Masters in Motherhood

Lilies and Lambs

Little known fact: I’m credits away from my Masters in Education.

And before there was Maddie, there were classrooms. A lot of them. First as a student, then as both teacher and pupil. And while I never found my name on the classroom door, I was a substitute teacher as I chipped away at my secondary degree.

I stepped away from it all- both as teacher and student- as my husband and I tried to make our girl; and commuting between work and school and doctors appointments with fertility specialists proved too grueling a load.

And while I sometimes wonder what it would be like to be a working mom, to have both my own classroom and our girl; I know in the end this was best for us. And, in many ways, I’m more of a teacher now than I ever was before.

On my first day of graduate school, a somewhat antiquated teacher  professed to us single students that we would someday better understand teaching, better understand our students, once we had our own children.

It seemed off at the time. And certainly not very progressive. Were we doomed to never be great until we became mothers or fathers? And what lie ahead for those that may never have kids altogether? The narrow mindedness of the comment  is for another post altogether. But I do know this graying man meant well. And in some very small ways, he could have been right.
Sure, I now know the love a mother has for her child well beyond what I could have imagined back then- and this could have, perhaps, made me more compassionate. Maybe made me a little more patient.

But now that I’ve achieved the role as mom, I look back on my time in those classrooms, and I’m quite sure it is, in fact the other way around- that teaching has, in many ways, made me a better mom- at this full time, stay-at home-gig I now proudly call mine.

There is so much information I gathered there, In those classrooms, that I’m grateful to have now in the walls of my home. Priceless wisdom and experiences that I now refer to daily as I navigate the constant virgin roads of motherhood.
So this past week, knee deep in toddlerhood and in need of a refresher course, I dusted off those old binders marked MA EDU and found lesson plans and projects I once submitted to professors in a distant, but not so different era of my life. And I became reacquainted with so many skills that come so handy in a mama’s tool kit. 

So while I have so {so} much to learn,  here are five of the best laid teaching practices that I now use almost daily in this job called Motherhood:

1. Give them choices

Not 100% of the time. But whenever there's an opportunity for choice- between fruits at lunch time, between books at bed time- I like to allow MM to choose. The ability to choose is empowering and boosts self esteem. Which is always a good thing.

2. Add some theatrics 

When MM was a baby and I was faced with a Stage 5 meltdown while  I was driving, 10 times out of 10 I would break out into song. Like full on Broadway-style. And most of the time, it worked- she would calm down, and we could avoid a distraction-induced collision. Using a little bit of flair tends to redirect in dire situations. I {often} look ridiculous, but its better than the alternative... or at least I think so.

3. Positive Reinforcement

This can be as simple as a high five, telling them how proud you are, or doling out an extra piece of candy or two. And boy did we use a lot of M&M's when it came to potty training. I don't know about you, but I respond better to positive reinforcement  than negative consequences. And when it comes down to it, kids are pretty much just tiny versions of us adults.

4. Give them time

There's really nothing better to build a relationship than the act of spending time together. This was paramount in the classroom, as spending quality time together can foster a bond filled with respect and trust. I'm not always good at it- I often need to tell myself to put down my phone, and sometimes I can't give her all of my attention all the time- but I try to remind myself to be present when with our girl.

5. You get what you get and you don't get upset

Just like it sounds. There are times when giving choices is great. Other times, not so much. And while I want to give her everything she wants and more, sometimes its not what's best for her or others around her. It's a hard lesson; one that many adults I know are still trying to learn. But its my job to make sure she stays sweet and unspoiled; and knows that its not always about getting what she wants. So some times we just have to say: You get what you get, kid. And you don't get upset.