AllMomDoes Podcast host Julie Lyles Carr thought she’d done a good job preparing herself for an upcoming season of life…and then discovered she wasn’t ready. Find out what she’s been learning about the seasons in life and how that experience has now led to the newest series on the AllMomDoes Podcast called Seasons.
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Julie Lyles Carr: I’m Julie Lyles Carr, and this is the AllMomDoes podcast, part of the Purposely podcast network.
For many years, I liked to think of myself as a mom who just rolled with the change of seasons of life. And I can tell you that I was really content when my kids were little baby infants, and then when they were toddlers and when they were in elementary ages and stages all the way up through their young adult years. Several of my kids have traveled internationally, and so I was used to them going on those kinds of trips. And then my oldest daughter moved up to Chicago a few years ago and I was fine with it.
Great. Okay. So I would’ve told you that I was really good at taking the seasons as they came. Now, somehow recently over the span of 15 months, I became a wedding expert and not only a wedding expert, I also learned how to do COVID weddings. So I feel like I kind of have a double designation if you will, because my son got married in March of 2020, right before the pandemic hit. Then one of my daughters got married in August of 2020, and then one of my other daughters got married in May of 2021. And so when my son got married, the first one who got married, people would ask me, oh, is this a hard transition for you?
Does it make family life seem like it’s changing so much? And I would just gently smile because you know, I had so much wisdom. And I would say, you know, I’ve always raised my kids with the launch in mind, so it’s just so exciting to see it happen. And I absolutely meant it. And so then when my daughter got married in August of 20, she got married five months later, same thing.
I was super excited for her and for our growing family, I was all good. And then nine months after that, the next daughter, my daughter, Maesyn got married. It was a beautiful wedding and the bride and groom were just giddy and so in love. And they got married in this really beautiful, sweet ceremony at this outdoor stone chapel that we have here in the Texas hill country. And after the ceremony, we hosted the reception in our backyard and it was complete with first dances and toasts and gifts and laughter. And as we wrapped up that celebration, Maesyn and her new husband, Brandon, they got in the car to head off to their honeymoon to go to their honeymoon suite. And we were gonna see them again in a couple of days before they took off for their new home in California.
Well, as Maesyn was getting in the car through that veil of confetti and bubbles and all that, it completely hit me. Oh, life is changing forever. So their car rounded the corner. And I went back inside and I got out of my mother of the bride dress and got into some old running clothes. And I got in my car and I drove around by myself, around the hills and valleys of central Texas, bawling my eyes out.
I’m talking big balling, many tears, all the emotions, probably shouldn’t have been driving kind of crying. What happened because I was the cool mom, the mom who celebrated her kids growing up and moving on. Why was I now, the fourth kid in, why was I now turning into this wailing, crying, sloppy mess?
You know, to be fair to myself, when my oldest daughter moved to Chicago, that was only supposed to be for a year. And then at the year, mark, she took a new job and she stayed longer and then longer again. So that change was kind of a slow drip. Like I had some time to adjust to her living so far away from us. And then my son, the first one who got married, he and his wife, they’ve made their home here in Austin where I am.
So while him getting married was a change, they still live here and they’re not too far up the road. And then my daughter who got married next well, she and her husband are in San Antonio. So that’s just over an hour away from where we are and they come home at least once a month. And I can run down there on a random Wednesday to have lunch with her, but Maesyn and her husband?
Well, as you probably know, California is a whole lot further away than a house just down the road or than San Antonio. And even though we planned her wedding for months, and of course I was fully aware she was going to be moving away. It didn’t all exactly hit me as reality, I guess, until I saw her neatly tucking, the train of her wedding dress beneath her, as she climbed into her groom’s car.
I mean the magnitude of the change of the season. That’s when it hit me. That moment. Very self-aware I know. Here’s the deal. I had a season come for me that I didn’t have the tools for, even though I thought I had it all figured out. And today it’s made me really passionate about talking about seasons of life and learning how to move from season to season with more grace and faith and honesty. And hope.
We’re kicking off a new series on the AllMomDoes podcast today, a series we’re calling seasons. You know, it feels like just about the time you figure out how to navigate being pregnant or the adoption process, a baby arrives on the scene. And now you’re faced with a whole new season of learning how to live with a baby in tow.
About the time you figured out how to lean into baby life that baby becomes a toddler and that’s a whole new game. And then if you add a sibling or two to your child’s life, there’s a new season that comes with that. So even though we might look at our experience as moms, as a long season of motherhood, there are seasons within that season that surprise us, that challenge us that require us to let go of some of the things that we’ve been doing and to reach for others. It happens in our marriages with our families of origin in our church lives, careers, seasons are always changing.
When it comes to the calendar year my favorite season is fall. I adore the fall. My birthday is in the fall. I love the cooler weather. I adore Thanksgiving and not to be cliche. And I know this can be kind of controversial, but I proudly love all things pumpkin spice. I just feel more alive in the fall. It’s something about the anticipation of the holidays and busting out colder weather clothing. I mean, although to be honest, it’s still pretty warm here in Austin in the fall, but I am still determined to look fall festive. So I find myself getting a little bummed when the season of fall is about to end when I need to start rolling into the next season. And then the next. Now I’m not advocating that somehow I need to lose my enthusiasm for fall, but I want to live the days of my life, whatever the season, with the same kind of enthusiasm and anticipation and excitement that I have in those fall days.
Even if it’s July and it’s been 104 for over a month, and I’m a little bitter about it, but , if I don’t do that, I’m spending too much of my precious time God has given me wishing I was somewhere else. Longing for the next season or trying to go back to a season that’s now passed. There are seasons in life that frankly, aren’t all that fun.
There are some that are downright grueling and hard, and there are seasons that seem full of sunshine and progress and fulfillment. I wanna know how to walk through all those seasons understanding just that, that they are seasons. I wanna have the tools and perspective that can help me not feel stuck or in a rut in a season that’s hard.
And I don’t wanna take for granted a season that is sweet. When we think all of our seasons are hard, it makes it really tough to walk in joy. We aren’t in a testimony to living life to the full from John 10:10. And when we take for granted a season that is sweet, we can miss special moments. We can forget to soak it up, assuming that every day will be like.
I was honored recently to be asked to do a video series for a faith curriculum publisher on the book of Ecclesiastes. And I’ve long been fascinated with king Solomon’s writings in Ecclesiastes. It does seem something of an homage, a little bit to a midlife crisis.
He writes about having tried all the things and built all the things and chased all the things. And his words about those experiences are often interpreted as him saying that it’s all meaningless. Or it’s all vanity, which is certainly one way to render that Hebrew phrase in the original writing. The Hebrew word we often hear rendered as “meaningless” in Ecclesiastes is hebel.
And this is what I found interesting when I dug into it in the original language. Hebel is the word for vapor or breath so maybe Solomon was saying everything is meaningless, or maybe what he’s saying is that everything passes so quickly, it’s like a mist, a breath moving quickly evaporating into the vastness of eternity.
You know, vapor comes from something, breath comes from something, it matters it’s here, but then it’s gone. And when I look at it that way, I’m even more struck by his words, further into the book of Ecclesiastes where Solomon writes that to everything there is a season.
Now you’re probably familiar with the passages and Ecclesiastes 3 where Solomon writes that to everything there is a season and he pretty much covers it all in just a handful of verses: a time to be born die plant harvest kill heal build tear down weep laugh mourn dance embrace refrain get lose keep throw out tear mend keep quiet, speak up, love, hate, make war, keep the peace. Wow. What a list. I think the only things that I think are kind of missing that I would probably add a time to bake cookies and a time to go keto, but maybe that’s just me, but in all of it, Solomon is demonstrating that these seasons of our lives, they come and they go. Like vapor.
Some of them may feel like a really long season, for example, potty training. But on a more serious note, maybe you’ve been through a season of infertility and that has seemed incredibly long with all the questions and the wondering. Maybe you feel like the season of your small kids being small, maybe you think that’s moving too quickly or maybe that feels really long to you.
It can be tough to make peace with the seasons of your life. If you’re in a season you love and you see it nearing and end the struggle and the grief of ending that season can be profound and very real. And if you’re in a season that seems never endingly challenging it can be tough to believe that there will be a better day, that better things could be ahead.
So in this new series, we’re gonna talk about seasons we didn’t see coming, or didn’t realize could be complex, like when you become a daughter-in-law for example, or when you become a mother-in-law for that matter, we’re talking about that perhaps you loved one season with your kids, but you’re finding you’re really struggling in the next season.
What about when you go from one kid to two or two to three? Yes. You’re still in a motherhood season, but embedded in your motherhood season are all kinds of little seasons and those have their own joys and complexities. Maybe you’re in a season where your friendships are changing or maybe you’re moving into a new faith community, or maybe just a new city in general.
Maybe you find yourself in a season of marriage that is more than you ever thought it could be. Or maybe you’re in a season that has challenges you never expected. So how do you navigate those seasonal wins? How do you move on or roll with the tide or put protections in place around your relationship?
And I gotta be honest. I think as women, we can find some of the dynamics of seasons and aging, even tougher. Our culture holds out that a woman’s peak is in her twenties and thirties when she’s at her best physically, when she’s at the height of her fertility, when she’s making the biggest strides in her career and at home, and maybe that’s the season you’re in, but I want you to know that that season wraps. And I don’t think that it wraps very fairly in our culture, but that’s just the truth. I, I feel like the guys in our culture get a much longer runway in flight time. I mean, we’re still saying that guys are boys when they’re in their twenties. And we talk about wild oats and having plenty of time to become men. And we’re better, I think, as a culture at celebrating what have come to be known as silver foxes- men in their forties and fifties and sixties, and we call it being in their prime.
We do it in the entertainment world, in politics, in business, in family. And we do it in our faith communities as well. And that’s a tough one for me, because you’ve probably heard about churches who will only have people on the stage or the platform who are in a younger season of life.
You may have experienced feeling like you’re being aged out of a certain ministry or project because you’re in a different season than others in your community. And I wanna explore this more about what it means in our culture to be a woman moving through various seasons in life and how that’s perceived and how that can feel.
I think too, as women, these ages and stages of having our kids at home with us and our marriages being in a certain place where we have figured some stuff out, this type of a season can be where we think maybe we’ve arrived. Have you ever heard somebody talk about that they’ve moved into their forever home or they have this really strong ethos around their family, the family that they’ve built with their partner, that they have this family life that they’re really loving. And sometimes the language around it makes it sound like this family experience that’s going to continue on and on and on. Like I said this verbiage of their forever home. So I don’t mean this to be discouraging at all, but you just gotta know that things are going to change. There’s going to be a season where you wrap the more active parenting you’ve been doing and it transitions, it changes.
And then who are you when we talk about the empty nest syndrome, when we talk about some of those things, those are real phenomena. Those are places where we land emotionally that even though we can see the days on the calendar flipping, we don’t often understand that it also means that a change of season in our lives is going to come.
I think that’s what caught me so by surprise with Maesyn and Brandon’s wedding, because I thought I had navigated really well launching and releasing some of my kids, but I hadn’t had this experience. And there was something about getting in the midway point of the number of kids we had launched that all of a sudden, it really came to roost that I was transitioning from one season into another season.
And somehow it just felt like I didn’t see it coming till that day that I watched that girl of mine get into that car to begin her new life. It was just a really profound moment. And so as I’m looking at the four of my kids who are still in my home at the stage of parenting I’m in right now with them, I wanna start thinking through this.
Okay. What is this gonna look like in a new season? How can I make this season of having these youngest four still at home, even sweeter? What are the things that I intended to do that I haven’t done yet? What are the things that I kept saying I was gonna make time for but I have assumed that the season would continue and continue?
Those are the things that I feel like as women, I wanna help us. I wanna help myself. I wanna help you get some answers and some ideas for how to go through seasons, loving them, not in a place of nervousness, not in a place of anxiousness, but also understanding that they do have expiration dates on them, if you will, that there is going to be a time when we have to release it.
And, I’ve been through some tough seasons in the last few years, and I’m having to learn again, to release some of the things that have been challenging in those seasons. And I’m having to learn again how to reach for joy and how to reach again for laughter in some places. And I wanna know how to do that better too.
I wanna know where it’s appropriate for me to release certain seasons of my life. And I wanna know where I need to grab on and hang on. I, I wanna know how to do that well. So I just have a sense from a lot of the conversations I’ve been having with the women in my life. From those who are newly married to those who are having their first baby to those who are letting their last child start kindergarten and they’re finding that they’re crying a lot, to those who are launching kids and all of those moments and stop places along the way. I just want for all of us to be able to come to a place by the end of this series, where we have a better awareness, honesty about the change of seasons, where we know how to navigate seasons well, where we know how to treasure certain seasons well, when we know when to release some things because that season has passed. I just wanna learn a whole lot about this experience of navigating the seasons of life. So I can’t wait for you to meet some of the guests that we have.
I actually, on this particular series, I’m gonna have a couple people come on, who are dear friends of mine in real life who’ve done some really powerful work in this arena. And I can’t wait for you to hear from them. We’ve got an episode that’s gonna delve specifically into the experience of becoming an in-law. I think that’s gonna be really powerful for you to hear. We’ve got all kinds of things coming up that I am so excited.
So be ready. We are moving into this series. I can’t wait to get your questions and your feedback about the season of life you are in and the things that you are wondering about. Go into the AllMomdoes socials, let us know what questions and thoughts you have. I am really excited to take this journey with you and to explore more about how we spend our days and the way that our days all gather up together to represent certain seasons of life, and how we move from season to season in a way that is vibrant and joyful and equipped and honest, I can’t wait to have this experience with you. So be sure in tune in next week, when we kick off with another episode in this new series on seasons.