Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Letters to My Past Self - Part 2

In 2013, I wrote letters to my past self, giving myself the advice I wish I'd been able to give myself when I was 16, 18, 20 (but certainly would have ignored). Mostly it was regarding boys, though some pertained to studying harder and making better financial choices . (Was getting a nose ring and losing your college tuition money from Mom and Dad worth it?) (Yes, kind of.)

I have some more things I'd like to tell past me.

Dear Lori (24),

Don't let anyone tell you to put that baby down more or stop being so obsessive over organic homemade baby food or that using cloth nappies is a waste of your time. This is your time to figure out motherhood on your own, and even though two babies later you will find that putting that baby down more will make life easier and that your baby will still be healthy and thrive if you feed her baby food from a jar* and that cloth nappies are fantastic for the environment and your wallet but holy hell they are a lot of smelly work and it's okay to sometimes reach for the disposable, right now you do exactly what you feel is right and be proud of each decision you make. I stand behind you and all first time mums in all your idealistic and ambitious plans. I'm proud of you.

Lori (34, mother of three)
*That is, when you don't have time to do baby led weaning, of course. I know you'd hate it if I didn't make that distinction.


Dear Lori (29),

Speaking of ambition, let's get one thing straight. You never stopped being ambitious. You never lost yourself. Your brain never turned to mush. You must not keep thinking this about yourself.

You left college with a fantastic job for a recent grad, and at the ripe young age of 22 you went through the entire process of immigration all on your own. You moved abroad. You managed to blag your way into another great job in a field you had no experience in. You kicked serious ass at that job (though your work ethic could probably have been a little better).  You were ambitious, and you knew it.

Then you got pregnant and decided with Scott to become a stay at home mum. And that's where your confidence began to shake.

You stayed out of the traditional workforce for nine years. You believed you had nothing to offer the world other than being a good mum. You believed you were only marginally smart. You stopped believing in yourself. You looked at your friends and saw them as successful, while viewing yourself as barely contributing to society.


Girl, let's look at it from my perspective now.

You left the traditional workforce to become the most kick ass mother you could possibly be. You researched every single mothering topic known to womankind. You made conscientious decisions about everything. You did things very differently from what was expected of you, but you did it with confidence, because you were informed and ambitious about mothering.

You were AMBITIOUS about mothering. If you were going to be a stay at home mum, you were going to be the best damn stay at home mum you could be. Ambition isn't just for the workplace. (Shout out to all the ambitious stay at home mums out there. I know for a fact how hard y'all work your asses off.)

Here's something else you may not be realizing.  You weren't just a stay at home mum. You were an entrepreneur, a fundraiser and an active volunteer in your community.

You started four businesses while you were "just a mum". One was successful enough to make a living off of (Wee Honey Bee Childminding), one was as successful as you intended it to be (IntoBento), one scraped by but at least kept breaking even and gave you a lot of joy (TinyTalk), and the one that didn't work (Lori Borealis), you had the sense to drop early.  Ambitious! 

You trained as a breastfeeding peer helper with a national breastfeeding charity. You and your fellow peer helpers started your own local charity and did some really awesome things, including designing a campaign that the NHS of Greater Glasgow and Clyde still uses. You girls started a texting support service for breastfeeding mothers. You had annual general meetings, because you were a real non-profit. You got real speakers in to talk at your AGMs, because you were a real non-profit. You had a non-profit status bank account, because you were a real non-profit. Stop minimizing what you're doing. You and your friends were AMAZING and AMBITIOUS. Mummy brain? Not you ladies. So stop putting yourself down and thinking what you are doing is "nothing special".  Stop thinking you aren't really contributing much to society other than being a pretty good mum. I'd like to retroactively send all of you women a medal of honor. (Honour, rather.)

Um, also, don't forget you wrote and published a book?

Basically, what I'm saying is, stop putting yourself down and thinking you've "lost yourself" and you have "no ambition" and you "aren't smart".  You have always been ambitious in everything you've ever done.  Your priorities changed (and rightly so), but your drive didn't.

And I only JUST realized this very recently myself, so no fault to you for not seeing it whilst in the thick of it.

Lori (34 and still ambitious)


Dear Lori (31),

Your life is about to change in every way. I think you know this. I mean, obviously you know you are leaving your home in Scotland to go back to your home in Arkansas. That's going to change your life drastically. (And I should really go ahead and prep you for this - you won't be moving to Fayetteville when you get there. Scott's going to find a job in Little Rock in a matter of weeks, and you're going to live in Nowheresville for two years. I think it's best I just tell you this now.)  But things are about to change so much more.  Who you are, who you've always seen yourself as, is about to do a complete 180.  You sense this, but you aren't ready to accept it.

You're about to lose your faith.

It's going to destroy you.

I'm not gonna lie about that.

But I swear to you, it's only temporary. That darkness you feel right now is only temporary. I know there's nothing I can say to lighten the load you carry on your shoulders right now. I know there's nothing that can soften the blows you feel every time you pray and hear nothing from God.  I know those tears are going to fall and that they have to fall. Like a mother watching her child go through her first heart break, I feel powerless for you, knowing that things are going to get better but that you can't see that right now. I know this is something you have to go through to get to the other side, but it hurts me to see it and remember it for you.  So I guess all I can say is do everything you can to keep your faith alive. Pray with all your strength. Speak to anyone you trust about this. Write about it, talk about it, paint about it, run and exercise about it.  Because you need to know later that you did everything you could to hold onto that faith, and if God couldn't do the rest, well then, that's that.

The pain of silence and abandonment will pass, and when they do, you will find joy again. Joy unspeakable. Joy in the world as it is, not as it's written to be. You will find strength in yourself you never knew you had even though it was yours all along. You will find love and trust and freedom in ways you never believed could be found in a life without a god. 

But for now, there's no sense in telling you this, because there is no way you can believe it. So just keep doing what you're doing, because you're doing everything right.

I'm sorry you're going through this. Your whole life has been one as a caterpillar, and now you are being torn apart and squished and reshaped and it hurts so incredibly bad. But just wait.

Lori (34 and you would never believe what I call myself now...)


Dear Lori (32),

Don't be too bummed about the Scottish referendum.  In a couple of years, there will be this thing called "Brexit"...

Lori (34 with a Scotland tattoo)

No comments:

Post a Comment

Leave your comments here.