I turned the big 4-0 on Valentine's Day. In honor of this over-the-hill milestone, I'd like to share 40 things I've learned on this often awkward, very enlightening and not always the wisest but fulfilling journey of mine.
1. BE SEASONALLY SENSITIVE
Most of us fall into one of two categories: monochrones or polychrones.
No, I'm not making up these terms. They're real.
- Do one thing at a time
- View time commitments as critical
- Are committed to jobs (projects and tasks)
- Adhere religiously to plans and dislike changes
- Emphasize promptness, always
- Are accustomed to short-term relationships
- Do many things at once and are highly distractible
- View time commitments as objectives
- Are committed to people and relationships
- Change plans often
- Base promptness on the significance of the relationship
- Built for long-term relationships
When I first discovered these terms about eight years ago it was as if someone made a Venn diagram out of my marriage. NOW I GET IT. He's a mono and I'm a poly. Our google calendars sync into a painful color coded irritation soup for him. He has been planning for retirement since he was eleven and I'm still trying to figure out what shade of greige to paint the bathroom.
And if, like me, you're a polychrone, you most likely experience failure to transition.
Not just transitioning from sleeping to jumping out of bed. Like transitioning from being someone with a career and a full-time to job to perhaps, a stay at home mom or part-time employee or maybe even someone now unemployed. Like being single after being in a long term relationship. Like watching your kids get on the bus and realizing the baby days are behind you and feeling (ahem...let me swallow this massive lump in my throat) nostalgic, paralyzed and a even a little bit frozen. Adele Nazeem.
Yeah, me too.
And now, fourteen years into marriage, my monochrone husband shares with me that I'm not alone in my struggle. Because even though he is forward thinking and transitions with greater ease, monos struggle with thinking so much about what's next that they miss right now. All the planning eats up the present.
Monos are moving ahead, polys get stuck behind: but no one is in the RIGHT HERE & NOW.
And that, my friends, is what I want to remind you to do. To be present where you are right now and really embrace it. In all of its uncomfort or comfort. There's no room for dualism when it comes to our time: monos and polys must unite and become one. Become a presentchrone (now I really am making stuff up) by putting down your phone and shutting your laptop and setting aside your worry and self-consumption for long enough to chase your kids around the house when they get off the bus today. Or to wrap your arms around the one you love when you wake up tomorrow morning. To make more memories than scrapbooks. Eat the strawberries while it's summer and do the things you can only do right now that you can't do another time- because you don't get this time of singleness or newlywedness or new parentness or teenagerness or retirementness or even recent grievingness or whatever it is that you're in back...so really, really be in it.
Quite a few years ago we started a family tradition of customized, time consuming themed birthday parties for our boys. Not rent out the roller rink kind of shindigs, but the homemade kind that pretty much celebrate the "big thing" the boys were really into that year. Except that I'm not the most pinteresting. From Green Lantern to violins, to WIPEOUT, to Eragon- there have been elaborate games and snacks and costumes and themes that sort of outline all their little passions in their seven and ten years. Why did we start this and how do we make it stop? I blame my creative mother, party waiting to happen father and photographer sister for all of this. My favorite memory of one of the boys' extravaganzas involved my husband in a Gryffindor tie, Harry Potter glasses and shorts all alone at our neighborhood park setting up a Hogwarts scavenger hunt for eight very excited party goers while random park goers gave him bizarre worrisome looks. Last year my just turning seven year old, Keane, chose the theme of Samukai. No, I didn't know who it was either, but just so you know, he's a lego ninja and we spent the sleepover with bandana clad mini ninjas chopping airborne marshmallows with plastic swords while we bid farewell to all the Samukainess of age six to then usher in a new year. It was sweet, it was sticky and it was a blast.
I'm a terrible transitioner. I'm painfully poly. And sometimes sentimentality and sensitivity actually cause me to miss out on the beauty that's happening in this very hour under today's sky. I constantly am reminded of something one of my boys' favorite Montessori teachers asked us as parents to do for our children:
"Give them 10 minutes of eye-to-eye contact along with your undivided attention every day".
You know what's sad? It's freaking HARD to do. And I'll be tucking them into bed and night and realize, we never did it. But it's not too late. Honey, tell me more about your day. What was the best part? What exactly are you building with all those legos scattered on the floor? And while my heart refills after sinking that I missed out on doing something so simple and meaningful that day, I'm continually reminded... it's never too late.
I think about this with God often. What does 10 minutes of eye-to-eye contact with Him look like? What does it look like for you? Do you realize you never really made room for that right as you're falling asleep after a netflix bingewatch? Yeah, me too.
May you embrace your current season of life. May you maximize it. May you give those you love the daily Montessori 10 minutes they deserve. May you give the One Who Is Love your undivided attention. May you not miss the now because you were stuck in the days-of-yore past or the can't-wait-'til-then future.
Btw, I'm the "tall" ninja at the Samukai party. xo.