When I was a young mom, people were forever exclaiming, “Enjoy this season! You’re going to miss it.”
I wanted to scream and throw a slimy board book in their well-meaning faces. (I wish this were hyperbole.)
Yes, people say this all the time:
To single friends, enjoy the season of singleness. When you get married, you’ll have less free time.
To college students, enjoy this season. Your real work starts when you graduate.
To middle schoolers… Never mind. No one says that to middle schoolers. (Except I loved middle school. So much fun! I know, I’m odd.)
Heard these before?
So what do we do something so tempestuous as a season?
Take the wisdom of the concept of and leave the dregs.
A season is not black or white.
It’s full of shade and nuance. We move among times of good, ordinary, and difficult moments, not just over months, but throughout the day. There is radiance and gloom to each season.
I miss the moments when smiles came easy with a zerbert on the belly. I in no way miss bathing three children in a tub and someone poops.
I loved the exploration and preparation time of college. But working a job outside of the country while trying to study in Oxford was stressful and taxing.
You do not have to love or hate where you are as a whole.
Your seasons don’t look like others.
In Australia, Christmas is 85º, and Easter announces the arrival of autumn. In Mozambique, there is the rainy season and the dry season.
In our culture sells the idea that life moves forward in a predictable timeline: graduation, college, job, marriage, children. Or graduation, first job, next job, dream job.
It’s easy to begin thinking, “I’m behind. Everyone else is doing XYZ. There must be something wrong with me.”
We’re not in a race with other people; we’re in a story. The characters in Harry Potter are not comparing their plot to those in A Wrinkle in Time.
Your story is yours to live, and you get to decide how to narrate the chapter you’re in.
A season is knowing where you are in life.
You would think me a fool to be angry because the tulips aren’t coming up in November in Maine or the snow just won’t fall at the Independence Day parade in Kansas.
Similar disappointment happens when we misread the season we’re in. There are frustrating and beautiful limits for each time of life.
I cannot expect to swim a 100 fly in 1:10 anymore. I’m in my 40s, not 14.
But I can still swim 100 fly. (Maybe with some breaks)
I cannot expect to book every speaking gig I apply for. I am an experienced teacher and trainer, but I am a beginner in this professional speaking life.
But I can keep applying and rejoice in my wins.
My 13-year-old is likely not ready for sine and cosine. She’s in Algebra I.
But she can factor and (almost) use the quadratic formula.
A brand new associate probably not ready to manage the entire account. This is his first job.
But he can manage his projects and create value for the account.
Recognizing the season brings appropriate expectations. Freedom to enjoy the successes and adventures of your current time and place.
When some helpful soul says, “Oh, enjoy this season,” know it’s not all or nothing. Your story looks different than others. Rest what you can do right now. Learn from the difficulty and treasure the times that bring you joy.
(And feel no guilt about despising potty training.)
What season are you?