Change is in the Air — Abby Off the Record

Change is in the Air

by Abby on August 9, 2014

As I sat in the shade of the pavilion enjoying the breeze, I looked out over the wide, grassy expanse where the boys chased bugs and threw sticks and climbed trees and whatever else boys do. This is the part of the summer when we have pretty much done everything there is to do and been everywhere there is to go and still have several weeks left before school starts. So we begin what I like to call the Park Tour of Greater Baltimore. Another day, another playground. Lucky for us, there are tons of ’em around here.

children's shadows on the grass

It occurred to me that about 7 years earlier, I was in this same pavilion in this same park. Back then I was a newish mom doing sit-ups on a towel next to a bunch of babies. A couple times a week, I’d pack up my considerable gear and the baby and head over to this park to walk and squat and talk to fellow moms in my Stroller Strides class while working my post-partum muscles.

Back then, the days stretched out ahead of me, nothing but naps and feedings and diapers. The days were busy but lonely. I was constantly doing something, but felt like I was accomplishing nothing. I was still finding my way as a new mom. The fitness class was pretty much my only interaction with other adults most days. The fresh air and conversation did us all good. It was the highlight of my week until my favorite instructor moved away, and the moms began leaving to have second and third babies. Change is inevitable.

Back in the present, the boys’ shadows began to lengthen in the late-afternoon light. Just as their chubby little baby legs have stretched into strong, lean, little-boy limbs. This summer has been unusually cool. (Thanks to the polar vortex?) Lots of people love it. It’s certainly a break from the typical hot, wet wool blanket that usually envelops us here in July and August. But to me it feels like a loss. Where did our summer go? We haven’t been to the pool as much. The water’s cold, the kids aren’t as into it as they were in past years. When we do go, the parking lot is half empty, the kiddie pool almost deserted. Where is everybody?

Change is in the air, almost palpably. For many moms I know, this fall is when our youngest children will go off to kindergarten. People have been asking me for months, breathlessly, “How do you feel? What will you DO?” The implication being that I will be bereft, aimless, searching for something to fill my time. Part of me wants to snark, “Oh, I’ll probably buy AND put away the groceries in the same day.” (With drop-off and pick-up, I will gain exactly 2 hours in my workday when school starts. Let’s not go crazy, people.)

“Are you going back to work?” ask some acquaintances. I bristle at this question. In my mind, I never stopped working. I never left anything to go back to. I was a freelance writer before I had kids, and within weeks of my first son’s birth I was back at my desk, writing and publishing again. Eight years later, I’m still at it. These people don’t know that, of course.

Many moms I know ARE going back to work. Quietly, surprisingly easily it seems, they are picking up part-time jobs and finding positions with flexible schedules, like it’s no big deal, like that was the plan all along. Maybe it was. Many of them have already started their new jobs. It’s partly why the pool and parks are emptier.

shadows under swingset

In fact, my work life is also changing. The freelance world has evolved, again, and some of the gigs I used to have are gone. Columns canceled, budgets cut, publications folded. Even blogging’s different now. So I have adapted and changed as well. My work is different now, steadier, more stable, more responsibility. Less time for creative writing, and for blogging. Change is inevitable.

While I may be reflective and a bit melancholy, I don’t feel sad, exactly. I won’t be one of the moms weeping at the classroom door. (I don’t think.) I don’t mourn the loss of those endless days with an infant. I don’t miss the long stretches between paying assignments and worrying over every bill. I do miss my little community of new-mom bloggers back in the “olden days,” and the connection and conversation that happened before “likes” and “shares” took over. I do miss the actual, real-life people I used to see at the park and the pool and toddler gym classes and preschool pickup.

My girl Oprah has some thoughts on change in the Sept. issue of O mag:

We live in a state of constant change. Whether or not we’re paying attention, the process is always happening. Even people who can’t see it in themselves witness change daily in their children or in others around them.

Life is about recalibrating. About continually asking yourself: What do I have to do to get where I need to be? How do I create the life I want?

… the short answer is this: We have to make ourselves over daily, consistently, in order to keep moving forward. We are not meant to stagnate.

… The best way I know for sure to stay in steady makeover mode is to take care of yourself. To feed yourself with love and loving thoughts …  To surround yourself with people who bring you light, and to banish all forms of negative energy.

Moving forward, you will see that the value you give yourself is the value the world reflects back to you. When you care about yourself enough to embrace change, you’re on the path that will lead you home to happiness.

What’s changing in your world?

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Kathleen Basi August 9, 2014 at 8:48 pm

This is a beautiful post, Abby. It’s natural and healthy for us to take stock at the edge of changes. I’ve been through a round of writing-related changes, too, lately, so I know how you feel.

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Abby August 10, 2014 at 1:58 pm

Thank you, Kate. I check in on your blog from time to time and always enjoy your thoughtful perspective on the world.

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Lou Mello August 10, 2014 at 9:55 am

When I retired at the end of 2012 to get fully prepared for my year as Rotary District Governor, I was super busy and involved in all things Rotary. Now that my Governor year ended on June 30, 2014, I have taken on the task of a three year assignment as our District’s Foundation Chair. It is a big job and will keep me plenty busy, but, the day to day rush of running a District of 79 Clubs and 4400 members is hard to replace. What also makes it a tough change is that each year the Governor and all Club Officers change as well, so to some degree I feel like I am on the outside and looking in instead of being at the center of everything. I do have more time these days and find myself volunteering to do other things in Rotary as well just to make sure I’m always busy.

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Abby August 10, 2014 at 2:00 pm

Wow, Lou, you do like to stay busy! I can relate to that “outside looking in” feeling. That’s how I feel when I see new moms and playgroups at the park. I know that world well, but I’m no longer a part of it.

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Kathy at kissing the frog August 10, 2014 at 11:41 pm

I really, really hate when people ask me what I’m going to do with my free time. When your little one goes to school for three hours two times a week, that’s not much free time. Let’s see, shall I work out and take a shower with my three hours or should I (really) grocery shop and put everything away??

I love the passage you picked from Oprah. Smart woman. :)

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Abby August 11, 2014 at 10:20 pm

I know, right? It’s pre-K / kindergarten, not boarding school!!

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Angie Mizzell August 11, 2014 at 6:19 pm

I LOVE this. I have felt the constant change and loneliness it brings (coupled with other times of “oh my goodness there’s so much going on I can’t see straight”), and that has been my world for the 8.5 years I’ve been a mom. With Dillon and Blake headed off to school next Monday, I’m a bit anxious about it being just Cate and me. I know I will miss the boys, even though I have her. Just the two of us will be the new normal, and I look forward to bonding with her in a new way. But I know me, and I know what September will bring for me emotionally.

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Abby August 11, 2014 at 10:22 pm

The “new normal” is a great way of putting it. And it’s always in flux. Just when you get used to something, it changes. I’m sure Cate will love the one-on-one time with her mom. Or maybe she will miss her brothers terribly. You never know!

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Kelli September 5, 2014 at 10:50 am

Where to even begin? Three moves in five years is enough to do anyone in – job changes, school changes, community changes, relationship changes – it has been nuts. Oprah would have a field day with me. We have come full circle in a way by moving back home to VA a few months ago – but on the opposite side of town so still more changes and transitions. Hence, it has been forever since I have visited your blog and just happened to pop over today and read your extremely relevant post. I hope to stop by more often. :)

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Abby September 5, 2014 at 11:53 am

Hi, Kelli! Seeing your name is like a blast from the past. :) That is a LOT of change! Good luck getting re-settled in VA, and thanks for stopping by.

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