The Summer Season of Life
Once someone explained to me that life comes in 4 seasons:- 0-25 years old is spring, 25-50 years old is summer, 50-75 years old is autumn and 75 years + is winter. I am firmly in the summer season of life.
In spring, I can remember growing up and adults being keen to know what I'd like to be when I grew up and telling me these were the best days, then when I became to a teenager - it was: what are you going to do after school? when will you learn to drive? have you got a part time job? will you study further or take a gap year?
Then when it came to my twenties, society asks can you get a job that reflects your degree? have you moved out of your parents home? on the property ladder? how's your career? long term partner? Then it's all onto marriage, babies? and then after the babies - it stops. Its like society sighs, a sigh of relief, that you are settled. Summer season has come.
Everyone seems interested in when you are choosing your dream and deciding your big life decisions and then once you've done that, it seems to all go quiet. As though we now have our Disney happy ending we can focus on the next generation. This is typically where the movie ends and we are to expect that everything will just continue on and go to plan. In real life for example, everyone is excited to see and ask after the new born baby or wedding details but not so excited about a tantrum fuelled toddler or how you and the spouse have worked out the chores. The decision part of life is exciting but life doesn't end there - Its still summer and there are 2 more seasons after this one, God willing.
Even the media focuses on these events and decisions as 'must haves' for your life using celebrities as examples and unless they divorce and start again, there aren't any follow up articles. Its almost like that's when you are quietly written off. Sometimes, career highlights will make mainstream media for celebs but after this point, life is just not focused on. I write 'celebs' but I think this can be a reflection of society too.
I think that's why I felt turning 30 was 'old'. I had already made these decisions (career, marriage, house, babies) and I couldn't really see the next step, it felt like all the excitement had been and gone. I believe this is also due to my personality - I love starting new things but I loose momentum and working it through can be difficult . I love the satisfaction of completing tasks. I think my personality meant I tackled life like a tick sheet and I was happily ticking off life events, then the list stopped... now it was time to live out the tick list and I wasn't prepared for that part.
Also within church, ministries focused on individuals in youth and twenties. All of a sudden I was grouped into families. I love being married and having children but the term 'families' is so big and vast, I felt my identity lost and unimportant, deflated by this new season. I was now part of the masses and expected to just get on. Almost like, now I counted for my role, rather than for who I am. I lost the vision to the life I had mapped out, when it appeared to be labelled 'get on with it then'
So what happens then? What happens to these people? Life goes very quiet in mainstream media about this life season but actually there is a lot of living and hard work that happens; it doesn't just fall into place. Whether you are married, single, parent or not - there could be happy endings or not. The summer season (living out the life you have created) can be really exciting and amazing but it's also tiring, hard work with many ups and downs. I think if the media focused on the hard graft it takes to make your dreams a reality, the 'dream' or 'ideal' may not look so appealing.
I now look at the summer season as a name to call a group of people working out their lives. Yes lots of them maybe raising families but not all. We are working out our dreams together, regardless of marriage or parental status - as a family, we are all included. This is where character develops and we mature. Being in this group has led me to find who I really am rather than who I thought I was, especially when it gets tough. I'm happy with the decisions I made in spring time, I'm not filled with regret but I do wish I didn't have a tick list approach to life. I think this would have prepared me better for this season and I would have started it without the unnecessary gloom.
Life is fluid and not all plans are set in stone, there is still movement and new plans to be made. There are still adventures to be had, being settled does not mean being still. Living out your dream does not mean every day is a happy ending. Days became ordinary. In fact I had these 'ordinary' days in my teens and early twenties. During childhood ordinary days are so important as they build the security foundations to who you are but its only now I realise how important those ordinary days were. Living and working out the original dream seems to be filled with a lot more un-celebrated 'ordinary' days compared to the making the big decisions for your life days. It is like they are undervalued by the media/society as they are not heralded as glamorous or moving forward. I think that's why I hit a fog of what do I do now then?
Also I think the reality of the dream is not always as expected. There can be grief in this too and that's okay. Dreams can change and we can grow from set-backs. When I imagined being a wife and mother, running my home - I certainly didn't imagine all the sleepless nights, budgeting and cleaning, that I'm doing. I guess I thought school runs and after school club runs, doing homework would all run seamlessly - (spoiler) they do not. In summer, plants can still be planted and grow - there's still time to follow or change dreams.
The busyness or at times mundaness of these ordinary days can get you down. The tiredness creeps in and you realise that you're giving out too much and letting relationships lapse. Its not that you don't care, its just this season can be so busy that there isn't the time to do everything we want too. I was once given a picture of a Lego brick. There are only so many connection pieces and they fill up quickly - husband, children, church, work, extended family and then the time spot to fit in friends/hobbies etc are smaller but good friends will understand - they have the same Lego piece they are trying to fit everything onto too - hobbies and interest will still be there.
There is tremendous value in these everyday, ordinary days. These are the days that build character and relationships. It shows what we truly value and believe, by how we act and spend our precious time. We put in a lot of hard graft into families, homes and careers etc. It is a busy season in the garden: watering: feeding: lawn mowing: weeding to be done: protection from predators etc, but less busier days will come...
Summer season is a time when we come into bloom and produce the fruit ready for the autumn harvest!