During natural labor when a woman reaches the transition phase, she often feels emotionally ready to give in and expresses a desire to quit. I know for all five of my births, the transition phase is when I asked for the pain medication: “Make this pain end.” It’s the most uncomfortable part of the process but necessary to get to the end goal. Similarly in life, transitioning is often when we want to throw in the towel and say, “No thanks. I’m good right here. I don’t want to keep going.” But y’all, there’s no epidural for life and that’s exactly when we have to bear down and really focus on finishing strong so we can reap the beautiful rewards and grow as people.
Support is invaluable during transitions; be willing to reach out to yours. We don’t have to battle it alone.
Recently, my husband and I set out to renovate our 100-year-old home out of town to prepare it for sale. This meant we had to pack up and move our seven children 200 miles away into this home to live on air furniture and renovate for three weeks. Within the first week, trouble began to creep in and we lost the enthusiasm for getting it done. Imagine trying to keep seven kids entertained with minimal creature comforts while you do work you’re unfamiliar and uncomfortable with. So many times during the process I wanted to call it quits and just come home to Lafayette. “Sell the whole thing as is. I don’t even care if we make a dime on that house.” Of course, I do care and that wasn’t reasonable, but transitions are really hard and I hate feeling uncomfortable.
During the first week in North Lousiana, just as hurricane Barry threatened our home in Lafayette, I developed an illness which put me on bed rest for three days. The antibiotics to clear that up then gave me hives; perfect. I thought, “I’ve lost too much time now I will never get it done within my timeline.” I shared my feelings with my support system, and they encouraged me to push forward. They reminded me to take care of myself while I did the work, too, so I made myself smile and laugh when I wanted to cry. This coping method came in handy when the soft spot in our front room (which we’d suspected was only a little subfloor replacement) turned out to be a shotty repair of past termite damage from 15+ years ago.
That left us needing to rebuild the entire front corner of the house from the joists up, yet instead of thinking “Such a huge job how can we ever manage something like this?” I was reminded to rely on my tribe and together we found a contractor who could handle the job for us. We repeated the process of asking for and getting the help from professionals again when we found a beehive in the wall of our garage. And again when our air conditioner would only cool the house to 86 degrees despite running all day. And again when our roof needed to be replaced after years of hail damage.
Sometimes I felt like I was only spinning my wheels, but for the first time, I really dug in my heels and gave my absolute best effort to the work I was doing. And when I stepped back, I could see real progress.
Before seeing the house for the first time in over three years, we thought we’d have a couple of rooms to paint and maybe one floor to replace. By the end of it, we will have replaced over half the square feet in flooring (removing up to four previous layers in some areas) and have repainted every room to some degree. The workload never seemed to decrease. For what felt like the first time in my life, this is when I decided not to give in to those thoughts of “I’m not enough” during transition. I channeled my inner Lafayette Mom Rebecca (I’ve never seen her without a smile, even when she skinned her knee), I turned up my favorite playlist and really just focused on how much I had accomplished. I began creating and sharing before and after photos of the work; almost as proof to myself that I was learning and doing hard things without fear of failure holding me back. (Hey, Brené Brown, I’ve been listening!)
Taking the project one step at a time and celebrating each small victory made the project as a whole seem more doable. I was learning I can do hard things!
During the final week of renovating, our 3-year-old managed to get a bottle of sleep aid from a top shelf and open the child lock cap to ingest about half a bottle’s worth of medication. Poison control sent us to the emergency room for one of the scariest nights of my life. My sweet girl spent twelve hours in drug-induced hallucinations and all renovation work ceased. All of my fear and anxiety surrounding the timeline for finishing the house fell by the wayside and I was brought back to the center of it all. Thankfully there were no long term repercussions from this event, but none of what I stressed so much in the beginning mattered in the scope of everything.
“If the bathtub doesn’t get refinished or the contractor has to finish the flooring after we leave, so be it.”
We spent the last few days of our reno-trip with our kids focused on a finding a few moments here and there to be together instead of working without breaks until 1am every day. I learned if I allow myself to grow and push and learn then that’s enough and I’m winning. Even if I don’t get things done the way I expected to; done is better than perfect. Where I grew the most in this particular transition was acknowledging that I can push through my self-doubt and fears to learn new things, and I can do it while still making time for what’s ultimately most important to me: my family.