We’ve come a long way, baby. You are about to embark on marriage and motherhood and adulting and all that. You think you are ready, but you aren’t. You’ll still find your way somehow through the grace of God and a series of people who love you so much. I would never change the choices you make in this year (1998-1999) but man – it’s going to be so much more difficult than you think.
Lesson 1) Being an excellent babysitter/nanny does not mean you’ll be an awesome mom. You’ll fail at all of it, but all moms do. That’s the real part I want you to hear. YOU WILL FAIL BECAUSE ALL MOMS FAIL. Right now you are especially sensitive to failure. You have not learned the amazing twists and turns life can bring about in the face of failure. Right now, you want to love and be loved. You want to hold your little baby in your arms and have her smile peacefully back at you. This time next year, she’ll be screaming in your ear instead but that kiddo will still be so exquisitely perfect despite her spicy disposition most of the time. Our inability to be all things to everyone at the very same time is actually normal! Her little face is what makes it all worthwhile – even still.
Lesson 2) The first year of marriage can be hell at times. Hold. On. We are about to figure out that dating means that we put only our very best selves forward and marriage means we don’t have to try so hard. WRONG. Marriage is knowing all of the nitty gritty and sticking it out together in spite of all that. Don’t give up. Celebrate the good. Endure the sad/bad/painful/scary together and above all with patience.
Lesson 3) Nothing but time, therapy and prayers will mend those relationships. You think that your marriage, socioeconomic or living situation, or a myriad of external status situations will bring about peace in painful corners of your heart. 39-year-old me wishes so much that it was true. So much would have been easier for us if we could have just worked harder to accomplish what we wanted emotionally. Unfortunately, trauma and depression do not resolve that way. I don’t have the answer yet but I just want you to know that it will get better.
Lesson 4) One day, your little ones will be 19 years old (and even older!) Try hard not to get hung up on the small trials of raising littles. Diapers and midnight feedings feel impossible without sleep but so does staying up all night wondering if they are safe. Working during the day and stopping short because you pray that they are making good choices in that moment. Once they are in the world – all that is left is the legacy that you taught them. They will have to choose the right path. Be clear. Be loving. Be consistent and above all else: ALWAYS LOVE NO MATTER WHAT.
Spoiler alert – I still don’t know what I am doing or what I want to be when I grow up. However, somewhere between you and me – I have made a few friends, raised some freaking amazing kiddos, stayed married (which is harder than you think!), and accomplished a lot academically and professionally. Where we are now is okay. Where you are now is also okay. Unconventional success is our super power. Stay the course. You will be okay. I’ll tell myself the same too and hopefully in another 19 years, we will have a clearer vision of our future. Or not. That could be okay too.
Riah Gonzalez is a book-loving, coffee drinking, color-coded planner keeper. She remains deeply committed to her passionate love affair with tacos. Riah lives in the PNW with her high school love and (sometimes) sweet kiddos and occasionally writes things for the internet.