I am amazed at how much more analytical I’ve been about my own mothering since I’ve thought about how I could turn my experiences and insights into journal entries or articles to post on Power of Moms! Now I just have to overcome my writing phobia.
My second child is now 4 weeks old. Yesterday, I wrote in my journal, “I am as happy as I’ve ever been in my life.” And it is the truth—I am SO happy as a mother of two, and I find mothering feels even more fulfilling now that it requires everything I have to give.
While raising just one child, it seemed that it was possible for me to live a double life. Benjamin could be contented, stacking tin cans or rummaging through the pots and pans cupboard, while I could carry on long phone calls or do the dishes on my own. I had sufficient time to work on my scrapbooking and other household projects, even while Benjamin was awake, as long as I could take advantage of the opportunities he gave me to steal away. Thus, I was constantly looking for opportunities to breakaway from Benjamin in favor of my own pursuits, which I would have to admit were not very substantial.
But with the arrival of his younger sister (or perhaps with his second birthday—the two events were nearly concurrent), Benjamin has needed reassurance of his place in the world to the extent that he demands my direct attention nearly all the time. He says “Mama, sit,” when he gets out his Mr. Potato Heads or his blocks or cars and trucks. We go from one activity to the next, usually without stopping in between.
This means that I now only make long phone calls when he is asleep, and when I do the dishes, he’s standing on the ladder working with me (i.e. playing in the water). It also means that when he does give me time away, it’s usually just enough time to care directly for his little sister, Jane (though I’ve also learned to incorporate him with baby care), feeding her, changing diapers, giving her hugs and kisses.
And this is the fulfilling part! I have discovered that every moment of every day can become a teaching opportunity. My toddler is capable of understanding so much, and he has become a sponge for learning about the world! (Maybe he was a sponge all along and I’m just now discovering it.) My training as an educator is entirely useful as I now plan my week around providing Benjamin with fascinating experiences that I know he’ll enjoy. Well, okay, I did that for the first time this last week. But what a week it was!
On Monday, we parked our car in front of a construction site to watch the excavators and front loaders hard at work. We watched the machines for over an hour. I’d taken my own book along, thinking I could sneak in a quick read while he was entertained. But in the end, I was as engrossed in watching the machines and talking about them as he was!
On Tuesday, we went to a swimming pool (Ben’s first time that he can remember) and played on the steps with cups and watering cans and pitchers, dumping the water from one to the other. On Wednesday, we checked out a slew of new books from the library and have enjoyed reading them together ever since. On Thursday, we explored a nature trail and played in the sand by the lake. After his nap, we jumped on a friend’s trampoline. On Friday, we made cookies together. On Saturday, his Daddy took him on a bus ride (to give Mommy a chance to write this entry). And scattered throughout the week, we spent time with friends (his and mine), thus filling our days with life and learning.
Through these experiences a new world of possibilities has opened up to my view. In my “professional” life, my colleagues and I would revel in creating lessons that included solid hands-on learning experiences for our students. We knew that these were superior to the lectures delivered at the chalkboard because they were more memorable and gave students a variety of ways to understand each concept. Fellow math teachers carefully developed “manipulatives,” and constantly searched for “real world applications” of the concepts they were teaching. As a mother, I now realize, these hands-on lessons are easily planned and achieved, and all to the betterment of my relationship with my son, not to mention his intellect.
The result has been that Benjamin and I have had fewer disputes throughout the week. He seems to be increasingly cooperative, as I prove to him again and again that he has fun when he trusts my “program.” Then, during our “down” time at home, I have noticed that Benjamin has started to play by himself more and more in the last couple of days, suggesting that, given an initial investment of time and attention, I may be rewarded with time to myself after all.
Either way, I love my life!
QUESTION: Do you know what it takes to recognize the many “real-world” teaching opportunities of motherhood?
CHALLENGE: Take advantage of those opportunities, and teach with confidence–you can make a huge difference in the lives of your children.