On Change

When I was a kid, I used to feel frustrated at my parents for what I thought of as their lack of consistency in certain areas.

Looking back, I realize it was stupid little things that bothered me.

Why hadn’t I played one sport that I could excel at all through high school?
Or taken an instrument for years at a time, so that I could really master it?
Why had I hopped around from a private school, to a public school, and finally been homeschooled?
We talked often about moving when I was a kid or about my mom working. I would get used to some of my parents ideas, and then get really disappointed if the idea fell through.

I vowed to run my own family like clockwork.
Consistent schooling, consistent extracurriculars, consistent peers, consistent expectations. No confusion.

It’s all very, very laughable now.

Fast forward to 30 year old me. My kids have lived in multiple states, 8 homes, and now a travel trailer where the purpose actually IS to leave the familiar and seek out the new, over and over again. They’ve had both of their parents working, one parent working, and neither parent working outside the home. They have friends in many states and have said goodbye and hello to old acquaintances and new, repeatedly. Life changes shape and form for them all of the time.

Now, I’m not saying that this is best, or not difficult at times, or that consistency in life isn’t important.
But. I’ve learned that not only CAN change be a really valuable tool that lends to great adaptability in children, it’s actually a pretty necessary trait for everyone to learn.
We dictate some aspects of our life, but let me ask you, how many curve balls get thrown at us continually as adults? How many things have been straight out of your control?
A job loss.
An injury.
A move.
A death.
What part of those things were you able to choose?
(Probably just how you reacted to them and how you let those things shape you.)

And for every huge, life altering event, there’s hundreds of little unanticipated events that come our way. Right? Sicknesses and delays and changes and expenses that we didn’t foresee.

If you’re accustomed to having someone make sure your life runs with no interruptions (the way my ideal, imaginary family did) you’re sure to be in for a shock when you realize the real world doesn’t operate that way.

I do think home should, by definition, be a soft landing place. A spot that can shelter you with its familiarity when the rest of the world feels crazy. Hopefully yours is full of people who open their arms to you without conditions.

And if home teaches you anything, maybe it should be that you can have consistencies within yourself. You can have discipline and perseverance and a foundation in how you choose to operate. We do need a certain rhythm.
Take care of your body.
Eat breakfast.
Sleep for 7 hours.
Have a bedtime routine.
Read for a half hour every day.
Connect with a friend.

It’s things like these that can help ground us during even the worst storms and the hardest changes.

If I could hope to teach my real life family something, I’d ask them to not be afraid of taking chances. I’d tell them to make seeking out people to love the constant in their lives. And that it’s ok if friendships change. Even if they only last for a season, that season had value. I’d tell them that the world will continually throw things that they weren’t expecting, and they didn’t feel like they were ready for. But not to let that crush them or derail them permanently. Instead, to roll with those punches, brush the dust off, and adjust. I would ask them to learn from it all, and use even the negative so that nothing bad or hard is ever wasted.

(And with all of my hindsight in tact, I have to say, my own parents did a pretty good job of teaching me these things.)

Life is a crazy adventure where very little goes according to the original plan, but that’s okay.

In fact, I’m quite thankful for that.

Michelle Mattison
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