I wouldn’t change a thing. No regrets! I would do it all again.
These are all romantic declarations to which I cannot relate. Sure, I understand the value of being grateful for lessons learned through our mistakes and trials. But if I could give my new-mother-self of 15 years ago some advice to follow, I sure would. It would go something like this—
Dear younger me,
You are embarking on the journey of a life-time. With a new baby girl to care for (and more beautiful bundles to follow,) your busy days will be long and your choppy nights will be short. Most of the time your goals will be survival centered… keeping four children clothed, fed, and feeling loved is no small feat.
You will be tempted to lay aside the things that make your heart swell, things that are vital to your overall well being. In your mind, it will make perfect sense to tell yourself that this phase of young motherhood deserves all of your time and attention. Dear, no one can fault you for devotion to a noble cause. But… and here’s the thing… if you give up the things that make you tick– the things that make you uniquely you, you will not have your whole person to give to your family. And you will miss yourself.
So before you give in to that all-or-nothing thinking pattern that so often teases you into nothingness, consider your loves and talents (art, swimming, writing, nature) and know that just because this busy season of life may make the all that you gave in a previous season impossible, nothing is not the only alternative. Do something! You know what feeds your soul. While an elaborate feast may not be possible, don’t starve yourself. Don’t give up on you! Doing a little something is a choice you won’t regret.
I’ve had times during young motherhood where I unexpectedly recognized myself. After disgruntingly squeezing myself into a swim dress that couldn’t possibly hide all my extra, I surprisingly found a girl I once knew halfway through a lap of breaststrokes. There I was… strong and graceful and alive! And sometimes while helping a little one with a school project that required artistic ability, I’d get this “there you are again!” feeling as I reveled in the cutting, the drawing, the creating.
There you have it. My regrets. I wish I would have better integrated the things that make me tick into my last fifteen years.
So, now what? As a mother, I’m somewhere in between the wiping-noses-and-cleaning-sippy-cups phase and the incessant “no-texting-while-driving-and-study-for-your-algebra-test” reminding phase. Here I am with a bit of time and space to reflect on me. The following quote recently appeared like a massive billboard along my meandering path: She longed to be that girl she once had been, with unlimited possibilities still ahead of her. And then she realized she still was. She could choose to make any one of those possibilities her next destination. ~ Queenisms™
I may not be able to go back in time and hand my younger self that letter of advice, but I have the gift of today. And today I’m going to rejoice in the possibilities- a weekly date to swim laps, penning my imaginations in a journal, taking a watercolor class, visiting art museums with my children, painting a mural on our worn kitchen table top.
I’m going to make choices and move forward. I’m going to do something!
What will you do?