This past fall, I agreed to coordinate an art competition for my son’s elementary school. The oversight of this program included working with school staff, budget mapping, recruiting volunteers and judges, event planning, marketing, public speaking, and data management. Some may say, “But it’s for kids, right? Small scale?” I suppose. However, I think of kids as our most important shareholders in a way, so the stakes were high in my mind. Oh, and by the way, I’m not actually the “artistic” type. So the project management piece of this was just fine, but the actual getting-kids-jazzed-about-art was something that I hadn’t thought about before signing on. Yet with all of that, what concerned me most was whether I still had my grown up chops. I’m talking about being able to hold my own and remain verbally agile in adult dialogue over a multi-month project.
For the past 7 years, I’ve been a stay-at-home mom with two young boys (by choice, and I love it). So most of my days are spent discussing the merits of dinosaur vs. oval shaped chicken nuggets or perfecting my living room fort building skills. I talk kid-speak constantly. When spending time with adult friends, I’ve accidentally reverted to my mommy-mode and announced I needed a “potty check.” My husband has greeted me with “Hi, Tara,” and I have responded on auto-pilot with “Hey, buddy.” I perpetually walk around with my hair in a wet knot while clothed in semi-clean jeans and a fleece top.
So entering into this project, I was a little nervous. What if I asked a professional photographer if her dinner was “nummy” ? Or what if I ended a talk with the principal by saying, “Sure thing, big guy.” These things just spray out of a stay-at-home parent’s mouth like a geyser.
I’ll cut to the chase and tell you it all worked out just fine. The competition was a success, and my personal gaffs were minimal. In fact, I only reaffirmed the things I knew about myself upon leaving my last paid, professional position over 7 years ago. They are:
- I strongly wish to be liked and included, to the point that I don’t want to offend anyone at any time. However, this goal is unattainable, so it is better to be myself and apologize when needed.
- I never want to come off as pushy. However, in order to get things done, one does need to push, and I’m still working on that.
- I really need to improve my computer skills and stop relying on my tech-savvy, software-programming husband to bail me out. (Thanks again, buddy 😉 )
- I rock with project planning. I love lists and flow charts and timelines. I look forward to drowning in details. Let me divide the sucker into manageable steps, allocate resources and assign action items to various sub-groups. And please, please, please let me be the one to check off the completed items on the master task list. There are only certain types of people who can feel euphoria from that, and I’m one of them.
- I’m still not artistic, but I sure as heck admire people who are.
- I love getting to know people. On this project, I connected with people that I wouldn’t have otherwise. I saw different sides of some folks that I thought I had figured out, reminding me that no one ever has others all figured out. The best thing to do is be open and cut everyone some slack, and hopefully, they’ll do the same for you, because you’ll need it.
- And it wouldn’t hurt for me to blow dry my hair once in a while before stopping by the school. One gal whom I have met several times saw me on a shower day and praised me with, “Wow! I never knew your hair looked like that. It’s so pretty!” She meant it in a nice way, but I realized I could make a little more of an effort.
In summary, I learned that I am still me. I may be spending my days immersed in the world of diapers, dump trucks, and Disney, but under the juice stains and sticky jam fingerprints, I am still the same person I was 7 years ago before starting this whole mom adventure. And that gives me a bit more confidence going into the years ahead, wherever they may lead.
Have you been a stay at home parent and struggled with interacting in the “grown up” world? How have you bridged that gap?
This has been an original post to World Moms Blog by Tara B. of Washington (State) USA.
Photo credit to the author.