The other week I stumbled upon a writing prompt I had written in my journal with the intention of responding to it later. It was a series of prompts to write a letter to your self that I had found while blog hopping (sorry to say I could not find the original reference- but when I Googled it there were many renditions of the letter to Self). One of them was to write to yourself 10 years ago. I thought I would give it a try.
After just writing a few sentences I was struck by how powerful this exercise was for me. My intuitive parent stepped right in and began to respond with such empathy I was brought to tears. Parenting is tough, we all know that. But sometimes we can be our own worst critic, ruminating over how we should have done things differently or comparing ourselves to other parents who don’t seem to be having such a hard time.
For me 10 years ago was a very significant point in time as a parent because it was really so near the beginning of parenthood for me (my eldest son would have been 1 1/2 years old). Allowing myself to speak to my “new” parent self now, after 10 years, also brought to light how very important it is to continue to show the same empathy for one’s self even later on in one’s parenting career.
Perhaps this is something each and every parent can give themselves as a gift for the new year. We often talk about empathy for our children when they are going through tough times, but how about extending that empathic understanding to ourselves?
Here are some excerpts from my letter to my younger parent self. The advice I give myself is relevant at any point in my parenting, even to this day when my children are (almost) 8 and 11 1/2 years old.
You are a great mommy who loves your little baby boy deeply. I know it is hard to be away from him and you feel stressed because you wish that you could give him more of your time.
You worry. Don’t let your worry take over who you are and get in the way . . . You will have another child. You will learn more . You will make mistakes that you regret, but you must let go of that regret, you must pay it no mind for it will eat away at you and fuel your worry, your self doubt.
Know that you are a wonderful parent, a fantastic parent. You are human , yes, you make mistakes, yes, but you can and will learn from them.
You are the best mom your son has, he needs you, he needs you to believe in yourself. For when you believe in yourself as a mother, as a parent, your son will learn to believe in himself.
Don’t worry that one year has passed. There is still time, there is always time. You are a great parent, know that, feel that, believe that, and you will see how much easier things will be, your life will be easier, your parenting will be easier.
Let go of the past.
Walk boldly, with confidence, into the future!
Love your Wise Parent Self.
No matter what stage of parenting you are at, whether it is 2 months in, or 2 years, 12 years or twenty years into parenting, it’s never too late to show your self some gentle understanding and acknowledgment for all of your hard work as a parent. Sometimes all it takes is a little perspective of time to realize the beauty of what we have done as parents. I invite you to write a letter to your younger parent self. For showing compassion to yourself is the first step in letting go of past “mistakes” and moving towards the intuitive parenting that we all have inside.