I received an email from a young mother this week, asking me to respond to a few questions. One of them was, "What advice would you give yourself during your children's early years, knowing what you now know?" And as I responded to that question (Besides getting an itch to write another book!) I had a yearning to go back and do it all over again. If only I could...But since I can't, I decided to write a letter to my younger (mom) self - in the hopes that someone will read and benefit from it while they're still in the trenches of having really young ones. Dear Karen, First of all, congratulations! If you are reading this letter, it must mean you managed to find a few minutes to get away in the quiet. I know these moments are hard to come by, but you did it. Way to go! Now, let's make the most of this time, because you will surely be called back into action soon. To begin, let me just remove some stress. You need not believe all those well-intentioned ladies who look at you with patronizing eyes and tell you there will come a time when "you'll miss these days." I know you feel guilty when you hear those remarks. Let it go. You aren't going to miss these days. Oh! You will miss many, many of the moments. But you won't miss the entire day. So don't stress when someone says that to you. Just breathe deeply, ask God to give you strength for the day, and try to memorize the sweet moments. While you're thinking about letting things go, may I suggest you rid yourself of that unreasonable expectation you have of being a "perfect" mother? It can't be done. Honey, you know nothing in life is perfect. So quit expecting that your new role as "Mommy" should change the course of history. You aren't perfect. You never will be perfect. And that's OK. By the way, none of the other moms around you are perfect, either. Truthfully, they're all struggling in one way or another. You don't need to go through your trials alone. Open up. Share with the other moms you know. You'll be amazed how much better you feel when you realize you aren't alone. Being a mom is tough stuff. I know you know that. And, really, it's OK that you get tired; that you don't know what to do in every situation; that sometimes you want to run away. It's OK, Karen. Please let go of the guilty feelings you have when those moments come. God knows you want to be the best you can be. He knows you fail sometimes. You need not feel guilty about living through tough stuff. Let it go. You'll feel so much better. And it will be better for your kids, too. You need to know there will be challenges with your boys when it comes to potty-training. But, do not worry. They'll figure it out. Eventually. Actually, they're going to laugh one day about the fact that you used to give them M&Ms when they were learning to use the potty. And you'll laugh with them. But forget about trying to get them to do their chores by rewarding them with M&Ms. It won't work.Oh, and Matthew will stop wetting the bed eventually, too. You're going to think the day will never come. But it will. Trust me. Just don't expect it to come before age 10. *ahem* In short, my dear, you will do well to trust God more - and worry less. A lot less. God is faithful. Always has been and always will be. You're going to grow a lot in your relationship with Him as you go through the different phases and challenges of motherhood. It's going to hurt. Sometimes you'll wonder if He's still watching you. Be assured, He is. Just keep holding onto Him. Keep trusting Him to do what He knows is necessary. And always - let Him fight for you!