InsightOut: Looking at Your Hands

Stephen Marchment is an assistant registrar for the Faculty of Arts & Science at the University of St. Michael’s College. He is currently working on a Master of Education degree in Student Services in Higher Education at OISE. Steve has worked for post-secondary institutions across Canada and internationally for more than 10 years. USMC is the sixth post-secondary institution he has called home. 

Looking at Your Hands

Baby Ollie Marchment discovers his hands

On June 7 of this year, my wife and I welcomed our son Ollie into the world. My wife was in labour for just a little over 31 hours. To say she did an amazing job is an understatement; she laboured for about 20 hours at home before we decided to transfer to the hospital with our midwife. But this Insight Out isn’t going to be about giving birth in a hospital during a pandemic, or about how the first time Ollie and I met I was wearing a mask—that could be a whole other post. This Insight Out is about one simple question: When was the last time you just looked at your hands?

My wife and I didn’t really get a lot of direct in-person support from family or friends in the first few weeks of being new parents because of the circumstances surrounding the pandemic. We simply couldn’t; there were still many unknowns about COVID-19 and its effect on infants. We were advised by multiple health care professionals to be very cautious about who we let around our son in the early week—even grandparents. This was difficult for us and our parents. But let’s fast-forward to when he was about three months old so that I can share the following story.

I was just finishing up a meeting when my wife called me downstairs to see what Ollie was doing. We both looked at each other in wonderment and laughed because Ollie was simply looking at his hands for the first time. He had just realized that these things that kept floating in front of his face and going into his mouth were in fact attached to him! It was a wonderful moment to share with my wife, to be present for that little triumph and moment of new self-awareness.

So, let’s rephrase the question: When was the last time you appreciated a very small part of your day?

I’ve been reflecting on that moment a lot as the months have passed. I feel that Ollie was not just discovering his hands but was trying to teach us a lesson: Appreciate the small stuff, because the small stuff can make the biggest difference. Now that Ollie has discovered his hands he can suck his thumbs, grab onto things and push himself up during tummy time, grab his pacifier out of his mouth. It’s all because he took a moment and pieced two and two together… he’s had his hands this whole time.

As we go further into October and we see news about a second wave and predictions of 1,000 cases a day in the coming weeks, I encourage you take a moment and appreciate the small stuff. Take a minute to breathe and think about a small thing you may not have given much attention to or taken for granted. Maybe it’s a new song you heard, or how your coffee tasted amazing this morning, or you heard from an old friend, or that you simply have the ability to wipe away a tear or two from a moment of sadness or a moment of laughter.

I try my hardest to keep as positive of an attitude as I can and bring that to work with me every day. I truly think we’re in this together and we need each other to succeed. Let’s take moments to be self-aware, to notice things we may have missed before, to be grateful for the small stuff, and to take care of each other.

Read other InsightOut posts.