Monday, May 21, 2012

Foresight, Hindsight, Advice

“I knew it.”

“I told you so.”
I don’t say these words to adults when they get themselves in tough situations because I don’t want to be smug or an annoying know-it-all. However, I do think it sometimes. Can’t you just see when something’s coming? In someone else’s life, of course.

The biggie on my foresight list is the breakup of a marriage. A friend of mine watched her friends get married, one after another over a period of about 10 years, which produced her insatiable desire for wedded bliss, until she achieved and ultimately paid for it. Her comfortable life melted to misery. It took years to pay off debt and to restore her spirit and assets back to some semblance of what it was.

Why did I know this?

It was too fast. She was too happy. He was too dependent. He didn’t like his job. She was a prize – no kids, self-employed, attractive, and a homeowner; all attributes he lacked (well, maaaybe he was attractive). She told me things while they dated. I smelled trouble.

Our conversations were few because I was busy with babies; otherwise, would I have warned her? Would she have listened to my advice?

Another friend was already married when I met her, to a man she described as domineering; a man who treated her like a child, yet, who expected her to take care of everything. Again, a house was a factor in their split. It was her father’s house. She and her siblings inherited it. She had to get a mortgage on it to pay the siblings. She got the loan in her and her husband’s name. A baby was born. Daycare expenses were added. Job layoffs happened to both of them; home repairs, etc. - financial problems galore. But she had to keep that house; after all, her contractor father built it. Her husband had to keep it, too, because what man willingly gives up his house.

“Why don’t you sell the house?” I’d ask them (separately). I knew they were headed for a separation and divorce, and they did separate. He left, then came back. Then she left.  She came back, but only because she was dying.

I still think about that house, occasionally; that normal, ordinary house that they both just had to have. Yes, I know – it was their home. Was it worth it?
A third friend experienced misfortune due to a bad investment by her husband who wanted his wife to have all the things her friends had. I’d put this one in the “Keeping up with the Joneses” column. I watched the spending frenzy and often wondered when the crash and burn would occur. It took a while, but it happened. Two more shattered lives that have to be rebuilt; in addition to the effect it has on the kids.

Health – another facet of our lives that can send us spiraling downhill. People who don’t have checkups and procedures, like blood pressure monitoring, mammograms and prostate exams are risking their wellbeing. I wonder if an annual pelvic exam could have saved my friend; or was it just in the cards? I wonder if other friends would be plagued with ongoing illnesses if they were not bending over backwards for their families, 24-7. One is an overachiever – speeding around every day. I watched and wondered. She got a respiratory infection and lingering symptoms that lasted a couple months or more.  I wasn’t surprised.

And what about me? Is Nancy right when she says I need to stop running? We laugh about my knees getting replaced in the future. Is she having a bit of foresight and advising me for my own good.

“People in their 80s still run, Nancy. And besides, I don’t have any pain.”

“Okaaay,” she says.

A piece of advice I did take was from my mom who told me to slow down, to make my kids do more. She said that I don’t have to take them to every birthday party and to drive them around all day; that they don’t have to participate in everything. With tears in her eyes, she pleaded with me on a day when I was stressed out. "You forget," she said, “You’re my daughter.” And I got it. And I’ve slowed down.

Have I followed her advice because she’s my mother, and because some things mothers just know?

How often do we have hindsight and say, “If only I had listened and took so-in-so’s advice?”

Or is that just not the way it is? In other words, do we have to go through things in order to get through things? Sometimes, I think yes – even with consequences that are not so good. I find that people rarely really follow advice; including me. Maybe it’s meant for us to learn and grow from our experiences. Maybe hindsight and foresight are moot.

How are you at listening to “good” advice and following through?

Image found here.


Tabor said...

I always have trouble following the advice of others. My mother never gave me advice in a nice way so I ignored hers. But I haven't made any really terrible decisions. My regrets always came about because I didn't make decisions...just drifted into the situation. I think we need to teach our children self-worth so that they don't get into something to fill them up. They should be filled up already.

Anonymous said...

"The wise learn from their mistakes. The wiser learn from the mistakes of others."

Somebody said that to me once, and it stuck.

Auntie sezzzzzz... said...

Wisdom! Wisdom! Wisdom!

And you are also so all-round-wise, to not say "I told you so!" Needless to say, since I say that, I am not, not, not so sweet and wise and great at holding my tongue. -evil grin-

I'm on the side of --- No one can make us change, but ourselves. So I guess, it's human nature, not to take advice. Most of the time.

But I'm so glad you did take your Mom's wise advice!!!!!!!!! :-)

As to you continuing to run, how do I know? -giggles- Just, please listen to your OWN body.

"If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

Auntie sezzzzzz... said...

Btw, I LIKE 'Jeff D'Antonio's' remembered saying!!!!

"If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

Hilary said...

I think that along with all of our other decisions, wise or otherwise, we pick and choose which advice to follow. Essentially, it's not following it at all but recognizing a similarity in our own philosophies and practices. I do think most of us need to learn from our own errors - and occasionally from those of others, as Jeff indicated.

Betty W said...

You are very wise. People rarely take the well meant advice of friends. Or family members, they take advice even less. It is like you wrote. We have to learn through our mistakes. It's hard to look at from the side, but too often we have to do just that. Especially when it's our kids....THE hardest for a mother!

Rebecca S. said...

Oooooo, good post, Anita. And timely. I have a few friends in marital difficulty lately, and I don't know what advice I would give them if I dared. To expand on Jeff's quote, I read recently that one must be wise, and if they did not know how to be wise, find someone wise and pretend to be them until it sinks in. I have generally followed my mother's advice, because she is WISE, been married for 50 years, had six kids of widely varying personalities, and she has built her life on love and kindness and intelligence.
I think we all need to love ourselves enough to want good lives. Unfortunately, not all of us do. Sometimes it takes a major crisis to wake some people up, so it's almost good when that happens - if it ends well, that is.

Carrie @ Cottage Cozy said...

hmmmm I see what you many times we need to take our own advice as well and heed the warning sides around us! Thanks for the reminder...

Abby said...

Interesting topic again! I'm not one to mettle in other people's lives - especially when it comes to marriages and raising kids. But I have watched some crash-and-burn from the sidelines. Of course, if someone actually asks my opinion, they better be ready!

My dad would always get on me about laying out in the sun when I was a teenager, I ignored him then. Now I see how stupid it was! Maybe when we experience it ourselves, it sets in deeper.

Tammy@Beatrice Banks said...

Most people do not want advice. They want someone to agree with them. Not having foresight is a little different than not wanting advice. I've had a failed marriage. It wasn't because I didn't want to follow advice, but because I didn't comprehend it. I was young and ignorant. With age comes wisdom. Unfortunately, some people never grow up. I don't judge. I'm just thankful that I've matured enough to seek advice from others when making important decisions. I am trying to teach my younger children how important it that is before they become teenagers and can't/don't hear anything you say.

myletterstoemily said...

great post! we need both foresight
and hindsight to successfully make
it through these complcated waters.

Buckeroomama said...

Hmm, I'm good at not saying "I told you so" to grown-ups, but I can't seem to hold that back with my kids.

Depending on who's giving the advice and the spirit in which it's given, I sometimes listen; I sometimes don't. ...and if I have to "pay" for not having listened to sound advice, then I accept that it's my fault, that I had been duly advised beforehand. Live and learn then. :)

Auntie sezzzzzz... said...


Thank you for the reading suggestion, you left in my comments!

"To be astonished
is one of the surest ways
of not growing old too quickly."

~Gabrielle Colette

Anonymous said...

proverbs 12:15 The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.

I can't really add anything to that except that I firmly believe we should at least consider the advice we have been given and not discount it.

Linda Hensley said...

Sometimes there are moments when you've just gotta say "I told you so!", but I guess I try to laugh and follow with some tips for damage control. Not so sure that would work for people intent on marrying the wrong person though. I've told a couple of my friends taht they get veto power if they see me with the wrong person in the future. Interesting post as always!

Unknown said...

It is wonderful advice from your mom. I am constantly reminding J to have the kids learn to take responsibility for their actions instead of having him bear the burden and responsibility. I hope that your mom got through to you.

Barb said...

Very thought-provoking Anita. I always listen, but I decide for myself what course of action to take. Then, I try to take responsibility and not play the blame game. Except, of course, as a Mom, I expect my kids to not only listen but act on my advise (in my dreams...).

InSeason Mom Cynthia said...

I do value the advice of close friends and loved ones. I consider their advice in connection with what I believe is the right direction.

Stephanie said...

I think we all do the best we can with the information we have:) No more, no less!