By Gabrielle.

One of my favorite questions to ask my Living With Kids tour guides has nothing to do with decoration, and everything to do with parenting and the lessons we wish we’d learned just one day sooner. I always tell my interviewees, “Please have fun with these questions…and don’t be scared to be honest!” It’s those honest answers that move us the most, and I wanted to be sure to spend some time with a few of them before we begin another year of tours. I hope you enjoy the look back as much as I have.

I wish someone had told me…

From Andrea: This will sound completely silly, but I wish I had known newborns aren’t newborns for a year. I wish someone had told me that period only lasts six weeks max. I wish I had gotten that through my head the first time round and just sat down, cuddled, and pressed my cheek to the top of their fuzzy heads more. And I also wish that I had known it would be hard to stop having babies. They are intoxicating and addictive little things! I would have started so much sooner…

From Kate: How completely natural it feels to be a mother. I was so worried when I was pregnant that I would somehow get it wrong. I remember feeling astonished that the hospital was prepared to let me take Harry home the next day without a handbook or a test or anything! But Harry and I learned together, and becoming a mum is the most amazing and natural thing I’ve ever done.

From Haeley: To use semi-gloss instead of flat paint on walls in reach of little sticky fingers and crayons! That, and to not buy a really expensive couch when our first daughter turned one. Three years later that poor couch has done a lot of time as a bounce house.

From Kendra: That comparison is the thief of joy. I remember hearing this and thinking how true this was for me – not just with my kids but with other parts of my life as well.

From Julie: To go slow to go fast. Kids sure do rebel against a rush! Going slow solves most of my problems these days.

From Ruth: That the concept of ‘mercies new every morning’ (Lamentations 3:22-23) applies especially to mothers of little children! Well, to this mother, at least. Through experience I now know that a bad day does not make a bad life, and that tomorrow we get to start afresh. God forgives my mistakes and my children do, too!

From Camilla: To enjoy my parents while they’re still young. I focused so much attention on my children, everything else just fell away. I suddenly turned around to notice my parents had grown older and weren’t the same people anymore.

From Karin: That kids are resilient and you cannot ruin them for life by making one parenting mistake.

From Karey: How heartbreaking it would be to have a family. It’s not even these years that are the heartbreaking ones. Everyone said the teenage years would be gut-wrenchers, but they’re not. They’re actually pretty wonderful. It’s the ones coming. I can feel it. I am going to have to let these girls go someday and hope they want to come back and see me sometime.

I mean, imagine it. Someone gives you the best gifts you could ever dream up. Three of them. And every day is like Christmas, with the waking up and seeing those same happy gifts every single day. Over and over and over again. Except if they’re at a sleepover. And then one day, it all turns into Casimir Pulaski Day. Which could be a very fine day, but I don’t think you get the same sort of presents. If any. I’m going to have to figure out how to celebrate it. And no matter how awesome a day it may be, I know I’ll always miss the never-ending Christmas.

From Chelsey: Not to judge a woman whose house is messy or cluttered. You never know who’s in their first trimester of a pregnancy, who is dealing with depression or an autoimmune disease, who’s struggling in their marriage, who’s overworked in some other area, or who hasn’t had a good night’s sleep in a long, long time. It can and does happen to the best of us!

I wish someone had told me that when I see someone who doesn’t seem to have it 100% together to love first – and then try to help, if I can.

From Linda: That having kids doesn’t stifle your creativity; it just challenges you to think outside the box. And also this simple rule of happiness: “Do more of what makes you happy and fulfills you, do less of what doesn’t.” It relates to our home decor, our families, our free time…and yet we seem to spend so much of our time doing the opposite.

From Lynne: I wish someone had told me that life would go by so fast. It was only yesterday that the kids were crawling and now they are in University.

I would have played more games. I would have been goofier. I would have laid on the ground and looked at more stars with them. I would have taken more moments to just sit and BE with them in the moment. Those quiet moments are beautiful and I always want more.

From Julie: To appreciate my mom and dad more. They both died young. You don’t know how much you appreciate them until you’re an adult doing what they did.

I think about how one Christmas when I was about ten, I told my mom I hated everything she’d gotten me. And there were nine of us, so I can’t even fathom how she even pulled Christmas off, only to have it followed by a moment like that. I so get it now. Just wish I could tell her.

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Oh, they get me every time. If you’d like, you may add your own answer to this post for the rest of us to ponder. We are all better when we’re sharing, don’t you think?

Friends, I want to wish you the most beautiful beginning to the New Year! Cheers to 2014! May it be full of beautiful life lessons, generosity and compassion for each other, and much, much love.

P.S. — To see all the homes in my Living With Kids series, just click here. And if you’d ever like to share your own home and words of wisdom with us, just send me a note! It’s a lot of fun…I promise!