Hearing first those words ‘reflective practitioner’ sat in a University of Ulster lecture theatre, not only did I know I was being taught the entire ethos for teaching but looking back, also one for life as a parent. It is quite like those transferable skills that we teachers talk about. Similar to the transfer of body weight for a push pass in hockey to the serve in tennis, reflecting as a teacher and parent are quite the same. Here I now find myself at the start of term time not being the reflective practitioner this time but rather the reflective parent.
Like so many other parents with a young family, and raising our little ones it is sometimes called into question the why, where, who and when, and are constantly thinking whatever next. The questioning is perhaps not done by other people (well at least not to your face) but more so ourselves questioning our methods. There are so many facets of parenting that it would cause any parent to question regularly are we doing this right, should we try a different approach, and these questions will keep coming time and time again as another phase starts or another obstacle is thrown in the path. We all have to experience this together, each and everyone in their own little bubble away from outside eyes and ears.
Reflecting and purposefully making ourselves think as to how this parenting journey has been to date can be useful in helping us take a moment and get perspective. These moments where we do not have nappies to change, school pickups, children to feed, homework to assist with, household chores to contend with, making your home look ‘less of a mess’ and taking a second in between the mayhem to just chill out with a quick cuppa are rare. Sometimes on the hardest of days we can be very tough on ourselves thinking the worst about every situation and feeling as if we are swamped with the magnitude of everything that needs to be done and as if we are just not hitting the mark with this whole parenting malarkey. That could be right about the time when the kids are not going down to bed easily and ready for an all night party. All in all, I think we are all doing ok, I’d say every house has its moments.
Having a little one reach another stage, hitting another milestone, growing day by day, week by week, month by month and year by year we naturally find ourselves remembering the ‘first’ times, reliving the special moments, and thinking about how wonderful a little person we have in our home. We were told when our first little one arrived how it’s a real rollercoaster ride…highs and lows and full of emotions along the way. This could not be more the case! It is fun, exciting, frightening, joyful, worrying, exhausting, frustrating, uplifting, I could continue for some time with words to describe our journey to date.
So as I stand in my daughter’s room after tucking her into bed, taking longer tonight to realise she is growing up, becoming more independent, starting big school in the morning, my mind races back to that moment in time, when I cradled her little body close to mine trying to soothe her over to sleep, she needed me as much as I needed her and it will be a memory engrained forever. I carry her in now from having fallen asleep on our bed and I have to navigate between doorways and ensure I don’t clunk her head or legs of the wall. Tonight I was happy lying with her for longer talking about our day that we had and the day that waits tomorrow. I waited for her falling over to sleep and then the tears came. The unconditional love is immeasurable. The feeling of pride is huge. This is our baby girl. I have continued on this rollercoaster ride and the emotions over the past week have been evident wearing my heart on my sleeve. Tears have flowed, those of joy outweighing those of sadness. Reflection for me is a positive tool allowing me the opportunity to think and be thankful for everything that has been and will be.
Just as every teacher is a reflective practitioner, every parent is a reflective one even without knowing so. Like every teacher and department in a school are wishing to operate as effectively and efficiently to educate pupils, likewise parents are wanting the best for their children. Wanting to help them grow and learn, to encourage them to be the very best they can be. We are all striving to be the best parents that we can be, giving the best that we can offer and teaching our little ones life lessons along the way.
Fingers crossed all goes well tomorrow for her and all the other little ones starting out.
This music video ‘Slow Down’ by Nichole Nordeman is really beautiful, please have a listen and a watch.x