Dear Me, Fifteen Years Ago:

Hey, you.  Yes, you.  The harried-looking pregnant mother with worry lines deep between her eyes.  I know you have a lot going on, what with one kid on the autism spectrum, another one in his last year of preschool, and a third on the way, but I just wanted to drop you a line or two and I hope you can find a second to read it.  Maybe on the toilet?  You’re usually alone there.  Well, not usually, but sometimes.

Anyway, I just wanted to tell you to relax a little.  I know, I know: it’s hard and you’re crazy and you’ve got a lot to worry about.  And it’s not that things are going to get much easier in the near future.  They’re not.  You’ve got some tough years ahead of you.  But still.  You know all the stuff that’s terrifying you?  Things are going to work out much better than you thought.

That oldest kid of yours–yeah, he’s got a lot to deal with.  But stop a second and look at those beautiful clear blue-gray eyes.  Think about how sweet he is.  You’re going to go on to have another kid after this baby is born–four in all–and that oldest child of yours is going to set the tone for the entire family.  Your kids are going to be kind to each other and to other people and to YOU.  All because that’s how he is, naturally. And you know how you’re so worried he might never go to college?  Relax.  He’s going to go to college.  Stop worrying so much about him and start telling him how great he is and how much you love him.  I promise you that’ll do him more good than all that anxiety.

Now let’s talk about the four-year-old.  He’s really small, right? You’re wondering why he’s so tiny and seems so tired all the time.  In about half a year, you’re going to find out he has something called Celiac Disease and you’re going to change his diet to eliminate all gluten.  And he’ll gain energy and grow.  And he’ll end up right around the average height for an American man, so you can stop worrying that he’ll always be a head shorter than all his peers.

He’s pretty shy right now, isn’t he?  When you take your boys to birthday parties, they cling to you and don’t want to interact with the other kids, and you keep thinking, “What’s wrong with me?  What’s wrong with them?  Why aren’t they running around with the other kids?”  Well, the time will come when they’ll be going out so much at night with friends that you’re actually going to wish they’d stay home more.  They’re not destined to sit alone in a small room for the rest of their lives–I know you worry about that, so don’t pretend you don’t.

Want some advice?  Stop lying awake at night worrying.  Instead, get a decent night’s sleep so you can get up in the morning feeling like it’s going to be a good day and pay those boys lots of attention.  Find out what they’re interested in and ask them questions about it.  Let them feel proud of who they are–don’t treat them like they’re something you need to fix (you don’t mean to do that, I know, but still, sometimes you do).  You don’t need to fix them.  You just need to love them.  And I promise you–I promise you because I’ve lived it–that there will come a day when you’ll look at these two boys, all grown into young men, strong and kind and talented, when you’ll feel like your heart could burst with pride because they’re exactly who they should be.

Stop worrying.  Just love them.

Oh, and that baby inside of you right now is going to be a girl.  Get ready for the ride of your life.

With warmest wishes,

Older Me



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13 responses to “Dear Me, Fifteen Years Ago:

  1. Katherine

    My husband and I are driving to Virginia right now. He wants me to read this out loud to him, I tried but started to cry. He’ll have to read it later. I hear you, loud and clear.

  2. I teared up too! Reminded me of Julian of Norwich, “All will be well, and all will be well, and all manner of thing will be well.”

  3. Claire

    What a beautiful quote, Diane! I’ve never heard that before–what’s it from? Thank you, Katherine. I know you hear me–we hear each other.

  4. I love this Claire. You’ve always been the hardest working mom I know. Your children are wonderful because of you.

  5. Anonymous

    I am crying, this is so beautiful, Claire.

  6. Kelli

    If only we could get letters like that in real life… we spend so much of the kids lives worrying about them we sometimes forget to enjoy them while they are young. Thank you again for putting it into words.

  7. Lovely, poignant.

  8. Claire — beautiful writers like you are really beautiful thinkers. This is so moving, so thoughtful, so true. I love your blog.

  9. Claire

    Thank you all for such nice comments! (I miss you, Beth!)

  10. Deb Z.

    This made me smile from ear to ear and hits the proverbial nail right on the head. Not unlike the advise we give our children, would we have believed this until we discovered it for ourselves?

  11. I know you don’t even know me, but I stumbled across your blog and love this. I feel like it’s a good letter of advice to future moms too (like me, hopefully, someday!). Thanks for sharing with the world!

  12. Claire

    Thanks, Olivia!

  13. Could we get a letter from You-Fifteen-Years-From-Now?

    Because this letter implies you are sleeping soundly these days and have no more worries.

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