Surviving the Seasons

imageMaeve was 5 days old when Nick came home to find me, cuddled up on the couch, sobbing inexplicably while Maeve nursed. He knelt in front of me, clearly afraid to ask the cause. I had cried all through my mom’s visit while she lovingly cleaned my kitchen and graciously said nothing. All that I could think that day was that I would never leave my house alone again, empty-handed and carefree. The walls were squeezing the breath right out of me and my baby bliss was being overshadowed by the impending doom of cracked nipples and sleepless nights. And as soon as Nick asked how to help, I blurted out, “Take me to the mall.” What? I don’t even know where that solution came from- I hate the mall. But a few laps around sharing sips of a Gloria Jean smoothie with Nick, and the clouds receded. I could see the possibility that my life, though changed, would still have moments of normalcy.

Those feelings have returned frequently in my parenting journey. They have crept in during moments I could not stand one more tiptoed interruption to my 9:30 TV show, moments when I was wrestling two little ones out of Meijer and back to the car mid-tantrum, months and years when I made meal after meal that one, or two, or three tiny critics did not like and refused to eat. In each of those difficult, tiring moments, it felt like the clock hands had slowed to an eternal crawl.
As I have raised three little ones for the past eight years, I have felt like I would wear maternity pants forever, be stalled in my creative ventures permanently, miss nights out with friends until I sat rocking alone on my porch to my death. These are lies, lies my impatient self repeats internally to lull my thoughts into boredom, unfulfillment, even discontent.
But more than anything, motherhood has taught me that life, especially with children, is in a perpetual state of change. Like the Michigan weather, the seasons of motherhood shift on a whim. Just when I can’t take one more bedtime battle, Anika decides to go to sleep right on time with a sweet kiss. The weight is lifted, the clock is ticking again. I can take a ridiculously embarrassing trip into public with cranky, unruly children and vow to never leave my house again with them in tow, then have a beautifully peaceful day at the beach together just a week later. Looking back at the past eight years through this lens of constant change, I can see my own metamorphosis as a mom and a person. I am not afraid when Carys decides to eat nothing but bananas that she will die of malnutrition. History has proven that just won’t be true. I can shut my internal voice right up when Anika has growing pains that force a midnight bath coupled with pained screaming. I know her little foal legs are just stretching her into her
preschool self, and the pain is temporary. That moment I had when Maeve was five days old came out of a fear of the unknown of motherhood. But now I know, and experience erases fear. I can feel my muscles relaxing, albeit slowly, into acceptance of the seasons. There are dark, cold winters, hopeful springs, beautiful but fiercely hot summers, and autumns of putting some plans to rest for a time. And just like I have survived a lifetime of uncertain weather, I am surviving, even thriving, in the changing moments of mothering. My acceptance has led to peace, not reluctantly, but with open-handed freedom to find happiness in each stage, even if the happiness is just the knowledge in the hard times that the snow will melt eventually.
Nick and I are in a current state of change. It is exciting, and scary. Our jobs are morphing and our roles at home will change to hold the shifting weight. It will be a time of growth, and I know that might bring growing pains. But I also know that as we navigate the change, we will find peace and happiness, no matter how the transition unfolds. Eight years ago, I might have felt swallowed in terror. I don’t embrace change naturally, and I am afraid of the unknown. Still, I can credit my eight years of enduring the stages of motherhood with bringing me to a state of faith that everything does have a season. It makes the wonderful moments more meaningful and the difficult moments more bearable.

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