WARNING… LONG POST AHEAD!!! : )
Jonathan and I are on a delayed (kid-free!!!) trip to celebrate our 10th anniversary this week! And no, we’re not in the Bahamas basking on the beach. We’re up in Door County, seriously enjoying the quiet beauty of a northern Wisconsin winter. We’re staying in the cutest place… I took a picture to show you guys today:
Seriously… isn’t that cool?!? It’s a barn that was revamped as an inn!!! I’ve got to say… I’m just lovin’ it! It’s such a fun idea for a place to stay… plus now I can say that Jonathan took me to a barn for our tenth anniversary trip. : ) Ha ha ha. We’ve been like a couple of kids this week… eating Oreos for breakfast, taking naps, hanging at the coffee shop for hours, listening to fun music and completely relaxing. It’s TOTALLY not fair for me to be rubbing that in right now to all of you mommies and daddies that are home doing “normal life” this week. But oh. my. goodness. It’s been heaven. : )
It’s been nice to have the time to clear my mind and think a little. It occurred to me that the last time we got away without our kids without a conference to attend or people to visit was before we had kids at all! Um… six years ago… now that’s a little embarrassing!!! : ) But… I was thinking… six years ago (it was early February, actually…), we took a little trip right up here to Door County for a few nights as well. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was about five weeks pregnant with our first baby. It makes me smile to think back on how much things have changed between then and now, and the thought prompted me to write my 24-year-old-self a little letter. I’m gonna warn you… it’s a little on the long side… but I thought it would be fun to share since so many of us have either been in that stage of life or are going there soon… enjoy!
~ a letter to me ~
Hey girl… I’m 30! I know, I know… not something you actually imagined would happen (thought you’d be in your mid-twenties forever, didn’t you?!?), but here I am, living proof that life does go on. Let me reassure you, honey, that it only becomes richer and more precious as each year passes. : )
There’s something truly amazing happening in you that you’re not yet aware of… one of life’s most treasured secrets: deep inside you lies the beautiful beginnings of a baby. She’s smaller than the smallest bean, but her heart (oh yes, the very one that will capture yours!) is already beating out a steady rhythm of life.
Six years later, I’m struck by the contrast of our two lives, and I feel led to take a moment to share a few things that I deeply wish I had known as I stood where you are, peering ahead to that unknown land called Motherhood. These tidbits are neither earth-shattering nor essential to the journey ahead… they’re simply a few things you don’t yet know that would make your experience as a new mom so much smoother if you only took them to heart. So please… take a moment to read and ponder my advice on becoming a mom; these words flow straight out of the bridge of the time that connects you and I…
- Being a mom of a new baby is like riding a bike. I know right now you think that the moment she’s laid in your arms you’ll know exactly what to do in every situation, but the truth is… there are some things you simply must learn through experience. Remember that you didn’t take off on two wheels on your My Little Pony bike without a decent amount of practice and work, either. When she’s crying in the middle of the night and you’re not sure what to do, don’t be disappointed with yourself! Always be patient with your learning curve and don’t be afraid to ask others for advice…
- Take breaks often. During the first month of her life, people will be stopping by to bring sweet presents for your baby girl and food for you, but they’ll stay far too long and your exhausted, people-pleasing-self will be tempted to entertain them. All you need to say is, “The baby needs to eat,” and you can disappear upstairs without another thought. Repeat after me… “The. Baby. Needs. To. Eat.” Believe me… NO ONE will think you are rude! These are magic words… use them!!
- Let the people you love help you. You’ll want to feel terribly guilty every time your family or close friends come over to take the baby and give you a few hours off… but don’t! They are (you probably won’t believe this!) actually trying to restrain themselves from coming over more… people who’ve had babies cannot resist newborns, so you should 1) plop her right into their arms as soon as they walk in the door, and 2) go take a bath or a nap pronto. And enjoy every minute of your time away, 100% guilt-free, because they are having an absolute ball downstairs without you. Seriously.
- Jonathan will not break the baby. Because you’ll be nursing, you’ll have a bit of a “head start” in getting to know what she needs, but Jonathan truly wants to help and is fully capable of doing so. The last thing he needs is you hovering over his shoulder observing his every move. He will love her to pieces… you should see what an amazing bond they share today! Sit back and soak in the moments that he’s studying her and learning the ins-and-outs of parenthood. Be prepared to let him do things “his way” when he ‘s in charge… he’s got more than a few great ideas up his sleeve. You’d be smart to relax and let him try his hand at being a daddy… it will pay off big time in the end.
- Take a minute to reflect on your mom, because this is where your and her stories first intersected, 25 years ago. It’s a precious gift to experience the same depth of love for your new baby girl that she’s always felt for you… you’ll understand your relationship with her on a whole new level from here on out…
- People aren’t watching you like they think they are. Sure, you and you new little family will have the spotlight for a while, but that time passes quickly and everyone will (remarkably!) be giving you the benefit of the doubt… assuming you’re a sweet little family doing just fine. You have nothing to prove to anyone… not to your friends, at church, or at the grocery store. In a nutshell, no one is questioning your ability to be a good mom, so don’t put one ounce of energy into worrying about it as if they are!
- Don’t be afraid of your baby growing up. I know that when she’s first born you’ll look around at all the other babies and kids and think that she’s extra-special because she’s the smallest, but listen closely as I let you in on a little secret: she’s extra-special because she’s yours! She’ll always be the perfect age, the perfect size, the perfect little girl… whether she’s two days, seven months, or five years old. Every stage is amazing, and worrying about her growing out of each one is a waste of time and energy… she’s growing out of stages and into new ones in every moment (yes, even now!) and you’ll love her wholeheartedly in each and every precious one!
- Finally… there is no formula for motherhood, regardless of what you’ve read in Parents Magazine. Please… don’t examine and assess every little moment, but enjoy as many of them as you can! They will pass before you so very quickly and you’ll miss far too many of them if you spend your time looking too far ahead or behind. The most precious moments of motherhood will be right in front of you, offering you endless opporunities to laugh, engage, enjoy, and love. Dive in and don’t look back… you’re in for an amazing ride my girl!!!
Your 30-Year-Old-Self (aka… the girl who’s been there) : )
PS… Don’t panic when you see that second line on your pregnancy test five months into your journey as a mom… he’s absolutely ADORABLE! Hee hee. : )