Trying to understand what resignation means is still very new to me, so please bear with me as I attempt, somewhat clumsily, to put into words some thoughts on it for the first time ever on this blog.
Being resigned is seen by some as an act of weakness, something someone who has given up is doing, someone who just goes about living their current life—almost apathetically—with no ambition for more. However, I have come to realise that resignation is a choice the strong make. By being flexible and accepting their current situation, they are able to bend to its whims. By bending, they do not break, and they are able to continue working on building the future that they desire.
Having a child has particularly been helpful in helping me understand more about resignation. On the one hand, my baby is who she is; I have to accept her as she is and adapt to her completely when she was first born.
However, being resigned that “this is who she is” and adapting to her completely in the first weeks after she came into this world doesn’t mean that she will rule the roost for ever. Quite the contrary. My husband and I are already helping her understand that she has to adapt to the other members of the family. For example, when she wants to be breastfed, she has to wait a few seconds for me to prepare myself. By explaining it to her and going through a pre-set, familiar routine, my baby now immediately stops crying when she sees me preparing to breastfeed her. She has learned to wait.
Similarly, when she is done eating her solid meal and wants to get out of her high chair, she has to wait while we clean her up. Again, by explaining it to her and going through a pre-set, familiar routine, she immediately stops crying or fussing when she sees her father and I cleaning up.
Justice is all important in this process; my husband and I understand that we can only demand of our baby what she has the capacity to do. We can ask her to wait a few seconds; but waiting ten minutes for us to, I don’t know, finish watching a TV show when she is starving would be unfair (and even cruel).
Resignation in each of these two situations helped my husband and I be tuned to our daughter’s current capacity, while our quest for constant improvement helped her build her capacity, lovingly and fairly.
Another great thing about resignation when parenting is how it opens up the space to enjoy the “now”. For example, a lot of parents complain non-stop about their babies waking up throughout the night. My husband and I early on decided that we would do our best to enjoy these nights, even the most difficult ones, because these days will pass. And while sometimes, the level of tiredness we reach seems to settle permanently within the very fibre of our being, we still enjoy the magic of night-times together. However, we also are helping our little one learn to sleep through the night—we do not intend to wake up twice or thrice a night for too much longer, either!
When combined with empowerment, therefore, resignation creates the space to build the kind of future we want based on the reality of our present.