Lately I've been thinking a lot about who I was pre-children versus who I am now. One of the things I've focused on is my professional self.
Before the kid came along, (as I've mentioned before) I worked for our state's child protective services and a home visitation program for first time parents for a total of about 6 years. Somewhat regularly I was asked if I had kids. I typically responded that I didn't, but that I did have lots of education and experience (along the lines of men don't have babies, but they can still be OB's). No one ever pushed me on it. I fully believed that whether or not I had children made no difference in how I did my job, or in my competency. And in a way it didn't.
But, I realize now that in other ways it did.
I never understood how someone could shake his/her baby, until I was standing on that precipice myself. Intellectually, I knew that people got frustrated, but to actually feel intense anger for this tiny, innocent baby who I loved, well, that rocked me. That moment forever changed me, personally and professionally. And, to be honest, there have been many of those moments over the last 7 years. So many.
While those moments specifically don't make me a better social worker, they do affect the way I view the parents with whom I am working. I find myself being both more empathetic at times, and less tolerant at others.
What I think I've come to is this - it's not that I am necessarily better at my job now that I am parenting. It's that I am different in the way I approach my job (and by "job", I mean being a social worker in general). Fortunately, I am a much better social worker than I was 13yrs ago, fresh out of school. I attribute that to experience and time. Some of that experience I have gotten from other children/parents/families. A lot of it, though, I have gotten from my own children/parenting/family.
I think we don't have to have done something ourselves to understand how to do it. But, the doing of it, well, that changes our perspectives. It, I suppose, makes things more personal. And that can either hinder or help, depending on the situation.
Today's Lesson: Apparently feeling disconnected from the rest of your life can leave you with lots of time for introspection. Whether or not that is a good thing, well, that I have yet to determine.