Recently, I wrote this on social media:
I am being reorganized by motherhood. To call it a “major transition” is to underestimate it, dramatically. I’m being reorganized, rewoven, repatterned. There is a lot to grieve in that, and a lot to celebrate. Can anyone else relate?
Those words needed to be said. They needed to pour out of me. And I needed to know I’m not crazy.
Turns out I’m not. So many of you wrote about how you could relate, and your words were honest and wise.
It’s New Year’s time, and this is certainly not a typical New Year’s post. This is the time of year when we usually talk about how we are going to shape our lives, our futures. It’s all about our personal agency, our thoughts on what we want to change and how we’ll change it.
This is a post about the opposite. It’s about the things that change us.
Our culture celebrates the individual that changes his or her circumstances, but we don’t respect as much how circumstances change us. In part, I understand that – when we overcome and respond to with what life hands us, that’s where the light often comes through, where courage comes in, where goodness can triumph. And yet, there is something that deserves more time and space in our collective conversations about this other kind of experience, about the way life changes us.
In our culture we also celebrate times of clarity, but do we give enough respect for their inevitable partners – the times of being unclear? I’m in one of those times now, as motherhood reorganizes me.
This morning I had the thought – “Oh that’s why they call it a transition period” – there is a period of time (as in longer than five minutes) that is neither A nor B but the transition.” I somehow didn’t quite know that, or at least I forgot it. I had been thinking of transition as change, as the swift, active movement from A to B, or as the time when you’ve got some A left in you but lots of new B…a sort of mix moment, a transit moment–but it’s not always that. Sometimes transition is also the strange period of mushiness and messiness and confusion that you live in for a while, between living in A and living in B.
I often don’t know how to write about living in one of those periods. I am being rewritten by motherhood and one of the markers of the hugeness of that transition is that I am not even sure how I am being rewritten. I can’t quite give you an update on it yet. ☺ The part of me that used to be there to interpret and watch changes is also in motion, also shifting, unavailable to give a tidy report.
But what I am learning is this: to be human is not just to change our circumstances, but to be changed by them. It is not just to direct the current, or find a way to use the current, but to be washed over by the waves.
It is to let go of old selves, and to face the next chapter. To let them go with some gentle tears, or a few sobs, or a wink and an open hand through which they can slip away. It is to meet old selves again, years later, in the moment you’d least expect to. It is to surrender to change.
What in your life experience—parenthood or other rites of passage—has rewritten you? What was it, is it like, for you? And what do you want this new mama to know?
photo credit: Benjamin Punzalan