Life is an ever-flowing river full of constant movement and frenetic energy. One hardly gets to enjoy the precious moments that life has to offer because like a tour on a tour bus, life never stops long enough for you to really appreciate any given moment in time. Even so, we manage well enough. There are ups and downs. The key is to never linger in one state too long lest we become stuck. Time forces us all to be a little like sharks. We have no choice but to keep moving forward.
But just when you think you have got the hang of it, life flips the script. You go from riding the rapids to a free-fall drop that you didn’t see coming. No one wants to take a header off of a waterfall on purpose. But life serves up those moments whether you are ready or not. There are three moments in particular that are like that. You think you are ready. You have braced yourself. You have read all the books and memorized all the advice. When it happens, you are still taken aback because no one is really ready for everything to dramatically change all at once. Here are three such occasions:
Baby on Board
Baby on board is more than a bumper sticker. It represents one of the biggest life changes you will ever have. Everything has to change. It is more than car seats and diapers. It is fretting over every little bit of child development and staying up nights wondering if you have permanently scarred your child for life because of some mistake you made.
Is it normal for your 4 year old to still be sucking her thumb? Is this a problem? Thankfully, it isn’t, at least, not yet. By then, however, you are definitely going to want to start figuring out how to stop thumb sucking. You should start weaning them off of it at about 3 to give yourself and your child plenty of time. After age 6, there are some rather unpleasant consequences involving oral deformities.
There is also the matter of childproofing which is never really finished. There are locks on all the lower drawers and cabinets, not just the ones with the chemicals and knives. Don’t let them get used to opening anything because it only takes one slip up to have a disaster. Stairs, pets, treadmills — it all is one giant warning siren. Heed it. When a baby is on board, you can take nothing for granted.
Becoming a senior citizen is to gain a citizenship you never wanted but can’t get rid of. There is no specific age for it. There is no welcome basket. But when it comes for you, everything changes. It will be your children searching for the right choices for the elderly. You might have to face giving up your driving privileges or moving into some type of managed care facility and away from the home you love.
The finances suddenly change and your health is no longer something you can take for granted. You can’t even wear the clothes you are used to because they no longer look or feel age appropriate. It is a major period of adjustment. But by then, you will have had a lifetime of experience adjusting to new things. You’ve got this.
No matter how mature you are, nothing is ever the same again when you have to pay your own power bill. Statistics seem to suggest that marrying later is best for lasting happiness. I suspect one of the reasons for that is by then, you will have had the experience of being responsible for all your bills, your rent, your maintenance, your transportation, your insurance, and everything else. When kids marry before their brains are fully developed, they don’t know how to responsibly do any of that. It is all too radically new and different. There is nothing like the cold splash of reality when one realizes for the first time that they no longer have access to mother’s bank account.
Whether it be your first child, your aging into a club you never wanted to join, or leaving home for the first time, you will have experiences where everything changes. The good news is that humans are amazingly resilient even when being dropped into the unexpected. You are going to be just fine.