Wednesday was move-in day at the local university, as well as the first day of class for the public schools.
Watching parents of college freshman sit in long lines of traffic to reach the dorms and overhearing parents of young children discuss taking their children to their first day of school were reminders of some of the transitions that families face during their lifecourse.
I often ponder the idea of transitions, or changes, required in our own individual, as well as our family’s, lifetime. Sometimes this involves an actual move from one location to another, though at other times it is a life change that moves our worlds–or life as we have known it. For example, going to college, getting married, starting a career, having a baby, children growing up and leaving home, or aging parents becoming ill. While some people change and adjust more easily, many seem to resist and have difficulty making the changes smoothly without first thinking, questioning, and finally resolving the challenges that are inherent even with changes we actually want!
According to Froma Walsh, flexibility and the ability to adapt are key factors in individual and family resilience. Resilience is the ability to meet challenges and stress in ways that not only allow us to cope but even gain something positive from the experience. Not that we tend to seek out these experiences but life just seems to naturally contain them!
So why the resistance? I believe it depends, at least in part, on the timing of the transitions. When we are rested, healthy, and ready to take on the world, it seems easier to be flexible and adapt. When we are in need of rest, recuperation, and renewal, the extra challenges require of us strengths we may feel we do not have at the moment.
While helping a friend move from their apartment, I was reminded of all of the times I have moved and how much energy it required to sort, pack, and change the organization of my daily life. Things I normally had in a specific place and knew automatically where they were was disrupted and everything took more time to accomplish. Things like, Where is the soap?, …the stamps to mail a letter?–or even, Where is the post office itself?! Of course, with time we learn these things, reorganize our living spaces, and return to some sense of normalcy… but good or bad, some things remain different and a transition has been made… our worlds have been moved.
*What have you found is helpful in making transitions?
- Keys to Resilience: Transformation Through Adversity (www.winebago.uwex.edu)
- Family Fridays – “Look For the Helpers” (jonibeach.com)
- Empty Nest (psychologytoday.com)
- How to Survive Back-to-School and Other Life Transitions-cnbnews.net (gloucestercitynews.net)