To Melanie and Me, when we were in our thirties, well I was in my early thirties and you were still maneuvering through your twenties. We have not yet met, yet we go to the same church and have mutual friends. I know some of the family that you married into and mistake your husband for his cousin when I see him at church.
We were busy at this times with little boys. I had two and you had one. We were trying to do it right, the wife thing, the mom thing, the take care of our home thing. We had great expectations and felt pressure to do all of it well and to look good doing it. Little did we know that all of life is a progress and that we would never even arrive and have it down when we arrived to this present day in 2015. So this letter is to us, what I wish I could say from the perspective we both have now.
(*This is letter is birthed from a recent phone conversation in which we talked about us as our younger selves.)
Dear Us (Circa 2003),
Be gentle with yourself. You are learning the dance of life. You will need dance teachers, you will have to learn new and challenging dance steps, you will step on toes, and sometimes trip and fall. This is the dance of life, get up when you fall, dust yourself off and start again. Your life’s dance will be the Rumba, Salsa, Swing, Square Dance, and the simple Sway. The music is an ever changing tempo, the dance floor isn’t always made out of smooth flooring. Here is the secret, just dance, do it in your style, and have fun with it.
You are learning how to be a wife to an ever changing man, who unfolds like a slow opening flower in the dew of the morning. You will not always understand what is going on in his head, and he will be challenged to tell you. Be gentle on him. Give him respect, for that is what he needs. Show him that you trust him, and trust him, he knows more than you give him credit for. Thank him for all the hard work he does so he can bring home the bacon and you/or he can fry it up in the pan. This all will not be easy, there will be challenges, keep at it.
You are a good mom. You do it in your style and your kids don’t know any different. Don’t compare you mom style with anyone else. Your kids are more important than a clean house. Your kids are more important than all the millions of little things that are calling you right now. Yes, you have to clean, do the laundry, dishes, go shopping and get all the stuff you need at Target, yes it is just a part of life, but sometimes just drop it and look into your kiddo's eyes and listen to their sweet voice telling you whatever they want to tell you. You can’t get that moment back, and there will be a day when you want to. Soak it in. Play. Have pajama days. Watch movie together sometimes. Hold those babies so close, and smell them, and sing to them, and try to enjoy and try and not worry about the mess……...it will get messier and smellier when they hit puberty! But they won't ever grow back to littles.
Your home is ok just the way it is. HGTV is a lie! Better Homes and Garden magazine is a lie! No one lives in that perfect home, well unless they have loads of money and they have help. Don’t try to have your home like either of these supermodels of brick and mortar. You will own and you will rent, and there is good and bad about both. But what really makes a home is love, fun, discipline and letting Jesus live there with you all.
The Bible. Read it. Study it. Learn it. Love it. Live it. It is the one thing that will redeem every minute spent in it back to you and with so much more.
Those other ladies, that you think have it all together, well they don’t. No one has it all together. We all have problems and trials. Don’t worry about what the ladies-who-are-trying-to-present-a-perfect-image think of you. Oh, they are probably not even thinking of you, because really, we are all pretty self absorbed. Just do your thing, be you! Pray for the perfect ones, because they are struggling with something and they are hiding it very well. Be kind to them.
Your body will never quite be the same after baby #1 pops out, oh heck who am I kidding, babies don’t pop out, you contort every muscle to squeeze them out! How can a body that went through a thing like that ever be the same? You are going to be harder on your body more than anyone else. Your friends don’t care what size you are, well unless they want to borrow something of yours to wear! But really we don’t judge each other with the same harshness that we judge ourselves. And your husband may miss the old body, but he will love this new shape as well. Be free sister, you are more than your body. Yes, work on it, eat good food, exercise, relax at times, but remember that genetics likes to rule over you! Work with genetics and a good fashion sense and then go out into the world with a big smile and a kind heart and that is what people will see, remember, and love.
On being a stay-at-home mom; it’s a job, a career choice, and a huge responsibility and privilege. You are not lucky, you are blessed. You are not lucky, because it is a choice that you have to sacrifice other things for in order to do what you do. It is a choice because your husband chose it with you. You are blessed because not all ladies get to. Use your time wisely to serve your family, and to serve others. Your house doesn’t have to be perfectly clean all the time, it is your work space, and work spaces can be very messy. You will never have the laundry done, the dishes will never be done, just work at stuff, keep the ball rolling and the machine of the home running. When you feel cabin fever strikes, get out of the house! When depression is creeping in, call each other and talk about it, and get out the house!
Mental health, and pure sanity are important. Always use the phone a friend option! Go to a counselor when needed, they are there to help pull you out of the mud you are stuck in, just like a doctor is there to help get you well.
Priorities, you need them. Yes put God first, that is the most important. But don’t ever let anyone tell you to not put yourself on the priority list. You matter. You are important. You will have to be the one to advocate for yourself, because everyone else in your family (the ones you live with) will need something from you and will most often not realize that you need stuff too. It is more than ok to take time for you! Do something you love that refreshes your soul, oh, and did I mention (?) get out of the house. Go to Target and grab a Starbucks and drink it all by yourself, walk around and just look at stuff you can’t afford, breathe. You need to take time to rejuvenate! Give yourself permission, and drop the guilt.
You two will be friends for a long time. Your friendship will ebb and flow, like all relationships do. Remember, you need each other. You will learn from each other and grow because of each other. Someday you will catch up to the point in history that this letter is being written, and you will understand. But just trust this letter, you really should heed it’s advice.
From the one who can’t sing but loves to write.