Stop Saying It’s “Just A Season”
You know the phrase….”It’s just the season you’re in right now” or “This is just a tough season of life/parenting/work”…Am I the only one who wants to scream when someone says that to me? No, Brenda. It’s not just a “season” I’m in. Unless my entire life is one long season. Seriously. I get the reason that this phrase gets tossed around so much. Ready to pull your hair out with potty training your toddler? Don’t stress! It’s just a tough season of life you’re in right now. Feeling like you never have enough quality time with your spouse? No worries! It’s just a busy season in life right now. You’re ready to scream because how in the world are you supposed to maintain some semblance of a career, infuse it with enthusiasm and energy, but also still keep up with the million sign-up genius emails, sports team practice carpools, your 5K training plan that you committed to months ago, oh, and planning your mom’s upcoming 70th birthday celebration? Don’t fret! It’s just the season you’re in right now.
Well, you know what? I call bull s%i$. I do. I appreciate the sentiment, but from where I’m standing, I don’t necessarily feel like some kind of perfect 72 degree, no-humidity, clear blue sky season is just around the corner. In fact, when I think about all I have to do…when I toggle back in forth in my brain every 5 minutes from mom things to work things to wife things to daughter things to friend things…I don’t really see any seasonality to this gig. I mean, just two days ago I was telling someone how much easier it feels to have 3 teenagers, compared to toddlers, because they can do so much for themselves now, including things like driving themselves and feeding themselves. I may have even used the word season to demonstrate that I felt like we had finally gotten to a stage in parenting that made me feel like I could breathe a little easier now. But because God has a sense of humor, just this morning, all before 7:30am, I found myself trying to schedule a STAT exterminator service, after having a cockroach crawl up my ankle while standing in the kitchen of my own home that has actual running water and a mortgage and should not have crawling things inside it for goodness sake (go ahead and vomit)…while also fielding the “I forgot to tell you I need two more composition books and a scientific calculator by today” declarations…while also fielding text messages about work things…while also trying to get my mom’s birthday card stamped and in the mailbox on time…while also getting hit with an “I do not recall” answer from my oldest about whether or not she remembers bringing home the expensive rolling cooler at the end of the soccer season last year, because it’s our turn to send in waters for the volleyball game today, and how am I supposed to get 24 bottles of iced-down waters to school if I don’t have a cooler to put them in. (I mean, seriously. “I do not recall?” That’s your answer? What, are you practicing to be a star defense witness someday?!) Anyway…my point is that if I ascribe to the idea of life being a series of seasons, and not all of them contain hard things, mornings like this one remind me of how that is just a bunch of bunk. It’s all hard. Every season. There’s never a time when you don’t need to call the roach guy or when you don’t want to poke out the eyeballs of someone you actually really love. All of life is one long yin and yang between feeling like “I’ve got this down pat” and “I’m changing my name, getting a fake passport, and moving to Belize.” All of life.
So…here’s what I propose we say to one another, instead of using the empty, wilted “it’s just the season you’re in” response: Oh…You feel like you need to go sit (hide) in your car for 15 minutes and cry/scream/sleep? Yep. No wonder. Life is hard. Thank God we have each other to go through this with. Feel like you just want to quit your job, run away, and start raising exotic butterflies outside your tiny house? Yep. No wonder. Life is hard. Thank God we have each other to talk about this with. Feel like you want to punch your spouse for suggesting that you “just come up with a system” to keep your mornings from going off the rails? Yep. No wonder. Life is hard. Thank God we have each other to commiserate about this with. Can we do that? Can we all agree that no one has found the perfect crisp autumn season, that smells like a mixture of a campfire, s’mores, and pumpkin spice? Can we all agree that we’re going to support one another by acknowledging that if we’re doing life right, then all of the parts of it are going to be hard from time to time, not just one part of it? And furthermore, can we give ourselves a break, by not falling into the trap of thinking “just one more year until he starts kindergarten” or “just 2 more months until soccer is over”.
If you want to think that way because you are just done with keeping a whining toddler entertained and keeping up with healthy snack sign-ups, then, by all means, sing it, sister. But if you are wanting that stage to be over with, because you’ve either told yourself, or someone has told you, that the next season isn’t so (insert x, y, z thing), then let’s re-frame that thought process right now. You don’t need a new season. You need a friend, Jesus, and either an iced mocha almond milk latte or a Tito’s and Fresca…depends on your style, maybe depends on the day. For real. Let’s all stop trying to convince each other that the next season will be less stressful, less tiring, or less angst-inducing. But listen. Making a mindset change like this is going to require us to get real. To get honest. To get vulnerable. (Brene Brown, are you reading?!) This doesn’t work unless we’re all willing to share a little bit of our mess with other people, and unless we’re willing to stop judging, instructing, or buzz-phrasing other people’s mess away too. OK. Gotta go. Bug guy’s at the door…