I was recently inspired to write a letter to my younger self. My personal circumstances may be uncommon, but I think all moms can relate to feeling insecure at times in their role of motherhood or doubting their parenting abilities altogether. If you are a more experienced mom, what advice would you share with your younger mom-self? I hope you are encouraged by learning a bit of my story, and perhaps you might feel led to write a letter to your younger self.
Dear Younger Me,
I am writing this letter to you while your five children are all at school. That’s right! You are a mother of five, which is far beyond what you envisioned. Your journey to becoming a mom of many is untraditional, and there is no map or informational pamphlet to guide you on this path. Your motherhood is unique, and it is a gift. My heart’s desire is for you to be bold and confident in your parenting and avoid comparison. Own your motherhood. Here is some wisdom I can offer from the journey. I hope it helps.
- You will feel like a misfit mom. It’s okay. You already feel like you just don’t fit in most areas of life, but here is what it will look like as a young mom: when you muster up all the courage to show up to young-moms groups or Bible studies, it will take roughly 45 seconds for the conversation at the table to be consumed by breastfeeding, childbirth, or infant-care-related anecdotes. You will have nothing to contribute to this conversation. It hurts. Just hold tight. It’s okay. You’re still just as much of a mom as the lovely child-bearers surrounding you. There is space for you in the circle. Take your seat. You are a real mom.
- You will survive on shockingly little sleep. All of the sleep you didn’t lose while parenting infants you will lose while parenting older kids. Get prepared to see a lot of 3am. Mothering teens through heartache and character issues cause you more insomnia than mothering toddlers through behavior and obedience issues.
- Learn to uncover the source of your parenting insecurities. Fear is inescapable in motherhood and can rob you of plenty of joy. Eventually, you will learn to bring these fears to light using a practice I like to call “Walking Out the What-Ifs” of motherhood. You will discover your parenting fears are deep-rooted in lack of control, rejection, and what other parents think of you. Address those insecurities. Sometimes the source of your fear or anxiety is a possible something that could happen in the future. What if this something actually happens? In your mind “walk out” out the what-if all the way to the end to name the source of your worry. Is it real or perceived? You should know that some of your biggest parenting fears are legitimate and will come to fruition, and walking out the what-ifs won’t spare you the pain of actually living them out. But I am proof that you can live through the fear. Don’t let it steal your joy. Don’t borrow trouble. Don’t allow fear to have a voice in your parenting decisions.
- You will never move through a public space unnoticed again. You have five children, most of whom are loud, dynamic, and delight in attracting attention. As an extreme introvert, this is sometimes physically painful and very draining for you. Kiss your stealthy ways goodbye. At least for the next decade.
- You will be bogged down by the details. So many details. Enlist a trusted friend or loved one to regularly and intentionally remind you to zoom out to maintain a grasp on the big picture. Everyone is okay. A big picture perspective can make such a difference along this journey.
- You have five children, but you won’t use any of the baby names from the list you so carefully curated in your earlier years. You just won’t. Life happens. It’s worth grieving over because you cherish those names. Allow yourself the grace along the way to grieve the loss of seemingly insignificant things.
- You will not know what to do. You will make the wrong choice. But you will figure it out. And you will get it done.
- Love is not enough. You want to believe that it is, but parenting children from hard places prove this wrong. It takes so much more than love. You will reach a level of self-sacrifice you cannot comprehend, thanklessly pouring out without end. You will need so much help seeking healing and restoration for your family, and you will rely on lots of resources. Use them.
- Read all the books now. Read just for the enjoyment of it. You won’t have time in your 40’s.
- You are a warrior for your children. Your tenacity and perseverance will astonish you. You do not quit.
- You are a good mom. Own it.