To my ten years ago self-
To the new mama, the brittle and tired mama, sure that she’ll find the right way to do all of this, and nearly as sure that she’ll crack any day now and screw up everything.
Your arms are tired, finding new muscles you’ve never felt before as you endlessly tote and rock the warm seven pound bundle who has become your world.
Keep Going. You’re doing this.
The next ten years will help you grow to be the strongest woman you’ve ever been. I’m so grateful for all the work you’re about to do, because it’s some hard, hard work mama.
To my five years ago self-
To the exhausted mama to two, whose voice is sometimes raw from yelling. You feel shocked and embarrassed at your lack of control in the face of your children’s explosions of emotion.
Your arms are tense with barely held rage at one moment, then back to the soft arms that sooth with a hug, stir the dinner, and flip the pages of the picture book.
Have courage. Take a breath…and another. Learn to lengthen that pause.
In the pause we’ll meet our emotional dragons and find out we can live with them without letting them scorch the people we love. By learning to handle our own dark emotions we do more to teach our children about how to handle their own fear, anger and frustration than any other single action in our life.
To myself right now-
To the mama to three, the woman sometimes lost in the managing and doing. Partially invisible as she weaves between businesses, children, home and husband.
I want to wrap my strong ten-years-of-mothering arms around you. Thank you. You’re amazing and a mess, and that feels so much easier to accept now.
I’ve wiped rolls and rolls worth of spit-up, spills, and bottoms; and absorbed blood, tears, and snot into my waiting shirt sleeves. I’ve had practice nurturing imperfect, growing creatures, and after so much time loving messy/sticky/loud people, I’ve finally realized that it’s ok to love you too. I don’t have to keep waiting until you’re whole and perfect.
In fact, I’m not waiting on perfect anymore.
I used to think my broken pieces made me vulnerable and that meant I had to keep their jaggedness hidden under an egg-shell-smooth facade. This fragile cover was supposed to keep my rough edges from injuring myself or others, but it only served as a pathetic wall which took a lot of energy to keep from cracking.
I’ve since learned that where I’m cracked open are the places I connect best with people. I can be loved as I grow, not waiting until I’m whole, but valuable now, and accepting that the whole me includes the broken, ragged and runny bits.
Where I’m broken are the places where my stories seep out.
Where I’m broken a light shines out to show me who I need to meet, that together we may heal.
Where I’m broken teaches me compassion, makes me laugh, cry, and gives me lots of chances to practice being courageous and maybe even fierce.
I’m not waiting on perfect anymore.
To the mother who is me now – whole and broken, needed and needing, visible and invisible:
I see you, growing along with your children.
I see you, and though it’s a little scary still, I love you.
What would you write to your ten years ago self? How about five years ago? And what about today?
Do love yourself today? Can you send yourself a hug around all of your jagged edges? If not, I hope you’ll accept this hug from me instead.
Let’s stop waiting to be perfect. Today let’s take a brave and rebellious step and love ourselves whole – broken pieces and all.