When we put my stepdaughter first, I did not see what I was missing and I do not regret missing those things. I think most parents do not realize what they're missing because the joy of being a parent far outweighs anything. I went to buy a bed a couple of months ago and the salesman asked if my husband and I planned to have kids (I guess he thought we were using the bed to get busy!). I told him yes and he went on about how great being a parent is. He said, "People talk about what you miss out on having a kid, but you don't miss anything. You gain so much." I wholeheartedly believe this to be true. However, I now have perspective as both a parent and a suddenly childless person. So here are my reflections:
1. marriage-- Mr. Soup and I did get caught up in putting our child first. Date nights took a back seat when she was here. I think this was our first big mistake. Parents will tell you that you need to put your marriage first in order to be a good parent, and I did not realize this until now. This summer has been about connecting and reconnecting as a couple. Even though we've only been married for a year, we did get into the "lets just watch a movie" date night routine. Now we are committed to not only making date nights routine, but making them more fun. Mr. Soup is on a spontaneity kick too. Everything has to be spontaneous so that we don't get in a rut. I love it! I do think we were given this opportunity to see this perspective so that when we have children in the future, we will not make the same mistake. My time with him is important. It recharges me, as he inspires me in so many ways.
2. personal and professional goals--I was able to achieve many of those goals simultaneously while being a parent, but I think I let finding new professional goals take a back seat. I am so blessed to have a job which I love, but I know that I may not do this forever. I am blessed that I earned my master's at a young age, so that I have some flexibility to explore other career options. This summer, I finally acted on one of my professional goals and that is teaching at the college level. I took a chance and applied to 3 or 4 colleges in the spring and this summer I was asked to teach developmental writing at a local community college. This combines my love of teaching writing with the goal of teaching at a college. This is something I know I would've achieved, but did not expect to achieve so soon. It is something I may not have acted on as a mother, but it is something I know I can do when I become a mother.
Another goal I have is to be a more reflective teacher. I'm hoping this year to really learn from my teaching practices. I am considering going for National Teacher Board Certification and possibly pursuing my doctorate in English Education. I don't know if I'll do either anytime in the near future (I have to find someone to fund both of them), but it's something I'm considering. I'm a nerd, I know. I just really want to focus on making my classroom an environment of learning and not just memorization and recitation. I think NTBC would force me to stay on track in that area.
One personal goal was to lose weight....haven't achieved with a child or without, but damnit I will!
Those are just some things I've noticed this summer. After writing this, I realize that a lot of this comes from not only being childless, but also being student-less. Being away from my 140 students this summer was nice. I'm glad I didn't teach summer school and because of that I will never teach it again. I do feel recharged and ready to face the masses! I also realize that becoming a parent doesn't mean limiting yourself. I need to achieve my goals and not be afraid to find new ones. I should not feel guilty about becoming a better person. After having this experience, I know I won't!