[Edit: I added "then" and "now" pics at the bottom.] Today I'm participating in a carnival at It's Almost Naptime, whose creator, Missy, has asked "older moms" (bless her heart) to impart wisdom to her and others whose kids are still small by writing letters to our, a-hem, younger selves. Apparently, having kids in pre-k automatically earns you the title, "younger mom" which is totally unfair. Age is a state of mind.
First note to myself in my 20s: Don't believe that last sentence. Age is like a practical joker who's waiting around every corner to jump out and shock you with some new deterioration just to see you gasp. And then he laughs so hard he pee-pees his pants. No, wait, that's you pee-peeing from sneezing, which is a memento from labor and delivery. And yes, at 46, you will still say, "pee-pee" without even thinking about it.)
This is to myself circa 1991 BC (before cellulite) which makes you 29, and you have a 5 and 3 year-old.
Hi. This is from the body formerly known as "you."
First of all: good news! Your marriage is intact. That doesn't mean you won't ever experience choppy waters, but you'll make it through and come out on the other side a better person. Other encouraging news: he learns to pick up his wet towels! Bad news: Just this week he left dog treats in his pockets which you did not discover until you pulled out the wet, biscuity clothing. One last thing about marriage: you should take that date night thing seriously.
About mothering: I know that some days you feel very content to be a SAHM, while other days you feel you might pull your hair out, but just know this: for your and George's life, being a SAHM is something you will never regret. Never. Not one time. You will look back on these early years and actually have more affirmative feelings than regret, and that is saying a lot from someone who has at least half of her life behind her now.
Anything that you have given up to be with them all day long means nothing to you now. So even though just a few years ago, the English Department named you "Outstanding Senior," and your prof said, "We expect great things from you, Linda," the great things you will accomplish have nothing to do with what she had in mind; nevertheless, you will accomplish, or facilitate, some great things in the lives of the people who mean the most to you. The thrill of seeing their personalities and abilities unfold will never grow old.
And even though you will adore them just as much when they're in their 20s as you do now, they will still be leaving wet towels on the floor in 2009. (Cue the disappointed sighs of audience laugh track, "aww.")
Number one piece of advice: You know how you read to them at a ridiculously early age? Very good move. Read all the time, holding them on your lap. This is may be the best thing you'll ever do because you're enriching them intellectually and emotionally. Plus you get to smell their hair, rock them and hug them a lot. It is heaven on earth, isn't it? It will be your favorite memory of mothering and your most profound bonding experience, even moreso than nursing.
Now, having said all that, I want to say that you need to stay connected to other adult women, even though you're an independent spirit who is pretty content at home and doesn't need daily chit chat or a girls' night out in the bars. You do need the friendships of other women; you just don't know it yet. So even if it's once a month, find a way to connect. When your children leave home, you will find your friendships to be meaningful beyond words. Your husband cannot meet every emotional need and will not understand the things that thrill you and your friends, like a great find at Ikea or trouser jeans. And that is OK.
You're going to hit a speed bump of depression in just a couple of years, and it will be a really dark time for a while, but keep your head on, Girl. Wellbutrin is on the way! Haha. Seriously, remember to whom you belong no matter how you feel. Feelings are real, but they're not always accurate. When you are faithless, he is faithful. When you are weak, he is strong. Jesus loves you; this I know.
About teenagers: Start saving for college now. Just this week, you received a notice that tuition has gone up again, by $685 a semester. But driving the junker car is worth it. Did I mention that you will have two in college at the same time at $30,000 each per year?
Go ahead and sniff the smelling salts. Sorry to shock you.
I encourage you to talk to them more about sex, beginning at an early age. Even though they don't want to talk about it, and neither do you, particularly, it's not a talk you should have once or twice and rarely ever again. This will be one regret that you have. Keep the topic on the front burner so that you can pick up the conversation at any time without it being a weird moment. Sex is everywhere; you cannot hide them away from objectification and relentless temptation. You need to step up here, Mom.
Yes, teenagers are mean for a while, but then they come around and are nice again! Yay! Try to remember that when they walk into a room, stop, look at you and say, "What are you looking at?" in an accusatory tone, they cannot help themselves. It's like when they were cutting teeth and they would bite you for no reason.
Your teenagers are going to be great kids, and you will have very little to contribute to water cooler conversation about how terrible those years are. You will joke about it, but deep down, you'll thank God every day for how blessed you are.
The hardest part of the teen years for you will be watching them pull out of the driveway all by themselves in the car. You will feel like your heart is tied onto the bumper like a tin can on wedding get-away car, dragging along behind them wherever they go. You will understand why your parents said, "Be careful!" every single time you left their presence. (And they still will when you're 46 and they're 87.)
Oh, this is very important--when your kids start to leave home, it will be one of the most, if not THE most, difficult thing you've ever been through, but again, you will survive. People don't talk about this often enough, what a huge transition this is. No one around you will truly know what is going on inside your heart--and upset somach--as the time draws nearer because you are their mother; no one else is. It's choking me up now just typing that. So begin preparing yourself emotionally a couple of years before they leave for college because dealing with it one month out would be really, really hard. Read lots of articles about this transitional time. Talk about it with friends.
Just like when you first had your kids, your life will change radically when they leave. But you will chin-up and encourage yourself by repeating, "This is not the end; it's a new chapter." Ultimately, you will celebrate their independence. You will realize that your whole goal as a mom from the beginning was to rear independent adults who function and flourish and know and love God. And then you will realize that despite your mistakes, you have done pretty well.
Finally, let me clue you in on a decision that you're making. You're not done yet, but you will be by the ripe old age of 30, which is what you wanted. That is, there's a third one coming in late 1992, but I won't spoil your surprise by telling you the gender because you always liked the big reveal to happen at delivery.
What? You've never heard the term "big reveal?" You're a little behind the times, aren't you? That's a casualty of momhood; it leeches coolness and pop cultural awareness from you, but you'll come back around someday when you start a little thing called "blogging." Your coolness will then spring back to the Nth power, and your kids and husband will be blinded by your massively cool blogging prowess.
You have a good life, and as much as you might want to roll your eyes at this, I'm going to say it anyway: These are the best years. Enjoy every moment. There will finally be one last diaper, one last orthodontist visit, one last sporting event, and one last time they sit on your lap. Savor every moment, and when you think you have savored the moment, stop and savor it all over again. Trust me on this.
See ya in a few years, you cute young thing with wrinkle-free skin.
Lid (That will make sense someday.)
PS: One last tip: In a couple of years, white hose will come into fashion. I beg of you--don't go there.
Dang. You went there.
Cast of Characters:
Katie, my first-born. Just looking at her face fills me with joy.
Jordan, my only boy. He cannot be serious.
Kristin, my baby. Who is probably going to live with me forever if I have my way. Just kidding. Sort of.