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Regrets Raising My Daughter

Regrets Raising My Daughter
By Kern Carter • Issue #4 • View online

I’m always confused when people say they have no regrets. The definition of regret is to “feel sad, repentant or disappointed over something that has happened or been done, especially a loss or missed opportunity.”
By that definition, I’ve had plenty of regrets.
I don’t regret having my daughter, but I regret all the things I couldn’t do for her.
Not providing her a stable home till she was in high school.
All the fights she witnessed between me and her mother, especially the final one in the schoolyard. That happened in front of parents and teachers and her friends. I still think about that day.
There are some days I regret being awarded full custody of my daughter when she was 13. Not exactly the custody itself, but what it represented. It meant that I had failed to create even an amicable relationship with her mother. And even though that was a challenging task, there are some days I feel like my daughter paid a steep price for us to be together.
Maybe we couldn’t have predicted this, but winning full custody meant my daughter never seeing her sisters again. They both were on her mother’s side, but she had already combed their hair, kicked them out of her room, bathed them, put them to sleep, made them breakfast.
All of that ended the day the courts handed me those papers. And again, it wasn’t an outcome we anticipated, but it happened, and I regret it. Sibling connections are priceless.
Time. That’s really my biggest regret. It’s the umbrella that a lot of my other regrets fall under. I hate that it’s taken me this long to figure things out. My daughter turned 19 last month which means I’ve officially been a parent more than half of my life. Strange fact considering I’m not 40 yet.
But the first ten years were such a mess. I had no idea what I was doing. The insecurities of having her at such a young age stayed with me for many of those years.I ridiculed all of my decisions, double guessed my choices, frustrated myself with how lost I felt all the damn time.
I should’ve put her in French Immersion. We should’ve gone on family vacations. My apartment should’ve had two bedrooms instead of one. The apartment she was born into shouldn’t have been a maybe 400 square foot basement where the refrigerator didn’t work for the first two weeks.
All of these are regrets. Moments of sadness and disappointment over missed opportunities.
But as much as I regret those moments, I’m happy with where we are now. And it would be impossible for us to be here without enduring many of the tribulations we faced throughout the years.
So my regret is partially coloured with gratitude. Gratitude that I survived those challenges and came out a better person. That my daughter and I somehow managed to bind closer together and share a connection that I cherish more than anything in this world.
I wouldn’t be where I am without my regrets. I wouldn’t be who I am without them. Even as I write this, I’m replaying memories that sink my heart or force me to shake my head. “What was I thinking,” is the question I find myself asking far too often.
I do have regrets. Plenty of them. But I accept them all, I may be even slightly thankful. They brought me here and here is where I want to be.
Did you enjoy this issue?
Kern Carter

Parenting, Passion and Profit reflects on my personal journey as a father and author balancing all three. Some days I'm living my dream, other days I'm chasing it. But every day I'm writing my own story.

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