I took my kids to a farm yesterday to celebrate the beginning of October.
On the hayrack ride I found myself amid a group of YOUNG moms, each with a baby and toddler in tow.
I couldn’t help thinking how OLD I felt in comparison.
These young moms with their first babies and me, a…um, seasoned mom with my youngest two out of five.
Me with my mom-ish hair and adult acne and at least five (okay ten) extra pounds in jeans and a t-shirt and sensible shoes.
These young moms with their rompers and sandals (at a farm?) and ironic purple-framed glasses and topknots or beachy waves and trendy diaper bags trying to squish all those babies sporting mowhawks and jeans (on a newborn?) and Toms into a group picture…#hayrackride.
I was being SO judgey, I know.
Judgey of them. Judgey of myself.
I just felt so out-of-style and frumpy and wrinkled and well…OLD.
I kept thinking, are these women MAYBE 28??? Maybe???
Am I REALLY at least ten years older than these fresh-faced millennial moms?
Maybe I should reconsider that Botox.
But then I started thinking about 28-year-old me.
How different I was then.
How lost and lonely. How scared. How totally and completely exhausted. How utterly alone.
Twenty-eight-year-old me was still really going for it in every way. Still pushing to have the life she ALWAYS envisioned. Still hoping and praying for the ‘fairytale’ even in the middle of a marriage drowning in addiction.
Twenty-eight-year-old me was TERRIFIED she had really screwed it all up completely and would actually never live a happy life.
Twenty-eight-year-old me never told ANYONE how lost and lonely and scared she was and, instead, just plastered on a smile and some trendy clothes and tried even harder.
Twenty-eight-year-old me worried deep, deep down about what kind of mother would allow THIS to happen in the lives of her babies???
Twenty-eight-year-old me felt like a total failure.
Twenty-eight-year-old me was SO TIRED. Two babies in two years. And breastfeeding and pumping at work and preschool and sticky fingers and a messy house and trying to figure out how to be a PERFECT mom in the middle of a broken marriage.
Twenty-eight-year-old me read all the parenting books and had ‘methods’ for potty-training and worried about my kids learning to read and making friends and getting on the right sports team (at age 3!).
I would never, ever, ever return to twenty-eight-year-old me.
In those ten minutes on the tractor ride I went from judgey, frumpy, old mom who was slightly annoyed at the fresh-faced, trendy, admittedly adorable moms beside me to a seasoned veteran who wanted to gather them together for a pep talk.
So, instead I ogled their newborns.
I leaned over and offered to take a picture so they could ALL be in one together (and yes, it was adorable).
I helped their group of toddlers down from the trailer making sure no sippy cups or binkies or blankets were left behind.
I remembered that despite their glowing skin and perky bodies and just all around ADORABLE-NESS…they might also be struggling.
And lost or lonely. And scared. Or exhausted and alone.
They might be busy reading all the books or looking for all the answers to finding that ‘fairytale!!!’
They might feel like total failures…
And suddenly I just wanted to hug them!!!
Suddenly I had a lot of things I wished I could say.
And to twenty-eight-year-old me.
I wish I could tell twenty-eight-year-old me to slow down and let go and just LIVE her life.
I wish I could tell her to stop striving, stop pushing, stop chasing because she doesn’t have to do it ALL and she will certainly never make it PERFECT anyway. Perfect is a fairytale!
I wish I could tell her to reach out and grab a hand and ask for help because she is never, ever alone.
I wish I could tell her to have faith and trust Jesus…with her heart and her babies and her husband’s addiction and her LIFE.
I wish I could reassure her those babies will grow. And sleep and eat and learn to read and make friends and play sports and become absolutely AMAZING kids beyond her wildest imagination.
I wish I could show her the husband of TODAY…clean and sober and more than she ever dreamed.
I wish I could tell her to unclench her fists… to notice and breath, to touch and taste, to savor the moments as they pass. Even the hard ones.
I wish I could somehow let her know how LOVED she is by a Savior…the One who holds it all.
I wish I could give her just a glimpse of the utterly imperfect, breathtakingly beautiful journey that lies ahead…so much more than she ever had planned.
Dear twenty-eight-year-old me…
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