Belfast Telegraph

Home Life Weekend

We may fear changes in our homes, careers or families but I’ve learnt it’s best to embrace it

Kerry McLean with her husband Ralph and their children, Tara, Dan and Eve
Kerry McLean with her husband Ralph and their children, Tara, Dan and Eve

By Kerry McLean

Change is something lots of us aren't great with, me included. One of my mother's favourite stories is when she found me, on the morning of my 10th birthday, bawling my eyes out. When she asked what was wrong, I explained that I didn't want to go into double digits, I was happy being nine and didn't want to get any older. I'd need to check the Guinness Book of Records, but this may just be the earliest reported case of a mid-life crisis.

This resistance to change was inherited from my dad. He was not a man who appreciated any sort of alterations and he loved his life, his home and his family just the way we were. His theory was, "if it ain't broke, why fix it?" He was a very soft-hearted, happy soul but the one thing that would put a frown on his face was upheaval of any sort.

My mother, on the other hand, has always been a bouncing ball of energy, constantly looking for something to do and quite often, if nothing else is occupying her time and hands, she will start redecorating. She'll move furniture from room to room, the walls could change colour twice in one week if the notion takes her and, when he was still with us, this habit of returning home to what felt like a never-ending episode of TV's Changing Rooms used to drive daddy bananas. He'd stand there, looking crestfallen, remarking to anyone who'd listen that he didn't dare sit too long in a seat or my mother would have him hidden under several layers of paint and wallpaper.

So, given the evidence, it's fair to say that my resistance to change probably begins at a genetic level. If you need further proof, take my approach to clothes shopping. I live in jeans and tunic tops and have done so for the last few decades. I have even been known to buy two or three identical items of clothing rather than go looking for something new to add to my wardrobe. My theory is that I know what suits me so why mess with a method that has stood me in good stead for so long?

It's the same with my hair. Really, I've had the same style, give or take an inch off the length, since I was in my mid-20s. Every few years I attempt a fringe and then spend the next four months clipping it back with my daughter's grips until it grows. It's not a great look when my three-year-old and I are wearing matching hair clips...

But more recently I've been trying to curtail my fear of change and be more open to all sorts of modifications. Not that it's easy. My natural instinct with my children for instance, is to keep them close to me at all times, to watch over every move they make and keep them safe from harm. But without the courage to allow them to make mistakes they wouldn't have grown and developed and become the young people I'm already so proud of.

In the last year I've watched my eldest blossom from a painfully shy child who wouldn't look you in the eye, into a confident young lady who's more than happy to stand and perform on stage. My other two have flourished and developed in a hundred and one ways and I've loved watching them emerge like butterflies into the world. None of that would have happened without change being a necessary part of the equation.

It's this new attitude that has encouraged me to be brave and do something I've wanted to do for years - return to university to study psychology, a subject that has always interested me. For someone as naturally nosey as I am, how could I not be fascinated to find out why we do what we do and say what we say? I'm only a few weeks in but already, I feel like my brain is fizzing with thoughts and theories I'm discovering.

So, while many of us may fear our homes, our careers or our families undergoing reconstruction, it's worth remembering that old saying that is certainly ringing true for me and my lot - "a change is as good as a rest".

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