A Letter to My Old Self
Dear Old Self,
You thought you were so wise, didn’t you? You had all the degrees, had read the thick books documenting the proper path of building young minds, memorized the many stages of child development, worked in the cutting edge field of early childhood research and now here you are, all washed up, a mediocre mother of four.
Who did you think you were? Agh, I remember the questions you would ask to those women just ahead of you, mothers already and you, with your self-righteous glances and words. Your passive aggressiveness did not fool them for a minute but you didn’t know that then, as a twenty something, a perfect mother in your own mind, young and with no children. Yes, you asked mothers their ages and shrugged eyebrows when people with babies seemed a bit older than you liked. Even worse, you harassed mothers of large families and tried to pin them down on their future of childbearing. Someone should have shut you up but no, you were so confident in your espousing.
It’s really a shame someone didn’t save you from yourself. Perhaps they were humored with your innocent views and maybe even snickered amongst themselves and said things like, “I can’t wait until….” I’m sure they did and served you right too. You would have been a lot better off if you had done more listening than talking. A couple degrees does not make you a mothering expert. Just think you have done it four times over in ten years and you admit to being totally clueless. You may not say it but I can read your insecure thoughts. You say you’re doing the best you can but we both know that’s not entirely true.
Too bad you can’t retrieve that confidence from those old years. It would serve you well now that you’re over 40 and have been at this mom thing long enough to never say never, never ask anyone how many children they will have, if they will breastfeed or cite the dangers of co-sleeping. Nope, your new silence is impressive but don’t worry too much about your past. All you moms are learning and the best thing to do is to share the journey, meaning to share the potholes and the hills and secret gardens that you have encountered. Wisdom comes with age and experience and listening and learning. You’re better now but you still have a long way to go. We all do.
Try to remember not to offer advice to mothers of teenage sons, don’t offer discipline techniques for petulant teenage daughters and don’t cite annoying research about technology. Don’t harass the new mamas either. They need to learn this path of motherhood just like you did, through trial and error. You be the one that cheers them on and shares your own truth, the messy kind that involves marriage and yelling and exhaustion. Be the self that mimics the friends you encountered and left you more uplifted than discouraged and more loved than forgotten. Not sweating the small stuff will serve you well.
Good bye, old self.