A Letter to My Pre-Baby Self
Hey there, Darling–
I see you, looking young and rested in the middle of your work day feeling ready to change the world while simultaneously dreaming of what might come next. I see that you have a lot within you to give and that you sometimes wonder the best place to do it.
I know you love achieving goals and you certainly don’t see yourself as ever being a woman that does not have a strong professional identity because you know you were meant to contribute to this world with your mind. And oh you will, my Love. But it might look differently than you think.
I also know that it’s so easy to always be looking forward to the next big thing in life. But I would encourage you to stop and do your best to enjoy the present. Every phase of life does not last forever and each phase offers something special. So enjoy the benefits that come with this married, pre-child phase.
For one easy way to enjoy the benefits, stare at your wrinkle-free face and stretch-mark free stomach and smile. One day, your body will not quite look the same. And this is the phase that you will look back on pictures of yourself and say, “Oh my gosh. I used to look so young. Look at how flat my stomach was.”
And you don’t even know it, but your ability to do things for you with ease is at an all-time high. If you want to go to the store and shop for hours, then do it. If you want to get your nails done, then do it. If you want to go out to dinner with friends (and not have to worry about paying a sitter) then you should do it, because it will not always be so easy for you to focus on your own needs. So savor it. And instead of rushing through, stop and smell the roses while sipping a latte while you can in a place with crowded rows where you would never willingly choose to bring a young child. Then do it again. And again. Because you may not be back for several years after the child-rearing phase has begun.
And when you’re in conversations about or with parents, you need to know that parenting is so much more than you ever dreamed of. It is not as easy as you think and what you need to know going in is that you have a lot less control of things than you would like to think. So try and remain humble in the things you say about what you will and won’t do. I promise, you do not have it all figured out. So it’s better to refrain from judgment . . . unless you like eating humble pie.
I know that in a college interview you once wrote, “I would never be a housewife. I don’t understand women who choose to stay at home.” Ummm. Yeah. About that. You will one day stay at home. And while it isn’t something you ever thought you would do. I promise, it will be one of your favorite things you ever did. So you may want to keep your mouth closed on that one too. And know that each phase of life involves growth and change. It’s hard to imagine where you will be at each phase, so be open to growth. And never say never.
And as far as using your mind, having children will push you to grow and use your mind like you never imagined. It will make you think about things you never knew you could . . . like what you would do if a ball of fire fell from the sky in front of your baby. (P.S. Your future plan for that will be running full force toward the fire ball and stopping it with your she-woman mommy strength love that pretty much will feel like it could stop anything.) And seeing them grow and give back to the world will feel like your biggest accomplishment yet, so know giving back comes from your future babies, too.
And as far as LOVE goes, parenting will allow you to experience love in ways you never knew a person could feel. It is as good as you imagine and then some. You will know new love when you hold them for the first time after delivery, when you preciously watch their little chest raising up and down while they sleep and when you hear your toddler refer to himself in first person for everything he does. Your heart will melt EVERY. TIME. So don’t be scared of the challenges. They ARE worth it.
The women who love motherhood most are the ones who know that like anything in life, part of the beauty of motherhood is that it does push you to grow and will challenge you in ways you never knew possible. When you think it feels hard, just know you’re doing something right. And remember we most appreciate things that reveal our limitations and strengths all at once. And motherhood will.
And lastly, you know how you always said you wanted three boys? Well one day very soon, you get them. Plus a bonus one. Yep, that’s right. You will not only be a mother, but you will raise a big family and you will be viewed as the type of woman that has a big family . . . aaaaaaand . . . you will be that mom who drives a van.
(But you’ll make it look good—sort of.)
So enjoy that little red car while you can. And sleep in. For the love of all that’s good, sleep. Because your story only gets more beautiful as the pages continue, but don’t forget to make the most of the page that you’re on.
Your Post-Baby Self