Before I became a parent, I imagined doing things like feeding my child or tucking her in at night. I could envision putting a yummy dinner on the table, enjoying time together, and then easily moving on to a nice bath and snuggle.
I really had no idea that such a simple thing as switching from mealtime to bathtime could include three meltdowns and take oh, say, four hours.
As a new parent, I learned that every day is filled with transitions from one activity to the next and that kids do transitions differently than we do. Things I didn’t even think were a big deal turned out to be enormous transitions for my girl.
I discovered numerous fabulous parenting tools to help her move through transitions. I read several amazing parenting books. I learned about her needs and how to help her deal with fear. And transitions still took time.
Quite accidentally, I also learned about myself. (Isn’t this exactly how parenting works?)
I realized that Western culture zips right past most transitions in its hectic passion for progress and achievement.
Grief? We’ll give you a couple of months. Then it’s time to start “moving on.” (Insert giant eye roll here.)
Physical health or mental health healing processes? Too bad. No time for that. (Ugh.)
Got married? Moved? Started your period? Left a job? Come on! Let’s keep moving. What’s next? (OMG.)
When I slowed my transitions down to meet my child where she was (and not even remotely perfectly, mind you), I benefited.
What if we, as adults, gave ourselves the space we need to really work through change?
What if every transition (even the ones we discount) was acceptable and allowed, no matter your personal pace?
If culture isn’t going to lead the way, we’ll have to do it. The feminine energy that honors transitions is inside us, no matter how much culture has trampled it.
If we steadfastly refuse to move faster than we need to, a funny thing happens. First, we tap into the power every toddler wields with alacrity. Second, we feel better. Our bodies and spirits finally have a say in how to handle the big and small transitions. We have the time and space to transform. We can heal.
Here’s a short practice you can do to slow down and support yourself around transitions:
- Write down a few things you have discounted as “no big deal” that you suspect might need some time and space.
- Journal about these moments, talk with a friend, or find some way to acknowledge those things for the transitions they are.
- If you want, create a ceremony or ritual to honor the transition, much like cultures used to do in the past. It doesn’t have to meet any criteria. Let yourself be as creative or as simple as you like. Do it alone or invite a friend or two. Trust that whatever you need is perfect.
For me, taking into account my own needs and allowing myself to recognize and honor transitions has allowed me to bring my whole self with me on my life path. I’m no longer ditching parts of myself and leaving them behind, waylaid by the emotional and mental needs I’ve ignored by plowing forward.
So, if you see me balking at leaving the dinner table and dawdling my way to bed, just know I’ve finally wised up and taken a page out of my daughter’s book. She is a wise and brilliant teacher.