My dear, dear Rebecca,
This letter may prove a bit hard to swallow at first, seeing as you'll have to acknowledge time travel (or some other seemingly impossible explanation) to trust that you did in fact write this - at the age of 90 - to pass back to yourself for the present. But take it all with a grain of salt and just read on...I promise it will be worth it.
I was thinking about you the other day, going through the challenging season that you're in right now, continuing to try your best at the stay at home mom thing, missing work and wondering what on earth you're going to end up doing once the kids are in school and you're ready to get back into a career. I know you're wondering if writing will be a plausible career...I know you're toying with the thought of nursing school maybe, or considering whether a return to clinical research is at all possible after all the years since you did it. I just want to tell you that no matter what you decide to do, once you decide, you will do great. You always throw yourself into things 150% (whether you truly enjoy the work or not - I mean, look at the career you built in HR at the bank!) and that kind of work ethic will only help you as you find your next path. I just want to gently nudge you to focus on something that actually does light a passion within you. There are far too many things out there that you can simply do, just because it's a job and you'll want to be working, but life it too short to waste on something that isn't exciting and challenging for you, and quite frankly, you deserve it.
But remember that you don't want to spend all your time now thinking about the future. Enjoy your time at home with the girls because it won't last forever, and you really, truly, will miss these days, as hard as they seem. And don't forget that what you are doing is valued by M and the girls. You are trying your hardest to create a warm and encouraging home life for your immediate family, and you're doing a good job. It's not easy, it comes with its frustrations and feelings of guilt over not bringing in an income right now, but it is genuinely valuable and valued. They love you and your days doing activities and crafts with them, and they love learning from you. They even love the quiet days of a movie and snuggle on the sofa when you don't feel well. You're giving them a safe and secure childhood, and there is no price to be put on that. YOUR WORK IS VALUED RIGHT NOW. Don't forget that.
I also want to give you a bit of a cheerleading session on this critical topic: YOU ARE A GOOD MOM. You're still learning, I know, and constantly feel like you're not doing things properly. You feel impatient at times, frustrated with the tantrums and lack of sleep, and you wonder if your kids will turn out OK....listen, nobody knows all the answers. Everyone has to work it out for themselves, and there will be mistakes that you make (probably pretty often). But you'll learn from them, and if you keep seeking His help to guide you through the challenges, you will continue to do ok. Try to build a relationship with your children where they talk to you about what is on their minds, what is bothering them, what they're excited about - aim to be their go-to person for advice and tears and hugs and smiles. Don't coddle them - let them make their own mistakes and learn from them. It will be HARD but it is worth it to see them turn out to be strong, independent people capable of making strong decisions themselves. You want them to have adventures like you did - and yes, I know they were scary at times, going to London without knowing a soul, making a new life and home for yourself in a strange place, but despite the fear, you did it. You want them to have that confidence someday (even if the thought of them leaving the nest and moving halfway across the world gives you heart palpitations right now...) Be honest with them and they will be honest with you. Pray over them - and pray with them - regularly. And speaking of that, pray with your husband regularly! Your relationship with M can only be stronger and more solid through frequent prayer. (The family that prays together stays together - trust me!)
Don't ever take your husband for granted. It is far too easy to get comfortable with your relationship, to not devote as much time to growing it as you did in the early days (especially with little ones running around pulling at your time and your sleeves) but it is so, so important to keep building in time to talk to each other, to hash out anything that's bothering each of you, to go on dates and enjoy the romance that you have with each other! Each and every day, be thankful for the blessing that he is to you and your girls. Thank God for bringing him into your life and for all of the joy that has been a result. Of course there will be hard times. There are for everyone. But even through those hard times, be grateful. Be loving. Be kind. Don't put down, don't hold grudges, don't fume silently over something silly that you've let stew in your head for days without saying anything. Be open, and honest, and transparent. Show him regularly just how much you mean to him, how much you're thankful for all he does for your family. Do the little things, and the big things, that mean so much. Tell him each and every day that you love him, and the family that you've created together. Try always to be the best wife and friend to him that you can.
Lose the word "should." Don't should yourself. Just DO. TRY. You won't be great at everything, but isn't it better to have tried something and know if you enjoy it than to worry endlessly about the possibility of failing? Just TRY to write a book. Start with a children's book if a novel is too daunting - you know M said your bedtime story to Bug the other night was fantastic and should be a book. Jot it down, give it a few illustrations (bad as they may be), just try. And write. No more excuses - no more "I should write tomorrow..." or "I could write if I only had time..." Make time! Watch less TV and spend less time on Facebook - what value and satisfaction are they adding to your life? Do you think you're going to get to 90 and think fondly of the Netflix binges you went through, wish you'd watched more Hart of Dixie?? No! You're going to wish you did less of that and did more REAL things with your time. Don't let that happen! Turn off the TV now and you'll be amazed what you have the time for - reading all those books you have on your list; writing in your journal; writing creatively; trying a new craft with all those supplies you have in boxes upstairs; maybe even (gasp) finally organizing the guest room (which you know M would greatly appreciate....!!)
Don't forget to travel again! Everything is a season, and right now it's not as possible as it was when you were living in London without any responsibilities and easy cheap flights were available to anywhere in Europe, but don't let that stop you. Once they're old enough to truly understand the value of it, take the girls and M and go see places you've never seen together. Show your girls adventure and culture and the joy of exploring new cities and countries. Eat amazing new foods and walk on every beach you come across. Swim in the ocean as often as you can. Write down the memories as you make them so they will always have them, and send postcards home to family and friends so they're included in your adventures.
Lastly, surround yourself with things you love, each and every day: people you love to spend time with; music that inspires and relaxes you and also that pumps you up - you used to listen to music constantly, why let that stop? BE YOU. Truly, madly, deeply. Don’t live behind a false facade - just be who you are, mistakes and all. OWN your decisions, good and bad. Oh and don’t waste time agonizing over decisions. PRAY on them, talk to Michael about them, maybe seek out help from your family and a trusted friend if you're struggling, but listen to what your heart & God are telling you, and just make the decision. Continue to learn new things, because that builds a fire in you like nothing else (and yes, I do think you can learn Chinese if you put the time in!). Soak up every moment with your family as possible and make sure everyone you care about knows just how much you love them. Above all else, CHOOSE TO BE GRATEFUL & HAPPY. It’s a frame of mind, not a result of circumstances. Make the choice each and every day to be grateful for everything you have and to be happy about your life, regardless of the phase you’re in!