A Note to My Young Mother

Dear Mom,

I’ve been looking at this picture all morning. You so young and beautiful, me so young and innocent. I can’t quite wrap my brain around it. You were younger than I am now in this photo, by quite a few years. A young mom with young kids—the kind of mom I write most of my mothering thoughts for here on this site. And it makes me think—what would I say to this woman in the photo if I could take her out to coffee?

The first thing I’d tell the younger you is thank you for holding me. You tell me I that when I was young I was wary of certain people and I had a way of telling you that I was uncomfortable with someone. When you’d hold me, I’d turn my body towards and kick you a little in the back. And you honored that. You didn’t force me to come out of my shell or say hello to strangers or ignore my instincts. And as a result, I am comfortable now both in and out of my shell, I know when I need to come out and when I need to retreat. I know I can trust my instincts. You let me be who and what I was, and though I can’t say for certain that’s why, as an adult I am comfortable with who and what I am. So thank you for that.

The next thing I’d tell you is that you were doing a great job. You probably questioned a lot of what you did, as most young moms do. I’m sure you were exhausted, as most young moms are. I think this was close to the time that you became a single mother for a spell, which I can’t even imagine. But you were gentle and patient with us. I don’t recall that time as traumatic, though I’m absolutely positive it was for you. As a child, I just took it as a given that moms were like you, but now I know better. I know how hard parenting gets when everything else is shaky. I know how how much you probably struggled to keep the stress of your life circumstances from spilling over into your motherhood. I’m sure you worried about how all of that was going to affect me. But I don’t remember anything but love and comfort.

So I would tell you not to worry. I’d tell you we were going to be okay. I’d tell you that I appreciated all of the love and energy you put into my childhood. I’d tell you that it was good to take a break from us sometimes, and that I understand how necessary it is for moms to recharge their batteries. I’d tell you that it was all worth it, that the tireless, thankless work of those early years would result in untold amounts of gratitude when I reached the same stage of my own motherhood.

I would show the younger you this picture of you with your mother, your grown daughter, and your granddaughters.

I’d tell you I was proud of you. That the work you were doing was eternal and holy, even if it didn’t always feel that way.

I’d tell you that however much sincerity there was in my tiny toddler voice when I said, “I love you, Mommy,” I mean it so much more now that I have the full picture of what you were to me back then. I love the mom you were when I was little, the mom you were in the middle, and the mom and grandma you are now. Everything I am I owe to the totality of your motherhood.

Thank you, young Mom. And thank you, old(er) Mom. 🙂

Happy Mother’s Day.


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Annie writes about life, motherhood, world issues, beautiful places, and anything else that tickles her brain. On good days, she enjoys juggling life with her husband and homeschooling her children. On bad days, she binges on chocolate chips and dreams of traveling the world alone.

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