Notes from the Middle

I celebrated my birthday this last weekend. It wasn’t a big one or a milestone––just a normal, next year sort of birthday. I’ve been in the process of recovering from a terrible cold since Christmas. It goes in waves and I’ve maxed out on all the drugs so was reduced to napping on the couch, sipping an apple cider vinegar and cayenne pepper concoction. Fortunately, after a feverish night, I felt well enough on my actual day to enjoy Frank’s boeuf bourguignon an afternoon of hanging out.

I was talking with a friend about this stage in our late thirties. We’re not really in the young parenting years of the “tired thirties,” though we’re not fully out of them yet, either. Nor are we yet in the world-conquering decade of the forties. Our kids are more independent but not fully. My identity is still that of stay-at-home mom, though I’m seeing a new season quickly approaching.

It’s a year that I could easily wish away, in pursuit of what’s next.

I recently got a book by an author I really like about being in her forties but just a few paragraphs in, I knew it was too soon. I’m not there yet. I liked what she had to say and am looking forward to reading it when the time is right but it’s just not yet my season.

I’m learning to be careful about living in the moment. I’m a person who can not only plan for what’s next but also romanticize the next stage. When people say, “Mamas of littles, it gets better!” I suddenly find myself fighting discontentment. I start noticing all the ways it’s not better and looking forward to the ways it will be.

But that’s not reality. Each season has its strengths and struggles and I’m remembering to embrace both. For me, this looks like having endless tea parties with Elle because it’s the last year we’ll have time and space to do whatever we want together. It’s blogging without goals of platform building or book publishing because that’s what I have the capacity for in this moment. It’s remembering the choices I’ve made and the fact that seasons of transition are just as important to embrace as the full-on season itself.

I love dreaming the big dreams and spinning ideas for what life could look like in the next years and decades. It’s fun and energizing. But I never want to take away from this moment. From walking to school and volunteering and having the space to just take a day off to rest or see a movie with the girls. These are unique and precious years, I know.

So just like my one word for the year is not a word at all, I’m starting this next year of life without much of a guide. I’m learning to plant my feet in the space I’m in now, to pursue dreams and ideas while holding them lightly. I’ll both expand on ideas and read more novels. I’ll invest in my community and in my small family. I won’t pick up the half-finished Costco box projects just yet because I’m starting to see the beauty in those games.

There’s something peaceful in sitting with this moment. I’m spinning less, comparing less, and finding more ideas that I hadn’t considered. I’m learning to lean into that freedom and my shoulders are relaxing a bit. Who knows where this year will end––I never do, right?––but for now, I’m thankful for the time and space to stop and enjoy.

What about you? Are you in a season of hustle or pause? Are you pursuing the next right thing or are you breathing in this moment?


What Do I Want to Remember?

Things I enjoy about motherhood:img_2108

  • Making sweet memories
  • Watching the girls grow and develop into their own little humans
  • Being part of something bigger than just today’s mess – knowing that our conversations and intentions will shape the girls’ outlook
  • The reminder that unconditional love does exist and the daily modeling of forgiveness (mostly from the girls – I still struggle with this)

Things I don’t love about motherhood:

  • Refereeing & Disciplining
  • The longterm vision that our small choices and ideals actually do matter in the future
  • The mundane of life at home
  • Finding the balance of giving to the girls, giving to Frank, and remembering that self-care is important, too

We talked yesterday at MOPS about the dichotomy of motherhood – of the pressure to be red carpet ready 6 weeks after giving birth balanced with the spiral of yoga pants every day forevermore. As we weeded through labels and expectations, our speaker – a life coach – teased through the labels we put on ourselves.

She asked, what would our 90-year-old self say about this moment? What would our 5-year-old selves say about motherhood?

We decided that our 90-year-old self would say Let it go! and remind us of these precious, fleeing moments. That we should enjoy these days. We remembered our 5-year-old selves being excited about being moms, without realizing all the other stuff that goes along.

I loved this practice and want to extend it to all areas of my life. How can I step back and remember perspective? What will fade into the background? And how can I rekindle that childlike excitement of the future?

How do you keep perspective? What would your 90-year-old self remember about this stage of life?

Linked with Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday, a time to write without editing.