It’s funny that I had worked with kids for several years as a teacher, but until now, had missed out on an entire facet of my career. I think I was a pretty solid teacher before kids, but after having two of my own, I’m realizing a few of the ways that being a mom has made me much better at what I do.
1. I’m learning to be slower to judge- I often get frustrated with parents who don’t seem to care much about their kids’ progress. The ones who are completely surprised when progress reports come raise my hackles quicker than almost anything. But seeing firsthand what balancing kids and spouse and family and homework and projects and bills has made me a little more empathetic to those parents.
2. I’m learning to see the baby inside every punk- My own kids are really little, so it’s easy to cuddle and love on them. My students? Well, they’re honestly anything but cute some days. On days when the Teenager Monster has completely overtaken them, I’ve found it helpful to imagine that this same kid scratching “Anarky” on his desk (true story) once had chubby little dimpled arms and would spontaneously kiss his parents.
3. I’m learning to stop freaking out about the small stuff. You know what? Life goes on if I take a few days to grade a paper- I have a life and a family and they come first. I’m learning to bust my tail at work so I can go home and be with my kids. Funny thing is, dropping the unimportant stuff has helped me to focus on the really essential parts of my job, not a nitpicky homework assignment.
There are those days when I get overwhelmed and wish I wasn’t trying to wear so many hats, but learning to focus on one thing at a time and keep my eyes on my successes helps me to keep my balance.