An open letter to my pre-mom self

Photo via Getty/Choreograph

By: Mel Carrey

Dear mom-to-be,

I need you to know that emotions will run deep at different times, even if you think you’re the luckiest, happiest, most grateful mom on the planet. You’ll get hit with that one time you’re feeling good again, young and energetic and think, “maybe I should go out tonight, not a date night – girls night!”

But who do you call?

You realize it’s been 18 months and your friends don’t think to call you anymore to dance because, well, it’s not your lifestyle at this time. You realize he’s not pouncing you spontaneously anymore either because you’re usually too tired. 

You start to remember the good ol’ days, the younger days, the memories. When the tears start swelling mom-to-be here’s what you do: 

Get. Over. It. 

Shake your head and realize you’re crazy for ever wanting to turn back time. In five years, you’ll look back and think today was the “good ol’ days.” Sure, you can want it, but not all the time. It’s way more exhausting being 20 and fit than 30 and set. I have read letters to other pre-mom selves and have bawled my eyes out over and over again.

So I decided it was time to share my own perspective, drawing comparisons that can help us live in the moment when the times have us drifting off to those earlier days. Note: crediting my baby for who I am today has been the best coping mechanism for me.

Feelings

Pre-mom: Feeling like it’s the end of the world when you fight, breaking up with girlfriends, crying over drunken rants, gain five pounds. The struggle is real.

Mom-self: Loving someone this much hurts so much. Compassion is burning. My boyfriend is such a hot dad, and I think I’m actually starting to like my mom.

Vanity

Pre-mom: Spending endless, pointless hours in the drugstore, checking out the new department store brands for the latest lip gloss and mascara. 

Mom-self: I’m now surrounded by a little person who loves me and only me and a boyfriend that loves me for giving him the greatest love of all. If that love and messy buns isn’t true beauty, then I don’t what is. Although I do admit, I miss spending endless hours in Shoppers and just thinking about myself. 

Food

Pre-mom: Avocado? Ew.

Mom-self: What is organic and locally grown? Why did I not care about what goes in my body before? Thank you babies for making me wiser and healthier –we’re going to live long lives together.

Conversation

Pre-mom: Who you slept with, how to have sex like that, what to pre-drink, how I hate my job, how she ditched me at the bar, how we spent all weekend at his house watching movies without leaving the bed, worrying about what to order in.

Mom-self: It’s true, it’s all about poo. Also: dinner, playdates, what she said, what she did, what she ate, how we should do it but we probably won’t. Oh, and calling out our friends who don’t have kids yet. 

Exercise

Pre-mom: Dance floors, five nights a week.

Mom-self: At home prenatal and postnatal pilates and yoga DVDs. Sure, I’m allowed to join a class but I usually practice wherever my baby is sleeping because that gives me peace. I’m totally attempting to embark on the fit mom bandwagon for the 100th time during my “free time.”

Sleep

Pre-mom: Ritual

Mom-self: No sleeping in – but who cares? More time to watch my monkey grow. But…I may pass out today, so somebody please help!

What’s in the purse

Pre-mom: Gum, cash, mickey of vodka, smokes for social settings, lighter to help a friend in need, birth control.

Mom-self: Oh you mean the purse my sister bought me at Christmas for nice times and no kids stuff rule? Gum, crumbs, juice box, water, crackers, smushed fruit, wipes, hand sanitizer, broken crayons, receipts for doodling, hair elastics, McDonald’s toys. And, no more birth control.

Social life

Pre-mom: Booming. New friends every weekend!

Mom-self: I have a new best friend now. Although unplanned, I am super grateful to have had babies in my 20s. To each their own timing, every couple writes their own rules. We are unmarried and richer than ever with two babies to call our own. I’m blessed for the time and energy I have to spend on them. I’ll never forget my first blood test after I found out I was pregnant…I was crying. As the nurse took my blood she asked “Why are you crying?” Not wanting to reveal too much I just told her I’m anxious. She responded saying that I was lucky and she and her husband have been trying for years to get pregnant. I was forever grateful from that moment on and my former social life did not matter. 

Love

Pre-mom: I’m never settling down. But when I accidentally fell in love I had no idea it as going to hit me so hard. We partied good together. Endless events. This meant drinks, smokes, poor diets and awesome late nights coming home at the break of dawn.

Mom-self: And baby makes three. Move over hunny because there’s a little miracle sleeping between us now that I can’t stop staring at even when she’s asleep. Oh, but when you look at her that way I fall in love all over again. Only this is deeper, more profound, more nerve-wracking. I know you want to hold me tight, but you love her cuddles too.

Mental health

Pre-mom: All intact, aside from some school stressors, the odd flirt with a dangerous diet, but hey I got it under control.

Mom-self: I love my baby more than anything, but…I think I have anxiety. I was aware and read about postpartum depression, but I know I’m not depressed. It’s just because I haven’t been sleeping, I think. Then there’s all this negative news, too, it makes me so worried about my child being raised in this world. I think about how I need to make sure I’ll be here for her for the rest of our lives, but how long will that be? I’ll have to stay strong for her. So that’s what I’m doing to do. I shut out the negativity, talk to a few friends about my thoughts, laugh, maybe take up writing to help sort through things, and even talk to my doctor. These emotions are normal, I need to remind myself of that over and over again.

Dear pre-mom-self: 

When you hear the nurse say “you’re so blessed to be pregnant. My husband and I have been trying for years,” you’ll wipe your sorry tears and your view of life will change forever. You’re 23, and while you keep thinking that “young mom” wasn’t supposed to be you, it is, and you’re going to be fine.

Pre-mom self: You are young, determined, stubborn and fun. As an older sister to three girls and the daughter of divorced parents, you were not going to settle any time soon. Alone time was much needed.

You were a dream chaser. You moved to the big city to follow your dreams of becoming a big career woman with your name in the lights. Sure, the friends you left behind are settling, getting married and having kids, but not us. Twenty year olds in the city do not settle down that fast. 

You should see what you’ve become now. The route was a little longer but, man, you’re in a place you could never have imagined. Who is this mom-self we admire so much? 

You graduated, pre-mom self. You worked through college, made incredible things happen in this big damn city and you graduated. When you signed up for school did you have any idea you’d be carrying your 16-week old baby all wrapped up in your belly, across that graduation stage?

Did you ever think at 23, the love of your life, whom you met six months into school, would be in the audience cheering and clapping for you and your growing family?

Did you ever think that moving your ass to the big city to chase dreams would have you chasing toddlers in dirty diapers?

That you would be making your three annoying sisters all proud aunties while they’re still in their teens?

That you could still have the career you worked so hard to build, but just after you got your family settled?

I know you’re around, pre-mom self. Because we’re both still chasing dreams, loving life, growing a career and still stubborn as hell. Only now we’re doing it with a bit more back up, and our squad is growing now with baby no.2 on the way.

Did you ever think we would want to give birth again after what we went through?!

Well, pre-mom self, we’re stronger, wiser and more determined than ever. We’re still in the minority, making it all work in the big city as a young family. This gives us an edge that I know you dig. 

Finally, pre-mom self: thank you for fueling this journey. Mom-self is now comfortably in command.