Transitions and Epiphanies

Transitions, however abrupt, have layers of subtleties. The subtleties are the surprising bits. This is what I wrote in a notebook yesterday when I was called away from my comfy computer chair.

Just as I am struggling to get used to the idea of no children living in my house while my daughter Abby moves through her last summer at home before college, and contemplate what it means to have my schedule be more about me than someone else, I find myself sitting in a waiting area at my granddaughter’s pediatrician’s office.

Camille is two years old. My son Shawn and his wife Beka are learning that childhood, and the parenthood that oversees it, is rife with doctor visits, laundry, sleepless nights, early mornings. And they are only at the beginning of their journeys as parents.

The reason I’m here is because Shawn and Beka only have one car seat for Camille. That car seat is, at this moment, in Beka’s car. This morning, Beka drove her car to her mandatory training session for her summer job. Shawn, who doesn’t work on Mondays, was surprised to find Camille’s eyes swollen nearly shut when she woke up a few hours ago. He called me. Yes, I have a car seat.

Allergies run in our family. Beka’s, too. So swollen eyes accompanied by hives is something to take seriously. After Shawn’s call, I checked my email, threw the laundry I need clean for tomorrow into the washing machine, and tossed a notebook in my bag. Experience told me I could be waiting for a while.

Camille doesn’t seem bothered by the swelling and the hives. She was far more interested in the waiting area’s fish tanks and child activities than anything else when we walked in. Whoever designed this office knew what they were doing. And, now, I am waiting and thinking about how this transition I’ve been dreading is still busy enough to keep me from moping in my self-perceived drop on the ladder of importance. Or maybe it’s relevance. My flexibility is important. What I’m doing today is important and relevant. Maybe this phase of life will be rich and satisfying because there are more people in our family now, more opportunities to be generous, to be helpful.

I really don’t want my time to be all about me. It is much happier when it’s all about an “us” of some sort – partner, kids, friends. All the alone time a writer needs to do the work, for me, must be balanced with time with others or else there really isn’t anything important to talk about. Or write about.

And that’s the end of what I wrote in my notebook. All the years of juggling kids with writing, juggling the school calendar with my own creative process, has come to this point of understanding that juggling is exactly what I’m good at. That writers and artists and photographers cannot produce anything worth sharing if they live in a vacuum, no matter how appealing that may be some days.

So, the next time you crave alone time and wish for your life to be different so that you can do your work, consider what it is you really need. And who celebrates with you when you succeed.


11 comments

  1. Excellent advice. This has certainly been a year of transition for me, too, with my youngest off to college last fall, interning in Rochester this summer and now moving far away to Boston in August. At times I am melancholy. At times happy. It is, indeed, a period of transition and a time for reflection.

  2. Life happens while we're worrying about it doesn't it. I know exactly what you mean, Kath and succinct as ever you put it so well.

  3. And is our 'work' more important that being a parent, a lover, a friend? I hope not. We all seem to fill so many roles in our lives and I don't like that the ones which earn (or potentially earn) an income are often considered more important. Not so but far otherwise oh best beloved…

  4. I was just telling my daughter-in-law on facebook that there are few things worse than watching a sick child suffer because you can't do anything to help them yet you'd do anything to make them feel better.

    Thank you for sharing what you wrote. Very touching.

  5. Well, anything with “epiphany” in the title peaks my interest! As you have seen, I'm not good at finding time to read blogs – I could blame it on the kids and busy life, but, really, it's probably because I'm not very good at balance. I love that you said we cannot live in a vacuum…as much as we might want to from time to time. So good to hear. Oh, and my 6 year old daughter is at an outdoor camp all day today and tomorrow and she has asthma…and she neglected to take her medicine this morning and I neglected to make sure she did in the hustle of getting her ready on time…so I can relate to the swollen eyes and I'm hoping that she's not experiencing that right now!

  6. Heh! What you just described is so familiar. Both of my kids have asthma, but now they're adults so I don't have to worry about camp anymore. I do worry about all kinds of other stuff, though; balance is what I struggle with all the time. Keeps me busy!


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