Dear Future Me,
First off, you look so healthy and alive... are you finally sleeping again? How long did it take for the corpse-like dark circles under your eyes to go away? And how are those stretch marks looking? Still funky and crinkly? Oh well. You look SO HOT and its very obvious you now shower on a regular basis. You probably even shaved your legs this week. Nobody needs to see your stomach.
Future me, I am writing today for the sake of all young moms you will encounter ten years from now. I am also writing for you, Future Me. Because I know that you look back on this season I am in right now, and you feel regret. Regret and wistfulness and nostalgia and perhaps (Lord help us) baby fever.
(Side note: Future me, you are 37 years old, and it is not time for you to have a baby. Buy a puppy. Or a goldfish, since you really don't like pets and I'm sure that hasn't changed. Wait, We don't have a dog in 10 years do we? Please tell me it's an outdoor dog. Oh Lordy, Future Me, you are really stressing me out.)
Okay, back to the topic at hand: regret.
Future Me, ten years from now, I have a feeling you are are looking back on this season and feeling regret. You sit around a table at Mum's with all of your 37 year old friends, 3 years away from a mid-life crisis, and you go around the circle saying things like:
I wish I would have held my baby more often.
I wish I wouldn't have stressed out about keeping the house clean.
I wish I would have gone on more dates with my husband.
I wish I wouldn't have felt like I needed to always be working side jobs.
I wish I would have soaked in those early years...they just grow up so fast.
And you are going to cry, because Future Me, there is no way 10 years will have changed the fact that you cry about everything. No chance.
You say "Elliot is 12 years old. She's almost a teenager! Why didn't I take more time to play with her?" And you and your friends all shake your collective heads and sigh and share all of the reasons why you feel like you didn't savor Young Mommyhood.
Future Me, here is what you need to know. It may feel like you have a lot of things to regret, but the truth is, there's a lot you have forgotten. You don't remember soaking it in because right now I/You/We are FREAKING EXHAUSTED and our brain Does.Not.Work. You may not remember soaking it in, which is why this letter is so important.
Future Me, You DID love your life. You DID take time to play with your babies. You did SO MUCH to love your family well. You did hold your babies - a lot. You held them while you cooked. You held them while you pooped. You held them while you ate. You held them at church, at mums, at Usborne Parties, even when you gave that talk to the Women's Group last week! You wore them in slings, you toted them around, you rocked them, you snuggled them, you kissed their yucky unbathed faces. You did NOT bathe your children, but you DID hold them and kiss them and snuggle the living daylights out of them every.single.day.
Future Me, the reason you wanted the house clean was because YOU LIVED IN IT. ALL DAY. From 7 am to midnight, you were in that house. You needed it to be clean for your own sanity. You didn't scour the house. You barely swept it. All you did was pick up toys occasionally, do laundry, and once in a while clean the mirrors with your toddler. It wasn't overboard. You weren't OCD. You just wanted to maintain a tiny bit of peace and calm in the chaos of having 2 babies in 2 years. And also, Future Me, you cleaned with your daughters. You let Elliot play with water while you did dishes. You let her unfold your laundry while you raced ti fold it faster than she could unfold it. You let her help you vacuum. You swept together. You took out the trash together. You do not need to regret basic cleanliness.
Future me, here's the deal. You and your husband were not poor. Not in the global sense. And you knew that. I LOVE MY LIFE, Future Me. I wouldn't change a thing. But sometimes I eat oatmeal twice a day to save money. And sometimes we don't go on dates because we would rather support missionaries than pay for babysitters. And sometimes your health isn't great and your husband chooses to buy you doTerra oils instead of taking you out to a movie. It's FREAKING SEXY to have healthcare, Future Me. Don't forget how sexy your husband was when he worked so hard to pay for your chiropractic care. And don't regret all of the hours you sat on the couch watching the Office with your Best Friend. Remember that episode when Jim pops into the interview room and asks Pam on their first date? Remember how Pam gets tears in her eyes, and you and Jeremy looked at each other and were both crying? yeah. That's a sexy free date and you loved it. Don't forget that you loved couch dates.
Future Me, you don't regret selling Usborne Books. You don't regret working side jobs. You don't regret substitute teaching. It's hard sometimes, and it's definitely busy. But Future Me, I am fighting SO.HARD. to stay home with my babies for as long as possible. I'm building a home library for them so I can hopefully be a homeschool mom. I'm trying to make a difference for the Kingdom. I'm busy, and somedays I hate it, but even when it sucks, I love it. I love it, Future Me, and we don't regret any it (except maybe the oatmeal...)
Future Me, you are soaking in the early years. You play with "agua" with Elliot ALL.THE.TIME. You sing songs in the car. You speak Spanish to your girls. You laugh. You steal glances in the rear-view mirror and make her giggle. You snuggle Quinn all the time. You co-sleep with her, even though it's hard sometimes. You nurse her in the middle of the night. You get her to smile and coo. You and Jeremy are constantly telling each other how much you love your life.
Future Me, some of what you remember is true. You watched a lot of PBS, and barely ever showered, and ate a lot of hot dogs. But Future Me, you were awesome. You did a great job. And you have nothing to regret.
So when you're talking to young mommies who are in the middle of this chaos, who are fretting about potty training and cosleeping and mucousy coughs and whether or not to use antibiotics, please, for the love of St. Peter, do not say "Oh, but it goes so fast, just soak it in because these years will be gone so soon!"
It's true, the years do go fast. But young moms know that. They cry about it all the time.
Here's what mommies need to hear when they are IN IT. Here's what I need to hear.
"Young Mommy, You're doing great. You might not remember all of the small moments that feel so repetitive and insignificant, but they mean so much to your children! Watching Daniel Tiger with your 2 year old matters. Shielding your 2 year old from Calliou matters. Rocking that baby that won't take a nap if she's not 2 inches from you boob... it matters. Picking grapes and granola out of the EFFING DINGING ROOM CARPET (kind of) matters. And you are a ROCK STAR for doing all of the little things 200 times every day. Your children love you. Your husband loves you. You are a great mom, and I can tell you are doing everything possible to love your babies well. You won't regret it."