I mentioned in my introduction that since I turned 40 I have challenged myself to move outside my comfort zone. A couple of “small” things to add to the list of things that I have done in my 40s is to become a parent – first to a beautiful little girl (now four) and then to a gorgeous little boy (7 months). One of the biggest challenges with this has been to make sense of myself as a parent and earner in the market economy – not an original challenge I know, but certainly an ongoing one for me.
Over the last few months this has been particularly hard as I have spent quite a bit of time away from home travelling for work. Not that I have minded being in NY or London to enjoy some warm weather, but it has meant time away from the family. The other week I was feeling particularly alone and missing my children and starting to wonder if my son would still recognise me when I did get back! I called home and Issy, my 4 year old daughter, picked up the phone. Our conversation covered the normal morning check in: What are you having for breakfast? Is your brother awake? How did you sleep? What did you dream about? This particular morning the “what did you dream about” answer made me feel a whole lot closer to her and home. Her reply was: “You and I went swimming in the ocean … don’t you remember?” I asked her to tell me all about it which she did, sharing all the details of her adventure. It had been a wonderful, wonderful swim with a dolphin and lots of splashing around in the water. She finished with “you remember now don’t you Mummy?”. In her 4 year old dreamworld I was right there with her enjoying this adventure. I know that for most four years, everything will centre around them – and right now Issy is the centre of her own universe with her brother, parents, grandparents, friends and cousins simply planets revolving around her. But for me that small conversation meant that we were both at the centre and somehow I wasn’t so far away after all.
Driving home I started thinking about the relevance of this conversation from a sensemaking perspective – as a micronarrative and shared story. It will resonate with a few of you and be less relevant for others. For me it’s one of a myriad of narratives that come together to form and inform my behaviour as a parent. The daily pieces of conversation that I had over the years with my own mother and father, the blending of our family stories with conversations from other families and with other “working mothers”, with other “older Mums” – all these things coming together to play out in the interactions I now have with my kids.
Then I arrived home and Issy climbing a tree and Reece’s eating his first arrowroot biscuit were top priority. And I read an article in our local paper taken from the Telegraph: “Grey hair fashion statement for chic and famous women”. And I thought, well, one out of three aint bad!
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