Stay Present: Advice From Future Me


presentOn outfit number twelve of tonight’s living room edition of “The Pink and Purple Fashion Show,” I pull the plug on production. “WHOA! Someone, PLEASE tell me all these outfits are getting hung back up correctly. I had better not go upstairs and find a mess.” I may as well have said, “Hi, I’m Mom, the wet blanket on your fiery imagination. No fun here. Please move along.” What’s wrong with enjoying the moment and appreciating this display of confidence and creativity? Who cares about the extra laundry? I mean, how many more years will I have of these twinklings? Not many. Future Me is cringing. Why can’t I just be Future Me now? She’s so patient. She pines for noise and chaos. She tells me I’ll miss this, and I know she’s right. These are our last two little girls, and their six older siblings have taught me nothing, if not the value of time. And yet, it is hard. I’m tired. I’m busy. I’m stressed. And I’m blowing it.

Most moms find themselves so buried in the trenches they rarely pop up to notice the sunshine. Our first four kids were born within six years; I honestly don’t remember most of it. I taught full-time, and somehow everyone survived but surviving is about all I did. I definitely didn’t thrive, and I definitely didn’t appreciate how fleeting time would prove to be. What I didn’t realize until now, when it’s ALMOST too late, is that Future Me should have driven the actions of Present Me. Future Me tells me there are only so many first words, first lost teeth, first days of school, first dates, first apartments. I should stop, be present, soak it all in, and appreciate it. Future Me reminds me that I didn’t seek parenthood to contribute to Earth’s population but to share life, love, and experience with a family. The whole process and journey of parenthood is the goal.

Like a teenager in rebellion, I had casually dismissed the sage advice of my predecessors as irrelevant cliches. Yah, yah, yah, time flies. I’ll miss these days. I get it. Whatever. Insert eye roll. I was too entrenched in the moment to see the forest through the trees. It was a buy now, pay later mentality, and somehow later seemed like it would never come. But here I am, sending our very last baby to kindergarten, and later is knocking on the door and peeking in the windows. I can’t fight it off any longer. I am struggling to juggle the guilt, regret, and heartbrokenness that accompanies the realization that an entire era is over and I missed so much. I am officially the kid who learned a little too late that those adults were right all along. I was physically there, but I was not present.

And so, on the eve of my last child’s first day of school, I am making a new school year’s resolution to listen to Future Me, to consider what she’d have me do now to save her the regret later. The stress of the mess is far less than the weight of repentance and heartache. In the coming weeks, if you see me standing at the corner, watching the bus doors close on a final chapter of my mom life, consider it a bittersweet reminder that your Future Me desperately wants to befriend you. She loves you, she has learned so much about your happiness, and she wants to save you from yourself. Listen to her. Now, excuse me as I go cry in a therapeutic, overpriced coffee. Future Me is buying.


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