When I was a freshman in high school, my parents went away on a week-long cruise. They left my grandma in charge of my brother and me, and sailed on their merry way. Gram wasn’t about to climb the steps to our second story where my bedroom was, so I knew that any, uh, frowned upon activities could take place up there and with generally no recourse. And what did my 15-year-old self want to do that she wasn’t allowed to do? Dye her own hair. Like, a different color each day my parents were gone.
Sure, there were moments when Gram would yell from the bottom of the steps, “Stephanie! What is that smell?” and I would have to feign ignorance: “I don’t know, Gram. Maybe the neighbors are burning their trash again?” She never did seem to notice when I reappeared a few hours later with blonde highlights or dark tips or, my personal favorite, the Carrot Top orange hue that just would not wash out in time for school pictures.
By the end of the week, my hair was fried. So was my ass when my parents got home.
All this to say, I like change. Also I possibly like doing things I’m not supposed to do, but mostly? It’s about change.
I’ve rarely been intimidated by change; rather, I look forward to it like it is a personal challenge or a new adventure. When I started working from home after having my son in 2009, I wanted to keep climbing the proverbial ladder. I applied and was accepted for various promotions and positions within the company, and while I did try a few of them out, they didn’t jive with my I’m a Mom First Schedule. Never one to be shy about how I’m feeling, I shared my concerns with my supervisors and was able to move back into my original assignment. The willingness to work for a change, but the good sense to know when it isn’t beneficial, has served me well in my career.
Like a shark, I’ve got to keep moving. Or a not so intimidating image: I’m like Finding Nemo‘s Dory; I just keep swimming.
This is my philosophy in parenting, too: reinvention. The moment I thought I had a handle on my newborns’ schedules, they flipped the script on me and changed something significant like their sleep or eating habits. It was no different with two toddlers; one day they loved peas, and the next they made them into a lovely paste and painted my beautiful wooden table with them. As my son approaches the age of 5, he has become more predictable, which I love, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t appreciate the random change of scenery or surprise. Despite his affinity for a strict schedule (imagine a pint-size Sheldon Cooper from The Bang Theory), he does get excited for a little spontaneity.
Breakfast for dinner.
Surprise trips to see friends.
That’s how we keep the magic alive, friends.
As for motherhood, I welcome the opportunity to switch it up. Being flexible isn’t always easy because, you know, life can get in the way, but as a general rule, I anticipate and implement change with a happy heart. When something new begins, often something old ends, and while that can be sad (think weaning a babe or a kiddo heading off to kindergarten), the promise of a fresh start usually trumps that moment of separation remorse.
My children will get older, as will I, but the skill of rolling with the punches will remain as important as it is today. Reinventing myself, our home, our goals, whatever is necessary to provide for and support our family, will always be one of my top priorities. Acceptance and change don’t always go hand-in-hand, but the roller coaster of life is so much more fun if we don’t always hang on so tightly and, every once in a while, throw our hands in the air and just enjoy the ride.
On the 14th of every month, I reveal the truth about motherhood with 12 other writers. Follow the hashtag #NakedMoms and check out the links below from the other moms and find out which stories resonate with you the most! (Links to come!)