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Dear mama who wishes she could go back to being a single twenty-something

By Liz Stitt

For the Deseret News

Published: Friday, Sept. 20 2013 12:00 p.m. MDT

Being a twenty-something career woman may not be the dream you had in mind for yourself. But your dream might be just as difficult, if not more so. Learn to love where you are, but still reach for your dream.

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Dear Future Mama Liz,

I'm pretty sure one day you'll need this. As you write this, you are thinking about how you're turning 28 this week. Not married yet. Thankfully, your mom didn't get married until she was 28, so you didn't need to worry about, "Man, when my mom was this age, she already had four kids …." No, she was just where you are. Except she was dating someone, but whatever, it fits.

What I want to say to you is: I hope you are loving being a mom.

First of all, you know that your single life was actually awesome. You had super awesome wonderful opportunities. So many friends. So many blessings. And you were happy. And you had fun.

But you also know that when you wrote this, things had been a little bit (lot-a-bit) hard at work. Long hours and really difficult projects to work on. Implementing feedback from high-profile people. So many revisions. So much to do, so much to catch up on, so many people to please. And you were trying to build a career after finishing an MBA.

Sometimes your single life was awesome … and hard.

Remember how your goal ever since you were little was to get a bachelor's degree, go on a mission, get a master's degree, get married to a super awesome guy and have kids? Well, as I write this to you, I might be close to achieving all of those. Maybe. Or maybe not. (And if it is the next life when you get married and have kids, I hope the Internet is eternal and you can read this blog!)

But you know that work and school and your singles ward and your many responsibilities were sometimes tough on you. There were a few days where you came home in tears or even cried while you were at work (thank you, waterproof mascara).

On those days, you just wished that you were living the part of your dream of being a mom. That you were with a bunch of hooligan kiddos at home. That you were living the life of the mommy bloggers! On those days, you yelled to the heavens (have you noticed I do that a lot?), "I will take 45 dirty diapers and burned toast and a child who cries the whole time we are shopping! I will take the kids who dropped all the eggs on the floor. I will even take the kids who say I'm mean. I will take the inadequacies. I will take the feelings of not being enough and I will take the feelings of thinking I am a horrible mother."

And whether or not you are temporarily working full-time because your husband is in school, or part-time to pay the bills, or (cross your fingers) not employed at all (except freelance work because you just really like to edit stuff to death!), you won't even mind being in the cross-fire of the stay-at-home vs. employed mom debate (because, really, there's no way to avoid it. Moms can be so mean to each other!).

But you know it's hard, future Mama Liz. Just last week you watched your nieces and nephew. Little terror nephew unwrapped the wrapping paper roll so many times you could scream (… and maybe you did). The kids squashed many of the pears you were going to can all over the pear box. They opened up the drainpipe access where there are spiders, even though you told them the spiders would kill them! And they did not stay in the garage while you put the car seats in your car and it was raining. They walked through the puddles, of course.

And last week, you watched a friend's kids. While the baby screamed, you tried to make sugar cookies and while the 3-year-old rolled out the dough, flour got everywhere! Once you finished a glorious nine cookies (that's as many as you could handle) you found out the baby was screaming because she had a major blow-out … all the way up her back. And while you tried to clean that up, the other sweetheart wanted to do watercolor painting, which was a feat to keep clean. And you wondered how moms could do that 24/7.

But when you watched the nieces and nephew, they also helped you can those pears so sweetly and were so proud of their work. They told you that they loved you. They asked for more stories at bedtime and cuddled up so close there was no breathing room. They let you sing to them and asked for you to come play again.

When you watched the other kiddos, you rocked that little baby with her bottle until she calmed down. And as you read books to the other sweetheart, she fell asleep on the couch.

Yes, dear future Mama Liz, you will need this someday. I bet someday you'll wish to take back everything stressful at work and a life where the kids you had to worry about were only loaned to you for 4-6 hours. Where you could actually get your laundry done in two loads every two weeks. Where you could go to work and come home and do what you wanted to do. And go to your activities and to your classes and live your life. Where you came home after a hard day at work and talked about your needs.

But future Mama Liz, it might have been fun, but what are you doing today?

When you wrote this, yes, work was stressful, but I'm pretty sure I know what you're doing right now, future Mama Liz. You have a passel of kids with six piano lessons, three soccer games, a ballet recital and track meet all in one week. Not to mention the book reports and the science fair projects they just told you about.

And the toddler just cut her hair and the Ensign magazine with the scissors you left out because you were sewing a Halloween costume (ruined hair and ruined fabric scissors! Not to mention you hadn't read the Ensign yet that month). And you are supposed to teach in Relief Society that week, but your kindergartener came home with a cold and dad is out of town on a business trip.

Well future Mama Liz, just remember that's what you dreamed of. It was never a nightmare, always a dream. You knew it would be hard, but you knew it would be awesome, too! Remember the little baby who screamed until you rocked her? That will be worth more to you — and to her — than anything else. The little nephew who drew with crayons on the linoleum? Well, that cleaned up, and then you watched him laugh so hard while you made silly faces. And laughed with him. And remember when the nieces hugged you so tight and asked if you could stay forever? Precious, that is what it is. And love. And innocence.

So take your life with an extra dose of courage today. It was great when you didn't have kids and it was hard when you didn't have kids. It is great that you do have kids and it is hard that you do have kids. But I think you might be just a little bit happier with those sticky handprints on the wall. And if you can't handle it, just call up a 28-year-old working gal and let her watch your kids for a bit. She just might need that this week.

Love,

Me

P.S. You should probably call your mom and tell her thanks for letting you live past your terrible twos.

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