Dear 1st Time Mama (A Letter to My Younger Self)

“Perhaps it takes courage to raise children.. 
John Steinbeck, East of Eden 

Welcome to the biggest adventure of your life.

You’ve dreamt of this day. When you were a little girl you’d hold your dolls and play “house” with the neighbors. You’d name your little girl “Sarah” and force your little brother to dress up and play alongside you.

You’d think to yourself, I only want to be a mom.

Time would pass. You’d discover a love for storytelling and dream of traveling the world telling stories. You’d be in relationships with boys you were convinced were “the one”. You’d dream of what it’d be like to set up a home and have kids, wondering what they’d look like.

Relationships would end. You were heartbroken and yet, you found more of yourself and drew from a deep well of courage you didn’t know you had. Sometimes you’re still not sure if you have it in you.

You’d go to college to pursue your dream of traveling the world as a writer. And in your heart you were still wondering when you’d be a mother. You had names picked out. You had a plan. You always had a plan.

Eventually you graduated and got married and thought you’d wait years before having kids. That dream you had of being a mother seemed scarier the closer you got. You got pregnant. You were terrified. And on your way to see the baby for the first time you thought, “Maybe I am ready”. Then there was no heartbeat.

You grieved.

You tried again. And life began forming inside you.

The day drew nearer, and you chose a name and wondered if she’d look like you. (She will.)

You’ve been around kids all your life. You had incredible parents of your own. You were made for this, you thought.

The pain came. The excruciating pain. You read about it. You prepared for it. And yet, you were there in your tiny 1-bedroom apartment with your husband thinking it has to be over soon.

36 hours later, she arrived. Big blue eyes, entirely dependent on you.

“A mother’s body remembers her babies-the folds of soft flesh, the softly furred scalp against her nose. Each child has it’s own entreaties to body and soul.” 
Barbara Kingsolver 

This is where it all begins.

You’ll read books. Countless books. Books on parenting. On discipline. On sleep. On sharing. On eating. On feeding.

All of them fall short.

The truth is, no one knows what they are doing. Experts can research and write and observe and change their minds over time. But you and your baby? You are on your own journey. You’ll take pieces of one book and bits of another and piece it together and try to fit a puzzle together that works. You’ll try, fail, and adjust a million times.

You’ll be exhausted.

You’ll feel joy like you’ve never felt before.

You will be at your wits end some days, wondering if you’ll ever sleep again. Wondering if your 4-year-old will ever listen and how anyone could say that you will miss this. (You will.)

You’ll drop her off at school for the first time with tears in your eyes as she runs with excitement into her new classroom.

The girls will grow. And grow. They’ll be fearless. And sometimes scared. (So will you.)

“He didn’t realize that love as powerful as your mother’s for you leaves its own mark.” 
J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone 

It will be beautiful and difficult and exhausting and exhilarating and scary and adventurous. Some days you’ll wish you could be a stay-at-home mom. Other days you’ll be so grateful that you work doing something you love. Some days you’ll want to stay in bed and you’ll ask your husband to do it all. Other days you’ll draw from that deep well of courage you forget you have, and you’ll conquer the day ahead of you. You’ll feel like you’re failing. A lot. But you’re not.

Give yourself grace. Give your children grace. Give your husband grace.

You’re all on this journey together. Learning about each other. Growing. (You’ll grow so much.)

These girls you’ve been given, are a gift from God. An absolute living and breathing miracle. Slow down. Put down your phone. Embrace the “not knowing” that is the crux of this motherhood journey.

You will lose yourself. And you will find yourself. You will be more than ok.

Here’s what you need to know: You can do this. You were made for this. Even when you don’t feel like it. So scoop those girls up as often as you can and snuggle them until they won’t let you anymore. Be silly. Don’t take life too seriously. Begin and end every day with gratitude.

You’ve got this. And you are more than enough. And above all, it’s worth it.


When the doctor suggested surgery 
and a brace for all my youngest years, 
my parents scrambled to take me 
to massage therapy, deep tissue work, 
osteopathy, and soon my crooked spine 
unspooled a bit, I could breathe again, 
and move more in a body unclouded 
by pain. My mom would tell me to sing 
songs to her the whole forty-five minute 
drive to Middle Two Rock Road and forty- 
five minutes back from physical therapy. 
She’d say, even my voice sounded unfettered 
by my spine afterward. So I sang and sang, 
because I thought she liked it. I never 
asked her what she gave up to drive me, 
or how her day was before this chore. Today, 
at her age, I was driving myself home from yet 
another spine appointment, singing along 
to some maudlin but solid song on the radio, 
and I saw a mom take her raincoat off 
and give it to her young daughter when 
a storm took over the afternoon. My god, 
I thought, my whole life I’ve been under her 
raincoat thinking it was somehow a marvel 
that I never got wet.

– Ada Limon 

Vittoria Allen

Vittoria is a writer based in San Diego. A lover of good food, slow living, and a good novel, she shares her life with her husband and two daughters trying to squeeze out the beauty in every moment.