I used to think I was good at change. I adapt pretty well, I thought, impressed with myself. Look! I went off to college without a hitch, had not one hint of homesickness. And then I got a teaching job, leased an apartment, bought a house, had a baby. My twenties were seamless, or so it seamed. (Ha ha ha.)
It wasn’t until I had my daughter in 2009 that I realized I’d been kidding myself. Everything had changed and was changing, and I was overwhelmed. You’d think I would have been prepared. (Actually, I thought I would have been prepared.) I went from sleeping 10 hours a day to sleeping only 4, and intermittently, at that. Two children were far harder than one. (I hadn’t really guessed that.). Days were filled with whining and crying and the fluorescent lights of super-marts; I’d drudge down the aisles for baby food, diapers, toilet paper, coffee, chocolate covered pretzels, coffee. I dreaded night time, the dark hours when everyone else in the world got to sleep and my daughter stayed wide awake, crying in pain after every feeding. Not only that, but she didn’t do the same things or have the same predilections as her brother. That just didn’t seem fair. I was starting from scratch again, when I thought I had already gained all the wisdom I needed to know.
I had certainly changed. I was unemployed and full of anxiety and less patient. My husband and I had no time, and our lack of sleep made us point resentful fingers at each other’s bulbous, sugar-filled stomachs. Having a girl to raise worried me in a new way. Now I wouldn’t be able to hide from my childhood so easily. I would have to face things about growing up that were uncomfortable. All of this came to a head in February of 2010, when I realized I had post-partum depression.
When I look back on that year, I know that my struggle—my family’s state of change—was a gift, and still is. If I hadn’t reached those depths, I wouldn’t have moved into the present with such careful deliberation. I wouldn’t have learned the meaning of true strength: accepting and honoring myself without the constant, grating, harsh judgment that had become the white noise of my brain. I learned how important it was to take care of myself so I could be a good mother to my kids, a loving wife, a competent professional, a person I wanted to be around.
I wouldn’t have recognized, if I hadn’t forced myself to look so closely, that I’m not a huge fan of change. (I just fooled myself for a really long time.) It’s so much easier to let things continue the way they are, to not have to challenge your own perceptions. It’s so much easier not to do the heavy work of figuring out who you are. But for me, change couldn’t be helped. I learned that it is natural, inevitable, the starting line of what it takes to grow.
I can tackle change now. My soul-searching in the past few years has shown me that I’m blessed with a heck of a lot of resilience.
Visit Momalom to learn more about Five for Five.