The Thing About Change: Some Things Stay and Some Things Go

“I just hate change.  All I can see is what’s slipping away. I’m not in touch with the good parts.”

Those were my opening words to my therapist recently.  It wasn’t a complaint so much as a wish to have different vision.  Like a figure skater who can’t land a jump on her left leg, I can’t survey my life and conclude, “Hey, this is going so well! Much better than I thought.”

And nothing’s wrong– it’s just different.  A recent birthday party for my son filled my house with more of his friends and less of mine.  It wasn’t bad, but it was a shift to not have my kitchen filled with my best friends who’ve loved my family since the day it was created.  With all the new families we’ve met at both kids’ new schools, it’s hard not to wonder who will stick around and be around in two years.  Or four. Or until I die.

It’s already March and I’ve met lots of great people in our new communities, but I’m struggling to take it to the next level.  I sit in the carpool line and wonder who, if any, of the moms I see will one day be close enough to me that I ignore her voice mails or text her in the middle of the night to complain about Jeff’s snoring, Sadie’s attitude or Simon’s erratic sleep.  Like the old chestnut Are You My Mother? I search each face wondering if I’m looking at a bird of a feather or just an airplane or crane.

My therapist dusted off his Yale-educated brain and came up with a brilliant answer to my implicit question: Will I ever love what I’m gaining as much as what I’m losing?  I was referring to friendships that have grown more distant, job offers that never came, dreams that have been deferred well beyond my timetable.

“You gained weight during your pregnancy, right?” He said.

“Um, you don’t remember those glorious 40-50ish pounds I sported thanks to the actual baby and the Fritos?”

 

Here: only 20 lbs in.  Mostly Fritos and mac & cheese.  Some change is good.

Here: only 20 lbs in. Mostly Fritos and mac & cheese. Some change is good.

“Well, did you lose that weight?”

“Yes.  Eventually.”

“Well, there’s something you lost that you don’t miss.”

Kind of hard to argue with that.  It didn’t stop me, but it was an uphill-battle-barefoot-in-icy-nettles kind of situation.  And since that conversation, I’ve felt less like a snow(wo)man in a miniature globe, the pieces and people in my life swirling furiously around me.  I feel more like a woman whose willing to wait and see– what will remain and what will become part of a treasured history.  No pointing in chasing the flakes– I’m just letting them fall around me, trying to enjoy the view.

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34 thoughts on “The Thing About Change: Some Things Stay and Some Things Go

  1. God, I feel like this came out of my head. A year plus into our new life in our new community and we have met a lot of people, but I’m still struggling with the “next level” thing too. Maybe it’s because I have friends whose voicemails I ignore and who I text in the middle of the night, so I didn’t feel such a massive push for more of those friends, but the longer we live our new life, the more I feel like I want them. And it’s weird because I didn’t lose those soul deep friends, it’s just that with time, and with a new place, I feel like maybe there should be friends that belong to this new part of my life too. A long-winded way of saying, I hear you sister.

  2. You looked adorable with a baby/mac n cheese/Frito belly! I guess change is inevitable. I’m mourning a sudden change in my sweet, snuggly 2 year old who is neither sweet nor snuggly. I sat on the couch next to him last night and he frowned and said, “Mama, get down.” WTH? I still have 20 lbs of baby weight to lose and he could at least be sweet and mindful of that.

    And feel free to text me anytime during the night. We can have a contest about whose daughter is attitudeist, whose husband snores loudest, and whose son can get by on the least sleep.

    • I remember the day– randomly it was march. 4, 2010, when I first cried bc Sadie turned from sweet and mama-adoring to who the fuck are you? Oh I sobbed.

      >

  3. You’re a lovely pregnant woman. I don’t deal with new or change that well when it comes to family and friends. I’ve had a happy life so why would I want it to change? Do I need a Yale therapist maybe?

  4. Me too! I so contemplative lately. Wistful for the old me of dreams and possibility, trying to find my rhythm in my present, unsure of the future… but always keeping an eye out for that magical light that comes with the soft fluttering nighttime snow… actually, screw the snow. i’ll take a sunny rainbow. :)

  5. Obviously, this is a common problem for adults – not just women, but men too (they just don’t talk about it as much). It’s hard to make new friends the older we get, harder to adjust to the newness of something. Perhaps it’s because we know what is at stake now and we know just how precious and fleeting it all is. In any event, as for the particular issue at hand, I found that it took a good 4 hours to feel like I finally “belonged” in my new community. There is a whole gaggle of moms at the playground for school drop-off and pick-up that weren’t all that friendly or welcoming and I often felt like it was me. And maybe it was. But I decided to just avoid that whole scene and focus on the new friends that I do have (mostly neighbors) and let friendships develop organically. Like all things, change takes time and things move on a different timetable now that we’ve got kids and spouses and all these other obligations. It’s not like college when we could bond over pizza and beer (or wine from a box in my case). It takes more effort and patience, I think – both of which I sometimes lack. But that’s okay because the people I become friends with know that and don’t really mind all that much.
    (Sorry, I wrote a book here…obviously, something I can relate to)

    • You know, we’ve gotten really close with our neighbors too. I really feel a warm attachment there so maybe it makes sense to focus on that and let the other venues develop over time. Thanks for your thoughts. I related to your experience.

      >

    • I talk about it maybe more than some, but, that’s because I’m on disability and the first words that come out of every new male acquaintance I meet (or some guy I haven’t seen for a long time): “So, what do you do?” There are scores of variations of that line, but all want to know what my trade or profession is. They will not accept “house husband”, “father”, or “homesteader.”

      I never liked group play dates, i.e. church ones. Why? Because the moms all wanted to talk about women things, no surprise. Now, I’m domestic– Mom didn’t raise no fool– and I cook, clean, do laundry, etc., but after a while, there is NOTHING in common for me to talk with them about. None.

  6. This feels familiar as I turn the corner of my third year in a new city. After making such a big move, thinking about making even a small move just a few blocks away gets my panties all in a bunch.

  7. As someone who has done the relocation thing numerous times I can tell you – It’s hard to start a new chapter and be truly present in it when you have no desire to close your old chapter. As I’ve told my kids with every move, you only need one good friend to make it feel like home, and while you sit and wonder who that might be or if you are willing to put forth the effort to build a new friendship, there’s someone out there waiting for a friend like you.

    You can keep the old and make room for the new too. :-)

  8. Thank you for explaining a feeling I’ve been having that I haven’t been able to express.Things are changing and friendships I thought I’d have until I died aren’t keeping up. It’s a struggle. What if the new things are fleeting and I regret letting the old things and people go? What if I’m left with nothing when all is said and done? The new stuff is good – so SO good – but the fear of change and loss of control is crippling sometimes. I want to tell you everything will be OK, not just for you but because I need to hear it and believe it, too.

    I haven’t told you in a while how awesome I think you are. So, here goes: You are awesome.

    • It really will be better than okay…I believe that for both of us, but the discomfort and sadness for the things that are slipping away, well, that’s real too and it doesn’t feel so damn amazing. You dear are amazing. Always. Just keep writing and trusting yourself.

  9. When I moved to NJ, I had to start over and I think it took a year before I could say I had a couple of really good friends. Looking back, you’ll be able to see the good of change. It just takes awhile sometimes! Oh, and I gained 50 pounds with both of my babies.

  10. will one day be close enough to me that I ignore her voice mails or text her in the middle of the night to complain

    I don’t have ANY friends like that. I did, once [long story redacted].

      • I think it’s a new cell phone etiquette thing. I knew people that NEVER EVER listened to voicemail on their cell phones. You just had to call them and hope that you did so when they’d answer.

        By the way, I don’t much like the way many people display manners with their cell/mobile phones. But… that’s just me.

  11. It IS so hard to uproot and transplant and re-root. But you’re amazing and there will be those who truly see you. As for those who don’t? Well, don’t make me bring the snark. ;)

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