I’m feeling super reflective today. And a little mushy hearted. My ‘baby’ just turned 7, and I’m watching our family march into a season of greater independence, greater adventure, and noticing a shift in my role as a mom. I’m past the hands-on, help-with-everything stage and am moving into a space of ushering my kids out to do more, try more, and own more of their decisions and actions.
The phase of pouring endlessly in is shifting to be one of starting to send kids out.
It’s neat. And it’s new. And sometimes, as I watch my kids bike off to school together and realize that I am not actually needed – there is a twinge of sadness, as I miss the days they wanted to hold my hand and needed me there. Not in a way that I want them to happen again, because I absolutely adore these bigger kids of mine (and those early years nearly did me in!). But more of a reflective type of sadness, one that simply notices that things change, and that times keeps moving on whether we want it to or not.
Professionally I’ve also been pondering change as I finish up an existing contract at the end of this month before launching fully and exclusively into work at Bloom. My time of being part of that which belongs to someone else is winding down, and opening up a season of newness as I chart my own course.
On many levels these changes are good.
But change is also hard.
Because change, even change that takes us in exciting new directions, still means saying goodbye to what was. And goodbyes can be sad and difficult. Endings mean new beginnings, and we have to make space to adjust to new normals. The work of adjusting is a byproduct of change. Even good change.
Change means loss, and loss can mean grief.
I am reminded again of the confluence of joy and sorrow and how they exist, always and forever, in this symbiotic dance. We know one because of the presence of the other. And forward movement in life means moving away from something. Leaving is losing, and losing means that sadness or sorrow may appear.
In spite of being absolutely pumped about the professional changes that have happened and that will finish happening at the end of the month, I still note a lull in my heart when I think of officially ending my contract. Leaving a place that was instrumental in my formation as a therapist is, although super exciting on one level, also the end of this particular era. I won’t go back. That part will be finished. And deep in my chest I feel a weightiness around this reality. When my profile disappeared off the website, there was a palpable sense of loss felt in my being – even though I was the one who was responsible for and seeking out this very change.
This change…these feelings…they’re not bad, but they are sad.
I think so often our cultural narratives suggest that sadness is a bad thing, and is to be associated with negative circumstances. To marry sadness with excitement and positive change seems a bit odd, and yet it happens perhaps more often than we realize.
-Getting married is exciting, but also means giving up independence and personal freedoms that a single person can enjoy.
-Sending kids to school is an incredible milestone, but one that leaves many parents with tear-stained faces as they watch their kids march into a new life stage.
-Moving to a new house may be evidence of forward motion, yet there may be intense feelings of longing for place that was left behind – even though the new change is a good change.
-A dear friend recently got a new job after being mostly at home for the past number of years. It’s perfect for her and we’re all excited – but we sure can note the presence of sadness at how difficult it is to make time for each other, whereas it used to fall into place with ease. This change has brought about new dynamics in our friendship that may have us missing how things used to be, while simultaneously celebrating all that is good right now.
For me, making room for sadness means naming it, allowing it to take up room in my chest, not being afraid of it’s presence, and in the case of ending my contract – it will mean creating rituals around marking the ending of one thing and the official launch into a new stage. It means being intentional about saying goodbye, and not simply disappearing, so that I can experience a sense of closure.
How do you note change + loss in your own lives? Some collect photos or momentoes, others have a gathering (think birthday or funeral), some mark change with new hair cuts, new outfits, or a fancy supper.
Hard and good. Sad and excited. These don’t have to be mutually exclusive, but rather edges of the same experience that come together to make a whole.