After my husband left the Marines four years ago, we moved our family of three to New York where he would start a new career. Reflecting on the early years of our relationship and of his pilot training, I realize how much we have changed. At twenty-two, I moved from Washington, DC, to Corpus Christi, Texas, to live in a house on the beach with my then-fiancé and two other pilots. We would have parties, bonfires on the beach, and walk miles to the restaurant on the pier that had the best hamburgers. That sliver of time, about the six months we spent in Texas, was a lifetime ago. No kids, no cares, no need to run five miles to burn off a bite of burger—it was a different paradigm altogether.
In fact, I have a whole scrap book of paradigms. I used to identify as an athlete with a set of best friends from Buffalo, New York. For a year, I was the model for dropping out of college and finding oneself. I was a military spouse, a law student, a lawyer, a traveler, a new mother. Now, I find myself spending time in the mother-of-two-littles and struggling writer paradigm. There is something exciting about these different chapters. But I understand from experience that change is difficult, painful even.
I run into the most trouble when I resist the change and impose the rules of an old paradigm onto my current life. For example, I’ll find myself reverting back to the days of best friendship with my oldest friends, with whom I’m still in touch. We aren’t seventeen anymore, and we don’t have the relationship of seventeen-year-olds (thank God, too, because things could get weird!). Yet sometimes I expect the same things; I expect those people to be the same people. They have changed, though, and so have I. To fail to acknowledge the change, to fail to understand that things will change again, only leads to disappointment.
I often think of change with my young children. The way my life revolves around them, the all-consuming attention and care they require—parenthood has been the most dramatic paradigm shift in my life so far. I cannot imagine a time when they will not need me like this, but it will come. These littles, just like everything else, are in a state of impermanence. And the rules we have now, the habits we fall into, they will change. In order to be happier, I’ll need to adapt my expectations of these relationships, of myself, and act accordingly. I will need to change, too.