You can find your personal rhythm by going backward and examining your past.

Your rhythm is more prominent and easier to identify in your early adult years. When we first make something of ourselves, we are less inclined to factor in what I call “the-things-that-can-go-wrong.”

We make our decisions based on we believe is best for us, without much thought of consequence. As we mature and discover that each of our decisions has consequences, we tend to become more cautious in our decision making.

For example, when you’re in your 20s and you hate your job, you don’t hesitate to quit without having another job already lined up. You know (at least you did in a good economy) that you’ll find another place of employment soon. This attitude changes as we get older and become more experienced. It’s easier to be flexible when there is only you to consider; much harder when you have financial responsibilities and a family with demands and schedules.

As you get older, you think about losing that 401K if you leave before the minimum time that you are required to qualify for it. Many people also have great benefit packages in their jobs that influence their decision to stay or leave even if they’re miserable in their position. And, it’s natural to believe as you get older that it will be harder to find a job that pays what the last one did. It becomes inconceivable to quit when you cannot afford to be without income for even one month.

As an example, when my daughter Gina was born, I completely lost my sense of self for the first three years. Jokingly, I mused that the name Klingon (from the TV series Star Trek) must have come from a mother who wanted to get work done. The period from three to six years was a lot of fun. Gina became a little more independent every year. She learned what the word “no” meant and I relaxed into motherhood. Each year seemed to get better, and I loved it. During the years from three to nine, we had a great and very loving relationship. Kids during this period develop a sense of their own. We had a strong mother/daughter bond.

Then Gina turned nine, and from then until 12 the storm clouds formed. Without any warning, she couldn’t wear “baby” clothes anymore, and I had to buy brand-name items – not that cheap stuff I used to get away with that looks “similar.” Gina became quite vocal about activities she did not like. My little girl had major physical changes, and while it was obvious that the teenage years were coming, I couldn’t help but hope that they wouldn’t hit as hard as many parents indicated. “Not my sweet girl,” I thought; and then she turned 12 and from there to 15 all I can say is, buckle up, you ‘vegot some battles coming your way.

Now Gina is in college, and often during the later years of her teens, I’d wondered where my sweet moments went – and was I ever going to share them with her again.

My friend Kelly told me that, at 17, kids start to come around slowly and, by the time they go to college and/or turn 18, they thankfully begin to outgrow this tumultuous teenage time. Yet another reader told me that 19 is the magical age. Even now, as I am revising this chapter, I have already seen Gina’s rhythm change. I can see very clearly how she is transitioning into a new one. With increasing frequency, I begin to see the person she is becoming and how she is developing her own personal rhythm. Those glimpses show me someone who I think I will like a lot.

Have you noticed the rhythms of your children, or of your friends who have children? Where are they in their journey, their rhythm, compared to yours? And how do you feel about it? Let me know – I’d love to know about your progress. Thanks so much for sharing!

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