Letter to my former self
BY ERIN kopelow
When I think of you, a small smile always passes my lips. The strongest memories I hold of you are those of you on the move. Racing your camp counselor at 12, running with field hockey stick in hand at 17, rushing to catch that plane at 21 on your way to backpack in Mexico, sprinting from that bus to your first love on kibbutz at 23, finally finding your rhythm in that bar in Budapest at 24.
My memories of you are filled with life. And yearning. And angst. And yes, loneliness. And always always the memory of you searching for something. You were always searching for your crowd. Always trying to find your place.
If I were able to reach back and tell you that you would find your home in your children's faces, what would you tell me? Would you believe me.? Would you feel calm? Hope? Confidence? Would you let yourself stand still a little longer?
Well you did. Your children settled you. Rooted you. In location and in yourself. I have to tell you, I have never felt as calm, confident, grounded and beautiful as I do today. I know you think motherhood will change you. I know that is something you are not scared of or worried about. You just know that it will happen. But Erin, let me tell you, motherhood won’t change who you are. It will complete who you are becoming. Motherhood was our missing piece.
I wonder what you would say to me if you could see me now? I wonder if I hold myself differently? Would you think I had gotten old? Would you see me as beautiful? As accomplished? Would you be anxiously waiting for what I have become? Or would you want something different?
Thinking of you looking at me makes me wonder, what version of myself would I be today if I didn’t have children? I can’t say for certain how much of who I am now is a result motherhood, or just getting older. As we age we ripen. We get better. We get smarter. We get tougher. We are more sensual. We are more direct. But when you are responsible for others - I mean really responsible - the change extends beyond any other personal change that comes with age. When you know, deep in the dark of your belly that you would die for someone else - something monumental happens. You start to look beyond yourself.
I recently heard someone say that so many of us fear giving things away. We’re afraid that in the giving away of our energy, our ideas, our work, and our love, we lose power. But she countered that by saying that the act of giving away only elevates our own power, our own control, and our own ability.
Raising children requires a lot of giving away. You have to walk and carry and schlep and wake up and pick up and comfort and feed and on and on even when you’re dead tired. Even when you’re sick. Even when you’re fed up. You have to look beyond yourself. But I believe in the accumulation of that, that looking beyond myself, I filled up. I became complete. I grew satisfied.
And that beyond anything else has shaped me into the woman I am today.
Take a good look. I hope you like what you see.