Monday, May 12, 2014

24 Hours After

Dear Me 24 Hours After Your First Mother's Day,

It's official - you've been through your first Mother's Day! You have a four month old who is the most precious child you have ever seen. You don't sleep much these days, I know, which makes you feel MUCH older than 22. Your first Mother's Day was filled with flowers and lunch with your mom, but you're also left feeling like you don't know what all the fuss is over. I mean, you know it was a good day and you are filled to the brim with love and gratitude that you have made it through pregnancy and child birth, but this mothering thing?  You're still trying to get a handle on it. It is consuming in a way that no one could have warned you about even if they could verbalize all of the intricacies wrapped up in the word "Mama".

I want to tell you something, me to me. I wish you could hear me because what we've learned in the past 16 + years would give you a serious lead in the race you're running.  What I want you to know is that Mother's Day is every. single. day.  No, there aren't flowers and cards every day (but some days those will come out of the blue and crush every angry feeling you have), but there will be handprints and footprints from little people that you won't be able to hang from your fridge. Oh, but you'll remember them. You'll look back and remember the chubby hand that fit into yours and wonder at how you overlooked that mundane gift.

I want to you warn you, too, that there are Hard Days coming. There will be days when you feel that you are being lost in mothering, that who you really are is buried beneath smears of peanut butter, spit up, dirty toilets, too much laundry, and not enough sleep. You will go weeks without a shower long enough to shave both armpits, you will sacrifice fashion for function, your body will be stretched until parts of it resemble silly putty, and you won't always remember your first name.  Keep going, though, girl, keep going.

Sweetie, you think you don't sleep now? Just wait. The older your children grow the less sleep you will get. Mark my words.

Young mother, your prayer life is getting ready to radically change. You think you know of sacrifice because you gave up space to house a baby - but the sacrifice has yet to come. You will come to know what it is to put your baby on God's altar because He is the only one who can get your children to adulthood. Right now, you think it's all you, but it's not. You're merely the caretaker, and man are you going to mess it up sometimes!

I have to tell you that you those times, those Messed Up times, you are going to cry like you have never cried before. I wish I could spare you that, wish I could go and untie those moments like a knot in a necklace but those are the times that teach you about the deep love. There will be times, fortunately few and far between, when you feel alone and abandoned and you lash out at the only people close to you (people with chubby cheeks and eyes that still sparkle). In an instant you will know you've gone to far, you've injured the ones that God gifted you with to lighten your journey and you will be crushed. I think back on those times as the Double Whammy. Don't despair, because this is when beauty blooms.

You my friend, will learn what repentance means during these times. You will call your children to you, and they will come. You will apologize, and they will forgive. In fact, your babies will teach you how to forgive like Jesus. They won't harbor those memories and pull them out just to inflict more injury. No way. They will walk away from your mistake in 30 seconds or less. They will wipe your tears with their dirty little fingers, invite you to a tea party or a super hero game, and all will be well with your world, because they are your world.

You are getting ready to get your hands dirty. You will deal with puddles of urine, puke, and poop in places you didn't think possible (shoes, couches, and air ducts!). You will find things under furniture you didn't think possible: apple cores, full bowls of cereal, the phone that's been missing for a week, folded laundry that a kid didn't want to put away, and a couple of mice. You will learn how to hide when people knock on the door, and then later, how to open it and welcome them into your chaos. The kids will learn that the most important question to ask when the doorbell rings is, "Mom, do you have on a bra?"

You, Lee, and those four (yep, four, sister!) kids will become an unstoppable force.  The Shepherds will face Hard Days, but they will do it together. You all will learn how to be real with each other (and you'll always think of  that MTV show from the 90's about strangers living together), how to make the best of the bad, and that no matter what singing Broadway tunes will always make you feel better.

Oh, how I wish I could be there to watch you become who you are becoming. You will learn, that those times, when you thought you were being buried underneath mothering, that you were being buried to be reborn. You're in the kiln, so to speak. You are in the fire so that your true colors can come through. Your children will remind you of that when they call you beautiful and blessed. I know this now, these years later, that God always knows who you are and he sent children to remind you. Days when you're low a hand or a hug and eyes that say, "There is no one like my Mama" will keep you going.

So, march on mama. March on and know that your fridge will never be clean for more than 24 hours, there will always be laundry, someone will always complain about dinner, and that dishes were made to be dirty.  Choose the walks, and bike rides, and messy stuff every day because you don't get it back.

March on, mama!



P. S.

You will say that every Mother's Day is your favorite - but this one, 2014, really will be. You get to pick out your very own frozen dinner for lunch, have the remote, and nap on the couch by yourself. It is The Best Ever.



  1. stopping by from Ann Voskamp's place... as a mom who is a little further down this road... you summed it up perfectly! And I needed the reminder that every day is Mother's Day!! That being said, this year was my favorite ;)

    1. oh forgive me... in rereading your goodness here, I realized you are writing this to your younger self... even more so the reminder I need as I keep plugging along! :)

    2. Thanks for stopping by, Julie. :)