Annie ... believe it or not, I do really see your side of this picture. There are no absolutes when it comes to raising children. Everyone can only do the best they know. As for you regreting the last thirty years ... did some good come out of it?
I have sat here giving this some thought -and I can't readily say that anything good (positive) came from it. My parents and my sister disowned me when I became a JW, and despite many letters from me (apologizing for disappointing them) they have remained cold. Even when I finally went to the family reunion in MA, my oldest son and sister and their kids, and my parents stopped attending because I was there. My oldest son was baptized and DFed and I shunned him---so they're all still upset at me for that. Except my Mom, who died hating me and made sure I knew it.
I have lost the privelege of having any communication with five of my eight grandchildren, they don't come to visit, they don't sit at the table and eat cookies and tell me about their day, and they don't come around at the holidays because I have hurt their parents. One grandson I could hand him a beer---because he turns 23 in March but I haven't seen him since he was six months old. They live ten minutes from here. It stinks and it hurts.
**I know people who've never been witnesses who regret many things in their past. Again, we can't change the past but hopefully we've learned something from it. Did you know there are no Norman Rockwell lives? If you hadn't been a witness all those years ... who knows ... your life may be worse now. Best to get on with life and try for a better future .. eh?
Granted, about the Rockwell influence---but plenty of families I know get together during the holidays and SEE each other and SHARE their lives with each other. There are SO many hard feelings because of *my decision* to be a JW that I couldn't possibly list them.
As for the future---I'm not saying this to get pity, but to help you to see my reality......all those "healthy" years that I wasted on the WTS ratrace, and spending vacations at DC's with five kids while my nonJW hubby went camping and fishing (his vacation time ALWAYS came up at DC time).....now that I'm "free" of the TS, I've suffered two strokes and a heart attack, and I'm pretty much disabled. I can't even speak very well. I can't help but have regrets, between how my family turned out (with regards to me) and what I threw my life into which was striving for the wind for 30 years.
Most of the time I was too exhausted with household chores and keeping up with the "doing MORE syndrome" to spend what I NOW would consider "quality time" with my kids, not dragging them out in FS or to assemblies and meetings......but REAL things we didn't have TIME to do. It does break my heart. I was given these kids and I served a publishing company and put them and my husband on the back burner.
I'm just another statistic in the book of those who have left the WTS and had to pick up the pieces of what used to be my life. I'll go down fighting to try and prevent others from making the same mistakes---thinking they're serving God when they will be serving the WTS.
THAT is my future,