You will need to set aside half an hour to complete these tasks. Find a notebook and let’s begin.
Exercise – Part 1:
- Take a moment to close your eyes and take a couple of deep breaths.
- You might enjoy putting your hands on your belly and taking a moment, silently, inside yourself to say hello to the child growing in there.
- It might still feel strange or slightly hard to believe that there really is another human being in there.
- Start to imagine the life you will have together.
- In your note book, write a letter to your unborn child, take time to go into a little bit of detail. It might include things like:
- How excited you are to meet them
- Any fantasies you’ve had about the life you will share
- What you would love to show them/teach them about the world
- How it feels to have this special person in your life
- What your intention is towards them
How did it feel to do this exercise? Did you begin to feel a sense of excitement about what is to come? Was it the first time you had thought about this or do you often daydream about your life together? I wonder what your intention was towards them?
However excited you are about having a child moving from non parent to parent requires letting go of somethings and developing new skills and capacities.
Exercise – Part 2:
This can be a lovely bonding exercise to do with your partner or a close friend. Don’t worry if you feel a little bit awkward, chances are the other person will feel the same way. Often owning up to fact that you feel awkward or shy can help to break the tension.
- Sit facing each other, set a timer for 5 minutes.
- One person talks while the other person simply listens.
- When it is your turn to talk I invite you to share everything which you are afraid of about having a child with your partner.
- When the timer is done you may want to exchange a few simple words, “I love you”, “I hear you”, “I am here with you”. Avoid trying to fix things for them, simply be there with the words and feelings.
- Swap roles.
- If there is a lot to say you might do two or more rounds of this.
- Find a nice way to end this activity for example hugging or talking about the experience you have just had.
Write down what came up for you in your notebook. Was there anything surprising that you felt sad to let go of? Were any of the fears shared by your partner? How do you feel now having done the exercise?
By letting go of aspects of our old life before a child comes along we are actively making a space to welcome them in to. I cried every day of my pregnancy both because I was afraid of what I was leaving behind and what I was moving in to. Going through this process meant that when my son was born I felt ready to welcome him into my life.
The trade off for all of the challenges that parenting is going to bring your way is a life which is rich in meaning. Almost every parent I speak to says that parenting is both the most difficult and most rewarding thing they have ever done. Here is a quote from a Dad I interviewed recently, I didn’t know it was possible to feel this much love for another person.
An official policy of the Totnes Steiner School “it is dangerous for children not to climb trees“. I love this because it summarises nicely the notion that a satisfying life comes not from avoiding challenge but in knowing how to meet it. During the next Chapter we will look at ways to begin finding the resilience you need to meet some of the difficulties parenting brings.