If I could somehow travel back in time and give a message to my younger momma self, I would grab hold of my shoulders, look myself in the eye, and say – Girl, RELAX!
I would tell myself to stop worrying about getting it right, to stop that quest for the one, right way to be a good mother. I would say — For goodness’ sake, quit it with all the books! And especially the books by the authors who claim to have figured it out. And for all that’s holy and good, stop it with the authors who promise their way is God’s chosen parenting method! I’d grab those books right out of my younger momma self’s hands and throw them straight into a bonfire and roast marshmallows over the flames.
Because there is no one right way to parent children. And if God felt so strongly about a particular parenting method, I’m pretty sure He would have nudged Moses or Solomon or Paul or Timothy or somebody to write it down in the Book that does include all that is near and dear to His heart.
I would tell myself — Stop feeling guilty for napping on the couch with your infant sleeping on your chest! No, you’re not ruining her sleep patterns forever! Because that girl is a teenager now, and TRUST ME, she can get herself to sleep and keep herself asleep until I force her to get out of her bed on a Saturday morning.
I would tell myself to stop fretting about whether I should nurse that boy again so soon after his last feeding, to stop beating myself up over not sticking to a schedule. Because in a BLINK, a FLASH, he will be ten years old. And if I could actually travel back in time, I would beg my younger momma self to let me hold this one for just a few more minutes because I miss his little head nuzzled in my neck and I miss the smell of baby shampoo on his head and I miss his sweet milk breath as I try to burp him.
And when ten years have gone by — I’ll tell my younger momma self — you won’t even remember whether he slept six hours or eight hours at night when he was nine months old. And nobody can tell by watching the stinky, sweaty boys on the soccer field which boys cluster-fed and nursed to sleep and which boys were on a more predictable nursing routine. It. Just. Won’t. Matter.
Whether you take away the pacifier at six months or one year or eighteen months — nope, it doesn’t matter. Whether you potty train at two or three or have one who refuses to go until you tell him he isn’t allowed to turn FIVE, for heaven’s sakes, unless he goes in the potty — when they’re reading books and writing essays and wearing shoes nearly as big as yours, it just won’t matter.
When my magic time capsule lands in the park and I see my younger momma self trying to get a rambunctious preschool boy to get down off the slide and into the car, I would give myself a big ole’ hug and tell myself not to make it a battle of wills. I would encourage myself to make it a fun game, to keep a sense of humor. I would tell myself to stop worrying about whether I’m letting him win because when his momma is smiling and loving on him and not making every little thing a big obedience issue, we all win.
I would tell my younger momma self that it’s not my job to fashion perfect little children, molding their behavior to look just right. I would tell myself to lighten up, that shaping hearts is God’s job and He can handle it much better than I can, thankyouverymuch. I’d tell myself to love them, teach them, consistently repeat over and over the lessons they need to learn, and then I’d tell myself to trust God to really work in them. Trust Him.
And when my time travels delivered me to the middle of my living room, beside a three-year-old having a massive tantrum about the most ridiculous thing, I’d tell myself to not take it personally. That there are many more where that one came from and if I’m going to take every one personally, it’s going to be a long, long haul. I’d nudge myself on the shoulder and whisper — Pick up that kid and hug her. She’s tired and grumpy and she’s learning how to handle not getting her way. Don’t give in and give her what she’s throwing a fit about, but hug her and kiss her and tell her you know it’s hard when we can’t have what we want. Let her be sad about it for a few minutes. And then tell her it’s time to suck it up and move on. Then play some music and dance with her. And laugh. Laughter makes everything better.
I’d give my younger momma self permission to be imperfect and have imperfect children. I’d tell myself to stop spending so much time correcting and training and just ENJOY the children. Dance more. Giggle more. Play more.
I’d be tempted to grab a megaphone and shout — Savor this! It’s going to fly by! I know every old person you see in WalMart tells you that, but it’s TRUE! Slow down. Commit these moments to memory. Stop worrying about getting it all right and just LIVE IT! Live the heck out of each moment!
And when you’re too tired to Carpe Diem, give yourself a little mercy and a nap and some chocolate. That’s OK too. Some days it’s enough just to keep everyone alive.
Finally, I’d tell myself to ask for help. To invite friends over even if the house is messy. To be real with people. I’d say – You don’t have it all together. And it’s ok if people know that. Just breathe. And admit you need help sometimes. Because we all do.
Yeah, if I could somehow travel back in time and sit down for coffee with my younger momma self, I’d say – Take care of yourself. Love your children — unconditionally love them. Go after their hearts. Give HEAPS of grace to yourself and your kids. And don’t sweat the small stuff.
What would you tell your younger self?