Today was a fantastic Mother’s Day and I’m writing following a wonderful day with husband and son that celebrated being a mom. I’m always thinking about what kinds of benefits my son will see from my working life in the student activities world and what kinds of issues I might be adding to the poor kid’s list for his future therapist. It might be a little of both, but I wanted to write today about some things I think he’s gaining.
For those readers out there who ponder the question of “can I do this job and have a family?” I offer something positive…
First, I think this guy has been to more cultural performances of music and dance at 4 years old than I attended before I was 18. I love the fact that I can bring him to events at our campus and see all kinds of wonderful performances! I have learned that he loves African drumming events and I think he is our college’s drumming group’s youngest groupie.
Second, some of his best friends are 20 year olds. I never thought it would be possible, but I think this little guy was more popular than I was at this year’s Springfest carnival due to his life at our on-campus pre school. He gets the chance to meet these, as he calls them, “big kids” and have his own little friendships with them that are sometimes completely detached from me. Knowing that I can bring him into the office and he ends up having legitimate conversations with his core “group of friends” is fantastic.
Speaking of the pre-school on campus, that is one great benefit. I know not all campuses out there have them, but if I were job hunting I’d certainly put that item on my list to look for. All the teachers are so current with the latest and greatest and the school gets the benefit of an endless parade of observers and student organizations who want to support the school. My son has had in-depth speech and language testing, language lessons, has attended dance performances on social issues, and has participated in numerous “math carnivals” sponsored by our education programs all thanks to the various ways the campus connects with the pre-school.
Let’s also not forget that I have a truly all star roster of babysitters! We are lucky in this profession to get the chance to know some of our institution’s best and brightest college students. For those who might be wary about blurring the line between work and home, don’t forget that these very same college students are the ones looking for great letters of reference.
To round out my list for tonight, I’m thrilled that he is learning about what higher education means from a very young age. His babysitters have been orientation leaders and student government officers and his interest in “doing homework with mommy” when we get home at the end of the day clearly stems from his understanding of what my life as a Ph.D. student is like. He knows about Commencement, Orientation, and what a professor is. Here’s hoping he’s also secretly saving up money for this thing called “tuition.”
I know there are a lot of other student affairs parents out there who have some great things to contribute – please share! Next time, we’ll talk about some of the downers about balancing work and family…but let’s focus on the positives today!
Happy Commencement season to all!