Growing Pains. We all have them, but exactly what are they?
As a little girl, I used to get these aches in my legs that would wake me in the middle of the night. No amount of tossing and turning helped. Nothing worked until mom or dad came to sit with me a while rubbing my aching legs. I am pretty sure that my parents took me to the doctor where we were told they were “growing pains.”
As a young mom, I remember taking my son to the pediatrician after he had been complaining about pain behind his knees. His “knee thingies,” he would say. We were told that they were probably “growing pains.”
As a teacher, the term “growth” is used to measure whether or not our students have learned anything from what we have taught them. In fact, I have also been known to go off on tangents with my students to talk about life lessons from time to time. One such lesson is to be always willing to grow in knowledge throughout life. Like when students think that they no longer need to know anything else new.
We should all understand that life is full of growth and sometimes that growth is like a revolving door. Or like climbing a steep flight or two or ten of stairs.
Once during a conversation I had with a good friend over cocktails, we compared stories about our failed marriages. She told me something that I have never forgotten. That as couples, we either grow together or grow apart. Those were some of the most true words that I have ever heard.
So what does growth mean to you? For me, growth is like change. It is something we all have to go through, but sometimes it is hard. Growth can be uncomfortable. And discomfort can be painful, hence the term, “growing pains.”
If you ask Google to define “growing pains,” you might find something vague about this being unassociated with physical growth, but perhaps it is used to reference growing a new business or a a new skill. Career growth. Emotional growth. I have even learned that relationships of all kinds go through periods of growing pains.
For instance, new friends we meet through the course of our lives might start out sort of iffy. Awkward perhaps would be a better word. You aren’t quite sure if you like this new friend enough to trust them with anything of importance for a while. Then when you do, you might wonder whether or not you have made a mistake to let that person into your life at all. Friendship must grow from the seed and blossom into the kind of relationship that is meant to be. Sometimes it’s a flower, but sometimes, it’s a weed.
And like my friend said about marriage, every romantic relationship begins from nothing too. Getting to know another person is not immediately comfortable. We stand on guard as things slowly ebb and flow into the place of comfort we are looking for to grow with someone. Or, grow apart from that person, at which time, we move forward with our lives in different directions.
Growing pains. There are all kinds.
One of the biggest types of growing pains I have experienced is the pain of motherhood. Yes, most of the time motherhood is referred to as a source of joy. I am not denying that is true. But can’t joy also be uncomfortable?
Like, it’s a joyful moment when new moms finally master the diaper change without getting peed on or getting poop under our fingernails. Come on moms. You know this happens. But it sure is painful to feel like you suck at changing diapers. We question whether or not we are even qualified for this mom gig. The little messes that turn to successes do not happen without growing pains too.
What about the first time you drop your baby off at daycare? And the time when they finally learn to sleep through the night? And use the potty without having an accident first.
All of the things we do as moms have growth.
Once the babyhood part of motherhood is mastered, there is the school part. Dropping them off at school for the first day of kindergarten. Volunteering for field days and field trips. Taking them to birthday parties. Hosting birthday parties of our own.
We feel judged constantly. By other moms, by our own moms. Are we doing this right? Are we as good of a mom as we are supposed to be? It hurts at times. A lot of times, especially when we feel as though we have failed at something. Like we have been defeated.
By the time we have made it past grade school, we have grown to know that some of those things were not important. We grew. And we grow more as we watch our children hurt through adolescence. First crushes. First heart breaks. Making friends, then losing friends.
Life constantly throws these pains at us whether we ask for them or not.
I have wondered when these pains would stop because now my children are both grown. One has chosen his path and is basically on his own growing through a series of bad decisions. The other is flourishing in college, though not without growing pains of her own.
My own life has been filled with moments that have been less than stellar. I have caused my own mother pain. One of the largest disappointments in life is the one that happens when some of us realize that our marriage is over. No matter how old we might be, bringing that news to mom brought her pain. I know it hurt my mom to learn that I was not as secure as she had thought. But I grew from that and so did she. My mom had to trust me when I said that I would be okay. And I am.
With everything we go through, we grow. And sometimes that involves pain, but we always come out on the other side somehow.
It is a few hours until another Mother’s Day arrives, which has me feeling reflective. And in pain. Knowing that the one who made me a mother is out there struggling with something I cannot fix has been the biggest pain of my life. But y’all, I am growing.
We cannot become mothers and thrive on our expectations we have from that experience without remembering that we are more than just mothers. Let me say it again. We are MORE than just mothers. So for anyone out there struggling with helplessness of being unable to fix our children, this one is for you.
And for those of you who are not yet mothers, know that there is pain. But with every bit of it, you will grow.
Life has proven that we are constantly enduring the pain of growth, but without it, we would never reach the place we are meant to be.