3 Things for 3 Years

Saturday, May 24, 2014

In my first job as a social worker, right out of college, I was a case manager at the AIDS Outreach Center.  My role was to advocate for and help link individuals living with HIV and AIDS to necessary resources, such as food, housing, counseling, and medical services.  There were a few experienced case managers that I often went to for information, help, resources, or just to talk over a situation.  One veteran social worker in particular received lots of questions from me.  With his long white hair pulled back into a ponytail and worn in moccasins, he was always moving... always actively listening to a client, or making a call for a client, or looking up information that would benefit a client.  I liked going to him for questions, because it was obvious that he really cared about the people we were serving.  He treated everyone with dignity and respect, and he did everything he could to help them.  He seemed to know every possible resource available, while I often felt like I was fumbling to find them.  My heart was in it, but I sometimes got frustrated that I constantly had to go to someone to ask a question just to be able to help my clients.  Once, as a way to lift me up during an overwhelmed state, he said he thought it took 3 years at a job to really get comfortable and figure out how things truly run.  He certainly wasn't saying that I couldn't be helpful before then or wouldn't understand the rhythm or system of the work environment, but what I took from his comment was that it was okay that I didn't know everything yet and I shouldn't get too discouraged.

About a month ago, I was feeling really content with things at home.  I felt like I was in a good rhythm with both kids during the day, I was able to make some engagements with friends and workout a bit, and even though I still had a long To Do list, I at least didn't feel like it was getting longer.  I kept remembering what my former coworker had said about 3 years.  This crossed my mind several times and I started thinking how even though it took 3 years, maybe I was getting this parenting thing down.  I did not for one minute think that I had become some parenting expert or that we would no longer have meltdowns, which come in both the kid and adult variety at Old House Hill, butwhoaskedyouanyway?  In fact, I feared that even acknowledging how smoothly things were going clearly meant that the next week would be a complete clustercuss.  But regardless, I allowed myself to feel some joy that for the present moment, we all seemed to understand each other.

I started thinking about 3 things I had learned about life in 3 years of parenting.  And I made a list, although I need another 3 (x3x3x3) years under my belt, because today it seems I have zilch figured out.  So if you were wondering, yeah, the next week and each since then has been a bit of a clustercuss.  Someone must tell me to STOP GETTING INTO PISSING CONTESTS WITH MY 3 YEAR OLD.  He will ALWAYS win.  But back to that list....  I need to say that this list neither covers everything I've learned, nor means this is an item I've mastered.  It just includes 3 things that quickly came to mind and kept coming back when I was thinking about 3 years.

3 Things for 3 Years:

1.  Get outside; be where the people are.  For an introvert and someone who is cautious about trying new things or anything that might bring unwanted attention to myself, this has been a constant issue for me as a parent.  My sister helped remind me of the importance of getting out and about when Emmitt was young and I still am always reminding myself of it.  This has definitely become easier as I've figured out how to navigate public situations with both kids, but my default is to hunker down at home when things get stressful.  Unfortunately home starts feeling real small and uncomfortable when two kiddos and their mama need some sunshine.  One of my resolutions for the summer is to get outside more, for the love.

2.  Have someone or multiple someones that you can really confide in and be vulnerable with.  People who you can admit to about how ugly your voice sounded today when your child was so rotten for the 18th time, and you had lost the will to go on.  People who love your children and understand how crazy in love you are with your children, and who can celebrate the triumphs, and laugh about all the disgustingness and hilarity that abounds.

3.  Find your coffee and candles.  Coffee has become my very favorite.  It is my drug of choice and sometimes at night I already can't wait for my morning cup the next day.  Also, afternoon coffee has become such a lifesaver.  Ohcoffee,Iloveyousomuch.  I so enjoy burning delicious smelling candles in the house.  I like to have a few extra on hand, because I think it's no good when I'm all out.  If I'm feeling stuck, unmotivated, or overwhelmed, then often, lighting a candle helps get me to do the next right thing to bring me out of my funk.  I know coffee and candles are not for everyone, but discovering these small treats has been so helpful for me when I need a quick mood boost.

Whether there's any actual truth to the statement about 3 years, I have found it to be beneficial in exploring my progress in something on more than one occasion.  I started thinking about this list, and then the above series of pictures just happened by dumb luck shortly after.  Oh man, that kid.  Thankful that he gave me this job.


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