If you could give your younger self a message from the future, what would it be?

That’s how I felt two days ago, and wondered if I could.

Allow me to back up a bit. My blog is a little late this week, because I spent a few days in a hospital two hours away assisting my oldest daughter with her second born, and then with her toddler son.

When her little girl was only hours old, and big brother was on his way with his daddy to meet her, I warned my daughter, “He may not yet be two years old, but you’ll be astonished at how old your son will suddenly appear in relation to your newborn. He’ll age years in just moments.”


Big brother and baby sister.

Because that was the shock I felt when I sat years ago in a hospital room holding my second-born, and my mother brought my oldest, barely two years old, to meet her.

All I could think was, “Who is this giant child?!” It was as if time had taken a enormous step in seven-league boots, and my first baby was now a kid.


My two oldest daughters, 2 years old and five days old, 1992.

As I warned that same “kid,” now 25 years old, I felt that immense step again, striking me with sudden reality that those two tiny girls were now women; the older a graduate student nearly finished with her thesis, just as I was with small children, the other a nursing student hoping to be a newborn nurse in a couple of years.

I wish I could have stretched through time and tapped my younger self on the shoulder—the me who stared at her two little girls and wondered, What have I done? Why did I think I could be a mother to two children?!

I would have said to her, “For just a moment, look here. See what will happen in twenty-four shockingly short years.


“You’ll have some rough years, difficult months, and terrible days, but also many wonderful ones, and eventually you’ll see this: your two formerly-baby daughters, with your first granddaughter. Hold on to this image for when your hope flags and your confidence wanes. It’ll be good. Eventually, it’ll all be good.”

(I would not have told my younger self, however, that I’d have seven more children. I/she would have dropped in a dead faint,  never to be revived.)

As I watched my daughters and yearned to encourage my younger self, I imagined that I felt a gentle tap on my shoulder. I wondered if it were a distant me, another twenty-four years in the future with too much white hair to pretend it’s only highlights, and with so much experience that I’m sure I’d regard my forty-seven-year-old self as naïve.

I imagined I heard a seventy-one-year-old whisper, “For just a moment, look here. See what’s happened . . .”

I hope that I/she was smiling, as I was this week. I hope that I/she was sending me a message of encouragement, of never giving up. I’m sure there’ll be events that she’ll have witnessed in our future that will be heartbreaking, but others that will be glorious beyond my current imagining. I hope it’s to one of those scenes I/she is wishing to draw my attention, just for a moment.

And I hope that the ninety-five-year-old Trish, witnessing yet another scene of astonishment, is tapping the seventy-one-year-old me on the shoulder, and chuckling and weeping with joy as she does so.

Two hours later an exhausted Mahrree, drenched with sweat and tears, and shocked that so much could change so quickly, stared at the bundle in her arms. Her mother and the midwives were surprised that the baby was so small. Mahrree’s seeming enormity must have been a trick of the eye, they decided, magnified by her slight frame. The baby probably came early.

But she didn’t know what they were talking about; nothing about the newborn she spent the last hour and a half birthing seemed small. ~Book 1, Forest at the Edge of the World

17 Rules of Pregnancy for Husbands (updated)

Updated for a friend who’s wife is, well, confusing him . . .

In Forest at the Edge of the World Joriana Shin sends her son a list of how he should behave when his wife is pregnant. A few points are mentioned in the book, but some readers have asked me to post the full list.

Having been pregnant nine times, I feel I have a bit of experience with the topic. I will hand the list below to my own sons and son-in-laws so that they won’t accidentally destroy themselves with their own ineptitude.
(Heaven knows my husband could have had a list like this. I don’t think I’ll ever get over #3. Neither will he.)

15 17 Rules of pregnancy for husbands 

1. She will become irrationally testy at the most unexpected moments. Let her.  Remember, the reason she’s expecting a baby is, after all, your fault.

2. Remind her how beautiful she looks carrying your child. And be grateful you’re not the one that’s expecting, because you’d look ridiculous.

3. Never, ever use the “f” word; don’t even think the “f” word in her presence. If you say “fat,” is should be only in reference to something on your steak. (Also never say something such as, “Speaking of walruses . . .” when you see her roll over.)

4. Her vocabulary may change, including words you’ve never heard from her before, such as “weensy,” and “sweetadorableness” and “thatisthecutestthingever.”

5. When she can’t sleep, don’t attempt to give her any advice such as, “Just close your eyes and relax.” Instead kiss her on the cheek, tell her you’re so sorry, and then make yourself comfortable on the couch. For the next five months.

6. Do not attempt to bounce anything off her belly, even if you’re sure the pebbles would sail an impressive distance.

7. Accept the blame for everything. Everything.

8. Remember to look her in the eyes every now and then, before evaluating her bulging belly. And whatever you do, do not let your eyes bulge in surprise. Those changes are, after all, your fault.

9. No matter how tempting, do not use her belly as a shelf.

10. She will feel the need to reorganize everything. Help her. Remember: your fault.

11. Near the end of the pregnancy, don’t tell her it will all end, because she won’t believe you and may try to harm you.

12. Don’t try to poke her belly button back in.

13. If you absolutely feel you must say, “Whoa, is that normal?” do so in the kindest, most helpful tone possible. And try not to flinch at her answer.

14. When she goes into labor, do your best to comfort her: rub her back, massage her feet, tell her she’ll be just fine. She’ll likely be aggravated by every attempt you make, but still try. And don’t take it personally when she shrieks that you will never be allowed within twenty feet of her again. She’ll change her mind in a few months.

15. After the baby comes, she will cry and cry and cry. Your wife, that is. If she doesn’t stop in a few weeks, call her doctor. Carry her in to the office, if you must. She’ll thank you later, in a few months.

16. Early on, remember: food, your house, and especially you do NOT smell as bad as she claims. Probably. After the first three months her nose will recalibrate, and then she’s going to make up for everything she’s missed out on. Until then, shower frequently, carry mints, and don’t even THINK about fish.

17. Morning sickness (afternoon, evening . . .) is NOT in her head. It’s caused by massive surges in hormones. And so is anger, so if you dare suggest her illness is in her head–well, you’ve been warned.

What else should be on the list?