I wish I’d done the unthinkable that day. I wish I’d said poo to social etiquette and spoken what I desperately wanted to.
You see, when the labour pangs began, I didn’t really believe them. We were going out to dinner, a classy restaurant with friends – their shout. And as the contractions came and went, I gritted my teeth and worked my way through the eight-course banquet.
Finally, just after the wok-seared beef fillets with field mushrooms and before the bomb Alaska, I leaned across to my husband and said, “We need to go!”
Here’s the way I wish it had unfolded: I heaved myself to my feet, looked around the now-full restaurant and shrilled in my loudest voice, “We’re going to have our baby!” (clutching my stomach as another contraction took hold).
The room first went silent, then erupted in applause as people laughed in shock and delight at our announcement.
As we left, people yelled their well-wishes at us. Complete strangers shook our hands and the wait staff helped us on our way, opening doors and then thrusting a bottle of bubbly into our hands saying, “For after!”
Wouldn’t that be amazing!
Here’s the way it really happened: we discreetly left the restaurant. Full stop. That’s all.
Why do we hold back?
At the recent Flourish women’s event in Launceston, keynote speaker Karen Wilson spoke about how important it is to get in touch with your inner child. The author and executive minister from Riverview Church in Perth (which has a congregation of 5,500) encouraged us to, “Live life large!”
Rediscover what you’re good at, those things you love to do, and do them more often. Be creative. Play lots – allow yourself to laugh and have fun. Connect with the people around you (don’t retreat). Step out in courage to overcome fears and to reach goals.
These are the strategies she shared for rest, fulfillment, purpose and effectiveness. Think of it as the unabashed energy and sponge-mindedness of a child applied to the adult context. After all, there’s a reason we ‘grow up’. The inner child can teach us to live with unbridled freedom and joy while the ‘outer adult’ tempers such spontaneity with the realities of consequence and responsibility.
Proverbs 17:22 says that, “a happy heart is good medicine and a cheerful mind works healing…” (Amplified Bible).
Happy hearts and cheerful minds are the territory of children.
Let me explain.
I’m a bit of an introvert. My son’s a lot of an extrovert.
We make friends everywhere we go, striking up conversations with strangers. He’s often on hugging terms with new toddler mates after a quick play at the park, which in turn means that I know the names of their parents and have engaged in some interesting conversation on what’s going on in their lives.
This would not happen without my son. Without his all-embracing love of living and people, my life would be dimmer. I learn so much from him.
As Karen wrapped up her talk at Flourish, she left us with a question: “What crazy idea do you have that needs doing?”
I lost an opportunity in the restaurant that day. If it were my son’s idea to tell the world that he was about to become a big brother, he would have done it without thinking twice.
So here’s a crazy idea that very few people know about me. I would love to one day perform a song, some bluesy tune, leaning on a piano in a sparkling gown. My voice isn’t much chop, but wouldn’t it be fun? Perhaps, now that it’s out there, you’ll hold me accountable!
Perhaps you too will find the courage to speak into being those crazy dreams in your head.
To Live Life Large, as a child knows best.
First published in The Examiner Newspaper for Keeping the Faith column on Monday September 15, 2014.