Dear future me,
Someday these days will be over. You’ll be busy running to soccer practice and band concerts, trying to keep teenage bellies satisfied and navigating how to teach your kids social media safety. In the midst of all of that, the memories of these days will begin to fade. The pictures will try to remind you, but they won’t be able to fully capture what it was like to have littles.
So, future self, here is what I hope you remember when these little years are over . . .
I hope you remember the feel of their downy soft hair against your neck and the sound of their soft breathing as they sleep in your arms. The way their tiny fingers curled around your finger as their chubby hands flailed and they gave you big gummy smiles. How their eyes looked at you with all the trust in the world when they nursed.
I hope you still laugh when you remember the faces they made when they tried food for the first time. Cling forever to the sound of sweet giggles and coos that turn into belly laughs and unidentifiable words. The wobbly legs and proud grins as they totter out of Daddy’s hands and into your arms on their own for the very first time.
Remember the pride you felt as you marveled at how fast their little minds were learning about the world around them.
Relish in the memories of the endless hours of imagination adventures they took you on and how time with you was all their little heart desired. Please, please don’t forget the sound of their babyish voices saying, “I love you, Mama,” as little arms encircled your neck or played with your hair. I hope you remember the precious bedtime conversations as they attempted to stall going to sleep just a little longer.
Cherish the memory of seeing them experience the magic of the holidays—eyes lit up with wonder and excitement. Yes, I pray these sweet memories never lose their place in your heart.
But I also hope you remember the tough things too.
I hope you remember how hard and draining these little years are. The exhaustion of never sleeping more than two hours in a row that goes on year after year. Remember those long dark nights and the toll they took on your body and soul.
Remember them so someday you remember to bring a coffee to your friend when you stop by to see her new baby.
Remember the constant guilt and pressure to get everything right and the feeling that you are constantly failing your children. Don’t block out the memory of humiliation and discouragement when you hauled your screaming toddler out of the store or refereed yet another fight your kid started at the playdate.
Remember, so that you have patience when you see another mom hauling a child away screaming. And don’t forget to tell her she is doing an amazing job, because that is what she needs to hear more than anything.
Remember how hard it was to get out the door and the anxiety you felt anytime you had to leave the house. Remember this so you have grace when the mama of littles is late, cancels, or declines your invitation.
Remember how isolated you felt.
Your former and seemingly more glamorous identity now lost to the mundane and thankless days of childcare. Don’t forget how it feels to feel unseen, forgotten, replaced, and devalued. Remember, so you send the encouraging text or give the gift that helps someone feel human again.
Remember how messy your house was. The piles of dishes, mounds of laundry, and ocean of toys that cluttered every room. Remember this, so when you visit a mama you tell her beforehand, “Don’t worry about the house. I expect it to look well-lived in. And don’t change out of your stretchy pants because I’ll be wearing mine, too.”
Remember how agonizingly long it was to wait in any kind of line with a screaming baby and a toddler pulling at your pant leg. Remember, so that you let the mom behind you at the grocery store go first.
I hope you remember all these things so that you remember to be intentional with every encounter you have with the mamas around you. After all, you could be their only adult interaction of the day. Make it count and make it be a bright spot in what can seem like a very dark season of mothering.
Because someday, when she remembers, she will remember you.