Dear 30-year-old Jill, Love 60 something Jill

First and foremost Happy Mother's Day to all of you!! Whether you're a momma now, you're expecting, you're a momma trying your heart out to become a momma or anything I have missed... ALL of you deserve a Happy Mother's Day! Mom's are so awesome. Seriously, I always say this, but they are real-life super-heroes. We don't get days off, we don't get nights off, we don't get any time off we are mom's 24-7 and it's not always an easy thing. In fact, it's always hard. I have little ones now, but I feel like it will continue to always be hard, just in different ways and have different worries.

With that being said, even though it's the hardest thing to do by far in life, to raise humans, it brings more joy to my heart than I ever even knew was possible. So those hardships are 100% worth every second of it. There's tears, so much laughter, worries, messes, exhaustion, more laughter, more tears, more exhaustion. Everyday all day. But when I look at my children I still look at them in a way that I think, I can't believe you came from me? I can't believe you were gifted to me and I was the chosen mommy for you. I will be forever grateful to God. Being a Mom for me personally has been the best thing to have ever happened to me. My kids have changed me in so many ways, but the change it's brought to my heart (filling it with pure joy) is something I get to experience every day. And that I'm forever grateful.

I'm lucky to have one awesome momma myself. She was a very hard worker, who got her Doctorate in Education when we were young. She was always a very hard working career women and mommy. Which is always tough to find the balance between the two.  She is one of the most creative people I know, funny, incredibly intelligent, fun, and one amazing Nani. The one thing I also can say about my mom is she has always supported me in my own career or life decisions. She has never made me feel like I need to be doing something I never felt passionate about. Or try to lead me down a path that she wants me to go down. She has always let me be my own person. And I mean she's done it all...to being in a popular band back in the day (I still wish there was footage of this), to being in charge of 4 very successful high schools out in the Chicago suburbs. Any education questions, shes the person to ask. She has taught many leadership classes to teachers getting their masters and consulted for school districts all over the country. But she is also one of the silliest Nani's around. We love her and are all very thankful to have her in our own life.

So I asked my own mom if she could write a letter to her 30-something self from her perspective now in her 60's, what would she say? I feel like as moms with young children, we get told all the time, "It goes so fast! Don't blink!" And believe me, I do feel this way, but someday's its hard when you are living in the moment with young toddlers (and one on the way), to stop, take a moment and let it all soak in. And not wish for the days ahead to come sooner. It's craziness from the moment we wake up till the moment they go to bed. And it's only going to get crazier around here very soon! I don't want to take this time for granted in any way shape or form, but we all know it's hard to do sometimes. But with each birthday that comes up or the second, I look back at pictures even from a few months ago, I get teary-eyed. I can't believe how fast it really does go!! It's always a good reminder to not wish for anything to go faster, this is the time we will always wish we had back. So this is the letter my mom sat down and wrote to herself. This is also just a glimpse of how awesome my momma really is.

Dear Thirty-Year-Old Jill:

I hope you don’t mind me taking a few minutes to share some thoughts from my current perspective as a “mature” (trying to be) woman. These things might fall into the category of “If only I had known!” thoughts. 

1. Slow down and breathe. You turned thirty and created a list of things you wanted to accomplish. A month after your 30th birthday you were pregnant and enrolled in grad school. I don’t believe you took a deep breath for a couple of decades. It is easy to be so focused on the next thing that you miss the joy and contentment of the current moment. So thirty-year-old-self…. just stop and look around and make sure to belly laugh daily.

2. Don’t worry about the size of your butt. I know you worried a lot about how you looked. Oh to have that skin or those thighs now! What I would tell you to focus on is nutrition, sleeping well, and making time for exercise every day (or so).  And find some way to turn down the stress-o-meter.  (Refer to number 1.) You might want to scale back on the sun a bit, too.  At 30 you take health for granted. Give your future self a gift!

3. You and yours’ are not the center of the universe. You always cared about social justice, faith, and of course, education. However, it is so easy at thirty to see the world from a very limited prism of mine, ours, me, etc. Make sure that a key part of your life is contributing to the welfare of others and knowing that there is something more important than money, success, your house, etc. Actually, Miss Thirty, I think you did ok in this area.

4. Make time for old friends and cultivate new friends. For many years you worked very hard and came home and took care of your kids. You did not tend to the garden of friendships well. Thank God for social media so that at 63 we can reconnect with neglected friends.  However, you will need those friends to navigate the hard times and to share the joyful times. Also, your little people are watching. 

5. Your kids are their own people. I remember at 30 and 31 when I hatched my beautiful daughters, that I was perplexed that they were completely different.  “Blank slate” is a myth. Yes, we have great influence on our little people an enormous responsibility, but they will make independent decisions, choose their own path and often surprise you.  Miss Thirty, don’t be afraid to set hard limits and boundaries. Don’t shy away from establishing clear responsibilities for chores and allowing natural consequences. You did so well on the unconditional love and nurturing part.  The balance is difficult. And by the way…you will always feel like they are your little girls. 

6. Get to know Jesus. Faith has always been a key part of you, but during the decade of your thirties, you were busy and Jesus took a back seat. I wonder how things would have been different if He had been a priority. You believed, you worshiped, but you thought you had to rely on yourself. I'm grateful that He waited for you to come around. 

So, Thirty-Year-Old-Self, these are the first things that come to mind. There are others (fewer shoes, more vacations, etc.) but this is a good start. Forgive my attempts at wisdom. And by the way....every decade gets better!

Happy Mothers' Day,

Sixty-Something-Jill

I still remember this skirt. I loved it. Pretty sure that was from The Limited Too. The coolest store around back in the day. I'm in the middle, with the giant glasses.

 I actually think this picture was taken on Mother's Day years ago. This is my grandpa, Marlow standing next to me. I loved him dearly and think about him always. He was one of the kindest people I have ever known. He would sit out in the yard for hours with me letting me pitch a softball to him. Until my grandma would make him, "rest." haha. He would also let me braid his few strands of hair every time I was around him. And I even think there may have been some beads that I put on those braids a few times. I loved him and would give anything to have a 5-minute conversation with him now!

 I love this picture because it captures the pure joy a Grandma has with her grandchildren and the kids with their grandparents as well. My kids love their Nanni.

AshleyGeorgeORIGINALS_20180209_9V6B3854-1024x676.jpg

Happy Mother's Day to all of you rockstar mommas out there! All of you are rock stars and remember to slow down a take it all in!

XOX,

Ashley