As I have written before , parenthood is a role I am most proud of. A beautiful moment last night. Kirsten and I had both, individually, had a really busy day in Sydney. I had faced investment analysts and media regarding the annual results and the challenges related to the NZ Earthquake recovery and Kirsten had been at a conference for Working Memory. Before heading home for the evening we decided to grab a meal at a Thai restaurant in Sydney. I was exhausted both mentally and physically but knew Kirsten loves every opportunity to catch up. So do I. Sitting together Kirsten was very animated about the conference she had attended on Working Memory and how the conference had helped her think through how to make a difference in engaging with children, teachers and parents. I reflected with her that the learnings she had gained were pertinent to so many situations. Apparently we can only pay attention fully for an average time of 8.25 seconds! it explains a lot about what people remember from meetings!
We were so engrossed in our conversation together we didn't notice the lady sitting next to us eating her dinner. As I was paying for the meal the lady that had been sitting next to us pulled me aside and asked whether we were mother and daughter. I answered yes, wondering where the conversation was going. She explained that she was a Teacher and a Psychologist and had found our conversation fascinating and informative. However what was most wonderful is she went on to say that she had watched us with fascination as she had never seen a mother and daughter out for diner together really listening and actively engaging like we were and that she had noticed we didn't check our phones or appear distracted from each other. As I meditated this morning I started to wonder if the distractions we face in the modern world has resulted in a lower ability to concentrate and really be in the moment. Does it make us chase what we don't have , missing out on what we have right in front of us? Driving us to make poorly informed and poorly judged decisions?
Working memory is an essential cognitive function for us staying focused, blocking distractions and staying the course with an activity or goal.
If you think about it innately many species can do this. When we were recently in Bali on our family holiday we visited the Turtle Conservation and Research Centre . The centre is bringing together science, tourism, conservation and education to help the endangered turtles . Turtles are still laying eggs along the beaches despite the eggs being taken before the turtles hatch. This is where the habit that has been formed is to the detriment of the species. The turtle population is in serious decline. The locals are being encouraged to collect them not to eat or use for other purposes but to bring them to the centre so the turtles can hatch and be raised until released into the ocean. Kirsten adopted a turtle and released it into the ocean. We just hope the little turtle had good working memory so it concentrated for more than 8.25 seconds to safely get out to sea!
It is hard to believe 25 years ago Kirsten came into the world. After a dream pregnancy she arrived 5 weeks prematurely , with a 4 hour labour but unfortunately had a struggle for the first few weeks as she recovered from Hyaline Membrane Disease. We have a lot to be thankful for. The Paediatrician and the Rescue helicopter that ensured she got to the right neonatal intensive care unit has meant that a beautiful, smart and caring woman is now in the world. Kirsten has always loved an adventure and doesn't like to wait for anything. This is her signature trait. I watch her and see many of my qualities in her and yet so many of Michael's as well. I guess if she has the best of both of us she will continue to be an amazing gift to all of us that are blessed by being around her. I do believe that becoming a parent is a big decision. It was not one Michael and I took lightly. We had Kirsten after 7 years of marriage and it is a decision that we are so much richer for having made. She has helped make us stronger as individuals and as a couple. By coming into the world she helped us become our own nuclear family. Because we believe our family is the most precious thing we have we have always created a weekend of "Celebration of Kirsten". As we finish this years celebrations we realise the quarter of a century celebration is the last one we will host . Next year we will be guests as Matt takes over as her husband. The Celebration of Kirsten will continue as we are all privileged by her being in this world and creating so much good for others.