October was a crazy month, even by our heightened standard of what “crazy” looks like. After a relatively calm settling-in period at my new job, things ramped up considerably last month. I took on a lot of new challenges, worked a few very long days, and in the middle of the month I had to go away for a weekend and participate in a conference. (It was in Bermuda, so I can’t complain too much… but it still made for a hectic time.)
Of course this affected life at home. If I’m gone more, or having a harder time leaving work at the office, that naturally has an impact on Shawna and the kids. And the fall also brought a new level of busy-ness with all the specialist appointments that Maliah has. I’m pretty good at keeping a level head and I rarely get overwhelmed with stress, but for a couple of weeks it felt like we were running at Defcon 5 virtually every day.
But one of the ways I weather seasons like that is by remembering that they’re just that—seasons. My general view of life, and parenting, is that things are always changing, and very few things last forever. Kids are always going through new phases. Jobs, relationships, and responsibilities in life move in rhythms and waves.
I know there are people who have a hard time with change and probably find that idea difficult, but for me it’s a hopeful thing. When life gets crazy, I remember that it won’t always be this way. When I think about things I’d love to do but just don’t have the time or the energy for right now, I remember that things will be different when the kids are a little older and their demands on us change.
They’ll still be demanding, I know… but two years from now they’ll all be able to feed themselves. We might even be finished with diapers! The thought of not having to face another one of Gideon’s back-end explosions is enough to give me hope.
But the challenge with thinking this way is the temptation to be too forward-looking. I’ve always been a daydreamer—I think it’s a common trait in writers—but I can fall into the trap of spending too much time imagining the next season and looking past where I am right now.
This is something I’ve been more conscious of over the past year-and-a-half, particularly when I was at home freelancing. In my conversations with God, in the midst of all our chaos, I felt him saying, “Enjoy this season while you’re in it. Enjoy each day for what it is.” Not every day felt enjoyable, of course, and there was plenty of uncertainty too—I knew I’d have to find a job eventually, if we all wanted to keep eating. But I tried to make the most of the fact that I got to spend so much time hanging out with my kids.
The season is turning again. Work is still busy, but I’m adapting to my new responsibilities, and adjusting my schedule so that I get more time at home in the mornings on the days I have to work late. I’m finding my rhythm, which makes me feel more sane.
I’m also enjoying the kids in new ways—Oscar in particular right now. He went through a difficult patch for a few months around the time he turned three, but now that he’s fast approaching four (…and wow, is it strange to think that way…) he seems to have morphed back into a sweet, kind boy who makes things for his siblings and gives great hugs. He’s constantly surprising me with the creative and absurdly hilarious thoughts that swirl around in his brain. I love spending time with him. I love all my kids, of course, but Oscar’s the one who seems to make me smile the most right now. And I wouldn’t have said that three months ago.
I think there’s a lot of wisdom in the chapter in Ecclesiastes that says there’s a time for everything, a season for everything under the sun. (Perhaps you know it better as a Byrds song, “Turn Turn Turn.”) If we can enjoy the good times while they’re upon us and remember that the hard times don’t last forever, I think it helps us be more content.