No the ugh after change is not my attempt to sound like Little John. It is me expressing my disdain for change.
At prenatal yoga on Tuesday our instructor talked about change. She said that pregnancy and motherhood is a huge time of change and asked how we were all managing change. Change is difficult for most people, humans are naturally creatures of habit. Even the most spontaneous of people have routines in and around their spontaneity that they live by.
When it was my turn to talk I admitted that change is sometimes difficult for me, maybe make that all the time difficult for me. It’s the lead up that I can’t handle; it’s the time leading up to the change that makes me batty. I can do the actual change part, on the whole I am pretty adaptable when placed in a situation. But oh the lead up. Ugh. That dreaded in between time where you don’t quite know what is going to happen.
I psych myself up thinking about all of the different outcomes and the what if’s, and then at the end of it all when I find myself in the actual changed situation I am fine. You would think that after experiencing this a number of times throughout my life I would learn that I am okay, that I actually manage change pretty well… yeah, nope. That rational part of my brain is always out drinking when this thought needs to happen, it never seems to be there when I need it. That part of my brain is extremely neglectful to the rest of my brain.
I shared with the group that I have been receiving the message that I need to “slow down” from many different people in my life. Health care providers, friends, family, coworkers… they all say the same thing to me, “maybe you should slow down.” Yeah, do you know me? Slow down is not something that I do willingly. Slowing down doesn’t come without a fight. Slowing down doesn’t come without hitting rock bottom or a genuine health threat. It’s not what I do. It’s not what I want to do. I avoid doing things I don’t want to do, I am an open and out of the closet hedonist.
I remember feeling this way during my pregnancy with Everly. My physical limitations increased, my mental capacity decreased and I slowly and agonizingly came to terms with the fact that I couldn’t make my mental “to do” list as long annnnnnnd, the mental “to do” list had to become an actual paper and pen “to do” list, or nothing on this list would in fact get done (adding major insult to injury). I hated it. I completely resented this perceived weakness that I could feel settling in. I fought it. It won. I did not exercise grace in this battle. I begged, pleaded, dragged my heels and stomped my feet, but eventually, my pregnancy won and I slowed down.
It all comes down to how we define ourselves and how we picture our ideal self. I define myself by the life experiences and projects that I am able to take on (relationships, education, parenthood, business). My ideal self is not a sloth; I am out there doing things and getting things done. I interpret slowing down or taking less on as a weakness. And I will not sit here and type that I think my thinking isn’t flawed, because I know it is. It’s the kind of thinking that leads to incongruence if I am not able to live up to the high expectations that I make for myself. And incongruence means that eventually something has to give. Change must occur.
I have knowledge of the stages of change, I remember going over this model in University and then applying it to everyone in my life (like all first year psyc students do). I moved to action last week, I took some big steps. When I sat down with my supervisor to discuss my maternity leave for this pregnancy I was preparing to take what I felt were two major steps down. I shared that I was going to need to re-evaluate my last day of work and make it sooner than intended. And I shared that I will not be returning to this position once my maternity leave is over. I was scared to say this. I wasn’t scared at what she would say in response. But I was scared about the person that it would make me.
When I mentioned to some people in my life that I might not come back to the job that I am doing full time now (photography is just my part-time job currently), I was met with surprise. I got the response, “really” “oh” and “I never saw you as the type to stay at home.” Hmmm. Okay so I get that I am a career and goal oriented girl. I get that I am a do-er and get ‘er done. But why does that make me less likely to want to stay at home with my babies? Isn’t that arguably the most important thing that I will do with my life now that I have chosen to be a mother?
In partnership with my husband, I am responsible for unleashing two people into society. Two people who will have interactions with other people, and work and vote and possibly have their own children. This is huge to me. The people our children become are a reflection of how they have been raised, it seems obvious to me that I would want to invest quite a bit of my time an energy into this raising business. It makes sense to me that if you could stay home and you wanted to stay home, you should stay home!
Now I don’t mean for this to sound like every woman should stay home with her children. That’s not the reality of life. Some women need to work, some women want to work and that’s okay too! It’s all about choice. But I do mean to be very clear in saying that staying home with your children should not be thought of as less important or less “career orientated” than a job outside the home. I feel that I am so lucky to have the opportunity to do this and I would be a fool not to. Fortunately for me, I also have a lot of people in my life who feel this way too and I was able to feel very supported.
In defending myself and my decisions, I was able to find the ammo to make the change. I realized that my decision to parent full time and work a quarter time (doing photos on weekends while the kids are at home with dad), I am not going to be a less productive female human.
So if I can take action in this area of my life, there is hope for me in slowing down right? Well, Braxton Hicks, an out of line SI joint and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome are helping. This is the part where I listen to what my body is telling me isn’t it… Anyone have some ear plugs?
And back to precontemplation…
Or I could go back to school… Getting your PhD is all about making changes in your life. Earning a doctorate through online PhD programs gives you opportunities for research and jobs that would be impossible otherwise.