I wrote a letter to myself 10 years ago, inspired by Tsh’s “Dear Me” letters as part of The Art of Simple’s final year. Since 2010 is the year I became a mother for the first time, and my firstborn girl is about to turn 10 in a few weeks, it felt timely.
In the process of writing this, I realized how grateful I am that we don’t get the gift of foresight—we don’t know what’s going to happen over the next day, year, or decade. Because if we did, we’d probably do whatever we could to avoid pain, struggle, and discomfort and thereby miss the absolute most meaningful moments, the ones that truly shape us.
Dear Me in 2010,
I see you there sitting there on the yellow rug of the guest room-turned-nursery, folding teeny newborn onesies and cloth diapers. You’re preparing for your baby girl’s arrival in a few weeks. I know you’re excited—you’ve waited awhile for this! You’re probably uncertain if your body will ever be the same again, nervous about the birth, and a million other emotions.
I’ve now experienced 10 years of motherhood, and there are so many things I want to share with you from the other side of this decade. Here are just a few for now:
Your body is beautiful and strong.
I know it’s been hard to see your body change so much and to hear ridiculous comments from others like, “Are you sure there aren’t twins in there?!” I know it’s been a long history of feeling insecure about not being “small enough,” and now you’re the biggest you’ve ever been. But here’s a little spoiler…that body you criticized, tried to shrink for years?
Well, it’s going to do a miraculous thing: it’s going to birth a human. Twice.
You’re about to gain some scars that won’t ever go away. There will be more stretch marks. There will be cellulite. But years from now, you’ll realize your size has zero to do with who you are, and you’ll make peace with your body the way it is. Your daughter will say, “Mama, I love your wrinkles. They feel good when I run my fingers over them,” and “I love laying my head on your squishy tummy.” And it won’t hurt. Instead, you’ll be proud of it. So proud.
All those imperfections are beautiful to your children. Embrace them.
Also, you’re a farmer now. And you won’t believe what that strong body can do.
You’ll love being a mother.
You’re preparing for a natural birth, and you have your plan in place. In a few weeks, when you’re in labor in the body care aisle at Whole Foods, remember what all those people told you: “Create your birth plan, but just be prepared to hold it loosely,” (even though you kinda rolled your eyes when they said it).
It’s actually true. Please don’t freak out when I tell you this: you’re not going to get your natural birth this time around.
You’ll do what you think you need to be brave, to endure 36 hours of labor without progressing far enough. The pain will strip you and cleanse you, forcing out any unsurfaced fears. You’ll finally say “I NEED HELP NOW” and realize that those were the actual bravest words you could say.
And then, after so many hours of trying, your first child—your first daughter—will be removed from your body 8 minutes after entering the operating room. You might be shaking from the anesthesia, but try to soak in everything you can in that moment—the robust cry under the fluorescent lights, her arms waving wildly, Asian eyes from her daddy, and big, wide mouth that looks exactly like your daddy’s.
Within the first minute of your daughter’s life, you’ll be filled with a fierceness of love that is different and shocking—more risky, more dangerous, like it could crack you open at any time.
That feeling won’t go away, friend. It’ll just expand and morph and change over the years as your girl starts crawling, toddling, running, and now at almost 10, becoming her own independent person. And we’re not even to the teen years yet!
In a few years, you’ll have a second daughter, this time at home. (Yay! Your natural birth!) You won’t run out of love to go around; your heart will simply grow more. All your cloth-diapering dreams will be flushed down the toilet, and you’ll embrace Seventh Generation disposables like there’s no tomorrow. Perfection isn’t possible.
From where I stand in 2020, your girls are 6 and almost 10, and those tiny baby onesies you’re folding are currently dressing baby dolls. There’s plenty of drama and big emotions and bickering, but even so, they are truly best friends. They love playing together. They’ll love nature and beauty, shooting arrows and drawing princesses, sparkly things, and digging their hands in the dirt.
Trust your inner Mama Bear that doesn’t hesitate to roar against anything that threatens their childhoods. It means something. But also, the time comes to start loosening the reins a little.
You’ll learn to embrace change.
There’s going to be an uprooting. I know you can’t even imagine this being possible, but you’ll leave this house 5 years from now and with it, the echoes of toddler feet running down the wooden floors of the hallway.
It’ll be one of the hardest things you’ll ever do, and you’ll have to walk into change like never before. But you’re moving back to Tennessee—to a farm!
Yeah, you love buying food from local farms right now, but be a farmer yourself? Crazy, right? I’ll just tell you this—there will be blunders. There will be big mistakes and moments where you feel like you’re falling apart. You’ll miss sidewalks and having friends within walking distance. But you’ll find your strength in new ways. You’ll gain a sky above your house that’s an actual planetarium. A connection to the land that is palpable. Plenty of space for people to come and slow down and connect over farm-fresh meals or a campfire. That girl in your belly right now will one day help you plant wildflowers and ask you to lie on the earth among the corn rows with her at golden hour.
After having only two sapling trees in your urban yard, you’ll now have thousands of them. All those hikes and walks with wide, curious baby eyes peeking over the top of the Moby wrap will turn into explorations through your own 5 acres of woods with your girls leading the way.
You will embrace homeschooling. In teaching your girls with everything you have, you’ll find that most of what they really need to know is not from textbooks or worksheets.
Your board books will be well-loved and well-worn. Before you know it, you’ll be reading The Chronicles of Narnia to them at bedtime until your voice goes hoarse. You’ll find your oldest girl reading by flashlight and outside in the yard and inside under a blanket and basically anytime she can get in a few more words.
And then one evening, sitting by yourself on the doorstep of your farmhouse, a loneliness you can’t pinpoint will rise to the surface. You’ll mourn a little for the years of Daniel Tiger and Curious George and the double stroller and babywearing. You’ll wonder if it’s too late to squeeze out one more baby at age 42 because you don’t want to say goodbye to that stage of life.
Worrying isn’t worth one more second.
All those things you’ve worried about over the last 10 years that kept you up in the middle of the night? 99.9% of them never happened. And those that did? God was faithful. God was with your family, just as promised.
On the other side of a decade, here in 2020, you’re still making mistakes but learning from them. You’re better at managing change and risk. You’re still in love with God and Steven and your children and your community. You’re the you-est you’ve ever been. Be at peace. Do not worry. Things really are going to be okay.
Oh, one more thing—keep writing, sister. Keep using those gifts and words, and somewhere in between the finger puppets, rubber duckies wearing bowties, and the California Baby shampoo, you’ll figure out how to still make time for yourself with a hot bath, your journal, and a glass of wine. Because 10 years later, you’ll be writing an actual, real book, and you’ll be glad you made the choice to keep your creative side alive.
You in 2020