I guess I’m into letters right now.
Dear Sweet Young Me,
You’re freshly into your twenties, freshly into marriage, and freshly into motherhood.
I see so much in you that reminds me of me.
Anyway, I was like you once. Gah!
Ok, this is the thing. I can see right through you, because I was you, and I know you.
I so envy and admire your intense love for being a mom. You’re so good at it, for real. You live and breathe for this gig, and that’s awesome. I see that in you, and you make me want to be a better mom these days.
Being with that little guy, cooking with him, reading to him, playing match box cars ad nauseam, undertaking that ridiculous plan to teach him to read at the ripe old age of three. . . those things feed you, and it’s beautiful.
But I have to let you in on something.
Stop trying so hard.
You are a great mommy. You love that little guy to pieces. You’ll love the next two little guys and one more girl to pieces too.
Just be you.
You don’t even have Pinterest yet, but if you did, you’d be all over it, and you’d surely stress yourself out staying up till 3am crafting a solar system made from meatballs and 18 types of spaghetti (or some other equally senseless project).
Right now you have Family Fun Magazine, and Parenting, and Martha Stewart Living, and it thrills you to be able to craft from those articles, to see what you can accomplish with your own two hands and your simple will to create.
But there’s something else in there too.
There’s neediness. There’s insecurity. There’s striving.
You don’t need to do those things. You don’t need to try so hard.
You make me cringe a little, when I look back and see you carrying in your tray on pre-k snack day. I see your gussied up grapes and homemade Chex mix in individual little cups, and I want to pat your little brown head and tell you, “Just stop trying so damn hard. You are a great mom. You don’t need to prove anything to anyone.” And I know what you’d do. You’d smile politely, blush a little bit, and keep right on striving. Because you don’t believe it yet, that just being you is enough. It’s coming though. Really. The day you stop trying so hard and you see that the world doesn’t stop turning. Buildings don’t fall in on themselves. The earth doesn’t even shake, for cripes sake. Everything just keeps humming along, and all your favorite people still love you. In fact, some of your favorite people might even love you a little bit more for just being regular old, not-trying-so-hard, you.
To be continued. . .