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These are my thoughts, yo.

Mommy as Educator

jasmine banks

I am out of town on a work conference right now. This is a new experience for me. The last time I went on any kind of work conference I was 19 and we went to New Orleans, my best friend, another girl we worked with, and me. I worked at a newspaper at the time, so the whole conference was about ad space, ad selling, increasing circulation, budgets, etc. It was a professional meeting, with professional people dressed in professional clothes. And I was 19, just beginning to learn about who I was, dressed in crazily put together "professional" outfits which mostly consisted of khaki pants, t shirts and cardigans. I was completely out of my element, working for a newspaper, really just skating by on good luck most of the time. I see that now. This conference is different. For, it is smaller. Much much smaller. Second, I actually know something about the content of the meetings, I actually care about them. We are learning how to train and educate our direct care staff about the unique needs of our population at the children's shelter. We are learning how to teach them about creating a culture of care, how to educate them about child development and how abuse and neglect and chaos can so drastically alter development in children. We are learning how to train people to build healthy caring relationships with kids and how to then use discipline appropriately within that context. And this is stuff I know about, stuff I understand and am passionate about.

Today I presented some of the material as I would at a training session back at the shelter. When I got my feedback sheets and when we went to lunch, several people told me what  good job I had done. And it was nice to hear, and I knew even without people telling me, that I had done a good job. I could feel it. And it felt awesome.

Sometimes it is easy for me to feel like the only thing I am good at is being a mom. I get so wrapped up in playing and crafts and reading and making food and feeding Max and teaching Norah how to rhyme words that I forget there are whole other aspects to who I am. I forget that I am a good teacher, a good speaker, a good student, an intelligent person. I forget that I can do more than just change diapers. And then when I remember that, I feel so empowered.

It is exciting for me to be able to recognize and cultivate these other parts of who I am. Its good for my self-esteem, good for my brain and my creativity. Good for my soul.

I have spent so much time over the last year and I half really working to learn about who I am and what I need and want in order to be a healthier person. It has been a year of lots of introspection, lots of learning to love and be gracious to myself. And I am learning now, that one of the things I need in order to continue building my confidence and self-esteem is something outside of the house, outside of my kids and my family that I can focus energy on. I need something else to work on, I need an outlet, something to use my intellect and knowledge and experience in a different way than I do with my family. It helps keep me grounded and motivated and sane. And even though this work is only indirectly related to how I work and relate at home, and sometimes it is hard to leave my home and kids to do it, it ultimately makes me a better wife and mother and friend.

So, after all that babbling, I'm wondering: Anyone else have something like this? Anyone else have an activity or ritual or job that you have found is intrumental in helping you be a healthier version of yourself?