Dear Future Me,
I am tired this morning. Our six month old is teething. He spent a lot of time crying for me last night and I’m a little bit exhausted. I thought I might get some sleep when he finally drifted off at 6 AM this morning, but our three year old woke up a few minutes later and wanted breakfast.
She has a lot of energy. The deep snow and freezing temperatures have had us cooped up for weeks and we miss being outside. We need to get out for a play date soon because we’re going a little stir crazy. Our little boy doesn’t even remember the outdoors. He hasn’t been out there in ages unless you count frigid sprints to the car.
I was hoping they might nap at the same time today so I could get a little rest in. Or clean. Or something. But the baby has already been asleep for two hours and it’s only just time for his sister to nap, so I don’t think that is happening today. I guess I’ll just grab another cup of coffee.
Don’t get me wrong. I love all of this. You know I do.
Last night was long, but it was filled with milky snuggles. Our son would whimper and fuss and search for me in the dark. When I scooted closer his little fists would wrap into my nightshirt and he would bury his head in my chest. Little snorts and cries of impatience soon melted into contented humming. His whole body relaxed as he began to drift back to sleep with a tummy full of warm milk.
When milk wasn’t enough to ease his aching gums there was rocking. I draped his soft squishy body against mine and held him. His head found the perfect nook on my shoulder and his little fingers brushed my arm as I rocked him back to sleep.
Later there was breakfast as I played with our daughter. I was half asleep but I dressed and undressed dollies while she chattered in my ear like a little bird. I carried the doll stroller out from her room and she squealed with glee. She told me I was her very best friend and she loved me the “most-est” before folding me into her tightest hug.
Being a mom is the most amazing calling. I love it, but I am so tired today. I could use a little break. Just for an hour or two. So I thought of you. Or should I say me?
When I picture you I see you older, and perhaps a little bit wiser. Your days are your own.
You can call your husband at work and go out for dinner thirty minutes later. When you leave the house you take only one small bag with some lip gloss and a wallet. There are no tiny fingerprints on the iPhone you grabbed on your way out the door (is it still an iPhone?). You have no curfew, no sitter to pay when you get back home. There are no babies sleeping in your bed. No one to wake you in the middle of the night crying for cuddles or asking for water.
Your life is so different from mine, but my days used to be yours.
Would you like to come back and trade places with me, just for a bit? Step back into my shoes for a real walk down memory lane? You could give up an hour of your night to walk our restless baby and I could steal a nap. Surely you won’t miss one hour of sleep in exchange for a snuggle? Or maybe you could play tea party with our little girl while I have a morning coffee date with our grown daughter. I am so eager to see who our charming girl is becoming! Or maybe you are a grandma now? I’d love trade some time with our little’s. How magical to hold the child of my child, to see my son be a daddy!
I know I sound excited and perhaps a little desperate, but I’m not just thinking of myself. I’m thinking of you too. I know you miss these years. Our children are grown. They have their own lives now. Their own families. You have given so much of yourself. I pray you are enjoying the change of season, but I know you would give anything to relive some of these moments.
I’m trying my best to soak in these hours, days and years. When I look back at pictures of our children I see how fast they’re flying by. I want to savor every moment but it’s so hard. So hard to live every moment. I know I’m going to miss this.
When I snuggle my baby at night, smell his soft head, and hold is tiny curled fingers I just want to save some of it for later. Save some of it for you. For me. These moments are just too precious to leave behind permanently, but I can’t stop the relentless march of time. I can’t capture it.
Yes I wish for a break. But even more I want to jump into your shoes and live what I already know: that every moment of sacrifice was worth it. That the hours spent missing sleep, folding laundry, and changing diapers counted. I want you to tell me that it’s ok. That even though I will miss being in this time with my children you are proud of me for making it through with amazing memories for both of us to keep. That the children I poured so much of myself into will become extraordinary people anyone would be proud to know. That there is still so much to look forward to.
And I hope when you look back through the lens of years gone by you think of me kindly. See me as a woman who lived and loved with all of her heart. See me as a young mom who made mistakes, but was willing to pick herself up and do better next time. We both know it’s impossible to do this mom job without making some messes along the way. Can you remember me with compassion when you think of the times I fell short? I’m doing my best to make sure that when you look back it’s with no regrets. I may not always succeed, but I pray my imperfections made this crazy life more beautiful in some small way.
I know we can’t really trade an hour, and it breaks my heart a little bit. I wish so much that we could. I wish you could come back and snuggle this baby that will soon grow into a strong confident man. I wish you could see your little girl smile like the sun and have her wrap her tiny arms around your neck one more time. I wish you could, because I wish I could. But since we can’t – I will do it for you. As many moments as I can. I will store them up in my heart for you to remember and treasure.
So dear future me, the woman that I will become: I’m loving our children for you right now, in this moment. Love them for me there too, ok? No matter how things change they will always be my babies.