Getting by as a Mom has me going through a multitude of phases. Hopefully I’m leveling up, even though it feels like I’m oscillating between stages most of the time…
The past few weeks were terribly exhausting, but at the same time super rewarding! I just complimented my thought armory with a new professional Certification on the most spot-on topic for me right now: Change Management. I was skeptical about pulling it through at first, given my new hectic and clock-bound daily routine (containing yet not limited to a full-time job, a buzzy household and an inquisitive toddler) but now that I got to test the waters and see for myself that it’s doable, I’m both relieved and grateful that this new experience didn’t disappoint.
Nothing beats the satisfaction I get having just been out of a growth experience. The same thing that can drive other people nuts (in this case taking a break from routine to join a classroom, finding yourself in a completely new environment and forcing your mental cells to acquaint themselves with new learning content) is something like a rejuvenating force for me. Luckily, as I got to find out in my seminar, I’m not alone out there. Occupational psychologists Peter Honey & Alan Mumford claim there are others like this, and they call them Theorists.
Theorists like to understand the theory behind the actions. They need models, concepts and facts in order to engage in the learning process. Prefer to analyse and synthesise, drawing new information into a systematic and logical ‘theory’.
Those people get pumped by stuff like mental models, statistics, stories and applying theories so, yay, I seem to have found a band of misfits I can brag about fitting in! Go team #Theory! This newly acquired information excited me at first because it made so much sense, and then had me thinking backwards. So this is who I am?
You know that you are in the midst of an existential level-up when the types of questions you keep posing to yourself grow an inch deeper by the hour. A decade ago I remember myself being all caught up in the “Can I love?” theme. I wanted to fit in. I wanted to belong. I strived to gain acceptance of my romantic peers. Developmental psychologist Erik Erikson -who has, for the record, developed an entire theory around psychosocial development stages– would agree that what I am describing is the early adulthood stage where people grow ready to make long-term commitments, capable of forming intimate, reciprocal relationships, and willingly make the sacrifices and compromises that such relationships require. I’ve been through all that, I get it. I twisted and turned and struggled, but I’m at a whole different place now, and the tune is changing.
Now I’m mostly driven by a sense of purpose. What is my life about? What’s the meaning behind all this? Am I making a contribution? Is it valued? No doubt Motherhood has helped me unlock this new plateau where I’m now expected enough to evolve in, but I’m not sure I know what to make of it just yet. My lovely husband keeps reminding me that it’s a Marathon and not a Sprint, my friend Yannis keeps noting down that I’m only a few months in and it’s unrealistic for me to figure it all out from day one, yet my restless self keeps beating herself up for not having been there yet.
And then there’s this charismatic girl Mari Andrew who writes and draws (who I’ve recently discovered through her book titled “Am I There Yet?“) who reminded me of something terribly important I have been keeping in hindsight. Such a talented soul that she is, Mari is narrating (while illustrating!) the journey of growing into “early adulthood”. Although I’m in the process of leaving all that behind and entering (what Erikson would call) “middle adulthood”, Mari helped me make amends with myself and feel grateful for all the hard work I have put into my journey and my growth so far.
Yes, the theme is now quite different for me, since I am into learning about new stuff like:
- Expressing love through a multitude of ways
- Maintaining healthy life patterns
- Developing a sense of unity with my family
- Helping my child grow to become a responsible person, and
- Using leisure time creatively
Yet, the way to navigate through this new plateau of “middle adulthood” is remarkably analogous as it was in the previous one. Trial and error, Momma. Vulnerability and Resilience. Grit and Gratitude. I am not the same person I was ten years ago. I will not end up the same ten years from now either. But I have reached a point of understanding where I realize that “what I do” (i.e. my line of work, my studies, my hobbies) is not enough to capture my essence any more. I have managed to built up this colorful stack of competences that, in effect, do not account for who I am. They account for what I do.
I do Mom. And I do Wife. And I do Friend. And I do Daughter. And I do Professional. And I do Writer. And I do Poet. And I do Theorist. (Come to think of it, I seem to account for quite a list, and I do some of these better than others!) Still, at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter all that much. Because none of these are who I am. All these are how I get to demonstrate who I am. What does matter is that I genuinely am out there.
I am the one between the lines. I am someone encompassing all that, and I am yet again in the process of connecting the dots to figure out as much as possible about my unique soul at this new level of understanding. And it scares the shit out of me to have to go back in my refined ways and do trial and error all over with all that new data at hand, but there’s no other way. And there’s that uncredited magic in the unknown (as Meera Lee Patel beautifully narrated in her own mesmerizing book of thoughts and illustrations “My Friend Fear“) that I will come to appreciate only after I’ve dived into this journey and done the necessary work.
As I keep reinventing my ways, I acknowledge for one more time that I am (and seem to always will be) a work in progress. I give myself permission to not be there yet. To maintain a fluid form under reinvention. And to keep telling myself that it’s OK.