I’m not talking about the “great change” that comes to women or changes due to the position of the Earth but more about what happens in your life as a person, human being, organism on this planet, etc… Everyone has changes over the course of his/her life; sometimes those changes are predictable, sometimes those changes are expected, and sometimes it’s utter chaos. Even as children we go through different seasons where we have different requirements of us and we need to learn how to navigate those changes.
I have had a couple of recent upheavals that have given me some perspective on this idea of a “season” of life. What I need, get, or expect out of myself, the Mr., the Munchkin and other people, needs to change with each season and I need to allow myself (and everyone else) some compassion to move through those seasons.
Birth to Toddlerhood
This has by far been the biggest “season” and change I have ever experienced in my life. I am an “old” mother and had the Munchkin when I was 34 (I didn’t qualify for being called “geriatric” by only a few months, found out I was pregnant with her a couple days after my birthday HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!). I had spent the past number of years basically doing what I wanted, when I wanted, with whom I wanted. Other than taking into account that I’ve basically been working a steady 5 day a week job since college graduation in 2003 I had no commitments other than a dog. I shared a house with another adult but an adult who was wholly self-sufficient and didn’t require my constant attention. Enter into the picture a tiny, squirmy, adorable bundle who was dependent on me, the Mr., and the other competent adults in her life. I am so grateful to have her but in the past 2+ years there has been some realizations and adjustments that have needed to be made.
This biggest adjustment is that I cannot do everything I want to do when I want to do it anymore, luckily I have a wonderful partner and a supportive group of people in my life that allows me the freedom to do A LOT of what I want to do, it just takes more planning than it used to. Before parenthood I’d be able to just look at my calendar and see if I’m already busy, if I’m not than awesome! Free to do what I want. Now I need to take into account a tornado that can’t be left alone even while sleeping. While sometimes it’s very tempting to lock the house, run to the convenience store and pick up some milk (because someone is going to want some when she wakes up…) it is a wholly terrible idea in practice and could get me in a lot of trouble so I just enjoy the peace and quiet that is naptime (while I still have it) and get stuff done around the house (or for my own sanity) that she would otherwise hinder. Have you had a two-year-old “help” you fold laundry? It’s a disaster and if you haven’t already tried it, I’m here to tell you don’t bother…
The other adjustment besides scheduling is exactly how little time I have to get stuff done during the week while I’m working. I was never exactly the best homemaker but I do have SOME standards when it comes to a clean-ish house and putting food on the table. The first year of the Munchkin’s life I also happened to be in graduate school so that forced me to put my priorities in order. I could play with my kid, see my husband, work on my grad school stuff, keep a perfect house, work out, take the dogs out regularly, read, watch TV, (list all the insane demands on a person’s time here…) but I couldn’t do all of them all the time. I had to pick and choose what got my attention and what didn’t. Needless to say there were things that fell by the wayside and I had to be okay with that. I think that was just a training ground for now having a fully mobile, independent and free-spirited toddler who is wonderful but can also be really good at messing up any of my “plans” (I hear you more life-experienced people laughing back there…).
Add into the mix that the first two years seem to be chock full of change from a developmental standpoint where every time I think I’ve “got it” she wants to alter her routine or now she can do more by herself (again with the laughing…) or she wants to do less by herself because she still needs mommy that I think that’s it! Life is just going to be a roller coaster from now on and might as well give up and give in! These past two years have taught me more about compassion for myself, the Mr., the Munchkin, and others because sometimes I feel like I’m just doing enough to keep my head above water. There are times where I mis-judged timing or pantry supplies and we have cereal or a smorgasbord of prepared foods from the grocery store and it just is what it is.
There are definitely parts of my life that still need work, and there are parts of me that still need work but the biggest thing that has helped me is to give into the season; whether it’s a day, a week, a month, or a year. Letting that chaos reign on occasion or having pizza and ice cream for dinner might be a necessity but giving myself some leniency and knowing that this season will pass allows me to enjoy the moment instead of worrying about life being too messy. If I utilize the habits I have built to keep myself on track or as close to it as I can get, I’ll make it through this season just fine.
I don’t think I’ve ever suffered the disease of perfection but needless to say if I did this new season of life would be very difficult because I’m not even sure what “perfect” is. I’m more interested in enjoying my life than I am about making anyone jealous with it.
“Tomorrow is fresh with no mistakes in it yet” has always been a powerful saying to me (thanks Anne Shirley) but as a parent it rings ever more true than ever before. It takes all seasons to make a life; some of them are wonderful, some of them are stressful, some of them are invigorating and some of them are draining. Being able to embrace the mess, go with the flow, and realize that I can try to be “more perfect” next season allows me to enjoy the beautiful life I have.