This morning, my youngest daughters created an image that I already know will be imprinted in my memory for a long time: an almost-one-year-old standing in her crib trying to climb out and a 2 1/2 year old dangling on the outside, trying to climb in. It’s a perfect metaphor for life really, always feeling a little too big for this, a little too small for that, too old to do this, too young to do that, and ultimately, meeting others and ourselves somewhere awkwardly in the middle. Some may say it’s a “the grass is always greener” mentality, but I’m not sure that’s really it.
It’s not that we always look at another way of life or another point of view as “better” than our own. It’s just different; differences are intriguing, alluring. They draw us out beyond the boundaries of our comfort zones and make us dare to take a chance and do something new to us. I would argue it’s a good thing, if not an imperfect way of self-discovery.
I’ve always been uncomfortable in periods of transition in life – when you are neither here nor there – in between major decisions. Lost, looking for a bridge to the next step in life, I often find myself feeling like both my 1 year old and 2 year old at once: dangling by a thread, but also trying desperately to climb.
In job transitions, marriage, adding to the family, house moves, we all experience this ground-breaking feeling where the earth beneath us shifts. And I wonder, as a small child, what this feels like…to be so rapidly changing…how unsteady it must make the world feel for such tiny feet.
It’s no wonder that progress for infants and toddlers is often found at a two-steps-forward-one-step-backward pace. Whether it’s crawling, or walking, or self-feeding, or potty-training, they must feel this need to cling to what they know, what comforts them, while also taking bold leaps forward.
And this image of my girls, meeting in the middle, bracing for comfort, shifting their own boundary lines, has in no small way heightened my appreciation for what they are going through. Change is inevitable and uncomfortable and good all at once. I hope they welcome it, plow through it, learn from it, and discover again and again.