I’ve always love the song “Circle Game” by Joni Mitchell. As an adolescent when this song first came out, I never truly appreciated the significance of the lyrics. But at this time in my life, they pulse with meaning.
I’ve noticed an interesting pattern through the years and I wonder if other women my age are seeing it as well. Our children leave home and go to college. They acquire degrees and find careers that make them happy. And life feels somewhat stagnant as a parent with an empty nest. We take a back seat to many of their adventures and accomplishments. We brag about them with our closest friends or a stranger in the market, showing pictures on our phones to whomever appears interested and feel blissful when they call home to say hi or I love you. After a life full of raising sons and taking a back seat to their health, education and well being, I am often at a loss for how to proceed.
We’re captive on the carousel of time, we can’t return. We can only look behind from where we came.
And then suddenly things begin to happen. A wedding, a grandchild, another grandchild, another wedding. Life takes on new challenges and excitement. A flurry of new activity.
When my sons were growing up, my childrearing “bible” was The Gesell Institute of Human Development. Anyone remember the books “Your One Year Old”, “Your Two Year Old”, “Your Three Year Old”? Their research shows that children’s growth is not always an even ride from less to more maturity. Instead, smooth and calm behavior alternates with unsettled and uneven behavior. Children go through periods of “disequilibrium”- when they are learning new skills and abilities, growing quickly and experiencing more anxiety and less confidence. And “equilibrium”- a period of stability and consolidated behavior- when they practice the skills already mastered- when they are easier to live with…
Wowzy.. sounds like my adult life! 😱
2018 was smooth sailing. A year of equilibrium. I had the grandmother skills honed and the mother in law persona figured out. I’d finally settled into my townhome after grieving the sale of my memory-filled yet large and empty house.
2019 will be the year of disequilibrium for me. A new grandchild. A wedding. A new daughter in law. Growth, challenge, frenzy, a year of learning. I see the pattern emerging. What has been lost to the past is being reincarnated in the present- layered with periods of anxiety and the mastering of new skills.
As they say in Portland, Oregon.. if you don’t like the weather wait an hour or so. The clouds and rain give way to sunshine and blue skies. The painted ponies go up and down. We’re captive on a carousel of time.
And oh what an incredible ride it is.