Life’s Next Big Shift

Life goes by fast. I don’t know why the perception changes so much between when you’re young and when you get old mature. When you’re young life just seems to take forever to go by. I look back my teen years and I remember so much happening and then I remember that most of those crazy memories were tied to a single summer… three months. Wow. Then you hit your 20’s and the next thing you know, you’re 40 and life seems like a blur.

So why am I reflecting on all this right now? It’s because I’m facing the next big shift in life. My daughter is moving out of the house. She’s going off to college, leaving our protection and venturing out into her own life.

And this truly is a big shift. In fact, raising kids is full of big shifts, and each one is a potential stumbling block or stress point or whatever you want to call it. And those stumbling blocks have the potential to strengthen or destroy the marriage relationship.

When my daughter was first born, that was a huge shift for us. The transition from two people to three, one of them being completely dependent on the other two, is huge. There needs to be a complete refocus of energy on the part of the couple. Your time with your spouse suddenly becomes the child’s time and that is stressful.

The next big shift was when Deanna started school and suddenly somebody else is in charge of caring for her for a significant period of time each day. She also brings home ideas and concepts that belong to other people, and so as parents we were forced to learn to deal with that, to unify our position and to try and teach her how to filter out the crap while instilling the set of morals we wanted her to embrace.

One of the hardest shifts was when Deanna became a teenager. And it wasn’t because of bad behavior or anything, it was because suddenly she needed more space, more independence. The child goes from complete dependency to wanting to stand alone almost over night and for parents this is hard. It’s hard to admit you are not the center of this kid’s life anymore. For moms I think it can be emotionally crippling because they’ve invested so much emotional time into this kid and now they just aren’t needed in the same way. So there’s a gap that forms. I remember that Michelle and I really had to re-adjust and refocus on each other and remind ourselves that we’re married and that our relationship with our child should not take priority over our relationship with each other.

We made it through that shift, and now we’re facing the next big one. But honestly, I think because we took time to refocus on each other during the last shift, that we are much better prepared for this one, which is the final cutting of the tether. I think Michelle and I are closer than we have ever been and we are working as a team better than we ever have. So when Deanna leaves and it’s just the two of us in the house, I think we’re as prepared as we can be to move forward.

Of course this won’t be easy. I’m going to miss my kid to be perfectly honest. I really enjoy having her around (even though she can be a moody little sh*t at times). I think Michelle is going to be affected even more for the simple reason that there’s no other woman in the house now to talk to. So this is our challenge. And the question becomes; How do we adapt? How do we pull together and find new areas in our relationship to explore and embrace? There’s the a potential to become bored, or depressed, or just to drive each other crazy. I’ve seen it happen with other couples. So we’ll have to remain focused and find the best way to move forward together.

I’m excited though. I’m excited for Deanna. She’s embarking on what is going to be an exciting time in her life. She’s going to be surrounded by creative people and be given full freedom to explore her passion. I know she’s going to be successful.

So here’s to the next big shift. I’m looking forward to seeing how this plays out.