Dear Married Daughter,
First of all, I am amazed that I am old enough to be writing this letter. When you were young, and sitting in the grocery cart while we shopped, people would stop me and comment on how cute you were and I would smile and thank them. They would often look at me and say, “Don’t blink. It goes fast.”
I felt sorry for them because they were not standing with their with a child, and they had a look of longing in their eyes that I could not relate to but recognized it, as a fellow parent. I never really believed them, because I knew I had your whole childhood still stretched out before me. I had time. But, the days are long, and the years are short, and you grew very fast. They were right.
On your wedding day, I felt so torn. You found a wonderful man, and you were beaming. You walked down the aisle, you danced with your dad, you left smiling radiantly with sparklers shining around you. Just before you passed by me, I had to resist the urge to reach out and hold your arm for one last hug before you climbed into the car with your new husband. I didn’t.
I knew I couldn’t stop you from beginning your own journey. I let you go, and I thought of the people who told me not to blink. And you drove away.
What I didn’t realize, is that you’d still be in my life, but in a different way. We are friends now. Peers. I have loved this chapter as much as the previous ones. And you have your own little boys who have brought immeasurable joy into our lives.
You are a wonderful wife and an amazing Mama. I just want to pass along some thoughts I have, and a few things I have learned over the years. Take what seems helpful, and leave the rest of my advice, for maybe another season.
- Take the trips. You and your husband need time together. Too often, I refused to leave the kids and just go. I finally started to go away here and there, and found that you all survived, and I returned feeling refreshed and had new perspective. It made me a better mom to take time to myself, and for my marriage.
- Look at the big picture. Seriously, the small details aren’t worth getting upset over. Just keep your overall goal in mind and let the small annoyances in life slip past you. Life has enough big challenges, so the little ones don’t deserve too much attention.
- Take photos. I mean to include yourself in these photos. Ask others to take pictures for you, so you can be in them.
- Don’t be a martyr. It is amazing how time can give so much perspective. As a young mom, I rarely put myself first. I held onto this as a badge of honor. It is good to serve others, and to be loving, but there is a limit. You must protect yourself in order to be able to give to others without burning out. Self-care is important. That looks different for everyone, but make it a priority.
- Sit still. We run around too much in this culture. Take time to just rest and reflect. One thing I accidently did right, was sitting down and talking with my kids. If you listen, they will talk to you. If you are too busy for them, it is hard to really know them. Or anyone. Be interested in their thoughts and their world. But to do that, you have to slow down and be available.
- Don’t compare. If I had one superpower, I would make social media disappear. It causes so much grief. Instagram makes people feel like failures, and that is the last thing I want for you. You are beautiful and unique. Nobody is just like you. Rest in the fact that God created you to be you, and don’t strive to compete with the perfect meals, homes, and bodies that others show off. You are enough. Just do you, my dear.
- Adventure. After having adequate rest, take your kids out to explore this amazing world. We forget that we live a true fairytale. We take it for granted. The rain that falls, the flowers that bloom, the rocks to climb. You will love seeing it all through your children’s eyes. So go explore together. Kids are the best buddies to have for this sort of thing. Everything is amazing and wondrous to them, and their enthusiasm is contagious.
- Seek community. This is tricky at times. It can be difficult making and keeping friends as an adult. We still struggle with insecurities and business. But take time to cultivate at least one or two friendships, and always be on the lookout for those who may need a friend. To have a friend, you must be a friend. God didn’t design us to walk this earthly journey alone.
- Walk closely with God. He is there for you and won’t ever leave you. A relationship with God is what will anchor you in this crazy, fast-paced world. Talk to him, read His word. Attend church. Sing. Take communion. Hear messages that remind you of your place in His story. Your life brings God glory. Your marriage reflects Christ’s love and commitment to the church. It isn’t always easy, and you will fail and feel frustrated, and maybe even mad at God sometimes, but He can handle that too. He is good, and has good intentions towards you. I will keep praying for you like I have since you before you were even born.
- Don’t blink. I know you might not believe me, but time is going to pass much too quickly, and when the chapter is closed, all you have are the memories, and the fruit of your labor. Cherish it all.