10 things: a letter to a new mama from 10 years later

As of Sunday, I've officially been a mama for 10 years. I'm a decade in, and yet I still have so much left to learn. In any other field, a decade of training would make you an expert, but it doesn't seem to work that way with parenting because the field keeps changing.

A decade has taught me a lot, though. I know for sure I'll never be perfect at parenting...but if I somehow had the chance to go back in time, here's what I would tell the 21-year-old me, way back when they handed me a newborn all those years ago:

Dear sweet young mama,

The next 10 years will not be easy, but they will certainly be some of the most wonderful years of your life. You will have moments you want to give up, but don't look around you at the mess- look up. Your Father knows what you need, and will provide it for you at just the right moment. I promise.

Your patience will be challenged to what feels like no end- but there is an end, indeed: your sanctification in Christ Jesus. The Lord is doing great things in your heart by bringing you these challenges on a daily, or even hourly basis. You might be slow to learn, but that's okay. The Lord is full of patience and mercy, even when you run out.

The Lord will give you wisdom to do this parenting thing, and while each child will present a different challenge, here are some practical tips from a mama in the middle of it that might help you as you start on this journey of motherhood:

1. Look into their little eyes.

Look at them- really look at them. You can show your little one so much love just by holding their gaze.

2. Be proud of what those little ones accomplish, and tell them you are. You don't easily forget the praise of others, and neither do they. 

3. Understand what makes them excited and be interested in it. Speak encouraging words of life into their passions.

4. Help them practice sitting still without distractions- in places like church, in restaurants, and in waiting rooms. Teaching them how to wait will be a gift to you in the present, and a gift to them in the future. 

5. Tell them stories. Real life ones- things you've seen, places you've been, lessons you've learned- let them learn from your life experience.

6. Teach them how to be diligent by showing them how to do tasks over and over, until they're done right. It will take so much work at first, but it will be worth the effort in the end.

7. Surprise them sometimes. They will look back on it with such fondness later.

8. Tell them you love them often. Like all the time.

9. Hug them, kiss them, pick them up, and when they're too big, let them pick you up. Kind affection is a gift of it's own.

10. Pray for them out loud. When they're being stubborn, when they're hurt, when they're afraid, pray to their Father with them- in front of them- so they can learn to do the same on their own. Show them we aren't in control, and neither are they. 

If anything, hope to remember that you have been given a gift from the Lord: the beautiful blessing of being a mama of these little children. 

You can't keep them safe- their life is never in your hands, but it is always in your Father's. Love them- hug them tightly, but hold them loosely as you watch them grow. Remember: you care for their sweet little lives for only a season, but your Father cares them for a lifetime. He will give you wisdom to do what He wants if you seek Him with all of your heart.

You can do this. Because of Him.

the older mama of your little ones

A decade flies by. What a precious boy this one is.

What do you wish you had known about motherhood when they handed you your little one?

If you don't have children, what is one thing you loved about the way your parents raised you? Or another great example you've seen?


  1. I am pinning this to my baby board on pinterest so I can find it easily again! I love this and as I'm getting ready for our first child to be born I truly value the advice of a seasoned mom...even if you're only a few months older than me :)

  2. I'm pinning this too! Wonderful words of encouragement for so many mommies! Thank you for sharing your heart and may God continue to bless you and your beautiful family!

  3. I LoVE this! I have only been a mama for 3 years, and I so needed to read this today -- funny how that works out ;)

  4. I would tell myself to enjoy the little things and not stress over the house so much!

  5. I love this!! We're expecting our first baby (after over a year of trying) in three weeks (give or take a few).
    This blog post made me all teary, it's wonderful words to hear.
    Thank You.

  6. I would tell myself that seasons with little children go by so quickly and that no stage is worth sweating too much over, as it will shift into another stage before you can blink. We have walked through so many of these seasons as a family, and continue to do so - it seems like our dynamic changes by the month! This knowledge brings peace during the difficult times, knowing that they will quickly pass, and a firm resolution to relish the beautiful times...

  7. #4 is fantastic - it is so easy to want to hand them something to keep them quiet; when really they should learn to be quiet, calm and obedient for the sake of these things in and off themselves!

  8. I love this list...very accurate as a fellow mother of a ten year old. I would add, don't be in too much of a hurry to let them be little. Even as a stay at home mom. One of my biggest regrets is that I only let my son "drive" the racecar cart at the grocery store one time. It was always too busy, too hard to steer, we're in a hurry, etc. He's all boy, he lives for things that "go" and now he's too big to enjoy it. Let them be little and soak it all in.

  9. What a sweetly written letter ;') Thank you! I'm in my 7th year of being a mother of 4! Some things I have forgotten in the midst of this parenting journey. Thank you for the refresher!

  10. I wept reading this this morning and was drawn into a moment of prayer, desperately asking for His grace and mercy to wash over me anew today. God is so good and has provided encouragement for me through your words! Thank you for sharing.


  11. This is beautifully written in so many ways. I'm especially convicted by the sitting still part. We've been working in that a lot lately - still a long way to go with my four wee girls!

  12. I am now through this stage of my life. The oldest of our 7 children is 33 and the youngest is 21. What I've discovered now that I'm on the other side of being a young momma, is that I've forgotten all the craziness and now seem to only remember all the sweet memories. I thank God each day, whose grace saw us through each stage, from 3 in diapers at one time, to 5 in their teens at one time. If I could counsel young moms I would say "Love the Lord with your whole heart and lean on him for everything, love your husband, your children and your home, and make lots of sweet memories. Our 5 older girls are now married and we have 6 beautiful grandchildren so far. God is so good!

  13. Wow! It felt like you were writing that letter straight to me. So thought provoking. Thank you!

  14. Cherish each moment coz time goes so quickly treat each child as an individual and never compare them. Seek devine guidance

  15. This has been a great reminder, n renewd encouragement. Thanks for sharing!!

  16. Thank you!!! I needed to read this today... my oldest will be 9 at the end of the week, and my youngest will be 2 next month... and I learn so much every single day. Every. Single. Day.

  17. Such words of encouragement for a new mom. Thank you!

  18. Beautifully written! I'm 18 weeks pregnant with my first, and am taking your words to heart. Thank you for sharing this today!

  19. This is so good Mandi! I needed these wise words to remind me to just enjoy this wild, sometimes overwhelming stage of motherhood. I've only been a mom half as long as you but I found myself nodding at so much of what your wrote and feeling convicted by numerous things. Thank you for sharing this!

  20. I love this! Every mom should read this and add her own too, we all have more in common than we realize.

    Sending love and prayers!


  21. Mandy,
    Love this letter! I am actually a mom who loves following you & "MisforMama" just because I am so past these little ones & baby stages. I have 3 young adults whom I homeschooled; my older 2 are on the autism spectrum & my youngest is in his 1st year of college studying automotive repair. I am still training & coaching my older 2 at home & doing many typical 1st with my youngest as in driving & just this weekend talking about what to say to a girl who "thinks she like him." We are of the mindset of courting when ready for marriage & not into dating. Our young adults have embraced this concept wholeheartedly! I loved homeschooling all of them; God taught me what real Grace is through parenting my dear children. I am so thankful for all of the sweet times & NOT so sweet times with all 3 kids. It wasn't easy; very hard with lots of tears at times, BUT by following God's directions, God build some incredibly strong relationships between me & each of my 3 young adults (Son-23, Daughter-21 & Son-18). We can talk about some pretty tough topics & they think about what Mom & Dad say to them because we took so much time investing in their lives when they were young. AND God used Grace shining through my imperfections to teach me and my children.
    Thanks for sharing your heart & listening to mine!
    PS. I so loved hearing about your last baby; my biggest baby (daughter) was 10lbs 2oz - not over due.

  22. Thank you for this post! I am currently starting the third trimester with our first little blessing & this is some beautiful & wonderful advice!

  23. If I could tell New Mama Me something it would be "Take it one day at a time". There are plenty of opportunities to worry which begin to bear fruit in fear. Trust God, lean on Him and just breath. Today is the day the Lord has given you to live, tomorrow will take care of itself :) .......also, keep some chocolate stashed somewhere!


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