Life is not a dress rehearsal.
My dad has been saying this for as long as I can remember. It isn't related to children or parenting, but it sure is relevant to life in general. Perhaps more and more so as I see how each major life decision narrows down the possible pathways my life can take from this point forward. When I was 24, my future was wide open - the person I would marry, the career path I would chose, and the kind of family I would have, none of it had been decided. Once I committed to graduate school in language acquisition, it pretty much ruled out graduate school in any other field, and once I married Dave, it ruled out marrying anyone else… and so on. Not that one can't change a career (or husband), but it is much less likely to happen, and because I decided to spend my late twenties in school, it means I will never have spent my late twenties hiking the Appalachian Trail.
While this may all sound depressing, this saying has guided my life in a very good way… like our move to Vermont. Dave and I have always wanted to raise our children in the country, closer to family. When our oldest was approaching school age, we realized this is it, there would be no do-over of where we raised our children. As we weighed the pros and cons of taking the leap to move to Vermont, I could hear my dad saying, "You know, life is not a dress rehearsal…"
Other favorite sayings: