by Terrin Parker
My family and I recently moved. When we attended church on Sunday, they passed around a “getting to know you” form for new congregants to complete. I inked in my replies, then paused when I got to the line which read: “Talents, hobbies, and interests.” Hmm. Well, I used to play the guitar and write songs. I used to surf. I used to travel. I used to do triathlons and hike and scuba dive and rock climb. But now? I make sandwiches… build Lego castles… and match socks.
As I sat there staring at the blank space, I began to miss the old me. The cool, fun, adventurous me that I used to know. Somewhere along the way, that me had been overshadowed by this all consuming role of motherhood. And then the guilt set in. How could I be feeling so melancholy when these little people bring me so much joy? But shouldn’t there be some kind of balance? Equal amounts of time and energy to divide between my spouse, my children, my job, my friends, my hobbies, my talents, my church, and my self? The time/energy scale seemed to be bottoming out on the “rearing small children” side of life.
Then I remembered a recent conversation I’d had with my sister-in-law. We were talking about the challenges of motherhood, and I mentioned wishing I had more balance in my life, to which she wisely replied, “Life has seasons, and sometimes balance happens over time, not on a day-to-day basis. Right now you are in the season of raising little people that take up all of your time and energy, but it won’t always be like that.” Then, as life so often does, a learning moment was presented to me to further illustrate this principle of balance and seasons.
It had been one of those difficult days that come often with small children. The hits came hard that day, and had broken down every stronghold I had. Finally, it was time to get the kids bathed and to bed. I didn’t even have the energy to tell them to stop splashing as I sat there on the tile floor, shoulders slumped, getting soaked, tears welling up in my eyes. I used my last ounce of reserve energy to summon my guardian angels to bear me up. Suddenly, in my mind’s eye, I saw myself somewhere in the future, sitting in a clean, quiet home. No splashes. No giggles. No Play-Doh in the carpet or syrup in the hair or bubblegum on the keyboard. And guess what? The future me was yearning for one more splash from her giggling bathtub babies. One more wet hug and kiss. One more chance to see her two little boys chase each other around the room in their superhero towels. She longed for one more moment like the one I was bitterly enduring, and I felt a shift happen as I faded back into reality. I wrapped my babies in their towels, letting my heart fully absorb their wet kisses and hugs, and then I turned on some music, and we danced.
Just like the Ecclesiastes verses made famous by The Byrds say, “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.” Each season of our life brings with it good things, and not so good things. Easy things, and difficult things. Happy things, and sad things. And we relish the beauty, and endure the pain. We cherish the blessings, and work through the trials. And through each season, we grow into the person we were meant to become. We are molded by time and experience into something magnificent.
Just as swiftly as spring turns to summer, which fades into fall, and slips into winter, soon my season of being a mother to young children will be gone, and I will enter a new season full of new joys and new challenges. The key to happiness is learning to embrace the season you are in, taking full advantage of the landscape of your life in that season, so you can look back knowing you made the most of each moment. To everything there is a season. A time to plant, a time to reap. A time to laugh, a time to weep. A time to be born, and a time to die. But now is the time, your time, to live.