Ok, so here I am; mum of 2, wife of 1 and teacher of many. Yep, for 12 years I have taught countless children the health benefits of sport and exercise and the intricacies of solving algebraic equations. I was confident in most aspects of my chosen career and found the role of guiding students through these subjects came very naturally with few frustrations.You could say I was organised in my approach, spending hours creating lessons that would engage students and activate their minds. I could relate well to the students and found many of them came to me for advice and treated me somewhat as their confidante. I was able to listen to them and guide them through their problems. I always delighted in seeing these students (often they lacked self-confidence and trust in their own ability) come out of their shells over the years of schooling and succeed in reaching the goals they had set, big or small. It was not uncommon for students to return to school, years after finishing, to fill me in on where life had taken them. These were the special moments. The rewards of teaching that made it all worthwhile.
You see, I was not a confident child. I was the child who cried everyday of Kindergarten and Preschool when my Mum dropped me off. I would cry when it was my turn to ‘steal the cookie from the cookie jar’ and I would cry when I had to lie down on the little floor beds to have a rest because I felt embarrassed and vulnerable. As I grew, I continued to lack confidence in everything I did except for playing sport. It was the only place I felt I could do anything. I guess this steered me down the path of my chosen career. Even as an adult I have some confidence issues when socialising or when speaking out about a subject for fear of criticism from my peers and even as I write this blog, I wonder what people will say and whether they will like it. But this is part of who I am and I have always been able to draw on this to be able to speak with the eyes of compassion to the students I see struggling with the very same issues I had when I was their age. It has never stopped me achieving everything I have wanted in life and if anything, has driven me to try harder to do everything perfectly.
So when I became pregnant, I was outwardly nervous (as most new Mums would be) but quietly confident in my ability to rise to the challenge. I listened politely as friends, family, colleagues and even strangers warned me about how difficult it was raising children and thanked them for their well-meaning advice and strategies for managing parenthood. Inside I was thinking, ‘how hard can it really be? I can do this. I am a good teacher; if I can manage to teach upwards of 150 students at any one time and do a reasonable job in steering these young adults through their daily struggles then surely I can manage one little child and guide her through life challenges with poise and confidence . Right?’
And so, as my daughter began her life in this beautiful world, I naively began my journey into parenthood. I soon discovered that no amount of teaching, organising or advice could have prepared me for the ride I was about to take. My experiences of parenting have made me question the commonly dished out advice of ‘Trust Your Instincts’ and steered me down the wonderful path of RIE whose founder, Magda Gerber, said this
“I believe that, no matter how much and how fast the world changes, a well-grounded, competent, and confident person is best equipped to adapt to it. This is our goal”.
~ Magda Gerber
Confidence. If I could ask for my children to have anything at the end of their childhood, it would be confidence. Confidence to succeed, confidence to fail, confidence to cry, confidence to admit mistakes, confidence in all they do. Whilst I had succeeded in helping some of my students find the confidence they had needed to forge forwards in their lives, I now had to stop and consider how I could do the same for my own children. Were my instincts good enough? Answers did not come quickly or easily, but over time I have been lucky enough to discover the parenting philosophies of Magda Gerber. A lot of who I am now I owe to an RIE teacher Janet Lansbury whose teachings on Elevating Childcare are simply inspiring.
I hope that I too can inspire even just one person through my future blogs, highlighting my personal discovery of RIE and how it has changed my family’s lives.