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Life Transition: Lessons Learned

"Baby Jada"Today is my second day back from maternity leave, and so far it’s been a smooth transition back into the working world.  As I learned also with my first little girl, you can try and try, but there is no way to truly understand all the ways your life will change when you bring a new addition to your family.  Of course there are the “not-so-fun” changes, like waking up 3 and 4 times a night to a hungry baby, diapers that need to be changed, or the trouble a toddler gets into as a cry for the attention she used to always have.  That said, all these things never seem to outweigh the pure joy, love, and happiness you receive when you look at that baby’s smile and happy eyes.  It is a transition time for the whole family – a major event that each family member will always remember.  I’ve found it’s also a time that requires a lot of patience and flexibility.  Here are the lessons I’ve learned, or maybe I should say “reviewed”, over the past few weeks:


1.   Be in the moment

We cannot change the past, so don’t revel in it.  Our search for happiness should not only be in the future, as we never know how much “future” we have.  There is no better teacher than an infant child in showing us how important this life lesson is – no grudges, no worries, and a genuine happiness and pureness that is rarely seen elsewhere.  It may be impossible to have a life (an adult life) with no grudges or no worries, but it doesn’t hurt to strive for that!


2.   You’ve got to have “structured flexibility”

Anyone who’s been around children knows that they thrive when they have a routine.  There’s a time for eating, a time for play, a time for reading, a time for bath, a time for bed… and so the cycle goes.  But sometimes, one person’s routine does not mesh with another’s.  For too many nights I found myself saying, “what time is it?” and the answer was “Hala’s bath time, Jada’s fussy/cuddling time, parents’ dinner time… and all an hour behind.”  You can’t just throw up your hands and say “I quit.”  You make adjustments and carry on, and let go of the thought that it wasn’t the seamless evening you had planned.


3.   Ask for Help – it’s okay

Back to that evening I mentioned in point #2… the old Jess would have been rocking Jada, filling Hala’s bath, then running after her to get her in it.  Dinner would have taken a back seat to bath and bedtime, maybe leftovers or a bowl of cereal would have taken the place of whatever I had originally planned; otherwise, dinner would be ready around 10pm.  The new Jess (I won’t say “has learned”) is learning to ask for help.  This very same night now has a very different flow.  I will sooth Jada in her swing as I pull out and begin cooking dinner – the veggies, etc. have already been cut and are ready to cook – while Daddy takes Hala upstairs for a bath.  After bath time, our roles switch and Daddy finishes dinner while Hala and I finish her night with stories and prayers before bed. 


It’s taken me some time to figure out, first of all, that I need to ask for help rather than just resenting the fact that I’m not getting it. Second, I’m learning that asking for help does not mean that I’m less of a Mom or wife because I’m not handling it all myself, or that I’m nagging, or that I’m selfish—It’s really a communication skill that many of us women seem to take some time to learn… it’s okay to ask for help. 


Whether it’s a new child, a new job, a new town, etc. life transitions always teach us something about ourselves.  What’s going on in your life?  What have you learned?

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