“What would you tell your pre-mother self?”
The question came at the end of a podcast interview. I rattled something off the cuff, but now, with a moment to think it over, it’s an intriguing question.
What would I tell my pre-mother self?
I think I would tell her to take a few less pictures of the first child because in 12 years, you still won’t know what to do with hundreds of snapshots of blank stares. And take a few more pictures of children two through five.
I think I would tell her to write the kids’ first words because you think you’re going to remember everything, but sadly, you won’t.
I would tell her when it comes to bodily fluids on clothes, your home, or you, just laugh. It’s going to make a great story someday.
And when the oldest gets into that first really hard stage, know that it is just that—a stage. From now on, “This too shall pass” will be your survival mantra.
I would tell her to never underestimate the therapeutic value of a good cry, and sometimes when you can’t hack it any longer, all you really need is to call one of your sisters and vent.
That trip you are going to worry about taking, go for it. It’s going to be the time of your lives with memories that last.
And that time when you make the big mistake, it’s OK to forgive yourself. Things are going to work out in the end.
You’re going to meet friends who will in countless ways fill the needs you don’t yet know you have. Those friends you have right now, they are true friends. They’re not going to be there every day, but they’re going to be there when you need them, just as you are going to be there when they need you. Be grateful for friends.
That time when you feel impressed to call the doctor, do it. In fact, every time you feel an impression, do it.
There’s going to be one point when you worry if you are messing up your child forever. But you’re not. This kid turns out happier than you can imagine.
When you worry if you can do it all for your family, know that you can do enough.
That time when you are so exhausted and frustrated and on top of it all you can’t find the keys, they are in the lock on the outside the front door. And while we’re at it, those missing puzzle pieces are inside the old VCR that doesn’t work.
Remember how much you love your husband right now because you will be amazed how much you love him after all you’re going to go through together.
I would tell her that at those times when you feel like sneaking out of the house for just a second of solitary silence, do it. They will become some of your most centering, learning-filled, soul-reviving moments.
And when 2020 rolls around, buckle up and hang it all. No worries, no expectations. Just love those kids, and do your thing.
If I could go back and tell my pre-mother self these tips, I think I would. I think she would appreciate the assurance and the lessons.
Then again, she doesn’t need it. Through the late nights, worries, and fights, through the questions and difficulties, she’s going to figure it all out anyway. Along the way, she’s going to do a lot better than she probably thinks. She’s going to become the mom her kids need and the wife her husband needs and the woman she was always meant to be. She’s going to show her kids we all make mistakes, but learning from them is the mark of true character.
She’s going to rock this mothering thing.
Because she’s going to do her best to love these kids with everything she’s got, and at the end of the day, that’s what they always really need most. She is going to love like that because she is a mother after all.