I started writing a few weeks ago about how I manage to get the time I need to recharge. Read those posts here and here. This week, I'm writing about acceptance. Specifically, accepting that the only thing in our rhythm that I know will never vary is that nothing stays the same forever. Just when I figure out the perfect, flowing, gentle rhythm for our family, one that allows me the time I need alone, something inevitably changes! Just when we hit our stride, there is a bump in the road (or a pandemic or a 100-year snowstorm) and we have to adjust. It is so hard to accept that what worked beautifully a few months ago isn't working now!
Do you ever feel like that? Over the past year, I've felt like that more often than usual, but the feeling isn't new itself. Just when I figured out how to manage one child - I went and had another one. Just when I felt like I was getting the hang of things as a mom of two - we moved almost four hours away from our support system. Just when I was getting the hang of having a child attending school - we realized we needed to school him at home. Almost seven years later and the only thing I know is not going to change is that things are always changing.
I used to let these transitions really throw me into a cycle of self-criticism. What am I doing wrong? Why can't I make this work? If only I was more X, less Y, we wouldn't be struggling. But in the last few years - and this past year especially - I'm realizing that none of that is true. None of it. Change is hard - and we don't live in a vacuum. Everyone in the household is affected by change, all the time. Kids are growing and changing, sometimes, it seems, overnight. Schedules change, work demands change, finances change. Throw in a pandemic - or the absence of a supportive village - and change becomes all that more difficult to navigate.
So what to do about it? What is working for me right now is to recognize when that loop of self-criticism starts to pause and notice if we are going through a transition as a family, or if even one individual is experiencing transition It can be big - a separation from grandparents because of COVID or it can be small like mama reassigning chores. It can be positive changes, too - a new pet or a new class - really anything that has required us to move in new ways. Just recognizing that we are experience a change makes meeting the challenge a little easier.
I am also working on accepting that change means that, at least temporarily, my alone time might be shortened - or even eliminated - while we find our stride once again. Finding a new time or a new way to have that time I need is definitely close to the top of my priority list when adjusting to changes, but I am accepting that sometimes, it has to wait. Just a teeny bit. I also try to accept that my alone time isn't going to look like it did before. If I had 30 minutes to myself on the patio just me, my coffee, and the birds each morning - I might have to accept that my 30 minutes is going to be at night after everyone is abed. It might be sitting in the driveway, hiding in the car after I get back from a gig. I might even be taking an extra lap around our small town after doing the grocery shopping. I have accepted that alone time can still be great even without coffee and birds (though that is my favorite).
Change is part of life. There's nothing profound in saying that. But, over the next few months, I am going to be taking some time to think deeply about how I am changing. I'm at mid-life, my children are more independent, and honestly? The pandemic and events in the United States over the past few years have deeply affected how I look at the world. I know I'm not alone in that! I'm going to be doing some reading, trying some new ways of being and doing (or old ways I had forgotten about), and I'll be sharing about them here. Look for blog posts about what I'm reading, what is working for us in this moment, and of course - resources, both mine and others, that I think would be helpful to you. Have a resource you'd like to share? Please send me a message!