Dear 25-year-old me,
Your life has dramatically changed. You just had your first child. It’s a boy! His name is Akil.
You probably will not find this letter because you spend most of your time getting up every two or three hours to feed your baby. Half of the time you are sleep walking. Reading a letter is at the bottom of your to do list.
I am now 20 years older than you so that means I am not only an adult by age but by experience too.
I wanted to stop by and give you some advice on being a mother. So, listen up!
You are scared right now. You did not plan on becoming a mother. You are also not married.
What are people thinking—who cares?!
And your mom is not disappointed in you. She is there to support you. When she repeatedly says, “You have to figure it out on your own”, she is not neglecting you. She is allowing you the room to grow. You will come to appreciate the blessing in her approach. She is truly your greatest ally on this journey.
You have been talking to God in the middle of the night as you stare at your new responsibility. That prayer that you wrote, “Dear God, don’t let me mess up as a mother” will become your most powerful prayer ever. The authenticity and vulnerability you embodied in that letter will cause God to honor EVERY word. You will also learn a valuable lesson. When you fully submit your fears to God, He comforts and provides.
Stop worrying about if you can have a career and be a mother. Not only will you have an amazing career, but you will have another child, get married and go further than you can imagine right now. Yeah, I know, another child. You will entertain the idea of having four children, but the cost of childcare will change your mind.
The dream of being single forever with a high- powered career, living in a high- rise apartment in the middle of a big city, driving a sports car has escaped you. I promise, you will never regret letting that dream go. In fact, you will have a high-powered career. You will even live in a high-rise apartment for a few years overlooking the third largest city in the US. And although you did not have a sports car, you owned a sports luxury SUV. Not too bad!
Before your son’s first birthday, you will be approached about a new role at your company. When they approach you, say yes! Do not waste one second trying to map out the plan for how you can make it all work. Just jump at the chance and figure it out along the way.
Silence that constant voice in your head “I want to make sure I am a good mother.”
YOU ARE A GOOD MOTHER!
When you find out you are pregnant with your second child, you will get your first experience with life’s plot twists. No worries though, you will realize the plot twist was God’s way of giving you the time you need to nurture baby number two.
It’s a girl! Her name is Adia.
Those months out of work until Adia was born made you believe you wanted to be a stay at home mom. NEWSFLASH: YOU ARE NOT BUILT FOR THAT LIFE!
By the time you are 30, you will be married with two kids. You will have relocated back to your hometown. So, stop telling people you will never move back to Augusta because it’s coming!
You will work for a company that will allow you to explore your strengths in ways you cannot imagine. Say yes to every special project. You become clear that a career-mother is the life you want to live.
And then, the silent battle with mother’s guilt will grow stronger.
Let me give you some advice to help shorten the war with yourself. Otherwise, you will say no to opportunities you want to say yes to.
There is no “right” way to be a career mother. People will give you advice. In the end, it is one big game of trial and error. When you get it wrong, forgive yourself and move on.
Do NOT de-prioritize your interests outside of work and family. You need to nurture yourself as much as you do your kids and the people at work.
Ask the people around you for help. Do not try to take on all the responsibility for the kids. Let Ken help –but do NOT complain when he does not do it your way.
Being a career mother is new for your mom and your mother in law. They will have lots of opinions. Have the conversation about how their comments make you feel. Do not hold it against them. Their ideals are different from yours. They love and support you.
Do not minimize your role as a mother in the workplace. If you can commit to your job, you can commit to your family.
As soon as the kids can walk, give them small responsibilities around the house. Putting their shoes in the right place is a great first responsibility. Getting them involved in helping early will serve you and them well in the future.
Mother’s guilt does not go away! In those times, cry, call a friend or talk to your husband. Do not give in to the guilt.
In your children’s eyes you are the best mom EVER! Relish in that!
20 years from now you will realize that there is no perfect way to be a mother. Sometimes you get it right, sometimes, not so much. Being a career mother adds another level of difficulty, but it is not impossible, and the same rules apply. There is no perfect formula.
You will meet mothers along your journey whose parenting style you admire, you will even meet some that you do not want to mimic. Either way, count it all joy. And remember you are all trying to figure this thing out so extend grace as much as possible.
And in 20 years you think your job as a mother is winding down, NOT!
But hey, you will figure that out too.
In the meantime, worry less. Give more time and less things. Create memories. Laugh often.
And, chase your dreams at every turn.
After all, your children are watching. They will navigate life the way they see you so give them something POWERFUL to emulate!
In light & love,
“I believe that your children should be able to point back to home as the place they learned love for self and others, service to others and the value of connections. I also believe it should be the place they point to where they learned sacrifice, perseverance, commitment and courage.” –Kenya Dunn