To every thing there is a season,
and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
I was originally going to title this post "seasons of motherhood" but then I realized that since all women are (or at least can be) mothers, even if they do not bear their own children biologically, the title I chose is more descriptive of this post - especially because women experience more seasons than just the seasons of motherhood.
A friend of mine is staying with us with her two children (ages 3 years and 5 months) while her husband is out of the country. My husband is also back and forth, in the country, out of the country, for the next several months, which was part of the reason we offered our home to her and her kids - so that we can provide companionship for one another while our husbands are away. It's been working out really well - she and I are very similar, and we are both really easy going. We get to have a lot of great gospel discussions, and we talk constantly about raising our kids and our struggles as mothers.
Recently my friend was chatting with her husband online and she was telling him about all the things that I do - I am pretty involved in the community with my children and I get to do a lot of things for "me" as well. My kids are 5 and 3. After my friend finished telling her husband about all the things I do he asked, "What do you do all day?" When she related this story to me, at the time where she quoted her husband's question I said emphatically, "You take care of a baby - that is a full time job in an of itself. My kids are older, they can take care of themselves." And then I commented, "When I have another baby, I am going to have to scale back dramatically."
As I said it, the full weight of that statement seemed to fall on me. I am going to have to scale back dramatically. If you know me, you know that this is not easy for me. Probably the hardest part about motherhood for me is the newborn stage when I do almost nothing other than keeping up on the necessary laundry and dishes and nurse and nap and change diapers.
I will admit it, I am one of those peoples who thinks naps (in general) are a waste of time.
As I was thinking about how I would need to scale back when another baby comes, I was reminded of Stephanie at Diapers and Divinity who recently asked me to host her General Conference Book Club while she added another ball to her juggling act - she handed me one of her many balls so that she could keep juggling all the other balls - especially the most important ball: her family. I am grateful for her example.
Several years ago, when I was pregnant with my second child, I attended a Relief Society retreat in the mountains in Utah. Our key note speaker at the retreat was Janice Kapp Perry, a notable LDS songwriter who has written many of the most well-loved songs in the children's songbook (A Child's Prayer, I Love to See the Temple, I'm Trying to Be like Jesus, Love is Spoken Here, We'll Bring the World His Truth, as well as As Sisters in Zion from the LDS Hymnbook). Sister Perry talked to us about times in her life when she had small children, but felt disappointed because she didn't have the time to write music and perform music like she wanted to. Then she was reminded that there would be a time in her life, a season, for writing and performing music, but the season she was in at that moment was a season of motherhood to small children. When she realized that the season of having small children would not last forever, it was easier for her to enjoy that season.
I have tried to apply this principle in my own life - there are seasons for me to spend most of my time at home, cuddling a newborn, and there are seasons in my life when I can take my kids and show them the world (or at least our community). There are seasons in my life during which I will be making all sorts of new friends and meeting new people, and there are seasons in my life that will be spent enjoying old friends, and basking in the simplicity of life.
Just like the seasons of our earth - Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter - we may have our "favorite" season of our lives. My favorite season of the earth is Spring - when all the flowers are blooming and there are new things in my garden every day. I get out of the house almost every day, work in the yard, play outside with the kids, and just enjoy the earth. For me, this season would be the season of young children. They are so inquisitive and so eager to do things, and they are learning so much every day. We can be involved in many things in our community, learning new things and meeting new people nearly every day. We learn together about the world around us. I love basically everything about this time period, and the only thing that puts a damper on my mood is the occasional rainy day.
My least favorite season of the year is Summer. It is so hot it's almost unbearable. I end up staying inside too much and I get a little stir crazy. But my favorite part about summer is plunging into a nice cold swimming pool. For me, this would be like the newborn season of womanhood. Taking care of a newborn is really stressful, and like the heat of summer, it can be unbearable at times. I end up staying inside too much, and I get stir crazy. But my favorite part about taking care of a newborn is the rush I feel when a baby coos or smiles at me, or when my baby snuggles me. That is like that rush you get when you plunge into a cold pool, and the heat of the summer seems worth it, at least for a little while.
And my favorite seasons will probably change as I experience more seasons. I haven't yet experienced the season of teen children, or grown children, or grandchildren.
As I have been thinking about how my life will change when I have another baby, I have been preparing myself to enjoy that time when a baby comes, rather than lament the changes I will have to make in my lifestyle. The season I will be in will just be a different season - but there are beautiful things in every season. We just have to remember to look for them - and enjoy them.
How have you experienced seasons in your life? Have you struggled with some seasons more than others? What is your favorite season that you have experienced in your life? How do you adjust to new seasons?