The clock on the nightstand says exactly 8:22 p.m.
I’m in my pajamas already. We just exchanged our nightly, “Love you to the moon and back, don’t let the bed bugs bite, see you in the morning” handshake (times two).
And I happily crawl into bed, faithfully write in my gratitude journal, do some mindful centering and consciously turn out the light so I can read in the dark on my e-reader.
This isn’t how it always is around here. Often, I’m up late doing stuff, dabbling in this or that or at the very least plotting and planning for tomorrow.
But not this night or the several that will follow.
This kind of slow, intentional letting go of what needs to be done is just how it needs to be sometimes.
There are many phases that come and go in motherhood just as there are many seasons that run through childhood, too.
The key is embracing and understanding the seasons of motherhood.
I fall into a new season every several weeks and then I wonder what happened to that rhythm I was so happily trotting along in just the week before.
In a flash, everything changes.
My energy. My mood. My motivation. My social radar. My mothering skills. My wife skills. My cleaning ambitions.
I speak a lot about the seasons of motherhood because I’ve paid enough attention in my own life to be able to recognize a dry season. The season that leaves me less than stellar, less than motivated, less than creative, less than productive.
And I’ve learned to ride the dry season as long as I need to do so.
That often means an earlier bedtime. Less blog posts. More bouts of doing not much of anything.
Over the years, I’ve learned to understand my own seasons and how they ebb and flow. Some seasons fly in with a vengeance and leave with a gust. Others tip-toe in softly and knock me down without warning as if an iron pot was crashed over my head.
But here’s the thing: I couldn’t be me without all these seasons of myself. Not the real me.
I couldn’t be the mother I’ve become. So I embrace all of them with the fiercest of grips because I know from experience they won’t last long. I relish in the way they wake me up and change me. I savor their challenges and soft pushes for me to become just a little bit better.
And when they pass.
When they pass I see the new me and stand ready for the next season to weather me some more.
The many seasons of motherhood.
There’s my idea season.
This is the season when I have more ideas than time. This is when I tend to pile on too much and take on too much and then, whoosh, it the season ends and I’m left with the aftermath. A lot of brain overwhelm and not much to show for it. But, by far as a creative mama, this is my favorite season.
There’s also my productive season.
This is the season when I just get things done. Drawers cleaned out. Weeds pulled. Laundry started. Yoga accomplished. I have fun things planned for the kids after school and I make great snacks to greet them when they get home. This is the season when I get a thought and just do it rather than keep thinking and dwelling. I love this season, too, because it feels productive. And, above all, I love to feel productive.
There’s my I’m not Good Enough season.
This is the one you don’t want to be in but it’s inevitable. We all get there. It’s like quick sand. You find yourself immersed, sinking … sinking and soon you are trying to climb your way out. And then you do and you’re back on top of the world for a while. I have learned to appreciate this Not Good Enough season because it reminds me that I have to take care of myself and believe in myself — and teach my daughters to do the same.
There’s my social season.
This is when I start entertaining. Inviting people over. Accepting offers of playdates for the kids. This is a rush of wanting to be around more people. And I am always fairly happy in this season but for one thing: It exhausts me. Anyone who’s an introvert can understand that. But I have learned to go with this season because, like water and air, social interactions are important and essential to being and growing.
There’s my anti-social season.
This is when I clear the calendar. I stop accepting all invitations. I avoid all playdates and we spend as much time outside and in nature as much as possible. Solitude is my saving grace because, let’s face it, thinking is hard. I love this season as much as any other because it reminds me of the strength I carry inside of me to do the hard things.
The “I got this” season.
This season is really pretty awesome but it’s also pretty fleeting so I love to really savor this one. This is the season that leaves me with a certain skip in my step. Everything just seems easy, it flows and there are few hiccups in our days. Positive energy and motivation just seems to come naturally to me. To experience this season is a treat but to know it when it’s happening is a true gift of motherhood.
The exhausted season.
Ah, the early-to-bed, late-to-rise season. The dishes-are-still-in-the-sink and the lunches-are-not-made season. The pay-for-it-in-the-morning season. These ebb and flow more frequently than I’d like and often follow a nice “I got this’ season. I’m pretty sure there is a direct correlation there. I have learned to love this season most of all because it means I have needs that are not addressed and to honor those needs is the biggest way I can take care of myself. I have also learned that the best way to move through this season is to sleep right on through it.
And there are more.
I have many other seasons that I uncover each and every year. Seasons that I recognize only once I realize I’ve been through them at least once before and I survived then and I’ll do it again this time. Sometimes, I’ve noticed the seasons flare up in certain months or certain seasons of the year.
It has been important for me to understand these seasons of motherhood — and life, really — for the sole purpose of being patient with myself. And by patient I mean patient with my lack of productivity, lack of energy or ability to take on too much.
And then I can’t help wonder … if I can find tenderness in myself because of these seasons … perhaps I can help my children go through their own seasons more easily.
That’s it really, isn’t it?
We’re all just walking each other home,” Ram Dass has been quoted as saying.
And I believe it.
I’m walking myself home.
I’m walking you home.
I’m walking my children home.
And we’re each walking through a different season — one that is filled with mystery and beauty and ordinary bliss.
And I wouldn’t have it any other way.