The Kid Stays in the Picture #sol

I’m back from a day spent with fellow English teachers. Yes, on a Saturday. I’m the president of our NCTE affiliate, and we meet every few months. These meetings are mostly business, but with a range of teachers along the experience spectrum, we also make the most of listening and learning from each other. I have been involved with NEATE since I was new to the profession nearly 15 years ago. Then, I am quite sure I never imagined I’d have any type of long-ranging professional involvement.

Fast forward to the present and I cannot imagine not having NEATE be part of my life. I did wonder if I’d be able to be active once I had a child. What I’m learning, though, is that my professional life doesn’t have to end; instead, it’s changed in ways that have benefited my professional growth, and I’d also venture that it’s impacted my parenting positively, too.

I wore E in a sling for those early days, and he slept through our discussions of conferences, constitutions, and membership growth. During conferences, he would willingly play with other members who would offer to take him for walks, even put him down for naps, while I attended to matters needing my attention. Never once did I–or do I–feel that I had to choose one for the other. There are always hands to hold babies wherever we go, always open. There is always enough for whatever we need.

At our board meetings, we have lots of mamas and babies. When a baby cries or coos, they are met with glances of understanding, of arms that reach instinctively to offer relief, of sympathy and of empathy. Here, parents don’t have to choose. All of our mama selves are welcome, as inconveniently messy as they are. That we can bring all of ourselves, and bring our kids when we need to, also means that we have a broad cross-section of professionals who might have otherwise thought they could not get involved in our organization. That would be the organization’s loss, because these mamas have so much insight and expertise to offer the world.

Granted, I’m now at the point where E stays with his babysitter while I attend the meeting, but that separation is not all bad. I can now offer my  hands for someone else who needs them.

Hands to hold. Many, many hands.

Slice of Life

 

 

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7 thoughts on “The Kid Stays in the Picture #sol

  1. YES. Every mama needs a village. This post already reminds me of an article I read lately that talked about the ways in which children benefited from having mothers who worked. It alleviates the guilt, but it also makes me happy to know that my whole self doesn’t have to be relegated to “Mom.”

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    1. Exactly! I think once I started bringing him places, people began to know it was okay, which is why he’s probably going to grow up thinking that life is conferences on Saturdays with good friends and free books. There could be worse things.

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  2. Organizations that do not have a culture of embracing parents who work are losing out on a large segment of talent! I’m so glad that your NEATE is so with it. You sum it up so well here: ” That we can bring all of ourselves, and bring our kids when we need to, also means that we have a broad cross-section of professionals who might have otherwise thought they could not get involved in our organization. That would be the organization’s loss, because these mamas have so much insight and expertise to offer the world.” Yes yes yes!

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  3. To echo Ms. Li, Yes! Yes! Yes! We were all babies once. It is good to know that you have helped shape an organization that respects the whole person, individual and parent. Your writing as usual is poignant. I love when you write, “There are always hands to hold babies wherever we go, always open. There is always enough for whatever we need.” It is beautifully true!

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  4. Glorious. I’m picturing a village meeting of indigenous people at which the children are running around, people are eating and drinking, etc., while also discussing business. Great to hear it’s being done at NCTE meetings as well! We Westerners have a lot to learn from other societies about community and collaboration. Thanks for giving me hope we might be headed in the right direction. And the English teachers will lead the way!

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