Growth Spurts: The Changing of the Seasons
As I am writing this, we are still experiencing blazing hot weather. But I am hopeful that as you are reading this, we are experiencing some cooler weather–a welcome reprieve from the brutal summer heat. Don’t get me wrong; I thoroughly enjoyed my summer. (I do love hanging out by the pool.) But a change in weather is welcome. I don’t always love the extremes of winter and summer; I tend to prefer the mildness of fall and the life-givingness of spring. I know some of you are exhilarated by cold temperatures, while others of you are sad if you can’t wear flip-flops and tank tops all the time.
I find that the seasons of parenthood are similar to those of nature. Some of the seasons are particularly difficult, while others seem easier and/or more enjoyable. And we probably don’t all agree on which ones are which, because we have different parenting styles and are drawn to some stages of child development more than others. Some of us absolutely love the baby stage–holding, feeding, rocking, diaper-changing, soothing. Some of us love the teenage years–extracurricular activities, late nights, friends, conversations, learning to drive, dating. And then some of us prefer the seasons somewhere in between.
Years ago when I asked a friend of mine which season she liked best, she said, “I have thoroughly enjoyed all of them. As for the difficult parts…well, you just sort-of exchange one set of things for another with each stage.”
Right now my family has one child in elementary school, one in middle school, and one in high school. These are definitely different seasons. There are both joys and hardships in each season, and we aren’t always prepared for them–kind-of like the winter storm that comes fast and harsh out of nowhere. (By the way, is there a parental equivalent to making the run to the store for bread, milk, and batteries before the storm hits? If so, please contact me and fill me in.)
Thankfully, the transitions to the next seasons tend to happen somewhat gradually. Except maybe puberty, which seems like a sudden cold snap plowing its way through your life, making you realize how completely unprepared you are to handle the changes. But other than that…you can anticipate the changes coming and can try to be prepared.
My family is currently experiencing one of those big transitions to the next season, as we anticipate adopting internationally. We are so excited, but we are also a bit scared. We are doing all that we can to be prepared for this next season, but we know that we can’t really be fully prepared. But are any of us ever really fully prepared to parent any child–biological or adopted? Let’s be honest. No one is actually prepared to deal with sleepless nights or days that seem to be filled with crying. But we figure it out, and we just do it. (Is it bad that I get a little sense of satisfaction when I watch a young couple who used to have all the answers about parenting…and then they had a baby? Come on, you know there’s some poetic justice in that. I can’t be the only one.)
If you read my column last month, you remember that I wrote about coasting and likened parenting to the ups, downs, twists, and turns of a roller coaster. So you’re probably sensing a pattern in my life right now–wondering and waiting to see what is just ahead for my family. We have been on the slow, uphill climb of the adoption process for a few years now, and we are just starting to see the top of the hill, where the real adventure is about to begin. It’s going to be an amazing ride, and I cannot wait to share it with all of you.
Carrie Bevell Partridge loves all of the seasons but has a particular fondness for spring.