I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how everyone’s life has seasons. This is especially true for women who are mothers. Not only do you have the single season, the newlywed season, the pre-children season, pregnant season(s), nursing season(s), diaper season(s), and eventually the empty nest season… but you have seasons of interests and abilities. You simply cannot do everything all the time and learning to be content with that is an ongoing process for me. Knowing that every season has its ups and downs (and that it won’t last forever) helps me to enjoy the moment.
My last year at BYU, I told recruiters that I wasn’t interested in pursuing graduate work in chemistry because I was going to support my husband in medical school and have children. Their expressions were puzzled because I had thrown myself behind my studies and done very well. I was clearly passionate about chemistry and involved in research, mentoring, and leadership in the department in the four years I spent there. But as soon as I met Scott (well, as soon as he talked me into marrying him 😉 ) I knew that I would put aside chemistry after graduation. That season ended a bit wistfully, but I knew there were other exciting things ahead.
When I started working for SmugMug full-time after graduating, I threw myself into it. I worked long hours and it stretched me to learn and grow. It was engaging and fulfilling but I always anticipated stopping as soon as I had my first child. Miracle of miracles, I was able to keep at it and be a full-time mom (who knew kids slept so much?). Now I’m just a couple months away from cutting back to a few hours a week after baby #2 arrives and the prospect has me feeling a bit queasy. Though the job isn’t “formal” in that I work from the couch and attend meetings on the phone, people depend on me, solicit my input, and give me bonuses and raises. I am guaranteed hours of adult interaction every afternoon and evening, even when Scott is stuck at the hospital. Plus, I just plain love it. A part of me has been dreading the end of this season.
But I had an experience this afternoon that made me smile. It was a small thing, but a good reminder that you get to carry a bit of each season with you as you go.
I played soccer my whole life. I think I started playing when I was three and played competitively through high school. College found me at regular pickup games, taking soccer classes, and fielding at least two intramural teams each year. Since I had Mackenzie, I’ve probably played only a half dozen times… when the stars aligned and I was able to crash a med school pickup game while Scott was home to watch Mackenzie.
I miss it. A lot. The adrenaline, the camaraderie amongst players, the thrill of juking people, relying on instincts to make the right moves and feeling my body respond even when I’m dog-tired. There are few things I enjoy more.
But, young motherhood is just not the season for it. 9 months of pregnancy plus several months recovery (you have to be in good shape in order to enjoy soccer), sleepless nights, juggling nap schedules with a husband’s work and school schedule… rinse and repeat with future children. It’s not conducive to soccer playing, especially in Ohio where several months of each year are automatically out due to bitter cold and snow.
That brings me to this afternoon. I am largely pregnant and pretty klutzy these days, prone to knock things over, bump into things, and spill on myself. I put Mackenzie down for a nap, started work, and then decided to throw in a loaf of bread. Of course when I went to grab the full jar of home-canned applesauce off the top shelf of the fridge, I totally bumbled it and fully anticipated it smashing on the ground leaving me with a big mess to clean up. Instead, my decades of playing soccer kicked in and before I had time to think, I had caught the jar on the top of my foot and cradled it to the ground gently. Nice!
This may not be my season for soccer, but it’s still very much a part of me.
As I thought about it, I found the same to be true for chemistry. Since graduating, I’ve had the chance to tutor several friends in Chemistry when needed and most rewarding, I’ve been able to answer my daughter’s questions about the world around her in meaningful ways. Sure, my responses are more than a two year old can totally comprehend, but she knows that the world is full of wonder and things to learn. My daughters won’t be intimidated out of the fields of math and science like so many girls I grew up with. My girls’ Mama will show them how rewarding and fascinating those areas can be. 🙂
I don’t know yet all of what my years at SmugMug will leave me with, but I’m feeling better about this season ending. Certainly it brought me closer to some members of my family (I won’t claim it was roses all around), taught me the rewards of hard work, made me braver, gave me confidence in my abilities to tackle problems, forced me to work efficiently and creatively to fit work hours in each day, and made me really treasure the time I get to spend being “just a mom”.