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new beginnings, new beginners

September 25, 2015
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Change can be confronting at the best of times. But when you are tired and sore and your current circumstances aren’t projected to changes for many, many years it can seem more than overwhelming.

My parents welcomed their first grandson into the world this week. The first-born of one of my sisters, it is quite a change for them after the long line of grand-daughters they have already been blessed with. Quite a change for my sister and her husband too.

When you think about it, change is often  the first word that springs to mind when children enter anyone’s life. While my first thought is “I am so glad I don’t have to change dirty nappies any more…” adding a child into your life brings change well beyond nappies.

My first child introduced me to a previously un-imagined range of skills and abilities where, from the moment she entered our world, she made me feel distinctly “not yet competent”. When you have spent years developing an identity as someone who is competent at many, many other things that can be challenging to say the least.

You don’t know what to do, but then you can’t know because you have never done it before, and the tighter you hold on to the fiction that you are the one who does know, the one who is in charge …  well, the less you are.

My eldest very generously taught us that lesson in her first day with us. Just six hours after she was born we left the hospital – she slept peacefully in the safety capsule as we drove home. She must have like that capsule a lot (though how she could get so attached after such a short time I do not know) because as soon as we took her out of it the screaming started. And she would not stop.

Feeding didn’t work. Walking, rocking, sitting, singing, humming, more walking, more feeding … nothing that we thought should work did. Never having done this sort of thing before we didn’t know what to do. It was terrifying to think of the future if our first hours together were starting out like this.

So we called a time out. We put her in the center of our double bed where we thought she could continue to scream but at least she would be safe. We took a step back and gazed in terrified awe and wonder at the red-faced, clenched fists gift we had been given and considered calling our parents (it was nearly midnight) and admitting we needed help.

And that was when she stopped screaming and fell fast asleep.

A little later on we crept onto the bed, one of us on either side of her, and watched as our daughter slept knowing, I suspect, that we all had learned an important lesson.  The three of us had never done anything like this together before. It was her first time being our daughter and our first time being her parents. It was a new beginning and she had forcefully reminded us that we were all beginners. She had persisted with her screams until we allowed ourselves to admit that we did not know and that we could be ok with not knowing. We could learn our way into a future together.

And that theme continues till this day. Just last week I reminded her that she is the first teenage daughter we have ever had in our lives and that we are kinda making it up as we go along (cue withering teenage glare). We get most things right and some things wrong and we try to admit it when we do the later and not crow too much when we do the former. For her part, she is doing a wonderful job in her role as a teenage daughter (too good a job sometimes!) and she continues to give us opportunities to be beginners almost every day.

So, if I had to offer some advice to my sister or to anyone who is confronted by changes occurring in their life at the moment it would be this – do the best you can (it is enough), don’t worry that you don’t have all the answers (you don’t and you never will), try to remember that you are all beginners, let go of the idea that you are in charge (you aren’t and you never were) and most importantly of all take some time outs to step back and take a breath and marvel at the wonder of it all. Love you Bubs.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Alex Taylor permalink
    September 26, 2015 4:40 am

    Thank you for this post. It fits perfectly well with how I am feeling at the moment after taking on a new role. Thank you for putting change into perspective again for me. I need to spend more time focusing on the improvements I am making rather than continuing feeling frustrated with what is yet to be done.

  2. Barb permalink
    September 28, 2015 2:35 pm

    Yes, timely for me too! I love when you said that you need to” let go of the idea that you are in charge (you aren’t and you never were)”, ha!! Amazing how much change brings out the stuff that truly stays hidden until challenged. And there in the wings is that thought that regardless what happens, it will help you grow as a person…

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