parenting

Why I didn’t cry on my first day back at work.

After taking almost ten weeks off for maternity leave, it was time for my husband and I to drop off baby girl at the sitter for the first time. We knew it would be tough and planned ahead to be able to stop  for brief coffee date before we went into work to help soften the blow. Leaving her with a stranger, albeit a trusted stranger, was very difficult for both of us, as new parents. Would the sitter know how to help soothe her if she cries? Wait, she might cry?! But, I won’t be there!! After reassuring ourselves that she was in good hands and that our little squishy ten-week-old baby would be just fine, we reluctantly went off to work.

 

As soon as I walked into the main office the administrator said, “Oh good, you’re back. We have an IEP meeting to go to at Such-and-Such Middle School.  Come on, let’s go.” And off, I was. Sitting in that meeting I quickly jumped back into my role and knew exactly what I needed to say. It felt good. I felt confident and competent. I thought to myself, “I really know what I am doing.” And boy, did it feel great.

 

It was much later when I realized that going back to work felt so natural and easy because I am a well trained professional with very specific skills, none of which include how to manage and care for a newborn baby. I also realized that I had spent much of my maternity leave wondering if I was doing the right thing at any given moment and second guessing myself. At work I am competent. At home I am clueless. At work I am confident in my skills and know where to find answers when I am unsure. At home with baby girl I found myself constantly trying to research and read to find exactly the right answer only to realize, in a huff of frustration, that there is no one right answer when it comes to babies, especially newborns.

 

Everyone tells you to trust your gut as a parent, to follow your instincts. That is no easy task when your day job is to be the one who is supposed to answer all the puzzling questions based on your extensive training and experience. My husband would often ask what I thought we should do in various baby-decision-making situations and it would frustrate me to no end. “Why do you think I would know and you wouldn’t?!” I would ask.  To which he would reply, “But, you spend so much time doing all that research.”

 

I know that my job makes me a better mom. At work I have skills and knowledge that help me do what I love to do, help children. I can feel competent and confident in my skills during the entire work day.  I can carry this feeling with me when I come home and can’t figure out why our baby won’t eat/sleep/stop crying.  I can remind myself that it is OK to not always have all the answers. I can remind myself to trust my gut.

education, parenting, school psychology

“A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. So is a lot.” – A. Einstein

Smart man, that Einstein.

I am a school psychologist. My job is to help identify barriers to learning and figure out how we can help kids reach their full potential. It is extremely rewarding, but it makes me very tired.  I sit in meetings. Lots of meetings. I don’t go to meetings to discuss kids who make honor roll, win academic scholarships, or ace college entrance exams. Not to say that the children we discuss won’t ever go on to do these things, typically the reason for the meeting is to discuss what is not going well. The problems. 

Did I mention that I love a challenge? I am a problem solver, a detective. Just call me Sherlock.

Sometimes, because my days are so heavy with problems, my vision gets clouded and I forget that the vast majority of kids are doing just fine. All I see, every single day, are parents and teachers who are at their wits end trying to figure out why their child just can’t learn to read or form a complete sentence or stop crying in the middle of class for no apparent reason. It is my job to know  about all of the things that can go wrong in child development. Genetic Anomalies. Neurological Deficits. Developmental Delays. Learning Disabilities.

One afternoon, during my pregnancy, I was talking to my own mother on the phone about parenting worries. I was talking in circles about all the things that could go wrong if you make one wrong choice as a parent. As she was trying to reassure me that the likelihood of something like this occurring in my baby was slim, I sighed and said, “I just know too much about all of the things that can go wrong.” My mother laughed at me and said, “Maybe you do, but she will probably turn out just fine.”

Welcome to my blog. I plan to share my parenting journey though all the “what ifs” and “but I read somewhere thats”. I think, in spite of my best efforts, we will turn out just fine.

~Elizabeth