Hey you, my energetic, tan-legged and perfectly simple pre-baby self.

There is so much I want to tell you, so many times I’ve wanted to reach out and touch you, to give you a glimpse of what lies ahead. But you are in a place and time in your life that will never be replicated so I will keep this short.

Some of the things I will share might shock you, so before I go on, I must tell you that above all things, no matter how you construe my words in this letter, you are a really great mom, you are killing it every day, but you are not the mom you thought you would be.

Tonight for dinner your babies had approximately six cheese puffs, two fistfuls of blueberries some applesauce and an Oreo. Do not double-check the name on this letter, yes this is for you. Of course this wasn’t your first choice, you tried your best at a well-balanced meal, but after all the chicken was thrown on the floor and your babies simultaneously signed for “more more more” in an escalating desperation at the sight of the blueberry bin, you gave up and reminded yourself that fed is best, even though you are pretty sure they weren’t referring to Oreos when they coined that term.

Maybe you caught on to the fact that the word baby was plural. No, this is not a mistake from an overtired future version of yourself; you were indeed blessed with not one, but two babies at once. This came as a huge surprise, and even after the first year, you still feel surprised by this unexpected turn in your carefully-planned-out life. 

Your boys are a beautiful mix of you and your husband. They are the most special things in the world to you, but just like your mothering style, your babies are not the babies you thought you would have. I know you and I know the vision of the sweet, behaved little baby girls and boys you have in your mind. These boys are scrappy, they are not afraid to throw down anywhere and anytime. One day you will pick them up from daycare accompanied by six incident reports and six injury reports, a day spent mercilessly biting one another. When they go after each other at home, you use your best mom voice and sternly tell the perpetrator NO. He will look you dead in the eyes and smile brilliantly, because your babies are savage.

That’s right, the sweet cuddly baby you once envisioned turned into two mischievous and curious creatures. You found a loophole though: you inadvertently discovered there was a time that they would fall into your arms with all their weight and sit still. This time happens to coincide with Mickey Mouse Clubhouse on the television, so you shamelessly let them watch it and hold them as tightly as possible for as long as possible while singing in unison “hot dog hot dog hot diggity dog.”

I see you right now, scrolling online boutiques, worried about the perfect dress for your next function. Wondering if the size and color will be right, thinking about making a quick run to the mall. You and I, we’re not so different, I scroll the world wide web often as well. Last night I spent hours researching the subject of dry drowning. I assure you it’s as frightening as it sounds. Alas, most of my Google history now starts with the words “Is it safe to . . .”

You are a weakened version of yourself, filled with far fetched worry, while bombarded every day with the fragility of life. Your journey into motherhood started in the wee hours of the morning, and it was not the fairy tale birthing story you’ve heard of. You never had the chance to hold them once they came into this world; your little ones spent the first moments, the first weeks of their lives with wires attached, machines breathing for them and tubes feeding them the nutrients they needed. It was never what you pictured. Your first jaunt into motherhood was spent crying into your wheat bagel each morning at the hospital café. You got it out of the way so you could be strong for your boys.

When they finally came home, you were confronted with the fear of failing them every step along the way. You wished every moment for the witching hours to be done, pleading silently with them to go to bed, and once they did, you did the logical next thing and stood over their cribs waiting for them to awaken. You were nuts, in the most loving way possible.

Oh, my sweet pre-baby self. You wear an exterior of confidence, but I know you have doubts, I know you have stress and I know you have a million questions about what the future will look like.

People see you now, two car seats tucked under your arms, and they rush to open doors and even offer to take a baby off your hands, but you decline. For the first time in your life, you feel balanced (literally and figuratively). Motherhood padded you with a super strength that you don’t even know you owned. It’s in you now, dormant beneath your skin, in the untouched corners of your mind, waiting for you to be done with this phase of life, respecting the process.

I said you were weakened with worry, but don’t fear—all that worry has spun into a beautiful shield of strength. You power through moments that would otherwise bring a person to their knees.

I can’t wait for you to meet them. I can’t wait for you to meet yourself, the mother version of you, I think you will really like this supermarket gladiator. You will find your new home on the floor, singing the songs of the electronics scattered across your unkept living room. You’ll put off showering for days and not give it a second thought.

I see you right now, plotting the very existence of a family in your brain. You see so many versions, all of them perfect, all of them wrong.

What you actually got was so much better.

Michelle Murphey

Michelle is a Midwest mamma raising all boys. Her first dip into motherhood comes by way of being a step parent, followed by twins. She works full time and pursues her passion for writing in the moments in between naps and bedtime.