we had some of our family staying at our house. I wasn’t used to company being around. My brother and I had the whole basement to ourselves. So, without thinking twice I opened our bathroom door where my older, developed cousin was just getting out of the shower. She screamed of course and I had a sit-down talk with just about every adult in that house about what I just seen.
Being a five year old boy I couldn’t get that image out of my mind. My first grade teacher gave us free time to draw one time. I drew the only thing that was on my mind: my naked cousin. That drawing led to an unscheduled parent-teacher conference. My parents had me seek professional counseling to aid me in my mistake. Now I always knock before opening a door. Sometimes I knock twice.
The mistake was quite innocent but it affected the rest of my life. The mistake wasn’t accidentally walking in on my older cousin of the opposite gender; the real mistake was not knocking first. One or two little taps would have never let that image in my mind.
Our mistakes stare us in the face. They haunt us when we have idle time thinking of pleasant thoughts. I believe we should use our mistakes to our advantage. Learn from them. They’re yours to keep. Some mistakes are fairly small, some require counseling. Perhaps the only real mistake would be to keep making it again and again.
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