When my last Real Simple arrived, it included a fun little spread called The Conversation That Changed Me, in which 5 authors described a life-changing encounter from their pasts. Some were inconsequential conversations with passing acquaintances, some were deep conversations with loved ones. But all impacted the authors deeply.
You know I love talking about life-changing books, and I like Real Simple’s conversational twist on it. I’ll play.
Here’s the conversation that changed my life.
(I hate to call it the conversation that changed my life, but since I’ve been immersed in the subject of women and work and family for the past few months, we’ll call it that for now.)
When my baby was one, I think–I’m pretty sure it was before we discovered the cancer–my husband and I met regularly with a marriage and family therapist. (If you ever have this opportunity, take it.) At the time, our son had unexplained developmental delays, and these regular sessions were part of our son’s treatment plan.
Every week we’d all gather around our dining room table and try to occupy our baby with cheerios and toy trains while discussing deep issues. I don’t remember what we were talking about that day, but I remember I was frustrated. We hadn’t yet figured out a diagnosis for our baby, or a treatment plan that helped him feel more comfortable in his little world.
To make things worse, I felt like I’d blown an opportunity to see my own dreams through. I’ve long been fascinated by how people develop their spiritual beliefs, and why. I’d studied it in school; I wanted to do meaningful work in the field. I wanted to research and write and help people. But I was spending my days (and sleepless nights) with a baby I couldn’t make happy.
So I spluttered all this to my therapist, my husband seated beside me, listening.
My therapist didn’t think long. He wasn’t that much older than me–ten years, maybe–but his words rang with a grandfather’s wisdom as he leaned in and said: “He won’t be a baby forever. There will be time for all that. Kids grow up–they really do. There’s plenty of time.”
Maybe you’re wise and mature and it makes perfect sense to you that of course a life runs in seasons. Maybe I’d heard that explanation intellectually a hundred times before. But it wasn’t until that moment at my dining room table that I actually believed it. My life runs in seasons. There will be time. I will not be a mother of little ones forever.
That baby’s growing up, and there are 3 more littles ones trailing behind him. I will not be a mother of little ones forever: some days I think it’s a blessing; some days it breaks my heart. But regardless, it’s the truth.
And the day I finally comprehended it, it changed my life.
What conversation changed your life?