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This oldest son of mine is thirteen today.  I can’t even believe I’m typing it.
How did this happen?  How have I become one of the more “seasoned” mom’s? 
Andy and I are in a small group with couples who have children under the age of four.
I jokingly call myself the Nana of the group, and I’m only half kidding. 
If I only knew then what I know now….
Dear Younger Self,
You need to chill out. I’m sorry, but there’s just no easy way to say it.

I know he isn’t sleeping like that book tells you he’s supposed to. 

He likes to be rocked.  Yeah, Yeah…he needs to learn to put himself to sleep without any help whatsoever.
Whatevs. One day, he’ll be a teenager, and he’ll loooove to sleep.  Your mom is right.  This too shall pass.
I know…the days are long and by bedtime you’re just ready to tuck him in.  You don’t want to read one more book or tell him one more made-up story.  I’ve got news for you.  One day, before you know it, you’ll beg him to let you read to him.  And, when he asks you to stay just a few more minutes and tickle his back, you’ll about break your legs jumping over the piles of dirty laundry to get to him.
And while we’re talking about that book…quit letting it guide you and just let God.  He’s speaking to you.  He gives you wisdom that no book can ever offer.  It’s good to read books that offer help and suggestions, and I know you’ll spend the next many years reading every book out there, but please take what you can and lose all the rest.  Those authors aren’t Luke’s parents.  You are.  Trust your gut more.

I know you’re stressed out because he’s such a picky eater.  You might as well take your shoes off and sit a spell because this one’s gonna take a while.  Stop comparing him to your friends’ kids.  So what if they eat all their veggies and fruits, and they crave water.  He doesn’t.  Yet.  But one day, he’ll eat what you cook, and he won’t throw it up in his plate.  Miracles happen.
He’ll actually say “thank you” most nights when he leaves the table.  All those prayers for a thankful heart will come to be.

Oh!  Please quit asking Andy if you guys should be seriously worried about him.  Your mom is right about something else.  He’ll eventually stop growling at strangers when they tell him he’s cute and rub their hands through his curly hair.  He’s three. And for the record, you growled when strangers rubbed your pregnant belly, and you were twenty-six, so cut him some slack.  He’s not the only one a little freaked out by strangers crossing boundaries.
Let him play in dirt.  Let him build forts.  Let him hunt bugs.  Let him collect those rocks and dinosaurs and matchbox cars and sticks. I’ve got news for you.  This little love for collecting won’t change in him.  He’ll kind of always love storing things away.  It’s a gift.  He’s sentimental.  
And a couple last things for now….give yourself some grace.  God has gifted YOU to be his mom.  He’s given you everything you need.  Your job is to love and nurture him and tell him about Jesus.  All the rest is Luke’s story with his wonderful creator.  You’re going to make a lot of mistakes.  You’re gonna yell.  You’re gonna over-react.  You’re gonna really stress out when he goes through puberty.  You’re gonna get your feelings hurt.  Guess what?  God wastes nothing. He’s so good, he’ll use your mistakes to draw Luke to himself.  I know you don’t want to hear that because you’re so caught up in doing everything right, but I promise, God’s gonna work on that little perfectionist in you, and you’re gonna be so glad to let her go.
This struggle you have with control…you’ll eventually see how very NOT in control you really are.  I know you don’t believe me, but you’ll experience more freedom in all of this one day.  You’ll actually LOVE the weight that is lifted when you know it’s not all up to you to make sure he turns out okay.  You’re not responsible for every detail of his story.  
He’s going to be thirteen one day.  It’s gonna come fast.  He’s gonna be handsome, like his daddy.  Oh, and this tender heart you see in him…it’s always gonna be there.  You’re gonna see him learn to be a really good friend and he’s gonna be so smart.  He’s gonna be quick to ask for forgiveness…those teachable moments you’re having with him now are gonna pay off.  Oh, and he’s gonna be level headed, like his daddy.  Whew~ another prayer answered.

katie - so, so, so sweet.
it makes me want to move to GA to be closer to you guys, and glean all your wisdom before we have kids. love you guys!

Susan Stanford - Love this!
~mother of 3 boys

LLH Designs - That letter to your younger self made me all misty-eyed. Such a loving thing to do. I think we should all write that kind of letter! Happy birthday to your baby-turned-young man. Hugs to you, my friend!

Tricia - Oh, I love, love, love this! I think you should print it out and save it for him. Even though it’s a letter to your younger self, I bet it’s something he’d really cherish one day and that would give him things to think about when he becomes a parent too. Beautiful photos! I love the one of you with your boys. xo

Michele - Thanks for being a more seasoned mom in my life, I have learned so much from watching you and look forward to walking the next 13 years of our parenting with you. It goes by so fast….let’s just enjoy!!

Angel - Ok, that seriously made. me. cry. My favorite post of yours by far. So much wisdom there. I am really struggling with one of my 7 year olds but when I get to the heart of the matter, it’s really me I’m struggling with. And that’s hard to admit.

Jayme - I so enjoyed reading the letter to yourself. Thank you for sharing! My son is 8 months and the time is flying. Sometimes as a new momma, I need to be reminded that not everything has to be perfect, that doing the best I can for my son IS perfect.

Emilie Smith - I loved this! I have three boys, 4 and under. This was so great for me to read today. Thank you! You’re three are so cute and Luke is so handsome : )

Megan - Well, you have me in tears. I need to copy and paste these words into my heart. You are so wise Nana!
Happy birthday Luke!

Mary - what a handsome young man you have been blessed with.
he’s really blessed to have you, too. :)

Bronson Blog - Wow…..I felt like you were writing to me. I have a one year old and all I hear is how fast it goes. I need to give myself some grace.

Jackie at Roots and Wings - Happy birthday, Luke!
You are an awesome guy.
And you’ve got an awesome mom, too. ;)

Salena - Aww, this is so sweet, and it really hits home since my little guy is 3 right now.

Katherine - Beautiful. My first baby boy will be 12 this year. Unbelievable but loving seeing him grow everyday. - Love this. That’s all I can say. I’m the mom of three sons, and we should all write ourselves this letter. There’s not a word of what you wrote that I don’t believe.

Lemonade Makin' Mama - I LOVE this post Tara!! I love the idea of writing yourself a letter… if Only we could have actually done that!! LOL

Love these photos too. I’m still kind of jealous of your fabulous family shots. Maybe this will be our year. LOL - Thanks for stopping by my blog, Tara! I found you via Instagram and “connected” because we have teenaged sons and a love for Jesus in common. Love your blog and I’m looking forward to reading back a little further…

Smiles for your day,
Nicole - Happy Birthday to Luke and to his Momma! Excellent, excellent post! As a Mom of three girls now ages 23, 19 and 12, I completely relate to your advice, and I remember being the worried Mom that my children weren’t perfect. Let it go, let God, and be “A Thankfully Imperfect Woman”!

Chrissie Grace - I’m almost in tears. My oldest will be 13 in two weeks, and oh how I miss the early days. I am trying to soak up every minute with him❤

Erin Southwell - You have no idea how much this ministered to my heart tonight. Thank you, thank you thank you! I’m already finding myself more chilled out with baby no. 2 because I see how fast no. 1 is growing and changing. I wish I hadn’t read any of those books with no. 1! Your young man is so handsome. Mine has curly hair too, I hope he doesn’t outgrow it as yours seems to not have done.

Aimee - What a beautiful post Tara! My three are still small and your words gave my heart some peace about them entering the teenage years! AND encouraged me to chill out about the stuff that doesn’t really matter. So very well-said!

Aimee - What a beautiful post Tara! My three are still small and your words gave my heart some peace about them entering the teenage years! AND encouraged me to chill out about the stuff that doesn’t really matter. So very well-said!

Susan Jeffries - Oh my goodness. I just found you. I am about 3 weeks late for this post but God led me to you today. I have an only child – a lovely girl – who is 12. The baby stuff was so easy compared to this crazy puberty stuff. Thank you for the peace of mind that I am not alone in being a Christian parent – or at least attempting to be. And that I am not alone in trying to raise a Godly pre-teen. I am blessed to have found your post today. Thanks! susan

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