Being a woman and a mother forces me to come to terms with the ever-changing seasons and constantly turning cycles of “normal” life.
When my first child was born, my mom said to me, “Remember—babies change so fast. If it starts to get overwhelming and you can’t imagine doing this indefinitely, just wait two weeks and, most likely, you and your baby will be in a new phase.”
Now, that’s true and it’s not. My second daughter didn’t sleep well as an infant and she didn’t sleep well for 18 months. I get that there certainly are phases that last waaaaay longer than two weeks.
But the mindset and the attitude of those words really helped me transition into life as a mother. Some things change predictably, while others are more erratic, but nonetheless, every stage of life is temporary and transitory.
Motherhood Removes the Illusion of Life’s Stability.
As a young adult, it’s easy to buy into the illusion that life marches on fairly predictably at a steady, even pace. Maybe you gain or lose a few pounds, maybe you have happy or sad times, but you start to think that life should be consistent and that, if it isn’t, the problem lies with you to resolve.
You need to rein in the stray anomalies of life to ensure it’s full compliance. If you try hard enough, you can work out the problems perfectly and have a firm grip of control on your life.
Having children blasts that illusion to bits. So much of life is beyond my control. I can’t figure out one perfect method for handling and maintaining my life, implement it perfectly and then everything will go smoothly all the time. Stuff happens.
- You’ll all get the flu and the house will explode with clutter. (It happens.)
- You’ll have beautiful weather and the kids play outside for days and then it rains for two weeks straight.
- Your child will take two hour naps and then suddenly refuse to ever lay horizontal during daylight hours again.
- Your baby starts teething and wakes up 15 times in one night.
I see so many articles claiming a perfect routine—a consistent strategy for success in life—but being a mother has taught me that life doesn’t work that way.
The World is in Flux.
Things change. We’re all aging and changing every moment! Particularly, my energy level, body, environment, and children are tremendously inconsistent.
Some days my children want to read and do puzzles all morning while I clean the kitchen. The next time I try that, they’re climbing up my legs and pulling each other’s hair.
My hormonal cycle is a noticeable and constant source of change in my life. Even though it falls into a generally predictable pattern, it’s still an adjustment.
In the summer, with warm weather and lots of sunlight, I’m active and productive. As winter comes, I slow down and have a hard time motivating myself to be active.
When I have a newborn, I need a nap every day. (When I have a toddler, I still want a nap every day.)
It’s so tempting to start down the rabbit trail.
- “What’s my problem? I had plenty of energy to tackle all of this last week!”
- “Why can’t my kids nap today? That’s the routine!”
- “I am so productive and the creative juices are flowing!! Why can’t I be like this every day?”
- “Why can’t I find a daily schedule that always works for us?”
Anticipating changes, instead of expecting everything to be stable and steady, goes a long way toward helping me, particularly through difficult seasons.
Accept life’s seasons and cycles with grace, instead of dreading or fighting them.
I’m not saying give up. Acknowledging seasons and cyclical changes doesn’t mean melting into a despondent puddle.
Variability and inconsistency require a different approach, but they’re not wholly unpredictable.
- I can get a handle on my hormonal cycle.
- I can find routines that typically work well, but relax and let them go when necessary.
- I can learn to identify and develop ways to handle the changes in my children’s moods .
- I can learn wise ways of handling particular situations and different stages of my life.
I just don’t want to get caught in the trap of thinking that everything should be consistent and, if it isn’t, I’m failing in some way. Motherhood has taught me that, more than anything, I need to constantly learn and adjust.
I want to develop the ability to embrace my life in it’s ever-changing circumstances and alter my expectations and agenda as needed. Through learning to navigate the never-ending seasonal changes of life, I grow more aware of my need for God. Life isn’t mine to control.
Life is changing, but God is not.
Whatever the season of motherhood—wherever in the ups, downs, and all-arounds of life I happen to find myself—I can rest in the assurance that God is there with me and He does not change.
Having children forces me to see life for what it is—fragile, ephemeral, and so very out of my control. The challenge is not to figure out the way to bring it under my control, but to recognize that I was never supposed to have that kind of grip on it in the first place.
Finding God and doing the work he puts before me—in the midst of the constant stream of changes and adjustments—is right where I need to be. Praise God for motherhood, for helping me learn this.
“Long ago you laid the foundation of the earth
and made the heavens with your hands.
They will perish, but you remain forever;
they will wear out like old clothing.
You will change them like a garment and discard them.
But you are always the same;
you will live forever.”
Psalms 102:25-27 NLT*
*Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.