Monday, 24 December 2018

Mistakes & the Opportunity for Growth

With the new year fast approaching, I guess like most, it’s a time of reflection and re-evaluation. Soon after the family affairs are finished and the tinsel is taken down, we are forced to look the new year in the face with a shadow cast on the outgoing year as we look ahead. Christmas will bring with it celebration, but also remembering who we no longer have, either through loss, relationship breakdown or moving away. We have such an emotional tie to Christmas that our memory (known as a flashbulb memory) won’t allow us to forget where we were this time last year and who we were with - in person or in spirit. We look at our lives and realise the love lost or those who are no longer with us leave a teardrop on our hearts. As parents we play the role of Santa and ensure that it’ll be the best Christmas yet, despite what we may truly feel inside. Social media will no doubt remind us just how different our lives are because everybody else, seemingly, has the perfect family with the perfect partners and perfect kids - we will no doubt sell that image to convince others that all’s well - perhaps it is, but perhaps it’s not.

As parents, we take little time to reflect, because often, we just don’t have the luxury of time to actually evaluate how things have gone over the past year. We’ve made some good choices and we’ve, no doubt, made some bad choices. Mistakes. Miss takes which are born from our actions or those around us. We have, in a sense, given birth to this thing we now get to call “a mistake” once we have had the opportunity to reflect. Mistakes which we no longer wish to have present in this world or in our life, but we are forced to - we can’t very well give them back, so where to from here? For the most part, our little ones are resilient and often very forgiving. They view the world in black and white, with the luxury of innocence. What is broken can be fixed, it is as simple as that. We fix it because we need them to be okay. We work tirelessly, forced to deal with any errors with rapid pace to ensure that Christmas and the year ahead will, in fact, be the best one yet.

As parents, and in life in general, we make mistakes. Sometimes the same ones more than once, more than twice even. Some are big in that they carry regret, yet some, not so much and they flutter by. I carry my mistakes, I carry their weight, I carry their load. It’s an odd concept, but without me, they wouldn’t even exist. Funny that, I’ve brought mistakes into this world, and now I have to nurture them and their damage. I have to look at them, some with regret, some with anger, some with nothing but a passing thought. I have to own them, with reluctance and I have to accept them with open arms despite not wanting  them. 

Despite the apparent doom and gloom, there is one silver lining; mistakes carry with them an opportunity for growth. It is in this realisation that we can experience freedom from accepting and owning the adversities and learning from the damage caused - or if we lucky, the near misses. We can be so harsh and critical of ourselves as parents (and human beings in general) that it’s easy to wallow in the pain of regret, all the while robbing ourselves of the present, and it’s in this moment where we can find the choice to actively be there or not to be there. Because between stimulus and response, lies a space, “this moment in time”, and it’s in that space where we have the power to choose our response. It is in that space, gradually and day-by-day, where growth and freedom lies. Herein lies the truth, that this moment is not all moments and even the most difficult of feelings have a beginning and an end. Such is our love for our little ones, that when love is real, it WILL find a way. So no matter how much we deviate, no matter how much we want to punish ourselves or chastise our mistakes, we are still the hero. We are still the pillar. We are still someone’s whole entire world. It is what we do after the reflection that counts. It may not heal wounds and the damage may be irreversible, but the lesson learnt will hold value (even though it won’t necessarily outweigh the suffering caused), and it’s there that growth can begin, ensuring that future mistakes are minimised or realised before the would-be repercussions. 

Have a blessed Christmas dear readers and a more forgiving 2019 if 2018 has knocked the wind out of your sails.


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