Because I know myself, and I know that hindsight is in fact NOT 20/20 and rather it’s cruel, I’m writing myself this letter because it’s going to happen, I’m going to look back, reflect on the time my kids were under my care and tell myself I could have done so much better.
Dear Laura with an empty nest,
You are probably sitting down to enjoy your morning read in a quiet house that is picked up, cleaned, and all your carpets still have the vacuum lines in them. Your house is quiet, a little too quiet, and you are reflecting on the years where you would have paid money (and on occasion did) to have a quiet moment to yourself. And you miss your kids. And you think you took the time they were home in your care for granted. Let me assure you, you didn’t.
You’ll wonder why you didn’t hold them more, kiss them more, tell them you loved them more, or cater to their incessant requests more often. Here’s why…. you simply couldn’t. There were days that the kids cried for hours, literally hours a day, over the smallest seemingly insignificant things and you picked them up countless times and then you hit your limit, you simply could not bend over and pick up a child one more time that day. You were not a super hero, a saint, or a magical being. You were human and sometimes humans hit a limit, there were days, many days, where you hit yours. If you had kissed those baby cheeks one more time they would have started getting chapped, I assure you, you didn’t take the plump cheeks for granted, you kissed tears away, kissed them while they were stretched tight from giggles, and kissed them a million times in the morning when they woke up and at bedtime when you said goodnight. Your babies always went to bed feeling loved by you. Speaking of love. You told your kids you loved them constantly, it was probably annoying to them if we’re being honest. But you felt a lot of love for those sweet little ones in your care and you made sure they knew it. And the incessant requests, when you finally snapped and raised your voice, and hurt your tenderhearted child’s feelings, I just want to remind you about that human thing, you weren’t perfect, but you were quick to apologize and heal up that hurt heart.
Don’t be one of those older mama’s who while looking at the young mama struggling in the grocery store with her screaming kids tell them, “enjoy it, you’ll miss this when it’s gone.” Even though you probably DO miss spending your days with them, you probably only remember the sweet times when they would lean together in the cart for eskimo kisses or giggle and beep their car carts at other shoppers. Those moments were sweet, but they weren’t the majority of the moments. Many times you did shame shopping where people stared at you and wondered why you didn’t have better control over your children as they were bawling while you walked through the store attempting to complete your shopping list.
You will tell yourself that you should have worked less, I know you will, but work was a source of sanity for you and you needed it. Not only did it give you something outside of mother and wife, but the money was helpful in those early years. Don’t kick yourself for contributing to your family in this way, your kids learned valuable lessons while “working in your office” with you and learning how to entertain themselves. It also made you much more intentional during the rest of the hours of your day when you were with your children you focused more on being present with them.
You loved your children well, you did everything in your power to enjoy the journey. It wasn’t always easy, some days you wanted to get a full time job (you considered it on several occasions), but you made the choice to stay home with your kids while they were little and you did not take that privilege for granted. Some days it was a sacrifice, some days it was a total blast and you felt spoiled that you GOT to stay home with your kids, and ALL of it was worth it. So don’t beat yourself up, don’t wish you did anything differently, instead remember the good times, remember the bad times (that you can now laugh about), and above all enjoy where you are TODAY, enjoy where your kids are as adults outside your home now, and enjoy the journey….life is quite a ride!!
From your 30 year old self raising a 4 and nearly 2 year old….
Here are some photos that give you a sampling of what life was REALLY like day in and day out with these two, because you don’t always take pictures of the rough moments and I don’t want you to think your instagram feed is a good representation of your life at this time!