“Falling is an expected part of the process… adults learning something new should not expect to succeed immediately. Falling is part of what makes us human. Striving to grow and change…is a never ending process.?” ~ Jeff Adams
I remember lying in the hospital room after my first daughter was born. In between night feedings, the nurses had, at my request, taken her to stay in the nursery. At each shift change the nurse would remind me, “She can stay with you or we can take her to the nursery.” Through my intense guilt I requested they take her to the nursery. So I can sleep, I told them.
I couldn’t give myself a break because I thought I should: (1) automatically know what to do, and (2) feel completely comfortable with this little baby in my care every minute.
Truth was, I had more confidence in the nursing staff than in myself, especially in the middle of the night. I had never done this before. My baby had never done this before. The nursing staff had. Who was I to mess her up so soon?
I vowed to squeeze out every last drop of experienced help I could before they packed us up and sent us out into the great unknown…home.
It’s funny, now, when I remember the first year of having both of my babies at home, the one thing I can picture perfectly in my mind, the thing I miss most—from the stretches of all-nighters, colic and diapers—is the middle of the night moments, in the dark, the two of us in a rocking chair.
Since then—and I am a few months away from being the parent of a legal adult—I can’t count how many times I have said, to myself or out loud, “I don’t know how to do this. I’ve never done this before.” And each time, just like with the nurses, the helpers appeared (in the form of a babysitter, teachers, friends) until I crawled through.
Even if nobody physically shows up to clear the room, time helps the inexperienced. My mom has told me the best ages are from 40 to 60. I’m not about to question her perspective.
It didn’t take much for me to agree with her since I’m in that spectrum. Of course the “best years” would have to vary from person to person depending on many things. I can see how those two decades might offer, if nothing else, more freedom of choice. And maybe (slightly) more control over how many situations qualify for the “I have never done this before” declaration.
Author Elizabeth Gilbert said, “I’m a big advocate for the pursuit of curiosity…. The trick is to just follow your small moments of curiosity. It doesn’t take a massive effort. Just turn your head an inch. Pause for an instant. Respond to what has caught your attention. Look into it a bit….unfold it, see where it leads you next.”
Considering that advice, maybe we should just assume whatever decade we’re currently in has the potential to be the best one. And to be curious about the unknowns. A kind of quest…to fulfill curiosity.
For me, there were some pretty amazing things in my past decades, the highlight by far are the nights I feared at the beginning, the ones spent all alone, cuddling with each of my babies. Those chances are gone, but some pretty amazing and sad and wonderful chances have happened since. And every single time, without fail, I know I said at each point, “I don’t know how to do this.”
I’m still saying it. Every single day. Because I have kids. And a job. And a house. And love. And fear. And doubts. And curiosities. And…can you relate?
I am trying to see the gift in doing the very things that are unknown. Because realistically, what’s a life without learning how to do new things? What’s a life without giving yourself a chance?