A Letter to the 19-year-old single mom, I once was
You are so young, so vulnerable, so naive and afraid. The girl that tells her family and friends that she’s not afraid and that she has it all under control, is the same girl that cries while holding a tiny, screaming miracle in her arms, quietly thinking she has no idea what she’s doing. There will be times you think that you have things figured out, but you’ll quickly be reminded that you don’t (that’s okay, motherhood isn’t meant to be understood, this is something you still won’t accept at the age of 31)!
I look at pictures of you now and see so many things, that I didn’t at the time. I see the way you fragilely hold your little girl, when you felt confident doing so. I see your eyes, bright with love, peace, and terror. I see the tiredness in them too, this is something you will miss at 31. You’ll miss your 12-year-old, being an infant. I see the most confident, self-conscious, young woman. When I see the pictures of you, so determined to succeed, I know you questioned if you would (you do, by the way)!
You will have moments where you feel like you can no longer go on, you will tell yourself that your child deserves more, deserves better, better than you. Those will be momentary; the thoughts will flood in like a shore line and disappear just the same. You will look for love in all the wrong places, only because you feel like what is happening is not “normal”. You’ll look for love in people, at the bottom of a bottle, you’ll search for it by swallowing pills. None of these will be the answer, you find this out much later in life. You’ll only truly feel love while searching your child’s eyes, at 3:00 a.m.! You’ll find love in the face of a little girl, shoving a cheeseburger in her mouth, while she has stickers covering her face. Eventually you’ll find a different type of love outside of this, but not till years later. When you find it you’ll know instantly, love will be in a familiar face. In the face of a man, that you’ve known since you were 12. More on this later.
I know you think it won’t, but you should know that everything will work-out for you. All the nights you cried alone while pacing the driveway with a colicky baby, all the fear, all of the times you questioned if you could do it, were worth it. This time in your life is meant to mold you, to transform you, it was meant to make you a woman and one hell of a mom. I know the fear, guilt, and uncertainty feel as though they will eat you alive. But there will come a day that you realize those things were normal, those feelings were nothing more than a young mommy who loved her child more than herself, those feelings meant you “got” this mom thing. The worry made you excel, it made you grow, it made you, you. It will teach you to demand, that you and your child, never accept anything less than you both deserve.
Your tiny screaming miracle is 12 now, with a mommy and daddy that love her more than she’ll ever know. She is magnificent, beautiful, helpful, strong, and has an old soul. She has strong morals, big dreams, a heart of gold, and she is a spitting image of her mother. You made that happen, you were part of making that tiny girl into an unbelievable, young lady. If I could be a tiny whisper into the ear of my 19-year-old self I’d say this “You and your daughters’ lives will become something more magical than you could dream up. I would tell you that the 13-year-old boy Brian you chased around the playground, will become your husband and father of your children. He will come into your lives and make everything better, he’s a wonderful man, and an exceptional father. The two of you will make quite the parenting team and you’ll never have to do it alone, again. He’s a real man and Ashlynn will be a full blown, daddy’s’ girl. Your life will be absolutely beautiful. Just hang on, kid”!
You and your girl will grow up together, but you won’t become the next set of “Gastineau Girls”. I know right now you feel like it will be you and her against the world forever, but at 28 you’ll welcome another little girl into your world and fall in love all over again. You probably don’t believe me, because you aren’t even sure that you’ll be able to raise the child you have, but I promise it’s true. And in 2018 you will welcome another child, baby number 3. I know this sounds bizarre to you and your young mind, but you end up being a wonderful momma, you are a wonderful momma, you just don’t know it yet.
At 31 you’ll still believe you are failing as a mom, this is a feeling that never goes away. You’ll never feel like your enough, you’ll never feel like you know what you are doing, this is motherhood. Your life will be full of doubt, of snotty noses, and early mornings, for many years. A little person will need something, you’ll never pee alone, and you’ll feel as though you are losing your mind, possibly every day. Cherish these moments, because one day they’ll be gone and you will yearn to have them back. Just keep going, your babies will only be babies for a short time, your children will grow into adults, and you will age a little more each day. I guess what I’m trying to say, is you will miss the moments, the ones that seem hard, now.
19 is young, you won’t always have the energy that you do at this age. Play a little longer, etch your newborns’ cry into your mind, and enjoy this time, it’ll be over before you know it. In what won’t seem like long, you’ll be 31, writing this letter to yourself, reminiscing on the days that are gone.
Your 31-year-old, self!