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Dear Melissa, Heads Up: Motherhood Will Rock Your World
by Melissa Fredericks
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May 9, 2019

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Dear Melissa, Heads Up: Motherhood Will Rock Your World

At 23, Melissa Fredericks had a 15-year life plan. Then, she got pregnant. This is what she would tell that scared girl now.

Courtesy of @mrskevonstage

At 23 years old, I felt older and more mature than my peers because I was married and believed I had a career I would retire from. Looking back, I realize how naive I was! I mean really…23?! Twenty-three is not old in terms of life development, but in all my 23 years of infinite wisdom (sarcasm), I felt like I had a good handle on my life and the trajectory of it. I would even argue that I felt secure in what I thought would be my life’s path…of course, not the particulars or details, but I was pretty sure I knew where I was going. Being the planner I am, I had MORE than a 5 year plan, I had the next 10-15 years all mapped out; I’d climb the corporate ladder and secure the bag…obviously! After all, I’m a college-educated, ambitious, career-driven woman, and I was ready to conquer the world one cute shoe at a time!

Then, suddenly and unexpectedly, my life flipped upside down. A pee test that yielded a plus sign rocked my entire world. I was pregnant! Once that realization set in, I was engulfed with a flood of emotions. I thought, “THIS ISN’T IN THE PLAN! I’M NOT READY!” My eyes began to well up with tears and words escaped me. I was going to be a mother, but I felt unprepared and inadequate. I questioned if I had the capacity to love and teach a human being to be a good citizen in this world. Quite frankly, I wondered if I’d be good at motherhood. I was scared…better yet, I was terrified. And that’s who I’m dedicating this letter to…the young and tender, 23-year-old Melissa who was terrified, battling feelings of inadequacy and who felt overwhelmingly unprepared.

Are you ready to hear the truth? Motherhood will rock your whole world!

Courtesy of @mrskevonstage

Dear Melissa,

Are you ready to hear the truth? Motherhood will rock your whole world! You’ll feel like you’re not ready…in fact, your fear is understandable and mostly healthy because you DON’T know what’s ahead. But, the beauty of this journey is you learn and adjust along the way, and eventually you find your groove. I won’t lie, most days you’ll still feel inadequate, and you’ll question why God thought it wise to grant you the responsibility to care for two whole human beings, but 12 years into this motherhood thing, you will finally trust that God knew what He was doing. Quiet as it’s kept, you would’ve never planned your pregnancy anyway. You would have analyzed yourself into paralysis, essentially robbing yourself the opportunity to experience love and growth in the most unadulterated form.

Your introduction into motherhood was your first huge lesson: babies run on their own schedule, and it’s unpredictable and spontaneous. Pre-kids, Melissa’s motto was “On time is late, and late is unacceptable.” You’ve made a habit of showing up 15 minutes early to ALL commitments. But when you take your child to his first doctor’s appointment, you’re 90 minutes late! A whole NINETY MINUTES! You will emphatically question, “Who am I? I’m never late and ninety minutes late! Unfathomable!” Completely frazzled, you’ll think you’re losing control of my life! *insert Jordan cry meme here*

You’ll think you’re losing control of my life!

Courtesy of @mrskevonstage

Well, Melissa, get used to it, girl! This will be your new normal. And, not that you’ll develop a habit of tardiness, but you will realize that promptness is easier when you don’t have a crying human-being who doesn’t care about your carefully executed plan to arrive 15 minutes early. Your son will want you to pick him up and not always because he’s hungry or because his diaper is wet; he simply doesn’t want you to put him down because: babies. And chile if you do, he’ll cry heaven down!

So, you’ll sit with your son in your arms, trying to hold back tears because you’re unsure of who you’ve become. You’ll hardly recognize this frazzled, emotional woman. You’ll try to will your son into doing what you want him to do, but it won’t work. So, you’ll sit and watch the minutes slowly dwindle until eventually you crack and you’re crying right along with him.

Girl, guess what. It’ll be ok. I know in this moment it’s hard to believe, but showing up a few minutes early, right on time, or 90 minutes late doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of life. I promise, it doesn’t.  Maybe you’ll be inconvenienced a little bit, and the doctor may be a little irritated because you’re so late, but life goes on!

Give yourself some grace because you’re going through a huge life transition and it’ll be worth it. Because surprisingly, you’ll make it and on the other side is a new Melissa…and you will like her, a LOT. She’s not better or worse, she’s just different. She’s had some life experiences that will have shaken and rocked her to the core. They’ve even made her a little unstable and unsure at times, but she’s more empathetic and understanding, and she’s learned to embrace those experiences because they’ve become part of her story. So, extend grace to yourself and others, be less judgmental, because this journey is not for the faint of heart. Embrace the process; it’s good for you.

Extend grace to yourself and others, be less judgmental, because this journey is not for the faint of heart.

Courtesy of @mrskevonstage

Motherhood will teach you that life comes at you fast! You’re young and barely making ends meet, so it’s going to be hard to truly enjoy your boys being toddlers, because you’ll be busy hustling to ensure they have diapers, wipes, formula, and childcare. I get it, the grind never stops. But listen to me carefully: SLOW DOWN and intentionally soak up and cherish all the snuggles and kisses while you can! Consciously imprint precious moments in your memory so they are cemented forever. The sound of their laughter will always be your favorite sound, but remember the moments that made them laugh.

That’s the stuff life is made of. Because all too soon, you’ll look up and your boys will be 10 & 12! You’ll have no idea where the time went, because now snuggles are reluctant, and mommy’s magical kisses have lost their power. It will all be replaced with soccer tournaments, Sky Zone, and Fortnite. (Pro-tip: create a video app game and invest in Amazon or Apple…you’re welcome!)

Motherhood will be a chance to advance your family’s legacy. You’ll remember the phrases your father used to say, like “I can’t have nothing!” in reference to you and your sisters always wanting some of whatever he had. You’ll smile internally when you catch yourself saying those exact words to your boys, but your heart will warm immensely when you hear your boys repeating those SAME words with the SAME inflection to their little cousin.

Motherhood will teach you that life comes at you fast.

Courtesy of @mrskevonstage

Motherhood will afford you the opportunity to honor traditions you grew up with like, loving your mother’s famous holiday dessert, Cherry Yum Yum, and recalling the excitement of waking up on December 26th and asking for Cherry Yum Yum for breakfast knowing good and well on any other day, she’d say no. But, it was the holidays so she granted you this small joy. And now, you’ll offer the same joy to your boys, because dessert for breakfast is the best…especially during Christmas break.

Legacy is also creating traditions, like offering your kids experiences and trips of a lifetime instead of buying toys and buying corny matching pajamas and socks for the whole family. The experiences you’ll provide will cultivate memories your kids will have forever, and you’ll hope your boys will want to continue the tradition you established and pass it down to their kids.

Motherhood will also be all-consuming (along with wifedom). It’ll be about 12 years before you realize you’ve neglected the 23-year-old Melissa who was present before the positive sign on a pee-stick. That Melissa was ambitious, strong, and opinionated. Through the ebbs and flows of life, she was forced to take a back seat and play a supporting role in her own self-titled film.

Motherhood will also be all-consuming (along with wifedom).

Courtesy of @mrskevonstage

If you haven’t figured it out by now, your life will turn out completely different than you ever imagined. You’ll find yourself on an international tour, passively going through the motions and not speaking up for yourself when you feel you’ve been wronged. And, at that moment, you’ll remember a younger, more fearless Melissa who would have absolutely spoken up. You’ll weep for her and search all over for her. When you find her, she’ll be crouched in her own space, hidden, a little beatdown, and completely mute from years of neglect.

After some self reflection and very honest moments with yourself, you will take inventory of your life and you will realize that 23-year-old Melissa needs to come back! Now listen, I don’t want to paint this epiphany as if things automatically turn out all peaches and cream; it’ll be a journey and a process…one I am/you are still on today, but eventually you’ll nurse her back to health.

Thankfully, after 12 years, you’ll be better equipped to juggle wifedom, motherhood, and your own needs. In your younger years, you’ll believe you need to strike a balance between these three competing priorities, and in searching for balance and not finding it, you’ll suffer from guilt and thus put your own needs on the backburner. Word of advice: DON’T DO IT! Don’t succumb to the myth of balance. It doesn’t exist. Life is about learning and adjusting.  

Don’t succumb to the myth of balance. It doesn’t exist. Life is about learning and adjusting.

Sometimes you’ll over-correct and veer too far off into one area, but listen to me, that’s ok! Once you realize it, just adjust. As long as you’re growing and adjusting, and remembering to extend grace to yourself, you’ll be ok. Grace and patience are especially important. You won’t always get it right, but you’re in pursuit and the journey is more important than the destination.

As I’m writing this, I realize how far you’ve come. Life has taught you a lot and honestly, it’s been the best teacher. There are no books or classes that will adequately prepare you for motherhood, and in reality even having one child won’t prepare you for the 2nd. But, you’ll find your rhythm. There are things you’ll continue to work on as a mother, as a wife, and as a woman, for years to come. So, no girl, you STILL don’t have it all together, BUT, you’ve learned to enjoy the process.

Life has taught you a lot and honestly, it’s been the best teacher.

All in all, motherhood has been your greatest gift. And when you look back on that day remembering the fear and the warm tears that ran down your face while staring at a plus sign, you will be sad and filled with regret. You’ll wish you could do it all again and cry tears of joy instead, because hindsight has taught you that God ordered your steps and motherhood has been a gift. Maybe in the future, someone will invent time travel, and you’ll be able to do it all again, but today, it’s a moment in your story and it has shaped your experience as a mother.

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