12 Jan Same, same but different
Have you gone through something you’ve gone through before, but it’s different somehow? Like when you order your favourite pizza toppings in a different restaurant and although the ingredients are exactly the same, it’s just not the same? Or when you arrive at your regular supermarket to do the weekly groceries and realise they’ve changed the store layout around? (This has to be one of the most frustrating things in the world!) Or when you drive the same route to work each day and notice one of the big billboards has changed ads?
I’m now more than halfway through my third pregnancy and each one has been totally different. The first one was a breeze (or maybe my mind has blocked out the bad parts or I’ve forgotten with age?!) – no complications at all, almost no morning sickness or other horrible symptoms, just smooth sailing right the way through. The second one was rough. Horrendous morning sickness that got worse as the day progressed, premature labor at 31 weeks, hospitals, bed rest, medication. It was traumatic. This time around is different from each of the others. Tiredness was the worst factor to deal with in the early stages with only a bit of nausea. I think I went to bed before my kids for the first few months! The second trimester got much better until the bleeding started and we discovered I had a low-lying placenta, so had to stop running and heavy activity, two days before we moved house! In each one, my body changed differently, my lifestyle was different and our circumstances were different.
For the first 30 years of my life I went to the same place for Christmas holidays every year. The days were mostly the same – beach, braais, lunchtime drinks, evenings out at live music concerts or next to the fire. Then our firstborn joined the clan. Extended beach mornings weren’t so fun anymore because mid-morning nap times cut into the day and it often took longer to back the beach bag with bottles, snacks and all the other paraphernalia than the time actually spent on the beach! Lingering evenings around the fire were shorter because of bath and bedtime routines and because baby wakes when the birds do. I often found myself really frustrated that things weren’t how they always had been. I was on holiday, in the same place, with the same people, at the same time of year, but it was just totally different.
We started 2021 hoping it would be the same as every new year start – new goals, fresh starts, clear plans. But it isn’t. There is so much uncertainty, it is not life as usual. I think many of us expected COVID to magically disappear and life would return to normal (whatever normal is, these-days), as the clock struck midnight on 31 December 2020. But it didn’t, it is here to stay. It’s a new year, but we’re forced to do things differently, approach things differently, make decisions differently.
You may think this sounds like I’m complaining. I’m really not. I’m sharing this because it took me a long, long time to accept that holidays have changed and to enjoy holidays as they come, even without beach days. I still need to work on embracing each day, each season for all it has to offer. These are just a few examples, but the same is true for almost everything we go through in life. When we realise we’re doing something or experiencing something we have before, we expect it to be the same. But it’s not. We’re not. We grow and change through seasons. We accumulate and let go. We learn. In each season, there are new things to experience and bring us joy. Each chapter of our lives requires something different from us in some way and offers something different to us. When we focus so much on ‘how things were’ or ‘how things should be’, we lose the opportunity to fully experience what the current chapter holds for us – the rain and the sunshine.
Don’t let us become so clouded by why it’s not the same, that we can’t see what’s right in front of us right now. There’s gold here. Don’t waste it.