Saturday, January 26, 2019

And the seasons they go round and round and the painted ponies go up and down. ~Joni Mitchelle

I’ve always love the song “Circle Game” by Joni Mitchell. As an adolescent when this song first came out, I never truly appreciated the significance of the lyrics. But at this time in my life, they pulse with meaning.

I’ve noticed an interesting pattern through the years and I wonder if other women my age are seeing it as well. Our children leave home and go to college. They acquire degrees and find careers that make them happy. And life feels somewhat stagnant as a parent with an empty nest. We take a back seat to many of their adventures and accomplishments. We brag about them with our closest friends or a stranger in the market, showing pictures on our phones to whomever appears interested and feel blissful when they call home to say hi or I love you. After a life full of raising sons and taking a back seat to their health, education and well being, I am often at a loss for how to proceed.

We’re captive on the carousel of time, we can’t return. We can only look behind from where we came.

And then suddenly things begin to happen. A wedding, a grandchild, another grandchild, another wedding. Life takes on new challenges and excitement. A flurry of new activity.

When my sons were growing up, my childrearing “bible” was The Gesell Institute of Human Development. Anyone remember the books “Your One Year Old”, “Your Two Year Old”, “Your Three Year Old”? Their research shows that children’s growth is not always an even ride from less to more maturity. Instead, smooth and calm behavior alternates with unsettled and uneven behavior. Children go through periods of “disequilibrium”- when they are learning new skills and abilities, growing quickly and experiencing more anxiety and less confidence. And “equilibrium”- a period of stability and consolidated behavior- when they practice the skills already mastered- when they are easier to live with…

Wowzy.. sounds like my adult life! 😱

2018 was smooth sailing. A year of equilibrium. I had the grandmother skills honed and the mother in law persona figured out. I’d finally settled into my townhome after grieving the sale of my memory-filled yet large and empty house.

2019 will be the year of disequilibrium for me. A new grandchild. A wedding. A new daughter in law. Growth, challenge, frenzy, a year of learning. I see the pattern emerging. What has been lost to the past is being reincarnated in the present- layered with periods of anxiety and the mastering of new skills.

As they say in Portland, Oregon.. if you don’t like the weather wait an hour or so. The clouds and rain give way to sunshine and blue skies. The painted ponies go up and down. We’re captive on a carousel of time.

And oh what an incredible ride it is.

10 Responses

  1. Beautifully written, Rosemarie. I had to smile when you mentioned the Gesell books. I had every volume! We are indeed on a carousel of time, but I like to think our journey is spiritually-driven. While we’re bouncing along our life paths, up hills and down, across uncharted valleys, next to winding, rushing rivers, serrated escarpments, and tangles of nettle, God is with us, sometimes silently, but there. At a place deep within we have the sure knowledge that “what is essential is invisible to the eye.” The carousel turns to a Divine Mover; our ride with His hand upon us; our round and round, His love beating the rhythm of the curves and angles. Hoping to see you sometime during the coming year!

    • Yes, it is a spiritual journey. Thank you for inserting that piece. I find that lately everything is something to ponder, pray about and possibly write about. Sometimes in a blog and often times in a journal. I think I just saw a beautiful picture of you and Rich and all the family on Instagram! Would love to see you too.

  2. You have such a gift with words! Your words mirror my own thoughts and feelings but I can’t express them nearly as well! And congratulations on the new grandchild and upcoming wedding!

    • Oh, that makes me happy to hear! That’s the beauty of a blog. You can reach out and find out if other people are experiencing similar things at our age. Miss you, my friend!

  3. We can’t return, we can only look behind from where we came, and go round and round and round in the circle game……

    I loved that song, too, and like you, as I have aged, its meaning has become more poignant and more pronounced. My children have both become teachers and that in itself was a shock to me. I never dreamed that they would follow in my footsteps. My son told me once, “Mom, even on the days you were most tired, I knew you loved teaching. That’s what I want to do.” He is now a professor of English composition at Sacramento City College and he coaches the throwers at Davis High School from his wheelchair. My daughter, who was going to be a marine biologist and save the inter tidals, has become a middle school science teacher and their new drama club advisor. We never know how we affect our children. Both continue to touch the future in ways I never dreamed.

    My circle game has taken me on a new adventure as my sister and I have joined forces to take care of our aging parents. We’ve moved with them to Coeur D’Alene, Idaho, where the small town atmosphere; the clean air; and the mountain, lake, and river views surround us on every side. We never know where our circle will go, and where the game will lead us. It’s not easy. Being an Air Force brat, I have always loathed moving and leaving my children, my home of 36 years, my parish, and my friends in Sacramento was terribly difficult. But the circle game continues.

    Rosemarie, may your circle increase to include more of those you love and welcome and may your game be a peaceful roll.

    • Kimberly, What a beautiful circle! Thanks for writing and by the way you are a wonderful writer! Good to hear from you again.

  4. My child-rearing bible was T. Berry Brazleton’s books. This is a year of changes for me with my second grandchild coming soon. I agree with you that the best we can do is hold on tight, ’cause it’s a wild ride!

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