A letter to my future self,
I am writing to you from the dirty, kid-stained couch that sat in the overly-cluttered living room in the very-crowded-but-full-of-love apartment you lived in 20 years ago. Your daughter was two and your son was nearing one. You were thankful for the rain on that day because it meant you were able to stay in pajamas all day with your little loves and your husband and to just be together inside. You didn’t want to shuffle around to do errands or arrange playdates; you didn’t want to pack bags and lunches for nursery school and for work; you didn’t want to be tied to the never-ending, barely-bending schedule that defined your life at the time.
It was an uncommon occurrence indeed that on that day both children napped and you found yourself alone for a few minutes. There was, of course, an endless list of things you could have done in that time: wash the bottles, clean up the toys, take a shower, vacuum, make dinner, fix some more bottles, do the laundry (you really needed to do the laundry); but instead, you sat down, took a deep breath and looked around.
You saw that the carpet was covered in arts and crafts and you smiled knowing that the materials had just sparked your daughter’s imagination for a solid half hour. You saw that the counter was covered in food scraps, dirty dishes, and milk that had been out for way too long and you kept smiling reminiscing about the fulfilling lunch your family just shared together. You saw that the bins full of shoes, hats, gloves and scarves were spilled all over the hallway and you laughed at the evidence of your son’s favorite source of entertainment at the time.
You looked at it all and said, “This is a big mess.”
And then, you corrected yourself and said, “A big, beautiful mess.”
And you were right. It was a big mess. And it was so very beautiful. It was as if God pressed the pause button on your bustling, busy life and allowed you to see just how beautiful the stage you were in was. In that moment, you were reminded of the fact that having two kids under two was, in fact, a temporarily time in your life—one that you would surely and sorely miss one day. You wondered, “When that ‘one day’ comes, what will my children be like? Who will they become? What will my life look like then? What stage will we all be in our lives?”
While you escaped into fantasyland for a moment or two, you knew deep down that no amount of forecasting the future will ever influence the present. You knew deep down that there really is no future, there is only right now. You knew deep down that as their mother, you will naturally have a great impact on your children; still, the sometimes frustrating and even frightening thing about motherhood is that you cannot really ever control things like what they will be like, who they will become, what will happen to them, and what all of your lives will look like 20 years from now. You knew deep down that, really, all you have complete control over is you.
And so you thought, “When ‘one day’ arrives, what would my children think of me? If asked, what would they say about me? How would they feel about me?”
Your mind initially spun in circles with words and phrases and ideas ricocheting off of one another and then, right before the sudden imminent pressure to identify out the type of person you should be could take its hold around your chest, you felt a peaceful calm overcome your mind as you realized the answers to these questions are actually quite intuitive.
I want my children to know I’ve loved them and that I will always love them with every fiber of my being.
I want my children to know I gave them the very best version of me in every single passing moment.
I want my children to say I am loving, kind, empathetic, compassionate, patient, and giving.
I want my children to say I value my life, my family, my work, my relationships, my home and my spirituality—along with creativity, education, passion, the arts, and our environment.
I want my children to love me and to feel secure in my love for them.
I want my children to know I love and trust them enough to let them go . . . and grow into the wonderful, independent humans they are meant to be.
You read and re-read this and suddenly felt a feeling you’ve lost touch with in recent years: confident. You felt ready, you felt empowered, you felt capable. “I can do this,” you thought. Suddenly the qualms about “who will they become in the future?” disappeared as you let that pressure go and made room to focus on “who do I want to be right now?”
You reminded yourself that God chose you to be their mother and that this list here in this letter—it is made up of things you already are inside. You felt assured that although there is no handbook on how to be a good mom, you had all of the answers right there inside of you—you just needed to believe in yourself a little bit more. (OK, maybe a lot bit more.)
You hoped that one day in the future you would read this letter to yourself on a couch somewhere—maybe even in the same apartment, or maybe in a new home you built with love somewhere else—and you would feel proud of yourself for committing to this perspective.
You hoped you would feel proud of the decisions you made, the actions you took, the words you choose, the feelings you embraced, the experiences you engaged in, the hugs you gave, the lessons you modeled, and the empathy you embodied day-in and day-out as each moment in your life as a family transpired.
But, deep down, you knew you didn’t need to hope.
You believed with your whole heart that when that day came, you would find your children had grown into the young lady and man that each was meant to be . . . all because you became the mother you were meant to be the day you wrote this . . . sitting there on that couch . . . looking at your beautiful mess.
So, be grateful you gave yourself this chance and honored your intuition. Be grateful you took the time to write to yourself, to reflect, and to reread your own words over and over. Because every time you fell apart and thought you didn’t know how to be a “good mom” you looked within and found your truth.
Your truth will always turn fearful mothering moments into fulfilling mothering moments.
Your truth will always guide you.
Your truth will always lead you and your family to love.
You, 20 years ago: a beautiful mess of a mother