Letter to My Past Self on Mother’s Day

A letter to myself, on my first Mother’s Day nineteen years ago:

Oh honey, the bags under your eyes – I want to tell you that’s temporary, because I love it when you smile. Unfortunately, those bags will never quite leave you. You’ll get a little extra sleep from time to time, like when the teething stops and they run themselves into an exhausted stupor by 7 pm. 

But then they’ll get a fever, and you’ll sit by their bedside all night, sponging their fitful little body with a cool cloth while you fight back those worried tears.

Or they’ll lose one of those teeth that gave them so much trouble to begin with. They won’t be able to sleep over the excitement of good ol’ Raton Perez visiting, and you’ll have to wait until they do so you can slip some pesos (and a handwritten note from Himself) under their pillow.

Over the years, you might get in a full night of sleep here and there, but they will have nightmares and a great deal of thirst and questions about where we go after we die. 

And then, just when they get to the stage of being Far Too Mature for Nightmares, they will do any number of things to keep you up at night without calling “MOMMMM!” even once.

So no, my dear one, you will never get rid of those eye bags, but I can give you the name of a great under-eye cream and a decent concealer that you should have started using in your twenties. 

I know you’re second-guessing yourself, even though it’s Mother’s Day, and you should be basking in the adoration. Those thoughts run on a news ticker through your mind: you’re doing a bad job, you’re making mistakes, you’re not enough for these helpless, tiny human beings. 

First of all, you’re doing a great job. Do you know how I know? That baby reaches his little arms for you whenever you walk into a room, and you never fail to wrap him up in yours. 

Secondly, of course, you’re making mistakes. You’re a human being, and you will make a lot of them. But I promise you this, you will learn so much from those mistakes. And that learning will make you a better mom.

Thirdly, you are more than enough for these babies. You are their mother, and you love them. You do your best with the tools you bring in daily. Sometimes that’s a superhuman amount of energy, sometimes it’s a drop in a nearly empty cup. It’s your best in that moment, and that’s enough.

Sometimes, you hide behind a door for a minute or two and cry into your hands with exhaustion. You say, “I can’t do any more. I just can’t.” And then, you get up, and you keep doing the thing you can’t do anymore. I’m sorry to tell you that those moments will pop up time and time again over the years. And you’ll keep standing up and you’ll keep doing those things out of duty, out of necessity, and out of love for these people who call you mom.

Today, right now, look down at that beautiful baby in your arms and understand that your life’s work has already begun. Starting today, your job is to teach him how to love, how to be loved, and ultimately, how to walk away from you. 

Nineteen years from now, on Mother’s Day, that child will wake up in another country and text you a big heart emoji and a photo of his own perfectly grilled cheese sandwich. And that’s when you’ll know, in spite of the mistakes and self-doubt, you absolutely aced this mom gig.


  • Leza Warkentin

    I have been living and teaching in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, since the turn of the century. I am a Canadian with a musician-Mexican husband and two Mexican-Canadian patas saladas who are growing up way too fast.

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