Monkey and me at his preschool graduation. Hard, but so good!
I think that it is safe to say that, quite simply, change is hard. No matter what the change, something as small as switching shampoo to a life change like moving across the country- it's hard! I think that most of the time it has to do with a basic fear of the unknown. Take the shampoo for example- you've used the same shampoo for a month, you know what your hair will look like when you're done, you know the smell, the way it will suds up. But a new shampoo- will your hair be shiny? Tangly? Drier or more oily? More wavy? Straight? Will it rinse out easily or take a few passes? Will your hair smell the same as the shampoo or will it react with your body chemistry to smell different?
It might seem like a silly comparison- okay, it IS a silly comparison! But it just goes to show that anything that is unknown can make us nervous. It can make us long for our old shampoo- it can make us want to slam on the brakes and just stay put, because- well, what if?
One of my favorite sayings is, "That which doesn't change remains the same." Well, duh, right? But the reason I like this saying is that it shows you that no matter how scary or nerve-wracking or intimidating a change may be, you always have to consider the alternative. You could just slam on the brakes and stay put. You could throw it in reverse and stick with what you know. But would that really be better than taking a step into the unknown?
Let me back up and let you know a little bit about why this topic has been on my mind lately. Friday was an eventful day for us- my baby boy (my oldest) graduated from preschool, and we had a party for some of our best friends (also our neighbors) who are preparing to move to California. Going to these two events with the tears and heartache at moving to another stage of life, there was a part of me that just wanted to yell, "STOP! This is all going too fast! Slow down! Where did the time go? I feel like I missed something!" And yet I had to remind myself- that which doesn't change stays the same.
I started thinking about my baby boy and my friends. What were the alternatives to this painfully uncomfortable change? Would I want my son to stay my baby forever, and never have the chance to grow up and learn and progress and experience all the joys that childhood and young adulthood- and eventually adulthood- have to offer? Of course not! Would I want my friends to stay in a place far from their family and take employment that was unfulfilling and did not allow them room for growth and forward progression? No way! I love these people, and regardless of all of our heartache over the matter, the time for change has come, and that time is now, no matter how hard it might be.
I had something of a reality check yesterday while attending a family function that kind of helped me put this all in perspective. My sister-in-law recently had a beautiful baby boy, and there are 3 more of my sisters-in-law plus me who are also due within the next year. As I sat outside and watched all of our children run around and play in the water together, I couldn't help but marvel at the beauty that all of these changes have brought to our family. I thought back to the days when I joined this extended family and I had only 1 nephew. Now there are 16 little ones running around, playing, and getting into mischief (well not all of them are quite old enough for the running and mischief, but you know what I mean!) and 4 more on the way. I can't even begin to express the joy I felt at watching them, unknowingly building bonds of love and friendship that will last them the rest of their lives. What a beautiful example of change this is, and how change can bring unimagined joy into parts of our lives we didn't even know were lacking.
So I guess that my point is this: We cannot stick our heads in the sand and wish the change away. Is it okay to cry and get emotional? Absolutely! That's what gives our life experiences meaning and cements the memories into our hearts. But once the tears have dried, we must look ahead with hope, hope that the new memories we will make will be just as sweet as the ones we are leaving behind- perhaps even sweeter. We must take the opportunity to look ahead to upcoming changes and prepare ourselves by enjoying life in the here and now.
For example, with my new baby due in the fall, I have realized what a precious time these next 3 months will be in my life- it will be the last time I will have just my two children and me at home, because in September they will both start school (preschool and kindergarten) and I will have a new baby to look after. It will certainly be a joyful change to send them off to school and to welcome a new addition into our family, but I am sure that there will also be a part of me nostalgic for the days of summer when it was just our family of four. Looking ahead to this change has helped me to focus a little bit more on cherishing the time before the change, because I don't want to have to look back and wish I had savored it a little more.
So I have decided that I will take this opportunity, before life turns upside-down yet again, to appreciate what my life is now. I will cherish each moment, and anticipate the excitement of stepping into the unknown. I will remember the joys that have come from past change and look forward to the joys of the future. I will cry, but then I will smile, because change? Well, change is hard. But no change would be even harder. And in the end, change is really good.