Six things I want to tell myself:
I sat down to write a list of things that I’d tell pre-mom me, but I stopped after four items.
I realized that pre-mom me had been on the right track, and that my ignorance of some things—like not appreciating those times when I could sit on the couch and read a book without pictures for an hour and a half—was not only normal, but fine.
I never liked naps in my life until I was pregnant with my first child, and while I’d love embracing them now, I can’t. More, I wouldn’t want to change that pre-mom me was kind of hyperactive—I liked her just fine.
I would, however, remind now-mom me of this:
This morning, you were driving down the road, playing a song from your teenage years (The Flaming Lips). For that instant, in the driver’s seat of your car, carefully carrying your children to an appointment in the falling snow, you felt completely present in this space in your life. Your adult worries, and grown-up concerns dripped away, along with that catchy guitar riff.
Remember that music is transporting, and that your girls love it, too. Remember that on these days when the world seems too much for the little girl that still lives in a quiet corner of your heart, to turn on the stereo full blast and dance with your kids.
I would offer this to my current self as well:
You’re doing a really great fucking job. I know you get down on yourself for being impatient, sensitive and introspective, but you are doing better than good enough as a mom—you’re fantastic at it.
I would tell myself this, too:
Grow up. When you begin to care that you aren’t a famous writer, or if you have enough real-life friends instead of long-distance ones—grow up. You are a grown-ass woman, and your children need you to display healthy self-confidence.
I would whisper this:
Be gentle. When your temper rises, your patience leaves you, and your neck hurts from making important decisions for these growing people that you’re in charge of raising, be gentle with yourself. Remember that you are doing your best, that you are making good decisions (and that there isn’t always one good choice), and you deserve patience and tenderness. (And offering these things to yourself will help your children learn grace towards themselves, too.)
I would shout this:
Make more time for your husband! He’s missing you as much as you miss him, and he’s working earnestly to be a good husband and father. Take more time to really look into his eyes when you ask him how his day was, and when you kiss him, try harder to be there instead of thinking about some other concern that doesn’t need you in that moment as badly as he does.
I would write this:
Write love on your heart. When the world makes you feel bitter, angry and resentful, etch love over these wounds instead.
Write love onto your actions, onto your words, and be more careful with what you say out loud. Offer apologies freely when they are merited, and this includes to yourself, because you are human and fallible, even though you are also “Mom.”