Helping myself

My sister set a New Year’s resolution to try to live her life as if she were 20 years older and suddenly had the chance to go back and do it all again. I have been thinking about that. I know so much more now. I would do things differently. Fifteen years ago I was 30. If I could go back and visit myself, we would sit on that old green couch that got the afternoon sun while the kids napped, and this is what I would tell myself:

  • Quit worrying about what people will think. They aren’t thinking about you.
  • Buying things won’t make you happy. Doing things will. Instead of buying stuff – do stuff.
  • Impressive cars and fancy houses don’t make you impressive or fancy. And they won’t make people like you (see #1)
  • Invite people over more. Quit worrying about if they like you (they do) or if your house is clean enough (they don’t care – see #1).
  • Pray more. Pray about EVERYTHING. Like: Should we buy a car? Should I home school? How can I help my child? What can I do for my husband? Please help me to stop freaking out!
  • Back WAY off the sugar. You’ll feel better. And, while you’re at it, enjoy how darling and skinny you are right now. Start appreciating how beautiful you are – you are much too hard on yourself.

Then after I gave all that advice I would tell myself just how great I was. I would point out all the things I was doing right. Then we, my 30 year old self and I, would wake the kids up from their naps and cuddle while we read books, then we would go play in the garden – pushing the kids on the swings and admiring their daring trampoline tricks.

I wouldn’t be able to stay long. I am needed here in my 44-year-old life. I would probably cry when it was time to go because I miss that time when my kids were all mine and hadn’t found the world yet.

I would hug my 30-year-old self and tell her I love her. I really do love her. And then I would tell her one last thing:

You are better than you think you are.


mailRobin and her tall charming husband have 4 kids: child #1 is in college, child #2 should be in college (grumble), child #3 applying to college, and child #4 in 6th grade. It’s time for her to start her Ph.D. but she’d rather open a garden center and go to cooking school. She experiences a ridiculous amount of joy when her kids brag about her cooking. She blogs at


17 responses to “Helping myself

  1. Thank you for this. You really hit the nail on the head. I will be thirty this year, and those things are definitely hard for me to remember sometimes. I have been trying to live in the moment with my little ones, but so often I get stuck living in some other moment that doesn’t matter as much. Great insight.

  2. I love this post for 100 reasons. Thank you for writing it. I should read it daily. I wonder what your 59-year-old self would say to 44-year-old you? Probably a lot of the same things.

    P.S. Robin is a great cook, I know because I’ve eaten her food, lucky me!

  3. 31, mom of two little girls. Thank you. I am now a bawling mess of tears.

  4. I really love this letter. It made me tear up and think about all the things I can appreciate about my life… here and now.

    I think I would have been a better 30 year old parent if I could have kept those things in the forefront of my mind. And I know I will be a better 41 year old mom if I do.

    I am going to snuggle with my boys tonight and tickle their backs as they go to sleep and talk with them and tell them how wonderful they are. I always love talking to my Grandma because she asks me lots of questions about my boys and I get to brag and brag, and it reminds me how lucky I really am.

    Thansk for the reminders!

  5. Such true words. Why are we so hard on ourselves right now? I always love the idea of looking back with the wisdom we have today. Great letter.

  6. I think this is the fifth time I’ve read this, and it still makes me feel really raw, in a good way. I love the practicality of your bullet list (for me it needs to say: go to bed earlier, you will feel better, happier and it will be easier to do all these other things…). But the last 3 paragraphs, whew! They make me bawl. Did you know I was turning 30 this year, big sis?

    I don’t need my older self to come visit me, because I have you to visit me instead. I love you. Thanks for this.


  7. I love Robin’s writings. She is wise and practical.

  8. I love this letter & I love Robin’s blog! From the unique perspective of not only an almost 66 year old grandma but also that of being your (Robin’s) mom, I can say amen to your advice. I hope that everyone who reads it will take it to heart.

    I would also love to visit my 30 year old self, and my 50 year old self. I would tell myself to keep up the good work and enjoy the moment more because I was doing a fantastic job in my role as a woman.

    I would compliment, praise, and indulge each of my children a little more. I would tell them that I knew where, and who, they were going to be in 15 and 35 years, and that they were going to be terrific! I would tell each of them that I am absolutely crazy about them. I would want them to know then, just as I do now, that I love them, that they are wonderful, and that I am so very proud of them. All those years ago, and now, they have given me much joy.

  9. Where did you write this before? Because I remember and HAVE THOUGHT ABOUT IT many times since then. It’s so good because, at 35, this is the exact stuff I’m starting to learn–even the sugar.

    (And, my main goal in life is for my children to brag about my cooking, so I totally get you.)

  10. Everyone tells you “it will go by sooo fast”, and as I chase and clean up and get after my 5, 4 and 2 year old, while being pregnant…at 30 yrs…I think how? This day has already been soooo long! But deep down, I absolutely KNOW that there will be a time when I wish I appreciated the moments of coolwhip paintings in my kitchen more. Thanks Robin for reminding me of that. I need to slow way down, and just play…lots, lots more. I love to have friends who I feel I can learn lots from – and Robin is on that list, in a big way. Thank you!

  11. You are very wise Robin and I always appreciate the way you say things!

  12. The years go by fast, but the hours drag by. Kids live in a different time zone and when we spend time with them we remember how many activities, snacks and moans, arguments, melt-downs and questions can fit into just one morning. There’s so much emotional upheaval going on constantly, it would be impossible to enjoy every minute. The trick is discovering the one or two minutes you want to remember when you get a chance to relax.

    Your suggestion are great.

    I’d tell my 30 year old self to start searching for the joy she knows deep down she’s having. Happiness won’t land on her lap with a bow. It will subtly settle on her like sunshine and will go unnoticed and unappreciated if she doesn’t watch for it.

  13. Robin,
    You always give great advice and you’re absolutely right.

  14. So very well written Robin! I love your sister’s comment about what would your 59 year old self say to your 44 year old self? So thought provoking. You are an awesome lady with great perspectives.

  15. Loved it. Especially since I am 30 right now and need to be reminded that it is okay to not clean the house and do what I feel pressured to do and just enjoy the kids. I already miss them when they were younger, and they are still young. And it is something I need to be reminded of every single day. So thanks.

  16. From a grandma 3 times over who just reached the half century mark…amen, amen and aaaamen!! I love Robin…and I love her gift for words! Little do we know what life’s future holds for us, we MUST cherish the moments we are in and not covet the ones that we think will make us happier!

  17. Amazing. Thank you.

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