March 15, 2011

Stages

I once had a childhood friend who was a bit of a stinker sometimes.  She was a year ahead of me in school but only a few months older in age. She never let me forget who was the boss though.  We lived just a few houses from each other making us friends of convenience.  She had a weird habit of warning me at the beginning of each school year about how hard the grade I was going into would be ("speaking from experience").  She'd have me shaking in my new school shoes every year only to find out that it wasn't nearly as bad as I had been told.  Soon I began to feel that Sara was just a bit of a baby.  She had to make me feel bad in order to make herself feel good.  By the time we hit middle school we parted ways.  In high school we barely said hello.

I sometimes think of this relationship though when I see how people deal with one another.  And I have had this on my mind as I sit down to write today.

The other day a friend of mine (who is in a different stage of life than I am), gave me and some other friends some flowers.  She said the reason for the unbloomed daffodils that she was handing out with her freezer meal that month, was that she admired all of us in the group so much. She claimed that when she looked at us and our smooth lives and how we are managing that she thinks of bright possibilities blooming in her future as a mother.  She is in a difficult stage with several (is it 4 or 5?) small kids of very young ages.  She is struggling and she sees things as easier for us on the 'other side.'  When she left for home, three of us sat and visited for a few moments before packing up ourselves.  The subject of troubles with our children came up as it often does and I commented that perhaps it was a good thing that our flower-giving friend wasn't there to hear how it really is with all of us. It was a thing I said in jest, but really- it's true.  Every stage has it's challenges and what my stressed-out friend doesn't realize yet is that you only exchange one set of troubles for the next ones.  I sometimes wish that I could go back to potty training and sleepless nights and give back the emotional turmoil of raising teenagers.  But you can't really burst her bubble and let her know this yet.  It would only be like rubbing salt in her wounds.  Like my friend Sara telling me how much worse 3rd grade was because of all the multiplication tables.  Yes the tables turn (pun intended) and you turn in wiping bottoms for yelling and disrespect.  But at least with one you get a built in babysitter so you can escape the madness.

I find I am often guilty of the very same thing my friend from freezer meals is guilty of.  I think "I can't wait until I am in a different stage because this one is killing me."  Then it's not too long before an older wiser person reminds me that this is the best and happiest stage of life and that I should just enjoy it.  I think they must be losing their memories and I go on thinking the same things.  But the other day I had my eyes opened.  An empty-nester friend from my ward accidentally called me.  She had hit the wrong button on her cell phone and started talking to me about some problems she was having with her son.  It was totally awkward when she realized she wasn't talking to the person she thought she was.  Her son is in his thirties.  After I hung up I had the thought that those problems she was having are ones I could possibly be going through in 15 years.  The problems don't stop once they leave the house do they?  They are always our children.  The big thing that hit me was that life is messy.  At all stages.  And just like I would trade someone's little kid problems for my teen aged ones.  I would trade the problems of a 32 yr old struggling with keeping his family together for a sassy teen.  Pretty depressing.  So what is my take away message?  I guess it's to be grateful for the stage you are in because it only gets worse.  Still depressing. How about to try and gain the wisdom it takes to get through those serious problems of the future.  Maybe that is why the Lord doesn't give us kids going through the big stuff until we are mature enough to handle it.  I hope I can keep up with everything coming my way.  I hope I can be more thankful for the problems I don't have yet and enjoy my current stage.  I am going to try and buckle seat belt for what's possibly coming.


*PS: Almost as if it were a symbol of my life lesson, my flowers were killed by my 11 yr old son when he accidentally put them in the freezer with the rest of my food.  They were not blooming yet and he didn't recognize what they were.  He is too young to know any better  .....just like my friend.... and me.

7 comments:

Dawn (Bee and Rose) said...

What a poignant and moving post...and so very true. I'm going to share this with my friends today...I know so many who need to hear the message! Hugs to you and your brilliant writing! You are amazing:)

Kelly said...

You are too kind.

Carrie Stuart said...

Kelly, there is so much truth to this and I often have the same thoughts. Some days I long for playdates, Barney videos and naps. I am no less busy now (busier in some aspects, as there are so many outside pressures and expectations, on me and on my children). I have a good friend who is several years ahead of me, and when I had 4 kids under 6 and she was venturing into the teen years, her life seemed so much more appealing. She shared her insight (luckily not in a "oh just wait for times-tables" way, lol) and it has been interesting to see those things come to pass in my life, whether I was ready or not. She told me there would be huge trade-offs for having (on occasion) more freedom. Boy was she ever right. I hope you don't mind if I link to this in the near future. Very well written!

Kelly said...

I don't mind at all Carrie. So glad to see your comment today I have been worried about my Japan friends. You must be okay if you have internet!

M-Cat said...

I love this post particularly the small font bit at the end on how your flowers got killed.

I made the mistake of RUSHING my kids through all their phases cause I kept thinking the next one would be easier.

SO NOT TRUE! Even my adult sons I still worry and fret and wish I could do more.

Now with Chloee, I have a second chance for a little while anyway to enjoy the little one and learn how to slow down and stop rushing!

Michelle said...

Hi Kelly,

Thanks for your comment on my blog. That was nice of you. The days when I feel the most centered are when I am not looking back or forward for "the best time." That being said, now I will totally contradict myself. I don't think I actually ever look back and think I was better off. I look back and think "I was so young and immature in that stage of life. I don't want to go back to being single, being on a mission, being in high school, or being a new mom. I feel like now is better, so actually I look forward to the future! Not that I think kid craziness goes away, but... just maybe I might feel like I do now, not as young as last year, in a good way. Therefore maybe I'm growing with them.

dbs said...

I have teens. This helps me. Thanks.