Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Seasons and Gears

Here's something that's been on my mind for the past month and a half: seasons. Could be because of the actual physical shift of seasons that I've just watched take place around me, but I think that my mini-meltdown in the beginning of September was actually the impetus for this latest round of navel-gazing. Or, it could be Jana's recent post and our subsequent email exchange. Or Jo turning ten. Well, at any rate ...

I've always heard, in Christian circles, the term "seasons" bandied about as a means of identifying the stages of life that we all seem to pass through. I am not big on Christian-isms in the first place (actually, I'm not big on "isms" in general), but this one has always struck me as especially absurd. Why? Because to say that you are leaving a specific season implies, to me at least, a gradual, graceful transition that truly slips by without relative ease.

Have you personally experienced this in your life? Because I sure haven't.

As a matter of fact, most of the people I know would categorize their personal transitions as anything but gradual acclimation. There's the mom I know who has been married to her high-school sweetheart pastor for the last seventeen years. Guess what? She just got booted from her married season in to her single season when adultery was revealed in her marriage. There's my mother-in-law, who has yet to accept that she has entered the autumn years of her life and shouldn't mother hen like she was living in the summer months. What about my Jo, who still hasn't come to terms with the fact that she can't ride in the Playskool car anymore?

And then there's me.

The Lord has been dragging me, kicking and creaming, into the next season of parenting for approximately four years. Four years. Thankfully, I serve a patient God who has persistently prodded and pushed me out of my safety zone rather than giving me the big, muddy boot in the behind that I deserve. I've seen the signs, but to be honest, I didn't like them. I put on my blinders (think of the kind that mules wear on roadways) and remained on course as I saw it. I liked where I was, and who I was. I liked where all the pieces fit.

The fact is, I am not a mother to littles anymore. Heck, even if we are blessed to adopt those little people that I feel so comfortable parenting, I still have to buck up and be a mom to one rather wise ten year-old girl who is no longer content to hang out in the kiddie pool of life. I have to spread my own wings and fly out past the comfort of friendships that are awesome ... but don't water my soul and fertilize me with mentoring.

You have no idea how hard this is for me to write, but I have realized:
I no longer belong in the preschool wing.
I am not need physically by anyone right now.
It is doubtful that I will ever give birth again.
I am not the mom with the cute young family.
I am not that mother anymore.

The season has shifted, and I didn't notice. The buds have opened, the blossoms have faded and everything is green. Summer is here.

Rather than feeling like I have emerged, fresh and dewy, from one experience and am ready to take flight into a new one, I feel stunned. I didn't so much shift seasons as shift gears. It was abrupt, it was rude, my spirit groaned out with an un-oiled grind, and I found myself trying to fit my shallow spots around the pegs of the new norm. There have been moments when I doubted that things would ever run smoothly again. Awkward spots where I've found myself floundering even among the familiar as I've tried to go back to be the person that I was two, four years ago.

It doesn't fit anymore.

So here I am, on the other side, looking back at the little wheel that was my life and realizing that the changes I am experiencing now are going to reverberate years. This is it. The new norm. The next gear.

I hope I can find the oil can, or I'm in for a jerky ride.


Gayle said...

There is a little bit of grieving going on in my heart too! I really liked being the mom of cute little things but this new "season" is not so cute. I'm still enjoying my kids but there is just something magical when they are all little and hang on your everyword.

~ Angi :) said...

Hm. How well I can relate. I've incandescently transformed numerous times myself . . .my latest realization that I've somehow given up a measure of my autonomy gained by having olders. Will Gil and I ever enjoy a vacation alone again? Will we ever return to our romance laden life of shared Merlot and weekends at a spa, hidden and tucked away in some nook in the mountains?

Sigh. No matter which way one slices it ~ oil can or no ~ each season has its shortcomings; it's perks and bennies . . .