Have you every noticed that? I know, profound question, right?
But have you really stopped to think about and ponder the reality that life happens…and keeps happening?
It happens without consulting you…
It happens whether you want it to or not…
Time keeps moving forward and life keeps moving on…
Now, on one hand, that’s not a bad thing. It’s good to keep moving forward, to take steps in the direction you want to go and to know that you won’t be stuck in the same place forever.
But when you throw kids into the mix, well…
Life happens in a variety of ages – kids grow older, calendars keep turning…
Stages – children grow and learn new things, you keep learning more each and every day…
And seasons – some seasons are easy, many of them are tough.
And if you’re not careful, you might miss some. If you’re not intentional, you might lose opportunities to forge relationships with your children. If you’re not watching, the seasons fly by and you’re left wondering what happened.
So what do you do?
Recognizing the Reality
Before you can truly begin to navigate the ages and stages and season of life, you need to first accept and embrace the fact that there are ages and stages and seasons of life.
When you look at your children, it’s not hard to see this truth.
When your child was first born, they were completely dependent on you. Food, comfort, security, even the ability to move from one place to another – this tiny baby was utterly dependent on you for everything.
As this child grows, they start learning how to do more and more on their own. Oh, they’re still very dependent on you, but they’re learning how to communicate with words (or what’s sounding a lot more like words!). They’re beginning to learn how to feed themselves (even while making a huge mess in the process!). And they’re beginning to move around on their own, exploring their world and learning from it.
Fast forward through some developmental milestones and all of a sudden, you find that you have a child in elementary school. A child who’s continuing to learn and grow. Their knowledge is expanding. Their personality is coming out more and more. They’re beginning to wrestle through big questions and how to approach different things in life.
And then suddenly, you find yourself the momma of a middle schooler. One who’s growing so fast that you’re not even sure which pair of pants will reach all the way down to their ankles and which ones are inches too short. A child who’s growing by leaps and bounds in discovering what they like and what they don’t. A child who’s turning into a young adult while continuing to add to their knowledge.
Suddenly, without warning, you’re standing on the brink of high school. Wondering how on earth you could have reached this age, this stage so fast. And yet, you can’t remember a time without your child in your life. This child who’s become a young adult, discovering what they want to study, making plans and dreams for the future…and then just trying to understand today’s science lesson before moving on!
Graduation… College… Each and every stage bringing its own unique set of challenges and blessings…
And let’s not even get started on all the (ahem) ages and stages of motherhood!
When you look at your children it’s easy to see the ages and stages of life. It seems that children pass through these ages and stages more and more quickly.
But what we can’t forget as mommas is that the ages and stages of life are not just for children…they happen to us, too.
Ages and Stages
Now, when it comes to the ages of life, it’s much easier to talk about it in the context of our children, right? Oh, don’t get me wrong, some days it feels good to embrace your age. After all, you’ve had to live through a lot to get to this point!
But on other days, we just don’t want to be reminded that the calendar keeps turning, that time marches on.
Don’t worry, my goal here is not to make you feel bad in any way, just to acknowledge the fact that time keeps moving forward and we have no choice but to accept this fact of life.
Life also moves in stages. Think about it:
One moment you’re holding your newborn and the next you’re helping them learn how to read…
One morning you’re helping your daughter pick out an outfit that doesn’t clash (can we say stripes and polka dots?) and the next you’re looking into what requirements she needs to graduate high school…
One moment you’re helping your son balance on his bicycle – no training wheels! – and the next you’re turning into a chauffeur, taking him to music and sports lessons…
One day your child is starting their first day of kindergarten and the next it feels like they’re about to graduate…
Each stage leads to another. Each stage of life becomes a stepping stone, a foundation the next one builds on. Each stage is very important…and had the potential to be very difficult.
Stages Aren’t Reserved for Kids
Even though it’s easier to look at a young person and see the stages of life that they’ve gone through, the stages of life don’t stop once you reach a certain age.
Oh, it’s easier to see the stages when children are younger. It’s easy to see when a child starts walking. It’s easy to see when they’ve moved up into the next grade in school.
But do the stages stop once you graduate?
Not at all! Oh, they might not have the clear-cut start and end times like the first day of kindergarten and graduation day, but the stages are still there.
You see, every season of life can be considered a stage of life. Every stage of life you walk through with your children is a stage of your life, a season of your life. Now, the experience won’t be the same as when you were walking through it as a child. You have a different perspective now.
But the fact remains that as you walk through different stages and seasons with your children, they become stages and seasons in your life, too.
These experiences become part of your story…
They play a part in who you are…
And they impact your relationships with the people you’re walking through this stage and season with…
Each One Is Unique
You wanna know one of the craziest parts of this whole thing? Each stage is different!
Not all stages and seasons are clouds and rainbows. Some of them are gritty and grimy…
Some of them are hard to wrap your brain around…
Some of them are exciting and scary all at the same time…
Some of them are just downright terrifying…
Some stages are physically demanding, taking every ounce of your strength and leaving you little time for sleep. (Can anyone say the newborn and infant stage of motherhood?)
Some stages are emotionally demanding and take a toll on your heart, like when you lose someone close to you through death or when a close friend is going through a terrible time…
Some stages are mentally demanding and require you to take the “put your head down and really wrestle this out in your mind” approach…
Some stages sap your strength and leave you wondering how on earth you can keep on functioning, let alone move forward…
And some stages are a combination of two or more of these. In fact, some stages have depths of emotional and mental and physical challenges that it would be impossible to mention!
Let’s face it: Sometimes the question isn’t ‘How can I make it through this season?’ Sometimes the question is ‘How can I make it through this day – with my sanity intact?!?’
Navigating the Stages and Seasons
So what do you do? How do you make it through? How do you come at these ages and stages and seasons of life and come out stronger and wiser for having gone through them?
While they are all different, no matter the stage or the season, here are a few things you can do to navigate the many twists, turns, and turmoils the ages, stages, and seasons of life bring:
Choose Understanding and Grace
Remember that even though it may feel like you’re the only one walking through this particular stage or season, you’re not. The people around you are effected by what you say and do.
Sometimes as you go through different stages – particularly when your children hit different ages – one of the most powerful things you can do is to take a step back and see to understand things from their perspective.
You might be surprised at what you can learn…
And once you understand where they are coming from, seek to give them grace. Give them space to think if they need space. Give them uninterrupted time with you if that’s what they need. Give them the gift of understanding – not giving into everything they want. But seeking to understand where they’re coming from and what you might do to walk with them through this season.
Make Sure Your Priorities Are Straight
Too often, life takes over. Too often, we look at our calendars and think “How did I get so busy?”
And sometimes, without even realizing it, our time, our energy, our lives get filled up. Oh, don’t get me wrong, these things we’re doing might be really good things! But sometimes the things that get the most attention aren’t the most important things in our lives.
So pause and look at where you’re spending your time. Where you’re spending your energy. Are you spending it where it needs to be spent? Or do some things need to change?
Here are two very powerful questions to ask yourself:
Am I serving my family in the way they need in this stage or season of life?
Sometimes the way we serve and help and show love to our family isn’t what they need most right now. And, yes, it does hurt to write that truth as much as it hurts to read it!
What do we need to do in this season?
In other words, are we doing what we need to do or do some things need to adjust or change?
This might be a look at the calendar. It might be a look at habits. It might be a look at how you’re spending your free time. It could be any number of things. The big idea is to take an honest look at what you need to do in this particular season of life.
Make the Adjustments
This principle is a simple one to write and a hard one to accomplish. Now that you’ve identified how you can be more understanding, how you can show grace to others, and how you should be spending your time, do just that.
Come at every conversation with a new level of understanding…
Start every day by giving grace to others as you walk through this stage and season of life…
And make the adjustments you need to make in your schedule, in your habits, and in your focus…
Not Just A Theory
Over the past 18 months or so, my family has gone through countless stages and seasons. If I tried to count just the big stages, I would get lost in the attempt!
Some of them were cause for celebration…
Some of them have been gut-wrenching…
Some of them are stress-inducing…
Many of them overlapping…
My husband and I packed up our 7 kids and everything we own, said good-bye to friends we’ve known for over 15 years and moved cross-country…twice! It was an exiting new adventure coupled with heart-wrenching goodbyes. It was a stress-inducing rubric’s cube of logistics and an opportunity to experience God’s leading and peace in our lives.
My grandmother passed away 40 days shy of her 96th birthday. And while it wasn’t a shock, it was still bittersweet to say goodbye to her. It was challenging and stretching and emotionally exhausting walking through the grief – not only the grief that I felt, but helping my children learn how to process their grief in a healthy way.
Last summer, I started struggling with migraines so bad that I was forced to lay down in a dark room and do nothing until the pain subsided – hours or days later. It was physically exhausting being in so much pain. It was emotionally exhausting feeling like I wasn’t showing up for my kids in the way they needed me to. It was hard letting go of some dreams and goals of things I wanted to get done.
We had the opportunity to celebrate a family wedding in New England over the summer. Such an incredible celebration of love and family! There was so much laughter and time spent with people we hadn’t seen in years. Memories were made that will last a lifetime and be looked back on with great fondness.
A dear friend of mine, another momma about my age with 3 children still at home had a heart attack and passed away. It was a season of gut-wrenching sorrow. Of free-flowing tears and many hugs, just being there for each other and sharing our shock and our grief.
And that’s only 5… I could go on and on, but in each one, in each season, in each stage, we have constantly come back to these principles of understanding and grace, double checking our priorities, and making the adjustments we needed to make.
No Stage or Season Lasts Forever
My Friend, no stage or season lasts forever. And I know that’s the last thing you want to hear when you’re in the middle of a tough season.
But hear this:
You can do this. Choose understanding. Choose grace – with yourself and others. Check your priorities. And make the adjustments you need to make to be sure your priorities are your priorities.
Season and stages will come and go. There’s no stopping them.
The question is: Will you succumb to them?
Or will you lean into these experiences, allow them to impact your story, and allow the ages and stages and seasons of life to impact your relationships in a positive way?
The choice is yours.
- The Changing of the Seasons of Life
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- 7 Ways to Pause and Gain Space in Our World of Chaos
- What to Do When You Crave Balance as You Homeschool: Balance vs. Harmony
Elizabeth Tatham, founder of Inspiration in the Everyday, is a homeschooling momma of 5 who loves helping other homeschooling mommas create a unique homeschooling adventure your kids will love…without the overwhelm! Join in on the journey with 7 simple steps to make your homeschooling day go faster, easier, and with less tears here.