New Year’s is approaching—a season of saying goodbye to the old and welcoming the new. During this time, people traditionally make resolutions to replace old habits for newer, healthier ones. Some people may tidy their homes around December’s end, clearing out old clothes for an updated wardrobe, or replacing old furnishings with new decorations.
In addition to New Year’s, life is full of other periods of change, teaching us to let go of the old in order to gain something new. Nowhere is this lesson more prominent or valuable than the life transition of becoming a parent.
For many expecting parents, especially first-time, their sights are primarily set on the future. They focus on preparations for welcoming the baby: buying baby necessities, learning about infant care, and brainstorming names for their child. There’s also anticipation for all the delightful new firsts parents hope to experience—like holding their baby for the first time, hearing baby’s first coo, or seeing baby’s first smile.
Of course, focusing on the future is a great thing and very necessary for the transition to parenthood. However, with such a huge emphasis on the exciting and bright future, it can be easy to forget that parenting also challenges us to let go of certain things. Having a newborn means surrendering a full night’s sleep to wake often and early for feedings. The idea of “quick errand runs” become a thing of the past because towing a baby along to the store requires extra time and effort. Parents learn to let go of their usual daily routine and resync in order to meet their child’s constantly changing needs. These are but a few examples.
Parenthood is certainly a big adjustment at the beginning, and some folks may be caught off guard by feelings of grief. It’s not uncommon for parents’ feelings of joy to be coupled with a sense of loss—to miss and long for their prior way of life before having children.
Please don’t be mistaken. This isn’t intended to be a sad message. Becoming a parent does not necessarily mean letting go and losing everything about ourselves. There are many things we can still carry with us. But entering parenthood is a reminder that loss and gain are often two sides of the same coin. Sometimes there isn’t enough room for the new until we’ve cleared out the old. In many instances, letting go of what’s past creates more free space in our lives for the wonderful new experiences and memories coming ahead.
Happy New Year! And here's to new beginnings!