Dear Me 20 Years From Now,

I wonder if you’ve become one of those women who briefly lingers around, a safe distance behind, young moms carting their babies and toddlers through the grocery store with that far-off look in your eyes. If you gently smile at the mom when she looks up and catches your glance, obviously frazzled by how challenging taking 2 kids grocery shopping is, as if to tell her it’s going to be okay. If you look at her and miss that time, want so badly to trade 5 minutes of the independence you have now that your kids are much older so that you can rest a toddler’s head on your shoulder, or buckle a baby in their car seat, mindful not to pinch any belly chub in the harness.

I have a feeling that you might be, and there are some things I want you to know, some things I’m willing you to remember.

I want you to remember that they were the hardest thing you’d ever done. They challenged you, and they kept you up at night. They pushed your buttons, and they were never, ever quiet… unless they were in trouble. I want you to remember that you loved them the hardest you’ve ever loved anything, from day one, and every day after that.

I want you to know that you were completely overwhelmed nearly all the time. The thought of taking them anywhere by yourself made you want to hide in bed all day. You were overwhelmed by the responsibility. You had NO clue what you were doing. You were overwhelmed by how much they trusted you and how much they needed you. You were overwhelmed by how much you needed and loved them.

I want you to remember how it felt to lay side by side next to your 4-year-old before he drifted off to sleep. How you talked face to face, nose to nose, about his day. How you told him you were excited to see how much he would grow by the morning, and how in the morning you’d lay in bed next to him and stretch his arms and legs out, exclaiming, “LOOK HOW MUCH YOU GREW LAST NIGHT!” How that put the biggest smile on his face.

I want you to remember what it felt like to hold your 18 month old on your lap, wrapping your arms around her and laying them on her bulging tummy. How the back of her head and the handful of baby curls at the nape of her neck felt and smelled when you rested your head atop hers.

I want you to know that you were acutely aware of how fast they were growing. Even though many days would pass in the blink of an eye, there would always be a moment when your world would snap to a halt, and you would look at them while they were doing something mundane and normal, and you would be painfully conscious that they were no longer the size they were last week, and that they would never be the size they are at that moment again.

I want you to know that you went to bed every night with one simple wish for the next day. To just do better.

Even though you were tired and challenged, exasperated and overwhelmed, you knew then that you would miss these days…most of them, at least. It was a truth that was hard to live with, and most of the time you ignored it because there was nothing you could do about the passing of time. If you spent your days mourning the ones that had gone by, you’d miss out on the days you were living in.

You knew you were on a light rail, moving at speeds you couldn’t comprehend. You had no control over the ride that brought you to where you are today, but believe me when I say you searched so very hard to find the emergency brake.

Please know, please remember that you tried to savor that time. Be at peace, knowing you spent late afternoons curled up with them on the couch, that sometimes you just sat and watched them move and run, that occasionally you took inventory of all the things they’d learned in the last week, and that you appreciated your time with them the best you knew how. Know that despite your very best efforts, there was no way to freeze time.

I promise you, you tried.


127 thoughts on “A Letter To My 51 Year Old Self”

  1. Just as everyone else, I was ALL IN tears!! I have 6 and 3 (next month) year old girls and with the impending birthday of my “baby” I have been groping madly for the emergency break!! I sometimes wonder if I was supposed to have kids, I get so overwhelmed! When I yell at my 6 year old for not listening to me (I take it so personally!) I feel SO SO SO guilty! But the snuggles, the cuddles, talks about their day, watching them grow and learn so fast the L.O.V.E….It’s all so awesome and I can not imagine my life without them, not even a little bit! I am bookmarking this to read often! I absolutely love it! Thank you! Devan (found you on Amber’s crappy pictures site) 🙂

  2. I loved this!! It reminds me that all that time I spent holding my babies and ignoring the laundry and dishes were the right decisions. I am reminded that even though i had to hear rude comments about co-sleeping, I don’t regret it. I have no regrets of how much I loved on my babies. It still went entirely too fast.

  3. I found this blog through Crappy pictures and read it this morning. I’ve been in tears on and off all day watching my 4 yr and 23 mth kids play and learn with your blog resonating in my mind. I often think to myself that I hope I remember this exact feeling this exact moment. So often the memory fleets. I do remember my first born at 6 weeks look up at me as I was feeding him in a parent room. We locked eyes for seemed like an eternity. I remember marveling at how two tiny cells could combine and create such a beautiful little person. How those big blue eyes are a part of me. I will always be with him through those eyes. I have never ever loved as hard as I have these past five years. When I had my second I wondered just how I could love another as much as my first – would the love split in two? No! I quickly learned that the love I have just grows- so much that it hurts and I feel I might burst. Thank you for sharing this amazing letter. I think I’ll write myself one too xxx

  4. So beautifully written. Would love to share this with my friends on facebook if I can figure out how… Im a mother of a 9month old boy and Im already astounded by how quickly time goes and how fast he is growing. It really does scare me but makes me appreciate every single moment with him 🙂

  5. I am an 80 year great grandma I can relate to your stories I was fortunae I had a grandmother age nieghbor, who came and babysat and helped when my children were toddlers 3 2 & 1mo,as my mother was miles away,You may not know thier are older women in the chuech or a nieghbor who would love to help you younger ones . The holy word saya older wemon teach the younger weman how to love thier husbands and children . My regret was I didnt know the one who sticks closer than a brother untill my kids were grown who I could call on when I felt overwhelmed or didnt know what to do. He was always thier I only needed to call on him. He is now my constant companion and friend. His name is JESUS He is the all wise knowing God and he has a wonderful plan for your chidren and you, seek him and you will find rest and peace Love Sarah

  6. Thanks, Jill. You just made me cry while using public transportation. Now I, exhausted since my day started at 4:30 am, will go home and be all “nice to my kids”. Even with a headache. I blame you. (JK– love this and fabulous post.) Today is a test of endurance. This helped.

  7. My twins just turned 5 in October and my son just turned 6 in September. I have told numerous people that I can’t remember the last 5 yrs, it’s all a blur. I was so busy taking care of a 1 yr old and twin newborns and before I knew it I had 3 walkers to chase after and keep out of trouble. Then I had 3 talkers at different stages of language to decode. Now at their ages I have 2 Pre-K and 1 K and they are learning to read and can write. I held a baby in church today and just to hold his little 2 month old body, reminded me so much of my kids. My little girl wanted to hold him as he was asleep, she marvels at how small he is and when I tell her she use to be that little, she laughs cause she can’t believe she was that tiny. I can’t believe it myself most days, time is going by too fast, I want to slow the ride down and can’t find the stop button. They are my world though and I wouldn’t know life without them.

  8. Sitting at my computer trying to muster the energy to do the work that absolutely must be done tonight after an EPIC bedtime battle that drained me. I stumbled on this which I needed to read very badly. Thank you. Your words are so often brilliant, but these are some of my favorite. Hugs to you all from the all the Millers.

  9. I just love this so much… I come back to this post all the time and always get teary… congrats on your new baby boy 🙂

  10. Yep, I needed to read this cause I’m enjoying every second with my little ones and when it gets hard, I forgot how much I’ll love all this!

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