Being there

Wooden sculpture of an adult nursing a baby

A good friend I've not spoken to in months called me this week with such happy news - she and her partner are having a baby!

I am so excited for them both and totally understood how overwhelmed they felt at the same time. We talked for a few hours and it was a seesaw of emotions - excitement, disbelief, worry, amazement and so on. I told her, 'whatever it is, I'll be here for all of it'. 

After we said goodbye, I found myself thinking about how my parents might have felt when they found out they were going to have me. I’m a firstborn and so they must have felt very similar to my friend - ecstatic and excited and worried about making sure everything went well. Looking back on my childhood now as an adult, and back in uni as a postgraduate student, I have countless memories of beautiful time spent with my parents. I say 'beautiful’ because not all memories that are meaningful and worth remembering are necessarily happy. 

There were times I’d run to my parents’ bedroom and want to sleep in their bed after waking from a nightmare. I remember my mom cheering me the loudest at all my soccer matches. Although my dad was very busy at work, he never missed a school event. My parents were always present in all my proudest moments, but they were also there for all my hard times. It gave me the confidence to try things, to challenge myself, to be my whole self, because even if I stumbled, I knew I’d get back up and that I would not be alone. They would be there - easy or hard, happy or sad, for all the things.

Presence. That was their special gift to me. 

What matters to you? What does success look like to you? Ben Shewry is the owner and chef of Attica in Melbourne. This is what he says on the Netflix series, Chef's Table, about the things that really matter to him: 

“When I was younger, I was very interested in trying to achieve a certain level of success, winning a lot of awards, and reaching a level of recognition from my peers. As you grow older, you realise that the things that really matter to you are your friends and your family. It doesn’t matter to them whether or not my restaurant’s ranked number 33 in the world. They only care really, if I’m a decent human being, and that I treat my children and my wife and my family and my friends with respect.”

Children need support and they need to be around their parents. And I wasn’t there in those early years, you know? And it’s - And it cuts me to say that. My father had been a promising pilot. He gave away many of the things to create a wonderful environment for his children. I didn’t appreciate my childhood until I started raising my own children, and how well my parents had done… Their great gift to us was a sense of self-belief and their time, which is the most valuable thing that you can give a child, is time.”


Tagged in What messes with your head, reflection, Student life