At a recent meeting for parents at our girls' school, we were asked to discuss 'one thing you have done to be a better parent'. Many parents in our circle couldn't put their finger on one thing. Parenting is a continual reflective practice. There was lots of talk about checking the way we talk to our children, creating a strong family unit and respecting the child's need for independence.
As soon as the question was asked, I was mentally listing all the things I have felt I've had to do in order to be a better parent for Imogen.
She was my first. I knew nothing of being a parent before her. I knew nothing of disability. She taught me everything.
At just two weeks of age she was attending early intervention. I learnt had to do pediatric physio to be a better parent. At 3 months old I organised for a baby sign class to come to our regional town so that I could teach my baby to express herself. From the time she was starting solids I was learning about speech therapy. When she was learning to walk I was researching assistive therapies.
Before Imogen turned two I was realising that I was going to have to do more, if I wanted to be the parent she needed me to be. I enrolled in a Masters degree. She was my motivation and my reward. I learnt more in the first 4 units of my masters than in the 4 years of my undergraduate. Through 2 more pregnancies, two different jobs and atrocious morning (all day) sickness I worked hard, and the efforts more than paid off.
I've was feeling that tug again over the summer holidays, the pull to study again. As Imogen gets older the challenges she faces change. If I want the world to be a better place for her, then I need to make a contribution to that change. Living our mindful, low carbon footprint life just doesn't seem to be enough. It's attitudes and ignorance I need to change.
I spent weeks deliberating what I would go back and study. Guidance and Counseling? Social Work?
Eventually my Bear said 'You've always wanted to do it, just start a PhD.'
The things we do to be a better parent.