04 Jun

Lessons in Control

wise friend reminded me recently that the universe has a way of making sure you learn the lessons it wants to teach you.

Two years ago, I had a baby. He was breech, which meant I had to have a c-section (I had wanted to have a hypnobirth). He didn’t gain weight, so I had to feed him formula (I had wanted to nurse him). A new boss at my former employer didn’t believe in workshifting, so I ended up leaving the job within months (I had wanted to work a four-day week).

Throw in a bit of post-partum depression that took close to a year to diagnose, plus all the stresses and strains of first-time parenthood, and I learned a key lesson pretty fast:

I’m not in control.

So it was with some surprise that, prior to the birth of my second son four weeks ago, I realized the universe was at it again…

A week before I was full-term, my husband got stuck in Amsterdam (I know, there are worse places to get stuck) because of avolcano named by a cat walking across a keyboard. A week before I gave birth, a water main serving Boston and environs broke, so we had to boil all our water for four days. And five days before I was scheduled to deliver, my blood pressure spiked due to “atypical preeclampsia,” and rather than head on home from what should have been an innocuous doctor’s appointment, I was carted off to Labor and Delivery in a wheelchair to have a c-section…right then.

But this time the lesson wasn’t about what I do and don’t control, it was about what I’ve learned.

Two births, two years apart, each with their own challenges, and both carrying lessons in control.

Same lessons? Not by a long shot.

Two years ago the lessons were about finding peace with my own decisions. This time the lessons were about finding peace with things in which I had no decision-making role at all.

It can be tempting, in the midst of crises, to feel like you’re right back where you once were. That you’ve made no progress. That you can’t catch a break. That the setbacks are some kind of greater sign that you’re not yet where you should be.

Life isn’t a circle, sending you back on the same path over and over. When we think of life, and change, like that we lose the effect of time.

Time gives you perspective. Time means you’re never in the same spot twice—like climbing a spiral staircase (which, looked at from above or below, is a circle). Yes, you occasionally face the same wall, the same types of challenges (or even the samechallenges), but each time you do, you’re in a different spot. Sometimes higher, sometimes lower, but always different.

That’s what time taught me. What has it taught you?

Image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/vincealongi/625732589/