Some of you already know why I’ve been quiet for the last 6 months… the arrival of my first child has been all encompassing! I promise not to turn this blog into one filled with parenting stories (and there are already many!) but as my first post back, I thought I’d share some things I’ve learned as I embarked on my parenting journey, which also relate to professional life …

Firstly, the importance of context!! 
Yes, I was one of those ‘all-knowing’ people… before baby arrived I had already made all the decisions about what kind of parent I would be! I’d read all the books and used ‘plain logic’ to decide that, amongst other things, I wouldn’t use a pacifier and I wouldn’t ‘spoil my baby’ by immediately picking him up when he cries.
And the reality… my son has a pacifier, because he needs to suck for comfort and my finger was getting very sore! And when he cries for something he needs, not only does it wrench at my heartstrings, but I realise I can’t expect he should understand he has to wait 10 minutes (which in the context of a 3 month old is a huge part of his life)! 

Because I’m so dedicated to learning something new every day, I had poured all that energy into learning about being a parent, I read so many books and I’ve googled everything… but at the end of the day, none of that advice has exactly fit what my son needs… because he is as unique as you or I… or the project you work on.

The moral: Context is everything. Of course you should seek advice, find out what other people have done and learn from it… but take that knowledge as a starting point for making your own decisions. Until you are in the situation (project/ baby) it is unrealistic to expect to have all of the answers… accept that you will gather more information about your environment every day and allow, even encourage, yourself to change tactics when a different result is needed.

Secondly, you are never too old to change your ways!

At the ripe old age of thirty-mumble, I had been labelled since childhood as what I like to call a ‘failed ninja’ (and my Grandmother called a ‘bull in a china shop’!) Basically, I have always been incredibly clumsy. I bump into things, kick things, step on people’s feet and (every new parent’s worst nightmare) drop things A LOT! I accepted this label years ago, “Its just who I am”. However, as any parent will sympathise … when you have just spent the best part of an hour getting your child to sleep, it is not a good idea to drop or kick anything within a 1km radius!! More importantly, I want to avoid doing any permanent damage to my son!!

So the moral…? No matter how long you have had a particular character trait, you are absolutely capable of changing. I have realised I can learn to be careful! I am capable of changing ‘who I am’ because I have found my incentive to do so. 

Professionally, I now realise I conquered my inbuilt shyness in a similar way.  I never imagined I could stand up in public and talk about anything, but the passion I have for making the world a better place for software testers was the incentive I needed to break through that shyness! 
What unwanted ‘label’ do you have that you could change, and what will incentivise you to do so?

And lastly, the importance of life-long learning

Having the privilege to watch the development of a human being from a ‘blob’ on a scan, through birth and beyond has been the most amazing experience of my life. It has really brought home the realisation I had a couple of years ago, that our learning and development should never stop. My son was fascinated last week by the reflections in a water bottle, and when I stopped to see what he was looking at, I realised it was quite beautiful. As I walk him around my house there is not a single mundane thing in it that he will not find interesting to learn about! Babies & children learn new skills every single day, they are hungry for knowledge and new experiences, no matter how big or small. Why do we allow the daily grind to so often make us complacent and stop seeing and learning about the amazing and inspirational things all around us? If you lift your head up from your phone or computer for a moment today, what inspiration (or simple refreshing pleasure) might you find?

So as I emerge from the brain-haze that a newborn child brings, these are my thoughts… I promise to make the next post much more about testing!