Dear innocent, young girl,
I want to write you, even though I know you’ll never see it. But maybe it will make us both feel better, and let us share a little of ourselves with each other. Oh, if you only knew what’s coming. I could tell you so many things, but you wouldn’t even want to hear them right now. It’s difficult to understand the lifestyle, the struggles, all of the feels that you will experience later. You might even have a chuckle or two (or hearty laugh, actually) at some of the things coming for you.
But in lieu of us having a little laugh at my (our) expense, I thought I’d give a piece or two of advice. You know, a friendly few suggestions to maybe try out before you get to where I am now: wading through a pile of children on my way to the bathroom in the morning, hearing shouts floating up the stairs before I’ve even heard my alarm (by the way, my alarm is a crying baby). Here are my three big pieces of advice:
1. Sleep late. I know you do already, or I wouldn’t know how much you’d miss it. But do it more often, as often as possible. And you know what else? Go to bed early. I know you’re a night owl and you love staying awake in the wee hours, but just try it out once or twice. You might find that you like it!
2. Travel. You don’t have any idea how cheap and easy it is to go places right now. It will be again, but not for a while. Get out there into the world beyond your town. Visit friends that live far away, go to different time zones while your body can spring back easily, get on an airplane without any tag-alongs (and I don’t mean Girl Scout cookies), eat fancy food, visit museums and see shows. You’ll find that each of these things is either more expensive, more difficult, or altogether impossible, at least for a little while. Travel enough now to save up some memories until your children are older and you’re not using your paycheck on diapers.
3. Sow seeds. This seems broad, but it can be specifically applied to three areas: your family, your friends, and your career. You will be busy when you’ve got little ones. And not any sort of busy that you’ve ever experienced. You won’t have much time to build new relationships, so sow good seeds into the family and friends you’ve got now. You want them to stick around during that time when you’re largely an unshowered, frazzled mess, alive solely because of coffee. They’ll be forgiving (and even helpful!) because you’ve spent years loving them well when you had the time and energy for it. Your career will thank you as well. Work hard and long while you don’t have those little ones who need you at home. You’ll build a base of trust and integrity, and likely receive grace later when you have a sick babe or preschool play to attend.
The last thing I’ll say, free and childless one, is when you do get ready for children, and you are expecting one of your own, don’t brush off what those mothers you meet will tell you. New mothers, old mothers, working mothers, stay-at-home mothers will all impart wisdom to you in their own way. Sometimes, you won’t know why they need to tell you those ridiculous things, or scare you with their labor stories, or be the hundredth woman to tell you, “Oh, just wait!” They’re all right; what they say will be true at some point during your mothering experience. You will be tired, you will get fed up, and you will feel the craziest, strongest, most permanently bonding love you’ve ever felt about anything. Open your heart to it, because it’s the best thing you’ll ever feel.