Over the course of a year, this became my new normal: zoom conference calls in between drop offs and pick ups, more time than ever with the kids at home, and an opportunity to watch my girls grow up right before my eyes. It’s not what I planned, but in many ways it’s just what we needed as a family. Some transitions you can’t plan for. Others, even though you know it’s coming, it still doesn’t make it any easier. Transitions can be difficult enough without the proper TLC to get through them well. For our family, it appears that we’re in a season of transitions. In fact, this past week was a week full of decisions, transitions, and celebrations.
Riley, our oldest, is going to middle school.
London is moving onto kindergarten.
Sloane turned 3 this past week.
Olivia turns 9 this upcoming week.
Most of the girls will be attending a new school in the fall.
Summer is here. The world is opening up.
My wife and I will celebrated our 16 year anniversary this week.
As we approach each transition or important milestone in our lives, there’s a lot we can’t control. But what we can do, is be intentional about how we show up to those moments. Moments matter. And meeting the moment with intentionality matters. How we notice the moment and lean into transitions determines how well we make it through these seasons of change.
I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately, this idea of what’s in our control and what isn’t as the years continue to tick by. Our oldest officially will be a middle schooler this fall, and our youngest is no longer officially a baby (she’s quick to remind us that as a newly minted 3 year old, she’s now a big girl). With Riles transitioning into her tween years, we’ve already sensed a shift as she begins to explore her identity and grapple with all the challenges of being a kid asking the questions of who am I? What an important time.
I sat in a parent session at our church last week as she officially made her shift into our middle school aged ministry and they commented on how this stage of life was perhaps the last phase where “the cement is still wet”, meaning, we can still adjust and help her set some foundational values that will impact her for the rest of her life. No pressure! I sat there thinking, thank God we don’t have to do this alone. We’ll be leaning on the support group of our broader village of family, friends, and others who’ve gone down this path before us. One other comment struck me from the session, at this stage friends are going to become more important than ever and as she explores some of these big questions about life, simply being there for her and providing a safe space is going to be all the more important.
Whenever I tell people that my wife and I have 4 girls, people tend to gasp, and then shake their heads and say, I feel sorry for you during those teenage years! It happens so often that now I just politely smile and move on, but truth be told, it used to scare me. You could argue that I was just as afraid of tween and teenage girls at 38 as I was at 15. But I’ve had to grow up and deal with what was really underlying that fear, and that was my own lack of emotional intelligence. Over the years, I’ve been fortunate enough to be married to a woman who has modeled with both me and the girls a healthy dose of EQ. And, after engaging in my own personal development, I’ve gotten better myself at navigating how to connect emotionally. It’s been one of most rewarding areas of growth for me.
So, as we stare down a season of transitions, I’ve been thinking about a few key questions that are guiding us as we face new choices, obstacles, and transitions. Perhaps they’ll be helpful to others…
What story do I want to tell about this season of my life? Imagine if we approached life with this question in mind. At some point we’re all going to look back and have an opportunity to tell the story of different phases of our lives…what story are you writing right now with your decisions?
What is the tension that I’m feeling right now with this particular decision? My pastor says, pay attention to the tension. It usually tells you something you need to know, perhaps something you’re trying to avoid considering. I know for me this usually boils down to paying attention to my emotions and using them as a datapoint.
How is this an opportunity to live out my values? This is my favorite one to think about, because of the idea that we can pre-determine how we want to respond. Sure, we can’t control outcomes or even every factor in a decision, but we can control our responses, and sometimes that makes all the difference.