A lot of people resist transition and therefore never allow themselves to enjoy who they are. Embrace the change, no matter what it is; once you do, you can learn about the new world you’re in and take advantage of it.
This morning I woke up and the temperature in my room was a bracing 56 degrees. Despite the forecast of frost for the night before, I was determined not to turn on the heat yet. October 13 seemed too early to cave in to a little bit of chill. I must admit it was slightly uncomfortable, but I knew that I was going to my Saturday hot yoga class within the next hour so I bundled up in my hoodie and made my morning coffee.
Upon returning home a few hours later, I noted that the house temperature had fallen to 53! “Oh gosh, I said to myself; I‘ll just take a hot shower, put the bathroom heat lamp on and then make a decision about turning up the temperature.” Well, dear readers, my decision was made for me when much to my surprise, I was visited by my oldest son’s girlfriend and three of their friends! They noted immediately that the house was cold and, not wanting to be rude, I obliged and turned on the thermostat! (My thanks to Jenn for helping me reprogram the one in the living area).
I suppose some of my resistance to turning on the heat is due to economics and conservation. In reality, however, it is more than that. I know what’s coming! Cold and darkness are just around the corner. Now, do not get me wrong, I love the changes in seasons. I do not mind the cold for the most part. And I love a good snowstorm because I believe it cleanses the air. But short days and long nights are awful.
I have always found the latter part of fall and early winter to be a time of anticipation; a time of waiting for something new to happen. Right now, though, this month is really a time of transition. We are raking leaves, putting lawn furniture and hoses away, reorganizing the garage so the vehicles can be parked there during the cold and snow. We’ve taken out the window air conditioners, shut off the outside pipes and brought out the fleece blankets.
Yet, as I think about this particular month in this particular year, I am beginning to recognize that we are all going through a transition on a more personal level as well. (I think that I have always been aware of it too. ) It was something that was simmering in the background of day to day situations for sure. And, as usual in family life, it manifested itself in a conflict. The details are not important; what is important is the fact that my sons and I were able to put into words where we were in our current stage of life and how and why we were feeling that way. My oldest son is a college senior; he is talking about and making plans for his job prospects in the spring. My youngest son returned home full time eight months ago after living (mostly) with his father for his high school years. He is an apprentice tradesman putting in his time working and going to night school in order to further his career. While I work full time, I am also busy carving my own path. I no longer need to raise my kids. I can now pay more attention to my personal and professional life, carving out more time for exercise, creativity and love. When the dust-up was settled, it was clear to all of us that our individual independence was deeply important to us.
The problem is that neither of the boys is financially independent; they need to live here for a period of time. Rents in our area are the same as a monthly mortgage payment- a challenge for any young person who is making a decent living. But how do we live together as adults without one or two of us feeling too much responsibility for the upkeep and organization of this house and yard? How do I balance my need for help with their need for privacy and independence without getting resentful? How do they practice maturity and responsibility when I leave for a weekend or for a longer vacation?
I confess that I-at times- am frustrated, impatient and even angry with the current transitional situation. I had very much gotten used to and enjoyed my own space and routine. But when my youngest needed to come back (he had been spending more and more time here anyway), I could not and would not say no. He is extremely respectful, polite and grateful. He tries his best to help and take care of things. He certainly is responsible for his own laundry (I trained them both nearly eight years ago). He pays for many of his major expenses. He tries to cook. Unfortunately, he has gaps in the practice of balancing work, home and a social life. I daresay that it comes from the “bachelor” lifestyle that his father exemplified while my son was with him. Now we need to make up for lost time without it zapping our energy and negatively affecting our relationship!
My oldest, on the other hand, is the complete opposite. He has always been this way, more naturally organized, etc. He also became more keenly aware of the load that I carry with this house when I went away for 15 days this summer (my youngest was cognizant of this too and was completely overwhelmed by the daunting tasks of maintaining a home, grocery shopping and housework!). The older brother’s take charge persona conflicted with the younger brother’s more laid back attitude.
In my conversations with friends and acquaintances alike, I have noticed that all of us are currently undergoing some major shifts in our lives. My youngest son’s girlfriend recently made a significant decision regarding her education. A good friend of mine lost a job she loved and had to move. Her current living situation does not allow for her to spend any private time with her fiancé. Plus, they have four jobs between them! Others that I know have gotten new jobs or have recently become re-employed after a two year job search. Some are facing serious health problems with their loved ones and need to make life-altering decisions. A high school senior that I know is learning to advocate for herself in regards to her own health care as well as her future. Good friends are separating after decades together.
As I sit here and I write this today, I pray that I can embrace this transformation. I hope that the shift and the “waiting” will bring all of us enlightenment, continued patience, and a solid future where we can fully be ourselves and remain rock solid as a family.