Dear 34-Year-Old Me,
That lady at church was right, wasn’t she. You know — the one who told you to enjoy your babies because they grow up so fast. Remember, how you smirked and rolled your eyes as you thought to yourself “yeah, right — you’re not potty training, and sleep deprived”.
Well, buckle up Buttercup. If you think the toddler years went by fast, just wait. The next few years are going to be a blur of activity. Here’s a taste of what you’re going to experience:
Preschool, birthday parties, soccer practice, Cub Scouts, dance lessons, dance recitals, piano lessons and horseback riding lessons. School parties, field trips, homework, piano recitals, chorus concerts, band concerts, school plays, soccer and football games. Mission Friends, RA’s, GA’s, youth group, youth camps, mission trips. Disney, the beach, the mountains, trips across the US and overseas. Sleepovers, friends, enemies, girlfriends, boyfriends, breakups. Hurricanes, sickness, phobias, loss. Cotillion, driving lessons, homecomings, college visits, applications, graduations and leaving home.
It’s all going to come to a screeching halt and your busy home with the revolving door is going to become very quiet.
You are going to have your heart stepped on, a lot. But that’s ok. A mother’s love is strong enough to handle it. You don’t remember the pain of childbirth, do you? There are going to be days when you just want to give up. But you won’t. You won’t because you know you can’t. The task at hand is far to important.
Here are some words of advice to you.
Your son who is such a home-body and your daughter who is going to grow up loving her hometown are going to surprise you. Contrary to what their pre-school selves tell you, they are not going to stay with you forever. They are going to leave you and go far, far away. When the time comes, you might want to reconsider encouraging them to apply to out of state colleges.
You are going to love being a mom and having an active role in Jay and Katelyn’s lives. So is Jim. It’s ok to be involved but you need to have wisdom to know when to back off a little. Katelyn is going to tell you that she doesn’t mind you being her Sunday School teacher but she really does. She just doesn’t want to hurt your feelings. Stop.
You are going to be tempted to give them too many things. Resist the urge to be overly extravagant on birthdays and Christmas.
Make them do chores. Yes, they are going to have lots of homework and yes, they are going to be busy with activities but they can also help out around the house. When they are old enough, make them get jobs even though they complain about it. It’s good for them.
Hold them to high standards. See that they keep their word. Integrity is important.
Make sure your relationship with Jim is good. Go on date nights. Go on trips together. Celebrate. I know that it is hard to fathom now but one day its going to be just the two of you again. Oh, and a dog. In about 11 years Jim is going to give in to Katelyn’s pleas and get her the cutest little corgi. It will become your dog as soon as she learns to drive.
You need to step up your Bible reading and prayer life right now. I know you’re busy and you don’t think you have time to read your Bible all the way through but you do. Don’t wait until you are 50!
You need to be on your face in prayer every day for your children. I have good news and not so good news for you. You are blessed with compliant children. You aren’t going to have too many problems. There will be an incident where you will want to send your 6th grade son home early from a trip out west but just bear with him. He’s going to grow out of it and become a great kid. I know it’s a fear of yours but you will be spared from rebellious teenage years (pretty much). Katelyn is going to be angry with you for not allowing her to go to a concert in Orlando, but hold your ground.
Your problems are going to be the most challenging after they finish college. You probably think I’m crazy but one day you are going to look at these two precious children whom you love so much and think to yourself “Who are you and where did those ideas come from?” That is when your prayer life is going to be crucial. You are going to do your best to bring up your children the best way you know how but there will come a day when you release them into the world and all you can do is pray. I hate to tell you this but the world you are going to release your children into is vastly different than the world you know now. I will spare you the details. (I will let you know that Y2K doesn’t happen—you don’t need to store all those cans of food). Start. Praying. Now. All the time, without ceasing.
When Jay gets to 10th grade, you need to start thinking about what you want to do with your life after the kids are gone. I know, you’re planning on family dinners every Sunday and rocking grandchildren but I hate to burst your bubble—that’s not happening. At least not that I can see. What are your passions? What are your talents and strengths? How can you help further the kingdom of God. Here’s a heads up. You are going to have 3 different people tell you “Oh, you should do such and such, you would be so good at that”. Pray about it. Go with your gut. If it’s not in your realm of gifts you will be miserable. When they ask you remember – you are not a salesperson, you are terrible at math and you have trouble saying no. You should also read the book Boundaries.
Cultivate friendships with godly women. This is going to become vitally important. Be a good friend and maintain your friendships. Don’t get so wrapped up in your children that you forget how to be a friend. I hesitate to tell you this but you are going to have some dark, lonely days ahead. The empty nest truly is empty and some days you are going to feel it as sharp as a knife to your soul. It is good to have friends who are on the same walk.
While friendships are important, make sure Jesus is your best friend. He will always be there for you, even when your friends are busy. Learn to run to him.
Finally, don’t be afraid to live. Cling to the word of God. He has a plan for your life and he also has a plan for your children’s lives (which may be vastly different than what you had in mind). Just remember, He has not given you a spirit of fear and he has promised to be with you always, even until the end.
Sincerely, Your 56 year-old self