Okay, I AM JUST KIDDING. But I HAD to say it. Because - TEENAGERS.
I’m a little tenderhearted writing this. In just three, itty-bitty, teeny-tiny months, my “one and only” flies the nest and heads to college. Eighteen years have come and gone, with days sometimes slugging along at a snail’s pace but, more often than not, years flying by at breakneck speed.
When I started this mothering gig, had NO IDEA what I was doing. Don’t get me wrong; I read the books. Interviewed the pediatricians. Researched best practices in sleep training (giggling...!).
Those books couldn’t have taught me all I’ve learned through experience. And here’s the thing - lessons can really only learned by living them. And the truth is, life is so much richer, deeper, because of them.
If I could, I'd time travel back 18 years and slip a little note into one of those parenting books for my brand-spankin-new, Nervous Nelly momma self. And this is what I'd say:
"Hey You! It's Me - Future You.
First of all, and this is life changing, cell phones have cameras now. Like, really good ones, too. I’ll pause a sec while you let that mind-blower sink in.
Second, everything is going to be alright. You’ll figure it out, sweet sister, but it’s not going to be without some serious ‘personal growth’. I know; that doesn’t sound like a ton of fun, and frankly, it’s not – at least not in the moment. But you’re going to find out sometimes things have to break in order for God to put them back together correctly. This just IS. And you’re going to be okay, I swear.
Third, I’m so stinking proud of you. In a world where you really could’ve chosen to be anything your heart dreamed up, you chose (in addition to other great things) to be a mom. And in doing so, your heart finds its home. And it’s a beautiful one.
Fourth: Netflix. I can’t explain it to you because you wouldn't believe me. Just remember, when the time comes, GET IT. Again, life changer. YOU’RE WELCOME.
Fifth: Here are the three things you’re going to need to make it through this - Tim, Love, and God. Don’t let any of those get away or we’re in trouble. Period.
As much as I’d love to give away the plotline, it's just a better idea to let you live it . But here are a few things you're going to want do:
· Become what you believe. (Matthew 9:29) Every single cell in Ella’s body will eavesdrop on every single thing about you: your moods, your behavior, your words, and your values. Make sure she knows you practice what you preach. Model the character traits that matter to you and that you wish for her to develop. Kids can sniff out an imposter a mile away. God chose YOU to be her momma, not someone else. Be authentic and be YOU because it matters in terms of who she is supposed to become.
· Get back up when you stumble. (Proverbs 26:14) Look, here's the deal. Everyone messes up. When you fall, get back up. Brush yourself off, makes amends as needed, and move on. Model resiliency for her and she will be stronger for it. Apologize when you get it wrong (because you WILL), and pledge to do better next time (because there WILL be a next time). Forgiveness breeds grace and grace brings mercy. And who isn’t better because of that?
· Be RELENTLESSLY inclusive. (Romans 15:7). Jesus was the master at this. No one is an outsider, girl. You’ve lived long enough to have been a victim of being left out, and you’ve been the perpetrator of it too. It’s not nice and it’s not okay. Starting now, be the one to extend the hand to the newbie or the forgotten one, champion the underdog, extend the playdate invitation, the birthday invite, the mom’s night out invite, and Elle will learn to follow suit. The grace that flows from this level of inclusive action is pure magic and changes lives. There’s always more room at the table.
· Be a prayer warrior, not a prayer worrier. (James 1:5-8) Worrying gets you nowhere, but prayer brings forward progress! Pray boldly and teach Elle how to pray, REALLY pray. Use gratitude as a form of prayer. It’s a powerful thing and it will change the trajectory of circumstances that feel hopeless. (Spoiler alert: you'll make it through those, too.)
· And finally, lighten up, sister. (Micah 6:8) Stop worrying about yourself so much. Be nice, love others, and get over yourself a little. Take God at His word and all will be well. Enjoy the ride, sister. Because at the end of the day, these next 18 years will astound you and you won't want to miss the blessings.
In case you're wondering, she's literally amazing. And you're not so bad, yourself.
Older-ish Me (but trust me, 50 isn’t old… 😉 )”
Happy Mother’s Day, my friends. May God bless you in countless ways today.
Praying for you and yours and counting you as one of ours,