Dear 24-year-old Ann,
You are getting married. There are so many things you wanted to do. But did you?
You should have eaten out more. At fancy restaurants, with waiters, and candles. And silverware. Instead of Panera and the drive-thru Subway.
But you shouldn’t have stopped at chow. You should have gone ballooning, ridden on sailboats, speedboats, and maybe taken a helicopter or two.
You and your husband should have jumped out of an airplane while the baggage you carried still fit on your backs. You should have driven to the mountains more to hike or ski, or stood dangerously close to the rocky crags and worried about only yourselves.
You should have forgotten work and clients and jumped on airplanes. To Costa Rica! To Australia! Egypt and China! Of course you wouldn’t have been able to afford it, not with the one-bedroom apartment that you lived in. But you shouldn’t have worried so much. You should have charged it. At least one trip, because it would be many years before you had the energy and the freedom to do it again.
But if you weren’t going to travel, there were local things that you should have done. You should have gone to museums, opera houses, and even salsa dancing. You should have purchased white furniture and carpet to match.
But instead, you focus on being a mom. The feedings, the diaper changes, the lack of sleep and those everyday things that screamed parenthood.
Instead of museums there will be PTA meetings.
Instead of nights at highly Zagat rated restaurants, there will be playdates at Chuck E. Cheese.
Instead of movie nights out with your husband, there will be Netflix nights asleep on the couch.
There will be a point midway through your life where you will ask questions. “Am I even myself?” “Have I loaned out my life just for others to use until I take it back?”
You won’t want to take that long. You will decide that even though your kids need you, you want to live NOW! For you! For your husband! For your daughters! They need the whole Ann.
So take your six-year-old and two-year-old to see a play. You will get the side-eye from strangers, but so what?
In the car, listen to Katy Perry or Hamilton, instead of endless hours of Radio Disney. Why? Because you are a grown-up and that’s what grown-ups do!
In the years to come, you will do more than just hope. You will live. And while you are living, what a blessing it will be to have the people you love along for the ride.