My mom asked me today what I thought she should have done differently when I was growing up. This was a sort of carry-over from our conversation on Sunday, and I had difficulty answering the question.
Not because I didn't think she should have done things differently. Not because I was not angry at her most of the time back then. Not because I did not hate a lot of her decisions.
Because I cannot see the point in telling a person they should have done something differently. The biggest thing I was upset at my mom for back then was her marriage to Reginald. I hated him, hated his attitude, his age, his personality. She did not know what the ultimate outcome of that decision would be; she didn't walk into that situation knowing how things were going to turn out for all of us. If she did, she would have made a different choice back then.
And I learned a lot from Reginald, the kind of lesson you learn backwards. He taught me how not to be. He was an excellent example of the sort of step-parent one should never be; he was also a good example of the sort of husband I don't want in my life. Every man I dated after Reginald entered my life was compared to him. If they shared personality traits or qualities of character I ran the opposite direction.
While there was a time when I hated my mom for marrying him, I can use that experience for something positive in my life now. It was what it was, and she cannot change her decision; and at the time, she was doing what she thought was best. I think it's easy to look back after the dust settles and point a big accusatory finger at where a person made a mistake, but it is not very constructive to do so.
I believe I am the sum of my experiences; since I have no control over decisions made in my past it is futile (and far too frustrating) for me to go around accusing people of making bad choices after the fact. Now I get to make my own choices, and because of all of my experiences I think I do an okay job of it.