I think a lot about Future Michele, the distant- or near-enough version of myself that is in better shape and a cleaner house than I’m in today. I leave things for her. (e.g. When we left the States, we sold our house without having a plan for where to live upon our return. That was a problem for Future Michele and Future 1977.) (We handled it just fine, thanks.)
Today I’m penning a note to Former Michele. The ambitious, successful, career-focused Michele, circa 2007, who was about to trade (read: donate) her suits and corporate meetings to become a Stay-at-home-mom.
Actually, it’s a letter to any Type A mother, but if someone could just deliver a copy to Former Michele, any time before 2008 was born, that would be great.
It’s going to be different. It’s going to be hard, particularly for you.
Because you will not be in control.
I know that sentence is terrifying.
Mothering is hard for every mother. It’s hard in different ways for everyone, and in the very same ways for everyone. It’s hard. It’s hard in ways that you can’t fix by putting in more hours. Mothering will take all your hours.
You can’t fix things with a bigger budget, in part because you can’t make any money doing what you’re doing, but mostly because money can’t fix your problems. Money can’t make your baby sleep more than 90 minutes at a stretch. Money can’t make a toddler pee on the toilet instead of on the rug when she just can’t manage that tricky snap before her bladder lets loose.
You’re not going to be as productive as you are right now. You’re just not. . .not for at least seven years. (And, I’m guessing here, probably not until all your children are in school.) (I’ll report back.)
You know how you always stay awake after a big move? Until everything is unpacked and in its place? Yeah, no. It will take weeks, and that’s okay.
You know how you start every weekend with a huge checklist, and finish it sometime on Saturday? No again. And that’s okay.
Because no one cares. No one cares if you don’t finish it all or don’t finish it to your standards or decide it no longer needs to be done. They’re not judging you.
If your children are happy and healthy, no one is judging you. Well, no one important is judging you. If you house isn’t tidy enough for school mom, if you can’t park your car in the garage for six weeks because it’s full of moving boxes and the neighbors balk. . .well, being their friends will take energy you don’t have anyway.
And that’s okay. Spend your time on your children, and everything will be okay. They will be happy. And eventually, you will find your people.
You also will find tiny things you can control, and you will relish them. You will find time to write, I promise. You will finish manuscripts. You will control that all by yourself.
And other than that, you will learn you don’t have to be in control. Hand control over to your children, as early as you can.
It takes a preschooler 19 minutes to make a peanut butter sandwich, but let her.
Your kindergartener will never wear clothes that match, but she will be proud of her choices and she will feel beautiful. Let her.
Let them choose dinner. Let them help cook, even if it takes two hours. Let them decorate their own rooms. Let them direct their own play. Let them dawdle.
Give them control of the afternoon or the day or the month of June. Do not rush them to maintain your arbitrary schedule.
It will be okay. It will be marvelous! And YOU will be okay.
I blog rarely, because I'm busy writing books. When I do blog, I focus on writing, friendship, family, and books. Because my family's best nicknames are private, I use their birth years for shorthand: