Balancing Act: How Becoming a Mother Made Me a Better School Counselor

This piece was supposed to be published elsewhere. It wasn’t. I am a grown woman (Cue Beynonsense). I know what it means when people say there is more than one way to skin a cat. Enjoy the read kitties!

If you take a poll of the room you are in right now and asked people what a school counselor does; the answers will be unusually varied for a profession that has been around since the late 1800’s. Some people don’t even know what you are talking about unless you use the antiquated term guidance. But those of us in the trenches attempting to influence America’s youth with very little recognition understand how essential we are to the pedagogy.

A counselor knows the importance of social and emotional health and how it directly relates to academic achievement. A school counselor is a magician of sorts managing to juggle parent/teacher conferences, mediation, and character lessons.  And what about that phone call from the parent that is over-sharing and thinks that you are therapeutic? I am responsible for a lot professionally; why would I want to add being responsible for a whole other person? Why? Because children are the spice of life; they are the cream that rises to the top.

Becoming a Mom has sharpened my relationship building skills.  When I look at little Johnny, I can now imagine him as my son. I can approach a difficult conversation with compassion and empathy because I can now put myself in the parent’s shoes. I communicate better with teachers and administrators in my building in an effort to holistically come up with interventions that address behavior. After all, I would want someone to take that kind of time on my child. Everything in life is about relationships. My students are always watching and I want to model for them what I am expecting from them.

Motherhood has made me a time management guru. If it is not written down, it is not real. Being the CEO of my home means I have to cook two meals every time I do cook because I don’t cook every day. I do this to free up time to do other things like, workout. Grocery list, to-do-list, the-kid-needs-this-list, keep me organized. I love my phone with all its reminders dings and bells. Managing my time at home directly translates to organizing my-self in the workplace. Reminders on Outlook keep me going to more meetings than my mind can remember. At work I must prioritize duties and it is the same at home. If you are lacking in this skill and care about doing a good job; go have a baby, your skills will be instantly honed.

Even when I don’t feel like it, being a mother has encouraged me to always do my best. Feelings are temporary, so whether I feel like being on my best behavior or not; I always choose the best because I know little eyes are watching me. This same rule applies to being a school counselor. There are students and colleagues that will and do challenge your sensibilities. This just comes with the territory of being around people. Despite how you might feel about someone in the workplace, you always want to give your personal best. Children deserve this, definitely mine.