Dear Future Self

The children have grown up, and for all the worry and fear that you felt when they were small, they’ve turned out far better than you even hoped. In fact, you might now worry that perhaps, when they were young, you worried too much. Perhaps the years slipped by too quickly in an avalanche of to-do lists and laundry piles. You may even fear that the time went by so fast you weren’t able to enjoy the children as much as you think you should have. After all, time was not something you had a lot of. Working, cleaning, cooking and driving around took up an awful lot of it, and what little you had left you tried to give yourself some respite- a night out with friends, a weekend away, an afternoon walk somewhere quiet, away from the sound of cartoons, whining episodes, temper tantrums and repetitious requests. You may feel, looking back, that those moments were selfish. You could have played with them more, you could have put off your own needs a bit longer, taken out the board games and scented markers, sat down on the floor and spent time with those little beings while they were small enough to want you and only you.

But I’m here to tell you, future self, that there is no need to worry over what could have been, or should have been. You were given the herculean task of bringing the children up in a house with only one grown up. No “Survivor” episode can come close to measuring the challenge you faced as a single parent. Along the way, although you may not remember it now, there were countless moments when you connected with them, laughed with them, shared time with them even in the midst of all that you had to do and manage. Think about it. The nights you cleaned up dinner and they talked to you from their perch on the kitchen bar stool, or the laundry they “helped” you fold by rolling around in the pile on the floor, or the songs you sang together in the car on the way to the grocery store. Those moments matter. Though you may not remember it now, for all the times that you felt you were distracted and not paying attention, there were dozens more where your very being filled up an entire galaxy of need from the perspective of your child. That small hand slipped into your waiting palm while crossing the street, adoring eyes looking up at you to explain a very-important-observation, and the chatter over mealtimes made up a whole world of connection, belonging and safety that you were one hundred percent responsible for. Dear future self, believe that you were amazing, just what your children needed and the very reason they turned out the way they did. Take some credit.