If I could write a letter to me, I wouldn't write a letter to my teenage self filled with words of wisdom based on what I know now. If I could write a letter to me, I would write it to myself 25 years down the road. I'd write it to the me who no longer has children left at home. I'd write it to the me with more time on her hands and more sleep in her eyes. I'd write it to the me who I'm certain will recall her early years of motherhood fondly. The years when her kids did not let their mommy sleep but they did love her unabashedly. I'd write it to the me who I know will one day gaze day dreamily at that tired young mom she sees in the grocery store. The one lugging her screaming kids down each aisle. And this is what it would say:
When you see that mom barely holding it together in the grocery store, smile at her and tell her she is doing an amazing job.
When that young mom you know has her third baby, and that baby turns 8 months old and that mom is just as tired as she was when her third addition was a tiny newborn, take her family a meal. Just because.
When you go out on a dinner date with your husband, and you're seated next to a dad and mom and their rambunctious toddler, smile at his parents. Let them know you understand. And pay for their meal.
When you're taking your leisurely evening stroll through the neighborhood, and you hear screaming and temper-tantrum-throwing coming from the windows of a house down the street, pray for the mommy who lives there. Pray that very moment that an abundance of peace and understanding would fill her heart and home.
When you're at the park with your own grand kids, and you overhear a mom patiently encouraging her son who is struggling to tie his shoes, walk by and encourage her with words of your own - "those kind words you're sharing with your son right now are building him up and blessing his heart."
When you're having your morning quiet time and enjoying your coffee uninterrupted, take a minute to write a note of encouragement to the young mom you know who is most surely fatigued from giving all she has to her family.
When you have room in your purse because it's not longer filled with goldfish crackers and diapers and pacifiers, fill it with gift cards to Starbucks. And when you see a mom unloading kids from her minivan and preparing to run endless errands, slip one of those gift cards under her windshield wiper and bless her upon her return.
When you're Christmas shopping and you - and everyone around you - hear a young child screaming uncontrollably for no apparent reason, and you see her mom and dad's cheeks grow red with embarrassment and anger, don't stare and don't judge them. Just pass and pray for them.
And when your head hits the pillow at night and you find your thoughts drifting back to when your kids were little, thank God for your own children. Thank Him that he provided for you every step of the way. Through their infancy, their toddler hood, their elementary, middle and high school years and beyond. And thank God that in his infinite wisdom He designed you to be the perfect mom for your children. And the perfect grandma for your grandchildren. And Lord willing, the perfect great grandmother for your great grandchildren. And fall asleep knowing that every good and perfect gift comes from your Heavenly Father above.
Your Much Younger Self