While I was pregnant I wrote a lot about my feelings. Maybe it was the hormones, maybe I had more time on my hands, who knows. Either way I had been meaning to get in touch with that side of myself again, but had been pushing it off. When Ashlee reached out to me about participating in her "Dear me" series I was so grateful. The idea writing a letter to my future self highlighting my experience as a mom up this point was a perfect assignment! But really, it's so hard sometimes to just convince yourself it's important to document these things. Wether you publish it or not, I challenge you to do the same. This is coming from someone who doesn't have a journal to this day because I would tear the pages out whenever I re-read what I wrote. Because, you know, douche chills. Hah! That being said, I know that it is important, so I want to say thank you Ashlee. I know future me will appreciate this more than I can imagine.
As I’m writing this it is nearly midnight on a Saturday. Owen has been sleeping for at least a few hours, Zack is playing video games, and you’ve been plugging away on blog posts, e-mails, and so on for household since he went down. This might not have been the time you planned to write this letter, you know you’re up way too late and that you’ll regret it tomorrow, and you’re okay with that. Prior to getting pregnant you were a control freak, I’m assuming you still remember this version of yourself? Yes? Yes. So we are both familiar with this crazy lady, and I can say now, and hope you can still say as well – good riddance. You never expected that motherhood would relax you, but it truly has. The ability to plan out every moment of your life has completely diminished, and with that has come a true sense of peace. You are proud of your ability to let (most of) the little things go and stay present. You think the majority of your friends and family took you for the parent that would disinfect like you were born to do so, research every little thing until your eyes bled, and worry to no end, but that hasn’t been you. If I can give you a pat on the back for anything it’s that you have accepted the fact that you don’t know everything. You are okay with turning to good old google, Claudia, your mom, or zack’s mom when you have a question. You haven’t let your pride get in your way and for you that’s huge.
I’m not sure when you will pick this letter up and read it. It could be next year, 5 years from now, or 10 years from now, but when you read this I want you to remember again what it feels like to be just 4 months into motherhood. I can only imagine how your love has grown and changed through time, but in this moment you have never felt so full emotionally. Becoming parents hasn’t been the terrifying nightmare so many couples portray. For you and Zack it has been the complete opposite. You two have deepened your connection in ways you never imagined. You have unified as a team more than ever and have truly realized the importance of taking care of each other in addition to Owen. It’s a strange thing to say after 10 years in a relationship, but you have never been more attracted or deeper in love with Zack than you are today. Watching him become a father has been an unbelievable gift and has taken your respect for him and all that he does for you and now your little family to a whole new level. Having Zack as your support system as undoubtedly made you a better mother.
As Owen grew inside of you, you thought you knew what it would be like to hold him in your arms. You thought you might have an idea of what it would be like to look in his eyes as he gave you a toothless smile, or what it would feel like as he finally fell asleep on you after being extra fussy, but you had no idea. Often times you really do feel like you can actually feel your heart growing like you’re the freaking grinch, though you don’t believe your heart was ever two sizes too small, but that’s beside the point. Being a mom to Owen truly just does it for you. It makes you love in a whole different way than you ever could have anticipated. Most days this love comes to you in an overwhelming sense of happiness, but no parent experiences this type of love without fear. Fear that you’re going to fail, that you may not be able to protect Owen from this crazy world, that you may become too focused on him and forget about the bond that brought you this child – your marriage, fear that you may loose your sense of self, or that Owen is simply just too good for you and you don’t deserve to be his mother. These fears creep in periodically and luckily, you are able to look them in the eye and kindly tell them to step off. You are able reassure yourself that you’ve got this and that you’re doing the best you can and that that’s good enough. And that it will always be enough.
I want you to remember that it’s not your job to create a perfect life for you, Zack and Owen, but it is your job to love them with every inch of your being. Always try your hardest to be a better person, mother, and wife than you were the day before. Don’t ever give up on either of them or yourself. It’s about you three as a family today and whenever you happen to be reading this. That will come before anything else. Always.
AS I’M WRITING THIS IT IS NEARLY MIDNIGHT ON A SATURDAY. OWEN HAS BEEN SLEEPING FOR AT LEAST A FEW HOURS, ZACK IS PLAYING VIDEO GAMES, AND YOU’VE BEEN PLUGGING AWAY ON BLOG POSTS, E-MAILS, AND SO ON FOR HOUSEHOLD SINCE HE WENT DOWN. THIS MIGHT NOT HAVE BEEN THE TIME YOU PLANNED TO WRITE THIS LETTER, YOU KNOW YOU’RE UP WAY TOO LATE AND THAT YOU’LL REGRET IT TOMORROW, AND YOU’RE OKAY WITH THAT. PRIOR TO GETTING PREGNANT YOU WERE A CONTROL FREAK, I’M ASSUMING YOU STILL REMEMBER THIS VERSION OF YOURSELF? YES? YES. SO WE ARE BOTH FAMILIAR WITH THIS CRAZY LADY, AND I CAN SAY NOW, AND HOPE YOU CAN STILL SAY AS WELL – GOOD RIDDANCE. YOU NEVER EXPECTED THAT MOTHERHOOD WOULD RELAX YOU, BUT IT TRULY HAS. THE ABILITY TO PLAN OUT EVERY MOMENT OF YOUR LIFE HAS COMPLETELY DIMINISHED, AND WITH THAT HAS COME A TRUE SENSE OF PEACE. YOU ARE PROUD OF YOUR ABILITY TO LET (MOST OF) THE LITTLE THINGS GO AND STAY PRESENT. YOU THINK THE MAJORITY OF YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY TOOK YOU FOR THE PARENT THAT WOULD DISINFECT LIKE YOU WERE BORN TO DO SO, RESEARCH EVERY LITTLE THING UNTIL YOUR EYES BLED, AND WORRY TO NO END, BUT THAT HASN’T BEEN YOU. IF I CAN GIVE YOU A PAT ON THE BACK FOR ANYTHING IT’S THAT YOU HAVE ACCEPTED THE FACT THAT YOU DON’T KNOW EVERYTHING. YOU ARE OKAY WITH TURNING TO GOOD OLD GOOGLE, CLAUDIA, YOUR MOM, OR ZACK’S MOM WHEN YOU HAVE A QUESTION. YOU HAVEN’T LET YOUR PRIDE GET IN YOUR WAY AND FOR YOU THAT’S HUGE.
I’M NOT SURE WHEN YOU WILL PICK THIS LETTER UP AND READ IT. IT COULD BE NEXT YEAR, 5 YEARS FROM NOW, OR 10 YEARS FROM NOW, BUT WHEN YOU READ THIS I WANT YOU TO REMEMBER AGAIN WHAT IT FEELS LIKE TO BE JUST 4 MONTHS INTO MOTHERHOOD. I CAN ONLY IMAGINE HOW YOUR LOVE HAS GROWN AND CHANGED THROUGH TIME, BUT IN THIS MOMENT YOU HAVE NEVER FELT SO FULL EMOTIONALLY. BECOMING PARENTS HASN’T BEEN THE TERRIFYING NIGHTMARE SO MANY COUPLES PORTRAY. FOR YOU AND ZACK IT HAS BEEN THE COMPLETE OPPOSITE. YOU TWO HAVE DEEPENED YOUR CONNECTION IN WAYS YOU NEVER IMAGINED. YOU HAVE UNIFIED AS A TEAM MORE THAN EVER AND HAVE TRULY REALIZED THE IMPORTANCE OF TAKING CARE OF EACH OTHER IN ADDITION TO OWEN. IT’S A STRANGE THING TO SAY AFTER 10 YEARS IN A RELATIONSHIP, BUT YOU HAVE NEVER BEEN MORE ATTRACTED OR DEEPER IN LOVE WITH ZACK THAN YOU ARE TODAY. WATCHING HIM BECOME A FATHER HAS BEEN AN UNBELIEVABLE GIFT AND HAS TAKEN YOUR RESPECT FOR HIM AND ALL THAT HE DOES FOR YOU AND NOW YOUR LITTLE FAMILY TO A WHOLE NEW LEVEL. HAVING ZACK AS YOUR SUPPORT SYSTEM AS UNDOUBTEDLY MADE YOU A BETTER MOTHER.
AS OWEN GREW INSIDE OF YOU, YOU THOUGHT YOU KNEW WHAT IT WOULD BE LIKE TO HOLD HIM IN YOUR ARMS. YOU THOUGHT YOU MIGHT HAVE AN IDEA OF WHAT IT WOULD BE LIKE TO LOOK IN HIS EYES AS HE GAVE YOU A TOOTHLESS SMILE, OR WHAT IT WOULD FEEL LIKE AS HE FINALLY FELL ASLEEP ON YOU AFTER BEING EXTRA FUSSY, BUT YOU HAD NO IDEA. OFTEN TIMES YOU REALLY DO FEEL LIKE YOU CAN ACTUALLY FEEL YOUR HEART GROWING LIKE YOU’RE THE FREAKING GRINCH, THOUGH YOU DON’T BELIEVE YOUR HEART WAS EVER TWO SIZES TOO SMALL, BUT THAT’S BESIDE THE POINT. BEING A MOM TO OWEN TRULY JUST DOES IT FOR YOU. IT MAKES YOU LOVE IN A WHOLE DIFFERENT WAY THAN YOU EVER COULD HAVE ANTICIPATED. MOST DAYS THIS LOVE COMES TO YOU IN AN OVERWHELMING SENSE OF HAPPINESS, BUT NO PARENT EXPERIENCES THIS TYPE OF LOVE WITHOUT FEAR. FEAR THAT YOU’RE GOING TO FAIL, THAT YOU MAY NOT BE ABLE TO PROTECT OWEN FROM THIS CRAZY WORLD, THAT YOU MAY BECOME TOO FOCUSED ON HIM AND FORGET ABOUT THE BOND THAT BROUGHT YOU THIS CHILD – YOUR MARRIAGE, FEAR THAT YOU MAY LOOSE YOUR SENSE OF SELF, OR THAT OWEN IS SIMPLY JUST TOO GOOD FOR YOU AND YOU DON’T DESERVE TO BE HIS MOTHER. THESE FEARS CREEP IN PERIODICALLY AND LUCKILY, YOU ARE ABLE TO LOOK THEM IN THE EYE AND KINDLY TELL THEM TO STEP OFF. YOU ARE ABLE REASSURE YOURSELF THAT YOU’VE GOT THIS AND THAT YOU’RE DOING THE BEST YOU CAN AND THAT THAT’S GOOD ENOUGH. AND THAT IT WILL ALWAYS BE ENOUGH.
I WANT YOU TO REMEMBER THAT IT’S NOT YOUR JOB TO CREATE A PERFECT LIFE FOR YOU, ZACK AND OWEN, BUT IT IS YOUR JOB TO LOVE THEM WITH EVERY INCH OF YOUR BEING. ALWAYS TRY YOUR HARDEST TO BE A BETTER PERSON, MOTHER, AND WIFE THAN YOU WERE THE DAY BEFORE. DON’T EVER GIVE UP ON EITHER OF THEM OR YOURSELF. IT’S ABOUT YOU THREE AS A FAMILY TODAY AND WHENEVER YOU HAPPEN TO BE READING THIS. THAT WILL COME BEFORE ANYTHING ELSE. ALWAYS.