I am so excited about this giveaway from Nechamie Margolis, a memoir writer from Writing the Soul! I love to write but I do realize that not everyone has the talent or even the time to get their thoughts or stories down on paper. That is where Nechamie comes in - she interviews you over the phone, you tell her your story and she does her magic and puts your words down onto paper. It really is magic!
I spoke to Nechamie on the phone a few days ago and I immediately started talking about my girls and why I decided to quit my corporate job and become a health coach. We chatted for about an hour and at the end of our conversation, she said, "I got it! Let me write an open letter to your daughters." I said, "Yes! I love it!" It was as simple as that. A few days later, Necamie sends me her first draft and I was in tears. I LOVE it and I am so very excited to share it with you today, Mother's Day weekend.
An Open Letter to My Daughters
You are small now, Madilyn and Juliana. But one day, I’ll turn around and you’ll be all grown up, ready to forge a life for yourself. There are lots of things I’d like to tell you. Enough to fill a book, I’d say. But I’ll start with a letter, a few snippets of some life lessons I’ve learned along the way.
A few of the things I’d love for you to value.
A step down can be a step up
I remember the moment it happened. I stood in the airport in Detroit, a storm raging outside, mirroring the growing storm inside me. After traveling all weekend for work, I was stuck inside the airport, unable to get home, where your father waited. What was the point? I wondered. I worked in the corporate world, traveling every week to different companies, training them in new computer systems. Mostly stressful environments that didn’t welcome the change our company brought. The burn out rate was high and quick. True, I was making good money, but I was never home, always pressured to move up the corporate ladder.
At what price tag was this lifestyle worth it? I didn’t have a good answer to that. It was the turning point in my decision to find something else.
That something else turned out to be a health coach. The epiphany came as I listened to a webinar on health the company offered. That’s it! I’d gone into the corporate world hoping to help people, but it hadn’t turned out as glamorous as it seemed. Your dad supported me fully in my change of direction.
Find a job you love
One weekend each month, for ten months, I traveled to New York to study nutrition and earn my health coach certificate. It was fun--that’s how I knew I’d found the right thing. Here’s my lesson to pass on--finding a job that brings joy to your life, can change that life.
My program trained us to offer six month coaching classes, but I tweaked the program to work with busy moms with a lower budget, offering meal plans, grocery store tours and phone consultations. Best of all, after both of you were born, I could work from home.
After working with a lot of clients, I came to realize that it wasn’t just food causing their issues. It was the whole lifestyle, many of them struggling with postpartum depression, giving up healthy eating and exercise when they became new moms.
It brought a new focus to my business and blog--focusing on new moms, teaching them what I learned raising you; How to balance everything from cooking healthy meals and raising kids without losing themselves in the process.
Madilyn and Juliana, it’s so easy to try and claw your way back to your old self after you become a mom. You want to fit into those old jeans, fit back into your previous life. But give yourself permission to be a new person, trying to find health and happiness in your new role.
Be open to life’s twists and turns
Growing up, I never imagined myself as a mother. I didn’t grow up around a lot of children, and I wasn’t a baby person. But your dad and I were married for a few years already and we realized that if we were going to have kids, it should be now. Let’s bring on the challenge, I thought. Shortly after I quit my job, I got pregnant with you, Madilyn. We were over the moon with joy. But still, it was the biggest shock of my life. Sure, I was warned. People say your life will never be the same. So life will change., I thought. I can handle some change. I wasn’t prepared for the reality of what that meant. I’d babysat my cousin’s baby for a bit, laughingly calling her my “practice baby.” I learned how to change diapers, but it was a joke of a preparation.
My biggest role models were my mom and aunts, and they’d been parents for years by the time I came along. I put pressure on myself to be the best. Postpartum depression made that pretty difficult, with my biggest accomplishment some days getting through a few hours without crying.
I struggled. I grew. And crazy enough to do it again. I was blessed with you, Juliana, almost three years later.
Life didn’t quite work out how I planned, having two children when I wasn’t sure I would ever be a mom, giving up the corporate job I’d worked so hard for and finding the greatest joy in a different path.
Be open to life’s surprises, my daughters. Never say never.
Make your spouse a priority
Your dad and I met in college. I’d already decided it was break time from a boyfriend. I’d had a steady boyfriend all through high school and then another boyfriend as I entered college. I wanted to study and travel with my friends and not worry about a relationship. I hadn’t counted on your father entering my life and fighting for us to be together.
He saw me first. I was studying with a friend in a little room we called the “ski lodge”. I sat in front of the fireplace, head in my books and he made a note to self. I want to meet that girl. When we met at a fraternity party some time later, his way of saying hi was to elbow me in the face. That didn’t impress me very much, but we hung around and he walked me home.
“I’ll call you,” he said as he dropped me off.
“Oh, you’ll never call,” I said. “Guys say that all the time and never do.”
He took it as a challenge--years later he admitted that he wanted to prove me wrong.
He called the next day.
And almost every day after that.
We dated forever.
We got married.
You girls were the best thing that ever happened to us, but it sure strained our marriage. Date night is what ironed out those rough edges. You girls always ask us, “Why do you always have to go on dates?”
But one day you’ll see. It’s the glue that keeps our family healthy and happy. It helps make all the craziness of raising a family worth it.
So my advice to you is, make your spouse a priority. It’s hard in those early days of sleepless nights, hard to pull yourself from under that mound of dirty diapers, but it’s a must. And take advantage of the grandparents! We’re so blessed to have two sets of grandparents willing to babysit while your dad and I go out of town or simply out for sushi. One day we hope to return the favor and babysit your kids.
Everyone is a teacher
Everyone in life is a teacher. Even you. When you were two and half, Madilyn, you didn’t nap well, running out of the room when you should be sleeping and then falling apart from exhaustion. I couldn’t get a thing done. The frustration rose inside of me and I’d just had it. There was this moment that I realized I could just walk out of there and not have to deal with all of this. I yelled at you. I put you in your room and gave you a time out.
Then in the quiet that followed, I heard you sobbing behind the door and I realized; I’m your example. I’m teaching you how to learn and act. If you see me losing my cool, what will that teach you? Only to be defiant and lose it as well.
But the biggest lesson was when you came out of that room and wrapped your arms around me. “I love you Mom,” you said. You taught me about forgiveness, about moving on. That’s when I realized that everyone around us, especially our children, can teach us the biggest lessons.
“We’re learning it together,” I tell both of you. “I’m still learning how to be a mom.”
I make sure to add, “I don’t have all the answers, but I’m still in charge!.”
Not needing all the answers--that’s important to know. As kids, it seems as if adults know everything, but they’re just winging it! Look at your parents, your in-laws, your own childhood likes and dislikes, mold it with your life experiences and goals and just go for it.
Count your successes
Becoming a mom might have been the most challenging thing I ever did, but it’s also the most amazing experience. I’ll be honest, sometimes I do miss that corporate world, the rush of adrenalin making multi-million deals, using my brain to capacity instead of watching kid T.V.
But if I could tell you one thing, it would be this. Just because something is at a faster pace and brings in more money, doesn’t mean it’s more valuable.
I look back and it’s, “Wow, look what I accomplished!” Raising two beautiful girls like you, makes it all so wonderful. My blog has been a source of creativity, keeping those brain cells from rotting. And it made me so proud, when you, Juliana, turned to me and said, “I want to be a blogger like you!”
It’s so important to count your successes as a mom, to be sure not to lose yourself. It’s about the small accomplishments, the new vegetable your picky eater tried, the ten minute workout you managed to fit in. Yes, the laundry is piled as high as Everest, but you didn’t make mac n’ cheese for the fourth time this week!
You might look at magazines and everyone looks amazing, the celebrity looks better two weeks after birth than you ever did, and you want to at least look like you did pre-pregnancy. You forget that they have personal trainers, nutritionists and a genetic gift.
Put aside those magazines and focus on what you did do. You brought a baby into a world. You’re feeding that baby. Holy cow, you’re amazing!
Get into the habit of journaling your accomplishments, listing what went right in your day. Find an outlet that relieves stress and gives you an identity outside of mom, whatever makes you feel like a person.
Don’t worry about taking that time away from your kids. You’re setting a good example for them, showing them that mom has a life, she’s more than the person that cooks and does laundry.
Try it. They love to see mom happy.
Realize that no one is really judging you--the judging usually comes from yourself. And if they are judging you, then too bad!
If those child raising years seem to last forever--just remember that they don’t. Everything has its stage and season. We don’t have to do everything right now. That corporate job I left? I might return to it one day. But right now, where I am right now, is the place I want to be.
Life will have challenges
Madilyn and Juliana, in your own way, you’ve already started to experience challenges. And it’s a good thing. Life doesn’t always go as planned and it’s the challenges that help us grow. It’s one of the reasons I shared with you the story of my miscarriage, tailored to your level. We talked about how mommy lost the baby in her belly. Madilyn, you figured that God must need that little baby in heaven. Juliana, you wished the baby was here so you could play with her. We talked about the loss and you learned something important. Mommy had a loss, a big challenge in her life. But it didn’t mean we couldn’t move on and be happy.
I want you see the beauty that sometimes comes from sorrow. I want you to know me, to understand the good and the bad, to see it’s ok to cry.
My hope for you? That you’ll enjoy life and not take it too seriously. By accepting that things in the real world aren’t always all that great, hopefully you’ll be able to handle what life throws your way.
Sorrow exists. Emotions are part of life. Feel them, move on, and remember that every day is a new start.
I’d love you to realize that a successful adult is not about who has the most money, the most likes on facebook, or drives the nicest car. At the end of the day it's about treating people with respect, being happy with yourself, and your path in life, .
If I teach you that, my daughters, I’d consider myself a successful mom.
But there will be successes
One day I hope you’ll both be young moms. You’ll discover the pressures of society. Should you be a stay-at-home mom, showing up to every event, volunteering in your kids school, or be a mom who works and can afford private dance lessons?
There’s so much judgement everywhere. But just remember; at the end of the day, all that matters is if your child is thriving. What’s important is that what you’re doing is best for them. What other people think and do is just not important.
This has been my biggest challenge, one I hope you can achieve.
If you do have this confidence, once in awhile, you’ll have a success story that makes you feel that you're doing something right.
There was the time when you girls were small and we took you out to a Thai restaurant. Now both of you had been exposed to all kinds of spices and adult foods. I never cooked you special kid friendly meals. After all, I have to practice what I preach!
So both of you were sitting and eating all this ethnic food. A guy comes up to as we were leaving. “I can’t believe what your kids were eating!” he said.
It was a validation, a brief moment of clarity that my efforts paid off.
Then a couple of weeks ago, I had another great success story. We were flying back from our vacation in Mexico. You both wanted to sit without mom and dad, in the row ahead of us. Your Kindles weren't working and I’m thinking, this is a bad idea.
But you begged. We figured sometimes you have to let the kids go and figure things out for themselves. After the flight, a complete stranger came over to me. “I’m so impressed,” she said. “Your girls were so well behaved, hugging and talking to each other. They ate and didn’t spill anything. You’re doing a good job raising them!”
I wanted to give her a hug. I know you both are wonderful, but hearing it from a person from an older generation with higher standards of behavior, that was validating. Oh, I hear it from your grandparents and dad, but a stranger noticing? That’s a good feeling.
So that’s what I’d like you to value. Take the time to spread the love to others, give that pat on the back and you can make a complete stranger go from drowning to euphoria. It’s one of the reasons I have my Mom of the Month.
You’ll have your moments one day when you doubt yourself as a mother. Remember that it’s ok to fail. You can make the wrong decisions, you don’t have to be perfect. Even without the success stories, you’re still the greatest success in the eyes of your child.
Follow your heart
I’m crying as I end this letter. I want you both to know that I’m so proud to be your mom. Looking back, I never thought I could do it. Struggling with depression and anxiety, it was huge to bring you both into the world. It was the biggest challenge of my life, one I’m so grateful I could do.
That’s my biggest message to you. My hope for you. That you’ll always take a chance, with something that’s a challenge. As long as you do what you know is right in your heart, it will lead you on the right path. Follow your heart my daughters. Always follow your heart.
How amazing, right? I cry every time I read this. So, I am giving away a $100 discount off of Nechamie's services! To enter, simply leave a comment below. In your comment, tell me what you would love to have Nechamie write for you. Is there a family story you would love to get written down on paper? Would you have her write a letter to your kids like I did? Would you have her write a letter to your spouse or maybe a tribute to your grandmother? I pretty much want to hire her to write stories all about my family! If you want to increase your chances in winning, please like Writing the Soul on Facebook and follow them on Instagram. Leave another comment letting me know how you connected with Nechamie on social media. I will pick a winner on Monday, May 22nd. Good luck!
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