It’s insidious. It happens without us even noticing. It’s kind of like how your kids sprout and grow in front of your very eyes yet until someone who hasn’t seen them in a while remarks about how big they’ve gotten you don’t even realize it. It’s easy to miss the change when you watch it happen millimeter by millimeter.
Our priorities change.
I remember myself twenty years ago and I sometimes wonder what the heck I was thinking. Looking back from the vantage point of experience, I can’t even begin to comprehend how much energy I wasted on things that now seem so unimportant to me. For some reason, back then cleaning my house was one of my top priorities. The hours I spent cleaning and terrorizing my family if they made a mess or dragged in any dirt or sand was, in hindsight, quite ridiculous. Instead of spending time with people who are important to me and doing things to enrich my life, I opted to clean even though I couldn’t stand cleaning. (It does seem though that there are days when my husband now secretly wishes I would get bitten by the cleaning bug again.)
Our beliefs change.
As we get older and wiser, we begin to realize that life isn’t black and white anymore. We slowly learn to embrace the uncertainty that is the multicolored rainbow of life. We learn that in order for there to be rules, there needs to be exceptions to the rules. We learn that rules are meant to be bent because after all, life isn’t carved in stone. It’s melded by love and empathy and feelings.
As the years pass our beliefs about right and wrong shift. Our beliefs about what our red lines are changes. Sometimes even our religious beliefs change.
Our reactions change.
I know that now, different things “push my buttons” than they used to. I also know that on good days, even my reaction to things that usually “push my buttons” is wiser and less impulsive than the way my twenty year old self would have reacted. Every good and bad experience we have teaches us new skills. Experience is a persuasive teacher.
Our parenting changes.
OMG how much our parenting changes as the years fly by. I’m a completely different mother now at 46 than I was as a new mother at 20. Back then I had all the answers because I lived in the land of black and white. Today, with 5 kids and 2 daughters-in-law, I’m still making it up as I go because every day brings new challenges and I’m very aware of the fact that I still don’t have all the answers.
My kids have gone through a myriad of experiences, some of which I have never experienced myself. They have volunteered with disabled kids, play sports I never played, play musical instruments that their tone deaf mother only wishes she could. Two of my children have served in the armed forces; they’ve seen places I’ve never been. For the most part, each of my kids has grown up with a different mother, because with every day that passes and with each additional kid I gave birth to, my parenting changed. Sometimes things slipped because of exhaustion, sometimes because I realized that I needed to let go of routines that weren’t working for me or weren’t worth the energy.
Change is hard but change is good. It means we’re learning, evolving and allowing ourselves the possibility to fail, to be wrong, to not know.
Sometimes we’re afraid of change. We want what we know because we forget that there’s something even better waiting for us around the corner. We don’t need to fear change, we need to learn how to accept our vulnerability and reach out to others for support and guidance.
How am I different now from the 20 year old I used to be? Well aside from the wrinkles, grey hairs and some extra pounds, on most days I know how to ask for help or advice and guidance. I’m also learning that it’s okay to say I don’t know, I’m sorry, no I don’t want to. I believe that it’s okay to take a risk and follow my heart in whatever direction it’s leading me. I’m better off because of changes that have come into my life.
Yes, at times change still scares me but I know that so far I’ve weathered any change that has come my way and I’m still alive and kicking.
Life by definition is change. It’s also what makes me the person and the mother I am.
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Susie Mayerfeld, our contributor in Israel.
Photo credit to Susie Mayerfeld.