(a letter to my younger self)
May 6, 2004
Tomorrow morning around 2 a.m., your water will break and your life will change forever. You prayed for this child for years thinking motherhood would be the culmination of your purpose. You have no idea how being a mom is going to crack you, threatening to empty your soul.
Your time is your own right now. You can wake early to pray, or stay up late to read. You come and go as you please and get through the grocery store without yelling at anyone. You plan trips to places you want to go. Hours at work pass without thoughts of what is going on outside of the building.
Tomorrow, all of that will change. You move to the rhythm of someone else’s clock. You will jump at the whim of a hungry baby. You will sleep when she sleeps which isn’t going to be very much. Your days will be filled with a lot of crying, a lot of giving, and not a lot of food for your own soul. Your family will grow and you will center your days around little people.Their well-being will always fill a corner of your mind.
It is a noble thing to give yourself for the life of another. The hours you spend nursing and rocking and shushing will result in a healthy child who is sure of your love. Reading the same books over and over and over even when you cannot keep your eyes open will feed her voracious curiosity. You will see that her mind will never ever be full enough and there is no end to her questions. The seeds of prayer for your children will begin to bud into the beautiful fruit of love, generosity, and kindness.
Give your time to your children. It is a noble pursuit. But please, hear me on this: Save time for yourself.
Your heart will be so full, yet you will be so tired and empty. It will be the hardest thing to pause for prayer and make the effort to fill up with scripture each day. Let the ironing wait. Let the dishes soak. Take that time to reconnect with your Savior. Do not let that relationship grow cold. It will be your reservoir in the seasons of drought.
Take time for yourself. Do those things that bring a smile to your lips, a contented sigh for your weary soul. As you add more children to your nest, it will be tempting to give every last piece of yourself away. This will lead to emptiness, loneliness, and finally, bitterness. Do not let your value and your dreams die in that labor and delivery room. You are still a person, not just somebody’s mom.
Those first few months will be blissful and horrible all at the same time. That is okay. You will celebrate this new love while grieving the freedom you lost. As you find a balance in your new role, be sure to include self-care in the mix. Protect your quiet time. Feed relationships by spending time with those who can fill your love tank. Take care of your body. Sleep instead of finishing housework. Ask your husband to help more. Can I repeat that? Because you will struggle with this for a long time–ask your husband to help more.
Remember when you are sitting in the middle of the floor with an inconsolable baby, covered in wet things from inside her, wondering where you stop and she starts. Remember when you are driving your minivan and three little people are louder than your ears can tolerate. Remember that this is a moment. It is bad, but it will not last. Then, when all is quiet and peaceful, do something that makes you breathe again. It is the only way you will have enough to give your children all of the love and care they need.
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