You know how people often consider what advice they would give their past selves? Like what you would say to yourself to warn them about the future events coming. Or things like.. “Don’t take yourself so seriously” or “don’t worry, you will get over him and find the love of your life.”
Today I was thinking of what kind of advice I would have given my future self. What advice would I have offered to myself 8 years down the road while I stood there in my wedding dress about to marry the man of my dreams? Or when I was making the decision of what career and school to choose. What would i have wanted myself to not forget or to hold on to? First thought is, I would have advised myself to not loan any clothes to my roommates… (just kidding ladies you were amazing). What would I have actually said?
I think back to when I was 22 years old and about to marry the man of my dreams whom I had been dating for 5 years, 3 months and 2 days. I probably would have said:
“Dear 30 Year old Jessica,
The wait better have been worth it! Ha! I know it is. He is a great boy. I mean MAN! I just want to make sure you remember a few things that are important to me. I want to make sure you remember to always have fun. I keep looking and seeing all these married grown ups in my life who do not seem to be having fun with their spouse. It is all about girls nights and bills and mortgages and family holidays. You are finally getting to be married to the man of your dreams. Don’t forget to have fun with him.
I also hear children are distracting and apparently sleep deprivation can cause you to go crazy. In the midst of all the changes life brings please still have adventures with the man you chose to spend the rest of your life with. I am so excited to wake up next to him. Do not take that for granted or I will punch you in the face. Don’t make him sleep on the couch because you are angry. Work it out and then cuddle up in that bed you have been dreaming about sharing with him. Also, Do not become a grumpy old lady! That is all. I am off to start a crazy adventure with the man I have been waiting for.
Love, 22 Year old Jessica.”
As I stand here at the cusp of another life changing adventure that I know nothing about, I am find myself feeling giddy and scared all at the same time. I often think about how one day I will look back at the “Pre Adoption Mama” and think. “Oh you silly girl. why did you even worry about that?” Or “oh you naive Lady, you did not give this any thought, did you? ” I was just talking with an adoptive Mom of 5 children and I was sharing my heart and what I was going through. I went to a dinner with 15 other moms who have already gone through the adoption process or are currently going through it. I sat down at that long table just taking in all the conversations around me. So many crazy stories of God’s faithfulness and real life miracles. So much love. So much compassion. So much Grace. I really felt like a little grade 3 student who had stumbled into a High school math class. What is going on? So many questions and I don’t even know where to start.
So, as I stand here at the beginning of a new adventure, what advice do I want to give my future self? This took me a while to think about. What is important to me now? What don’t I want myself to forget?
“Dear Future mother of 4 Miracles,
I stand here as a mother of 2 longing to be a mother of 4. You are so blessed. This is something you have been longing and waiting for and now you are standing in your miracle. Before I forget what it is like to not know very much about adoption I want to remind you of a few things I never want you to forget.
Although, you know who your children are now, and you can see their faces and cuddle and kiss them, there was once a time where you did not. You longed for and prayed and cried over just the thought of your children. You would lay in bed and imagine what their faces would look like and what their personality would be like. Your favorite thing to imagine was the feeling you would feel the moment you first laid eyes on them. There was once a time when you had no idea who they were. Remember this when you are frustrated and at a loss of what to do with their bad behaviors or their low grades at school or when they leave the toilet seat up or forget to close the back door and the neighborhood racoon family wanders in. (I feel like that will happen to me)
I also want to talk to you about letting go of your need to be the “hero” and the “mentor” in all your children’s lives. You are their mother and that is a huge important role but that does not mean that you need to be doing this all alone. Keep investing in that village you have surrounding you and, for heaven’s sake, let them help! Let them clean your house, or take the kids to the park. Let them invest their time into your children as well. They have been praying alongside you when all your children were just a dream waiting to come true. Allow your family and friends to rejoice in the miracle that is your 4 children.
I know your husband didn’t do a lot of the paper work and it was like pulling teeth trying to get him to remember to get his part of the work done, but he loves those kids too. He prays for them. He longs for them. He sits with you at night and hypothetically comes ups with ideas of how you will manage camping with 4 children. He looks over 7 seater vehicle brochures to see which one will best suit your growing family. He has invested in a bigger home for your growing family. It may seem like you are the one doing all the work but he is providing a home and a life where your dreams are coming true. Yes, you are home with those kiddos and they are driving your crazy. But let me remind you. You wanted this. He listened.
Have fun! Have fun with your family and your husband. Do not spend all your time disciplining and worrying about raising your children “correctly”. Ditch the mommy guilt and go dance in the grocery aisle to try and embarrass your 4 children! Do it!! oh I wish I could do that right now. Go for a family bike ride and get ice cream for dinner. Just have fun. You are living the life, no matter how messy, that you have been praying for since you knew you wanted to be a mother. Enjoy it.
The number one thing I want you to always remember is “Don’t stop praying”. Right now I am living by prayers and prayers alone. (ok and some food and water too). Raising money and waiting for doors to open has been trying both physically and spiritually but God has never let us down. He has always provided. Your prayers may look more practical and less miraculous, but keep them coming. Spend time with the God who has listened and answered so many of your prayers with miracle after miracle. Pray for your children to have mentors and people to walk alongside them when you can not be there. Continue to pray for their developing friendships and their future spouses. Pray for their own miracles to happen in their lives. Pray for their own personal relationships with God. Just do not stop praying because the God who got you where you are has always been faithful.
I am super excited to see the series of miracles that makes Me turn into You.
Naive Mother of 2 little miracles and two more I have yet to cuddle.”
I am not sure how the future mother of 4 is going to respond to my weird letter. But I know one thing, just like i feel about myself at age 22 premarriage, I will not even be able to count the miracles and blessings that happened along the way.