People are often better at one than the other. So I guess that means our strength is also our weakness, our Achilles’ heel. Me, I’m a good changer. I can get a surge of energy and switch things up.
But place me in a situation where the variables are less under my control… That’s another story.
It also happens to be the story of motherhood.
My daughter is almost one. There are a lot of joys to that. She is more interactive, more verbal (her babbles have the rhythms of real sentences, with a few actual words sprinkled in), and better at self-entertaining.
But some things, with a child, are simply fixed. She needs to eat at certain times and certain amounts; ditto for sleeping. You can’t just go out to eat anymore, or at least, not with the expectation that she’ll be content. Often, it’s easier to stay home, where you do control more variables, where there are no other patrons to be bothered if she gets fussy. Monkey too much with her schedule, or her preferences, and she might very well make you pay.
I’m making it sound like she’s holding me hostage, and in a sense, she does. The compensation, of course, is the love, and the engagement I feel with her. But when I feel dissatisfied with the architecture of my life, there’s not a ton to be done. I can make small changes, but no large structural ones, due to energy, finances, and her needs, which have to be primary.
This is a familiar experience for many parents. Parenthood can make you feel stuck, and oddly powerless, even though this little person depends on you completely. You’re in charge, and maybe that’s part of the problem.
With clients, I stress how meaningful small changes can be, especially when those changes are in perspective and outlook. But sometimes I want a major overhaul, like in the good old days. By comparison, my life used to be incredibly malleable. Now, sometimes, it feels like clay that’s already set.
This is where acceptance comes in. And part of that acceptance is the recognition that I’ve been pretty fortunate in my life to have the luxury of overhauling it. I’ve gotten to be selfish, in that I’ve been able to make the pursuit of personal happiness a cornerstone.
Now, I have to appreciate the opportunity to create happiness in her little life, which might make my own feel less like mine for a time. For a long time, if my sources are reliable.
Acceptance, like other mindfulness techniques, is about daily practice, and as with other skills, it gets easier over time. That’s okay. She’s only one. I’ve got years.
Mom feeding baby photo available from Shutterstock
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Last reviewed: 6 Jan 2013