Featured, Motherhood

On growing pains.

December 5, 2014

FullSizeRenderI am the baby in my family. Obviously, this means I am the youngest, but it also means that I am the baby! I suppose one could be the youngest without being the baby, I even know some who have pulled this off, but not this girl. And truthfully, I don’t mind one bit.

This birth order role plays out several ways. I assume some of you are currently applying stereotypes and presuppositions to me, and I’ll never be credible again. Shoot. Blew it.

In seriousness though, I believe my familial position has informed a lot of how I process and grow. And as much as I hate to say it, I feel like it has made some growing pains a little more painful.

I grew up in a home where I felt very cared for. I realize that this is a precious, precious gift! My parents and big sister always made me feel loved, and seen and heard. I am not trying to over romanticize my home life, because obviously nothing is ever perfect. But I do believe I had a really amazing safe haven to live in. This helped me thrive and discover the person I am created to be. (I hope to give Leo this same gift).

Although I loved being the baby, I also had big dreams and ambition. I longed to grow and to be something.

I remember as a child feeling torn between the past and future. This feeling of polarity continues for me as an adult. I am overly nostaligic and sentimental.

As a little girl, I wanted the ‘next thing’ to come, but I also would weep on the last day of school as I said goodbye to my teachers, knowing I couldn’t go back.

On my wedding day, I could not have been more confident and excited about the new life I was going to create with Casper. All I ever wanted was to be in love and to find my person. And yet, when the end of the reception came, and it was time to say our goodbyes, I stood in a little huddle with my dad, mom, and sister… the three people that had always taken care of me, and I cried like a baby (pun intended), because I knew entering into this new life, meant that things would never be like the old life. I wanted both.

Do you do this, too? Do you spend one season of life longing for the next, and then when you get there you miss the old life, or even just miss that feeling of longing?

Who’s taken Strength Finders?! I am one of those weirdos that loves personality tests. (Myers-Briggs, by the way: ENFP!) My top strength finders is Woo. You know, “winning others over.” We’ve turned it into an adjective in our house and Casper frequently calls me out for “woo-ing” him into doing something he didn’t know he wanted to do, before I woo-ed him. (see… it works). My second strength is Adaptability. This means I am really good and being in the ‘here and now’ and am very present in the moment. I love this strength. It celebrates so many things about me that I once hated, especially my inability to be a planner. But when I embrace adaptability, I’m taking the time to stop and smell the roses and I’m really listening to people, and I’m lingering in every hug and laugh.

Here is where the growing pains come in.

I kid around with my friends that I didn’t become an adult until I had my own baby. But I think there is actual truth in this. The last two and half years have been filled with a lot of change.

My career life was the most demanding it had ever been, and then I became pregnant much sooner than we had expected. We quickly bought a house, and built a crib, and while our heads were still spinning, we welcomed Leo into the world.

The reality of becoming a parent is so sweet and so harsh. The early months require just surviving and celebrating when you get a decent night sleep and a long hot shower. In the midst of this surviving, I neglected myself. I was too busy fulfilling the requirements of adulthood, and I was forgetting the very person I am built to be.

Please do not hear me wrong: I love being a mom. I love it more than I ever expected to, and the amount of joy, and purpose and value this role has brought to me as a person is irreplaceable.

BUT, in the last year, I’ve found myself looking back a lot.

I swear, when I was in college I longed to know who I was going to marry, and to graduate and get a job as a pastor (I actually dreamed of working at the church I currently work at! God really is so good). I wanted a house, and a yellow lab, and someday (even though I didn’t want to say it out loud) a family.

Now I have all of these wonderful things and I feel so full in so many ways, and yet I find myself looking back …

Is is that life was easier then? It was definitely more emotionally intense, and I was far more unstable… but I miss it.

Why do I miss it? I don’t want to be back at Indiana Wesleyan University, wondering if I will ever finish all my required courses, and dealing with some horribly unhealthy relationships.

So what do I miss??

The more I think about this and process this, the thing I think I miss is: me! Although these times that I look back on are dramatic and tumultuous and I am so thankful to be growing up, I think for me, my current growing pain is realizing that as I’ve stepped into this new season, and become more of an adult, I forgot something really important along the way … staying true to myself.

So as I’m growing and processing, I have to admit a lot of failure in the last couple years. I’ve hurt friends that I treasure. I’ve pulled away from family, at times, and isolated myself. I’ve come across as unavailable and tired and distracted. For this, I am so so sorry. I am sorry that life has moved faster than I was ready for. In an effort to keep up, I detached from a lot of the things that make me who I am. The things I love about myself.

So, as painful as this growing is, it is so so good too. It feels good to say I haven’t been myself completely. And it feels good to say I’ve failed and I’m sorry. And it feels really really good to realize why I’m longing for the past … it’s not the circumstances, instead I’m longing for a time when I felt comfortable in my skin; when I felt like ME! And now I get to be on this journey of growing up, and yet holding onto the benchmarks within my soul that make me the very person I am. Less chaos, less busy; more freedom and more rose smelling.

What about you? Are you longing for a time and a place? Or are you longing to reconnect with a part of yourself that you’ve neglected or lost along the way?

Please share.

(this print is by Sarah Sherman Samuel of Smitten Studio. http://www.smittenstudioonline.com

(this print is by Sarah Sherman Samuel of Smitten Studio. www.smittenstudioonline.com. Who also happens to be a Grand Haven native!!)

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