Wednesday, February 18, 2015
A letter from my future "Empty Nest" self to my current "in the thick of mommyhood" self
Hi there, beautiful Momma.
I know you've only got a minute, so I'll try to make this brief. I see you flipping pancakes while chugging your coffee and wondering to yourself when you'll ever drink a hot cup a' joe again.
I know the questions that keep you up at night. Asking yourself, did I make the right choice in that huge parenting decision? Did I handle that fight between the children fairly? Did I use just enough empathy mixed with just enough tough love to teach a lesson worth learning? Did I remember to put the milk away? Should I buy organic? Are my kids learning enough? And where oh where did the baby put my keys?
I see how hard you work during the day. You seem to be continually on your knees-- playing with the little ones, picking up the toys and Cheerios, mopping up the spills and sweeping up the crumbs, and praying for enough strength to make it until Daddy comes home.
I see the frustration and weariness when you think you. can't. handle. one. more-- one more fight, one more trip out of bed for water, one more "I forgot", one more tantrum, one more complaint over what's for dinner, one more "But Mommmm...."
I remember the never-ending days and the sense of deja-vu. A cycle of feeding, changing, crying, napping, and feeding again. The same games, the same books, the same daily schedule of events. The cooking and cleaning and laundry on a never ending "repeat" loop.
I remember feeling like a 9-5 job would be easier than this. That the garbage goes out more than you do. That you can't remember the last time you wore a nice dress and nice heels and nice makeup.
But, are you listening?-- here's the thing-- there will be a last time for everything and if you aren't careful, you will miss it.
There will be a last time you clean up spilled milk and have to respond with a smile and grace rather than a scowl and blame.
There will be a last time you change a diaper and have the pleasure of singing "Head and Shoulders, Knees and Toes" to your dear little one who is captivated by your voice and stares at you with eyes full of wonder.
There will be a last time your child reaches their arms up to you to be picked "up-py". Will you roll your eyes and sigh at their added weight or will you enjoy the feeling of their little arms and legs clinging to you and squeezing you tight?
There will be a last time you are asked for a hug after a nightmare or an extra kiss goodnight. There will be a last time you will read to your kids before bed and tuck them in tight.
There will be a last time that you will be responsible for putting food or milk into their little bodies. Will you be honored at the privilege to be nurturing another person? Or will you rush them along so that you can do something else?
There will be a last time for cuddles in bed, for bathing their perfect little bodies, for picking out their clothes and brushing their hair while winking at each other in the mirror.
Will you let the last time pass you by? Or will you embrace each day, even with all it's messes and meltdowns, and remember that this job that you do-- this role of mommy-- is perhaps the most important role you may ever play in the life of another person? No one ever said it was easy... but things of greatest importance rarely are.
I'm here to tell you that one day it will be gone. Your children will be out in the world, doing each day without you. You will have time for hot coffee, to enjoy a fancy meal, to only clean and do laundry once a week. There will be time for yourself, time to read your own books and watch your own shows. Time to go to bed late and sleep in longer.
I'm not telling you to be a doormat or to not also take care of yourself. But remember that your children are children... they can be foolish, and exhausting, and naughty at times... but they are worth your time, your tears, your sweat and your sleepless nights. They should be regarded as your life's greatest work.
Please listen to me carefully-- your empty nest days will be filled with regret and longing for the past if you don't fully embrace your present. Don't wish away these days.. you'll never have them back. Be present. Be patient. Be prepared for when they are gone by filling up on your precious loved ones now. Drink them in; memorize how they look and talk and laugh. Because once that last time passes by, there won't be any more. And you may find yourself wishing... someday... for just one of those last times back.
Now go microwave that coffee and sit down to breakfast with those cuties. Take heart. Take courage. Take one day at a time... and enjoy it!
Your Future Empty Nest Self