Dear Future Me,
I hope all is well with you.
Things are just dandy here. But, of course, you already knew that.
I know you’re busy with book-signing tours, television interviews, and counting your piles of money, so I won’t take up too much of your time. But I wanted to talk to you about something…
Now that the kids are all grown up and the nest is empty, so to speak, you may be thinking wistfully of the past. You’ve probably even been longing for the days when the kids were much younger. After all, like you keep telling yourself, those were the best days of your life.
Heck, I bet you’ve even turned into one of those people who go around telling parents of young children how “It all goes so fast!” and to “Enjoy this time because, before you know it they’ll be all grown up.”
Since your then is my now, and since your memory has been clouded by years of drinking too much cheap Cabernet, let me clarify something about the past: It wasn’t as great as you remember.
Oh, don’t get me wrong, I love my (your) kids more than anything in the world, as we both know, and I think that they are so incredibly cute and fun at this age. Get this: They actually enjoy being around me, and they still think I know everything. Ha! Remember those days? Probably not. Again, the Cabernet.
But over the years your aging brain has played a trick on you. It has allowed you to forget just how mentally and physically exhausted you were during this time of your life. Believe me—you’re pooped.
Oh, com’on, you say, I wasn’t that tired.
Yes, Future Me. Yes you were.
Unless I’m at the office or asleep or asleep at the office, every second of my (your) life revolves around those little buggers. I’m constantly dressing them, undressing them, bathing them, feeding them, begging them to eat something—anything, putting them in Timeout every five seconds; picking toys off the floor in the living room, the dining room, the bathroom, the kitchen, the laundry room, the bedroom, the front yard, the back yard, the neighbor’s yard; packing a bag of toys to keep them busy at the restaurant, picking toys up off of the floor at the restaurant, cleaning up the mess on the floor at the restaurant, telling him not to eat that piece of food on the floor at the restaurant, buckling them into their car seats, taking them out of their car seats, telling her to stop teasing him, telling him to stop hitting her, brushing her hair, brushing his teeth, wiping their noses, wiping their…well, you know, reading them a book, reading them another book, putting them to bed, taking them out of bed to go to the potty, putting them back in bed, coming back upstairs to get them a drink of water…and so many other things that I can’t think of right now because, frankly, I’m just too tired.
And lest you forget, Future Me, your only real free time was after they finally went to bed. By that time you were so beat that it was a struggle just to stay up past 9 o’clock. And “free” is a misnomer, because you were actually trapped in the house until you left for work the next morning, when it all started over again.
But I bet you don’t remember any of that, do you? You only remember the really good parts, like playing tents or hide-and-seek in the living room, secretly listening to her play school with her stuffed animals, watching him play with your old Matchbox cars, giving them horsey rides around the living room, pushing him on the swing at the park, pretending to eat the pretend cake she made you in the sandbox, hearing them say “DADDY!” as they raced to hug you when you got home from work, holding hands with her as you skipped down the sidewalk, pushing him in his stroller as he pointed out the squirrels, hearing them laugh as you tickled them in their car seats, listening to them sing along to the radio in the back of the car, bouncing him on your shoulders as you walked up-street for ice cream, reading them bedtime stories as they clutched their blankies, holding him close before placing him in his crib for the night, kissing her goodnight as you tucked her in to bed…
You know what, Future Me? Maybe you’re right after all. This really is a wonderful time. Maybe the best.
Forget all that stuff I said about how hard things were. (Oh, that’s right…you already did.)
I’ll check back in when they’re teenagers. Hopefully we made it through alive.
PS: College wasn’t that great either. (Yeah it was.)