Death, Taxes, and Change

I am the mother of three beautiful children.  My son is ten and in fifth grade.   My twin daughters are 5, and have just finished their first week of Kindergarten.  For the first time in ten years, I am a stay at home mom without any children to staying home with me all day.  Talk about a big change.  I honestly can’t remember what it’s like to not have at least one small child at home with me.  During the summer, knowing that this new phase of our lives was right around the corner, I started thinking a lot about change.  And as I did, this quote by Benjamin Franklin flashed across my mind:

“Nothing is for certain but death and taxes”

In a life of uncertainty, death and taxes are two things you really can’t avoid.  But I think Mr. Franklin missed a third certainty…change.  Change is inevitable.  Change happens whether you want it to or not.  Life isn’t one straight line, but instead a roller coaster ride full of ups and downs.

Roller Coaster pic

Image from Morguefile

Sometimes we welcome change.  After being sick for a few days, we’re relieved when we begin to feel better.  When we find ourselves in a job we really don’t like, we are thrilled to land a new job or kick off a new career.  When we are unhappy with a situation in our lives, we are relieved when change finally occurs.  But there are other times when we dread change.  When our many years of good health suddenly turn into serious illness.  When the company we’ve worked at for years suddenly closes its doors.  When our relationships fail, our children grow up, or the happiness we took for granted suddenly turns to sadness for whatever reason, we resent change.  In these moments, we become angry or depressed.  We fight against change, in the vain hope of stopping it from happening.

Change is bound to happen, whether we are hoping for it or dreading it.  Just like death and taxes, change is an unavoidable part of life.  Sometimes I’ve seen change coming from miles away, such as my most recent change brought about by all three kids going to school.   Sometimes change has snuck up behind me, startling me by its unwelcome arrival.   I’ve spent weeks, even months at a time, waiting and hoping for change to occur. I’ve also spent long nights unable to sleep because I was dreading a change I knew was coming, or worrying about a change that I thought might never arrive.

The way I see it, one of the biggest problems with change is that we can’t control it.  We can’t make it happen when it suits us and we can’t stop it from happening when it’s inconvenient for us.  For someone like me who prefers control to chaos, my own inability to command change has been more frustrating than dealing with actual change itself.

But maybe controlling change isn’t the point at all.  We can’t create change or erase change, but we can certainly grow through change.   Change, whether welcomed or not, can bring us new experiences, new perspectives, new ideas, and new goals.   We can learn more about ourselves, our strengths and our weaknesses, when we are confronted with change.  The biggest changes in my life have also been the biggest lessons.  When I look backwards, I realize that the times when I’ve really grown were the times when things in my life were changing.

And right now, my life is changing again.  All three kids are in school all day, every day.  For the first time in 10 years, I will have large stretches of time without children at home with me.  No jumping up every ten minutes to get a band-aid, pour a drink of water, or mediate a fight over whose turn it is to pick the tv show.  My days will be quieter and my trips to Target will be way more relaxing.  But I’m also a little unsure what to do without those three little people to give structure to my days.  This is a big change, one I definitely saw coming but still didn’t quite prepare for.  People keep asking me what I’m going to do now that the kids are in school.  Here’s my answer:  I don’t know yet.  But there’s a chance here for growth, and I’m definitely going to take it.