dear me in 20 years,

I know that you are looking back with tears lighting the corners of your eyes at the days when the babies were babies. I know that you are waxing sentimental about cuddly lovies and warm, nighttime milk. I know. But there are a few things I don’t want you to forget. For the sake of the future generation.

Don’t ever forget what life was like with three little ones in preschool. I know your tendency to remember only the pink fuzzy sweet, but also I want to remind you of the fighting and the reasons why the laundry didn’t get done. Because every time you entered the laundry room, someone fell and needed you. Or the twins started to fight. Or someone had to teetee.

Speaking of teetee, when a young mom tells you that she doesn’t hardly have time to use the bathroom, believe her. And when you see her at the grocery store or at Target and you notice her balancing three kids, 2 gallons of milk and a life’s supply of diapers, go to her and smile at her and tell her you think she’s doing a good job. And when she starts to cry, tell her that even though you miss those days, you also remember how hard they were. And send many blessings her way.

And for those young moms who you know in your church? Or for your girls who have babies of their own now?Don’t wait for them to call you and ask for your help. Call her and offer to come Thursday between 2 and 4. And bring her coffee.

Love, Your Younger, Less Showered Self

This post was never published, though I’m not sure why. I wrote it nearly 2 years ago and just found it in my drafts folder. My kids are already past the diapers and the needing-help-to-tee-tee stage. It has helped me to remember how quickly these days pass. . . and maybe to offer encouragement to those who are still in the midst of them. Because even though it’s true that the years are short, sometimes it’s nice for someone to acknowledge those long days the years are made of.


    • says

      well, I may have to disagree with you on that one, Sarah! I don’t ever expect anyone to help out really. This was just a reminder to remember that it isn’t all sweet times and roses. I totally respect older women who don’t help out in the nursery :)

  1. says

    This is full of truth and wisdom. Encouraging older mothers to help and bless younger mothers will bless both groups in ways only God knows. I remember getting a sweet card from our pastor’s wife when my second child, a boy, was a baby. She remembered what it was like having a little man who would not let his mama out of his sight for two seconds and shared it with me. I cried when I read that card. It was so refreshing to realize someone else had gone through it and had actually survived! That boy is almost 19 years old now. I still have that card.

  2. says

    I love this post as I am in the thick of helping someone go teetee. It’s overwhelming but it’s refreshing to know that there are others out there that have done this before and are there to encourage you. This is true for each step of the way. I always think it’s important to look back and to seek out those coming along and give encouragement.

  3. says

    Love your last paragraph, Emily. I’m convinced that I’ve gone through some really tough motherhood times to make me more compassionate and more understanding toward other young moms like me. Right now, that means being willing to pray for them (sometimes that’s all I have time to do), but in the future I hope to be a source of encouragement, having “come through the other side.” Reverse hospitality to a young mom is such a gift.

  4. says

    I try to never forget the days when I had three under four…and I try to help those who are going through that now. Bless you…it’s tough!

  5. says

    I am that woman, twenty years later. And I remember each and every time that a stranger took the extra moment to offer some encouragement: “You’re doing a wonderful job!” “Your children are so well-behaved!” “These days pass by so quickly.” Every one of those moments made a difference and had me wondering if it was God who sent those gracious people my way. Now I know for sure that it was God, wrapped up in skin and dancing eyes and a warm smile that drew me in and gave me that little extra “umph” I needed to make it through that particular moment of that particular day.

  6. says

    I have such a heart for the young moms in our church. I recognize that glazed-over look. The slight chuckle which really means I-know-I’m-supposed-to-be-enjoying-this-but-I’m-really-not-right-now. The feeling that you just might scream if one more person says, “Honey, enjoy these days. They go so quickly.” UGH. For me, those days did NOT go quickly.

    Now the teenage years? THOSE go quickly. And those are the years I am loving. Irony, for sure.

  7. says

    Reminds me of a little something I read by Lysa TerKeurst recently — that these days are like a rainbow – here one moment and gone the next. Before you know it, you changed your last diaper and didn’t realize it was the last one. You caught the last lightning bug. You comforted the last bad dream…

    But indeed – it is a blessing that we remember mostly the pink fluff. But not so much that we don’t remember to be compassionate and helpful to the next layer of mommies…

  8. says

    Thank you, Emily. My youngest is not yet 4 months, and there’s a 6-year difference between him and his older brother (and 8 years between him and his sister). I had forgotten so much. Getting up with him twice last night just about did me in until I remembered how fleeting these early days, weeks, and months are. I will cuddle him today and revel in his baby-ness, remembering your words of encouragement. What a blessing you are to so many of us.

  9. says

    so true
    i had a friend once tell me that while her children were in school ( highschool actually) she felt the lord had blessed her with the gift of availability. available because she stayed home & intentionally didn’t overschedule or commit herself so she could help others at a moments notice or lunch with her own kids whenever
    that has always stuck with me
    i don’t feel as available is i wish i were
    i love your reminder…to all of us

  10. says

    You made me cry today! So true, we tend to romanticize the past though there are all those wonderful warm fuzzy memories there are also tears, uncertainty, struggle, learning, falling down…I too hope I remember how good and how hard it was and do encourage and support those new moms that will be in my life someday.

    I’m glad you found this old post today and decided to share!

    PS – You’re doing a great job, Mom!

  11. says

    Emily, I so understand and remember those days. And oh how I wanted someone to understand how drained I felt when the kids were small. I hope to be that understanding person to someone else now.

    Yet, I just got back from driving five hours away to register my son for college classes. I should have taken a box of Kleenex because I had no idea how emotional it would be for me. Memories flooded me, years and years of mundane days where I was completely exhausted, but the kids were little and I can promise you that I would have given anything on earth to have even one of those exhausting, drained, never-get-a-moment-to-myself days again.

    I made one big mistake in parenting. I blinked. And here I am with a grown man and a nearly grown woman and no matter how much time I spent with them and no matter how many memories we made, it was never enough.

    Don’t blink, mommies. Just don’t blink.

  12. Carolyn says

    Thank you, I really needed to read this today. I am in the midst of those diapers-and-preschool days, and they are incredibly long. Everyone tells me to cherish this time, so I do try. But sometimes I just wish I was past it all.

  13. says

    What a truly beautiful post. Yes, I can look back 20 plus years and remember. I always look at young moms today and wonder how they do it all, and then I remember and wondered how did I do it. Youth is an amazing thing, as I have found is each phase of life. Thank you for such a wonderful read. Blessings.

  14. Julie says

    Thank you for this post. I find myself so exhausted and frustrated by all that doesn’t get done during the day (cleaning, laundry, etc). I try to decide everyday to enjoy this time (even though I just spent $80 on diapers and wipes at Sam’s!) Boy, what I can do with the extra cash when they’re potty-trained! What…spend it on food for 2 growing boys? Oh, yeah.

  15. says

    Oh Emily! I LOVE this! And I haven’t forgotten those days yet…even though we are past the teetee stage. I may never forget! And I’ll certainly never forget the mom who bagged my groceries the day I held a wailing infant and my toddler threw Juicy Fruit packages all over the floor. I cried. She told me it would get easier. It did!

  16. says

    You hit it on the head, Emily. Being a mother is the toughest, longest, hardest job you’ll ever… also the most rewarding. I salute those who are out there doing the balancing act. It’s not easy, but looking back, as you’ve done here, you realize that even though they seem unending, the days really do pass so swiftly. Loved this post… and your darling girls in the photograph.

  17. says

    This is so cute and sweet, and SO true. I have 2 year old twin boys, so I can definitely relate. I’m sure if someone came up to me in the store and told me that I was doing a good job, I would get teary also! This momma stuff is hard work!

    Mandy @ This Girl’s Life

  18. says

    I made this comment to my Mama a few days ago, “I really love being a stay at home mom most days. Really. But today, Mama, today I don’t want to be one.”

    The spontaneous gift of coffee and an afternoon off would rock my world. Really.

    Thanks for this. And for shining a teeny light waaay at the end of the tunnel :)

  19. says

    This one hit a nerve, but not in a bad way… in a familiar, still experiencing some of the sting of balancing life w/ 3 little girls all under age 3. I hope some day I remember to be that person who offers to help…

    you inspired me to write a post on a similar subject.

  20. says

    I love this. I am past the diaper stage also but I love the part asking for encouragement in the store. I had many experiences with “grocery store ladies”. They always found me on the baking aisle with 4 children – 1 whining, 1 needing to go to the bathroom, 1 running out of my sight and 1 rearranging the shelves. And they would sweetly say “You’ll make it! They grow up so fast” or “Seeing you reminds me of when mine were young. I had 4 also.” To which I would usually reply, “Oh good, then there is hope that I can survive!”
    Thanks for the great post.

  21. says

    Oh Emily, both my younger self and my self right now so enjoyed this post!
    I try to never pass up a chance to tell a mommy she’s doing a great job. Whether we’ve got teens or toddlers we so need to hear it! Mothering is such a hard job, and without quarterly performance evaluations, our souls need some reassurance!
    Great post!

  22. says

    Perfect. Just . . . perfect. Especially from this mom of middle schoolers who is at once sad and grateful for the healthy progression of time and motherhood. Thank you for this.

  23. says

    Well, thanks for this. I so often hear the “I wish I could go back!” or “These are the best years of your life!” comments, and I know they are true, but they always make me feel like maybe I’m extra wimpy about the bickering and the constant cleaning of messes and the perpetual hiney wiping. It’s so true that we tend to look behind us with rose colored glasses.

  24. says

    I love this post! Great words. I thought it was quite ironic that just today I was telling a friend of mine (that doesn’t have children — I have two small children, very close in age) that sometimes I will jump out of bed in the a.m. due to crying baby and not teetee. Next thing I know, it’s 2:00 p.m. and I still haven’t gone to the bathroom! She didn’t believe me. Well, believe it people….it happens! :)

  25. Claire says

    My grandmother used to tell my mother “You’re eating your sweet bread now.” Mother had five children and there were times it didn’t feel so sweet to her. Years later when I was mothering her grandchildren, she used that phrase on me and now I get to use it on my daughter. I think mothering small children is a little like childbirth… distance allows memories of the sweet times to overshadow memories of the painful times because the end result is so worth it. Lovely post.

  26. says

    So sweet. I love that you found this in your drafts section! My girls are 3 and 5 and I can’t imagine what we’ll all be like in 20 years, most of all, me.

  27. Susan says

    As a Grammy now I still remember and so appreciate the many times my Mom or Mother in Law asked to take the little dears for a day or a morning or afternoon. It made such a difference to get a little breather! I will never forget how that helped me. At least once a week I take each grandchild, usually one at a time. It is exhausting sometimes–I am on the AARP mailing list!–the 2 year old is a demolition man and the 5 year old sometimes makes my ears hurt! but I would not trade it for the world. I can recover tomorrow. We are making memories and Mommy can catch up, do something for herself or just nothing at all.

    PS If you are 58, do not attempt climbing over the baby gate to use the bathroom–take it down or go around!

  28. says

    I missed this post yesterday! You are spot on with this, my dear. I have school aged kids now, and God has placed a few sweet young(er) moms on my heart who could use a little help with their young’uns. I don’t tell them, “Let me know if you need anything!” Instead, I tell them what days I’m available for babysitting and make them dinner. As a military wife whose husband often travels, I KNOW the value of this, especially when my twin boys and daughter were younger! It can make or break a mama’s day/week/month!

  29. says

    my girlfriends and i were JUST talking about this very thing over lunch yesterday.. how that we hope someday we’ll not forget what these years were like and offer grace and understanding to the young moms still in the midst of it.

    i LOVE your posts. always so inspirational!!

    blessings on your weekend~ and can’t wait for that book of yours to come out! :)


  30. millie says

    with two 2-yrs-old and younger now, i found a spare minute to catch up on my reader while the baby was in her bouncy content (for about 2 minutes) and the toddler was content with her lunch (also for about 2 minutes). and then i read this post and cried 😉 i feel like everyone always says to me “those day might feel long but the years sure are short”, emphasizing the second half and just sort of skimming over the first. so thanks for encouraging me that the first part of that phrase really does matter! i’ve said to myself a million times lately..”when our girls have children, i’m going to remember to tell them i know that it’s hard and that they are doing a great job!”

  31. says

    oh my dear heavens!!!!

    i just clicked over, because this post was “spotlighted” that I might also like…from today’s tuesday’s unwrapped.

    this is SOOOOOO me right now. in fact is was tonite.

    we did a diaper & milk run tonite @ target. the twins + my 4 y.o.
    i tried to clean & do a load of laundry. tried.
    twins pulling each other’s hair, my 4th pair of sunglasses broken by them this summer, climbing up the dresser, toliet paper stretch throughout the house. yes. that was me tonite.

    great post.

  32. says

    When my boys were little, I had a lovely friend who would call and announce she’d be taking them for the afternoon. I could do small things — shower, go to the grocery store alone — and I was always amazed how easy life felt on my own.

    When I asked how I could repay her, she told me their would be young mothers in my future that I could help out, as she had done for me, as others had done for her.

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