Change. Multiple self-assessment tools have taught me that it’s not something I deal well with, even if it’s a change I’ve been wanting. For example, I spent a good bit of my pregnancy with my son worrying about the changes that were coming for myself and my husband. I had wanted a baby for years, but now that one was coming, it was a big change to make. I was terrified.
Now that same son is approaching his third birthday, and the theme of the year appears to be: change.
In March we found out that we were expecting baby number 2. Shortly after, we decided to make the switch for our son from a sitter back to full-time daycare by the first week of June. We discussed buying another crib for the new baby or switching the big brother to a bed, and decided that the latter was the more reasonable option. We also know that potty training is not just on the horizon, but rapidly approaching. In November we expect to top off all of these changes with the biggest of them all. A new baby.
It’s enough to make a change-phobic’s brain explode. In May I listed these changes off to my amazing therapist, my palms getting sweaty as I realized exactly what we had planned for a six month period. “You’re right. That is a lot, but you’re going to get through it,” she told me, as I expected she might.
Her first piece of advice was to stop trying to protect my child from change. Half of the reason I was feeling so much stress was that I was projecting my distaste for change onto my son. How on earth was he going to feel with a new daily routine? Would he remember his old daycare friends? Would they welcome him back? All of these worries plagued me. I didn’t want him to suffer during this transition. I wanted him to be comfortable. But, as my therapist helpfully pointed out, shielding him from these changes would make him less equipped to deal with change in the future. Discomfort breeds growth, and isn’t my role as a parent built around helping my child grow?
A few weeks after our discussion the switch back to daycare officially happened. The morning of, I worked from home and braced myself for a call telling me that he’d been inconsolable for hours and needed to be picked up. Instead, I got a text from the daycare teacher with a picture of PJ sitting at the table eating breakfast. He had cried for a few minutes, then perked up and was completely fine. The next day my husband reported that he barely got a goodbye at drop off. PJ was too busy putting his lunch box away and getting toys ready to play with instead of giving his dad a proper goodbye.
Sure, the transition hasn’t been perfect. Naps appear to be a thing of the past, and he had a few cranky evenings for the first week, but he is clearly thriving in his new setting. This first of many changes to come this year has taught me an incredibly valuable lesson. Change is necessary. It can be scary, and it can feel overwhelming, but there isn’t a very valid alternative. We shouldn’t have 15 year old boys wearing diapers and sleeping in cribs after all.
Another lesson learned? Hang on tight to my therapist. She’s a keeper.