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Family Matters

“You haven’t changed.”

October 17th, 2016

By Elvira Berezowsky

“Yesterday, I was clever, so I wanted to change the world,

Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.”

- Rumi

I ran into an old friend, several months back, whom I hadn’t seen in almost 13 years.  And while we were volleying information back and forth about our lives, he said to me…. 

“You haven’t changed.” 

And it threw me. 

It threw me because, when he said it, I had turned away from him to negotiate feeding my two children take-out food in the middle of West Edmonton Mall.  This friend knew me before kids.  He knew me before my husband. He knew me in a time when I’m not sure I even knew myself.  

Surely, I had changed. 

We all talk, as parents, about how having children has changed us. We talk about who we were before we had children. We talk about how having children has enriched us, grounded us, given us new life perspective. All of these things, that seem to equal change. 

But somehow, I was being told, I hadn’t changed. 

Later, these words became something I would play over and over in my head. So much had happened to me in the time since I had last seen this person, that my mind created lists of things that had happened; that made me think that I had, in fact, changed. 

When I look in the mirror, I don’t see that girl in her twenties, still trying to figure things out. I see the grey hairs that started soon after my miscarriage. I see the dark circles under my eyes, from so many nights, staying up with my three-year-old daughter. I see the long, deep c-section scar across my stomach, from the birth of my now seven-year-old son. I see the tattoos on my body, that I started collecting when I was thirty, each telling their own story. I see the permanent indentations in my fingers, from wearing my engagement and wedding rings, day and night. 

Then there are the changes, the ones no one can see. There are the things that come with time and age, that really, truly make you feel like you have changed as a person. 

In this time I have learned to love as a partner, with someone who reciprocates my love; no longer the co-dependant caregiver I once was in my twenties. The toxic people of my youth are now the ones I can spot immediately, and gladly walk away from. I’ve made my peace, letting go of personal traumas and dramas from the past. Instead of being the person who needed to do everything, to please everyone, I learned to say no, to say yes to those few who truly need my attention. I finally learned to be still, to be present, realizing that living in the simple beauty of the moment can be freeing. And I now understand the value of just being alone with myself for a time, knowing my thoughts won’t eat me alive in the quiet. 

That feels like change. Didn’t it look like change? 

Then I stepped outside of myself, and thought about what he saw that day. 

It was Mother’s Day, and since my husband had to work, I decided that my present to myself was to go with my kids to Galaxyland for some fun. When my old friend saw us, I was laughing with my children. My son was teasing me, and I was teasing him. My daughter was being silly and I was making faces at her while I spoke. I told stories; short and sharp and sarcastic. I was boisterous, and my exhilaration for this special day with my children bubbled and flowed. And I could feel the love, so much love, in the words I used as I talked about my husband and our family and our crazy, funny lives. 

And now I think, maybe that’s what he meant by the words:  You haven’t changed. 

I still have big love for life. This now includes my family. 

I still have the heart of a child, with a large capacity for fun and play. This now includes my kids. 

I still speak passionately about those I love. This now includes my husband. 

I still tell my stories with boundless enthusiasm. This now includes my writing. 

I still have a smile that takes over my face and I laugh at jokes too easily. This is just for me. 

So maybe I haven’t changed. Maybe none of us really change, when we become parents. 

Maybe we just get better.

Elvira Berezowsky is an Edmonton writer, arts-educator, and mom

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