That’s what someone said to me recently, and they didn’t mean it as a compliment. I got upset, of course, but the more I thought about it, my anger and sadness turned to understanding and empathy. I realized that, sure, maybe I was changing, but what the person actually meant was, “the image I have of you in my head is changing, and that makes me really uncomfortable because I’ve put you in a neat little box in my brain, and life is hard and I don’t like it when life changes without consulting me first.” And that, I totally get.
Nobody likes change when it’s out of his or her hands. Plus, I think we’re taught our whole lives that people can’t change, that people won’t change. But I just don’t think that’s true. At least I hope not.
I recently started my own business and began a part-time job because, I guess I’m crazy? But my son was just about to start preschool full time, and I had been thinking about how I was going to fill that space that was, for the first time, going to be empty. I wanted to be no less of a mother, but I wanted that newly regained time from 9 to 5 to be occupied with something just for me. To make my own money for the first time in over four years, to be able to make a monetary contribution to the family, and to grow as a person. I had been a stay at home mom for four years, and it was the best job I’d ever had, but it was about to look different, and I knew that in order to deal with that change, I should get out in front of it.
I think that skill comes with motherhood in general. Being a mom forces you to roll with changes so frequently because kids enter and exit phases before you even have the chance to settle into them. So I think you learn to accept change more easily because, well, things are gonna change whether you like it or not.
So yeah, I’ve changed.
I’ve grown. I’ve branched out and made friends with people who are in the same season that I’m in. I’ve begun to have adult conversations with peers at work (I may still stand up and announce that I have to go potty, but some habits are slower to change than others). I’ve gained confidence and a renewed sense of pride and personal purpose through starting my own business, and if all these things look like negative change to someone else, well then, so be it, I guess. Maybe to outside eyes, these things seem like a betrayal to the person that I’ve been the past few years as a stay at home mom. And like I said, I get it. But a friend recently reminded me of an old idea that you have to fill your own cup first. Otherwise you won’t have the energy or desire to fill anyone else’s. I really like that. It’s kinda like securing your own oxygen mask before you help the person next to you. Some things require that you take care of yourself first. I can only assume that the person who thinks I’m changing just isn’t accustomed to seeing me refill my own cup.
See, some people won’t be able to hang with the you that you’re becoming when you decide to grow.
And that’s okay. There’s that old adage about people being in your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. The people who matter will see that your core remains the same as you develop into this new thing you’re striving for. And if someone can’t see that, well then maybe you had your season together, and it was great while it lasted, but maybe it wasn’t meant to last forever. I have to ask myself, am I really willing to get to the end of my life and think, “well at least I stayed the same and didn’t rock anyone else’s boat along the way. What a life well lived!” Yikes, I hope not.