From Strain Theory to Strained Peas

I’m a stay-at-home parent.  That’s a bit odd for me to write, because I don’t think of myself as a stay-at-home parent.  I think of myself as a college teacher.  But I had a baby sixteen months ago and I haven’t taught a college course since before that baby was born.  Hmm.  Is that cognitive dissonance?

I’ve been struggling a bit with my role as a full-time mother.  It’s not that I don’t love being home with C.  I do.  And I appreciate that I’m fortunate enough to have the means to stay home with her.  She’ll only be little once, and I have the rest of my life to work.

But sometimes, when I think about my former life, I feel wistful.  Because even though teaching was often difficult, stressful, and frustrating, it was never dull.

I’ve taught a variety of courses (Sociology, Political Science, English, Research Methods) to a wide range of students, but my favourite experience was always teaching Criminology to Policing students.

Photo via Simon Fraser University

As a Criminology instructor, I was fortunate enough to meet a Forensic Anthropologist, who investigates suspicious fires and skeletal remains.  He has some grisly stories to tell.  I’ve worked with a detective who has served in every policing branch you can imagine, from Homicide to Guns and Gangs to White Collar Crime.  He has even gone undercover.  Some of my colleagues worked on very high profile cases, like the Bernardo case.  I’ve spoken with the investigator who elicited the murder confession from former Colonel Russell Williams.

I now spend a large portion of my day building block towers and reading Barnyard Dance*.

I realized recently that I still needed to work and to give back, despite my decision to stay home with my daughter.  I’m not going back to teaching right away, but I have found a way to contribute that, I think, would work for a lot of parents in my position.  I joined the Board of Directors for a local non-profit organization.

This is why I think volunteering on a Board of Directors is a great idea for parents in a similar situation:

1) The hours are parent-friendly.  Meetings are usually in the evening and are typically held once (maybe twice) a month.  This is quite manageable, even if you have young children at home.

2) Giving back to the community is important.  It also sets a good example for kids.  I want C to be a responsible, involved citizen one day.

3) It’s a way to keep some work-related skills up to date.  It can combat the dreaded baby-brain that sometimes goes along with stay-at-home parenthood.

4) It’s a small step toward making the community a better place for the next generation.  This was always important to me but it has become even more so since having C.

I realize that not every stay-at-home parent is able to make this sort of commitment, but if you are, please consider it.  It’s a great way to give back.

*Barnyard Dance is an excellent book, the first 250 times you read it.

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12 thoughts on “From Strain Theory to Strained Peas

  1. I agree – everything we put into our communities will make them stronger. And why wouldn’t we want stronger communities for our children? How wonderful that you have found a way to make a positive contribution to your life – and the lives of others.

  2. I am so with you. I am a stay at home mom now…but I was a practicing physician. It was a hard transition, much harder than I expected, honestly. I did the same thing you did, though, and it was fantastic. I don’t do that any more, but I continue to volunteer other places.

    • I’m sure that would be an extremely challenging transition. Staying home with children is rewarding, but in a completely different way than working. My hat’s off to you!

  3. I also agree. When I had my daughter 5 yrs ago, I was a SAHM for 2 years. Although I enjoyed the flexibility and freedom to be with my child, it was a difficult transition. I wish I had thought of volunteering. Instead, I decided to go back to work, but I sometimes secretly think about being a SAHM again it I could figure out a great way to transition. I’m glad you found a way to give back while keeping up with work related skills. God Bless

    • I don’t blame you for not thinking of volunteering, because most volunteering jobs wouldn’t work well with a SAHM’s schedule. Most volunteering gigs would require you during the day, whereas boards usually meet in the evening, which works well if you have a spouse at home. I’m just lucky that my husband works regular hours so that I’m able to do this. Thanks for visiting!

  4. I laughed at the Barnyard Dance reference. I eventually turned it into a little song…. My kids still talk about it and can sing it!

  5. Popped in from SITS! I’ve always wanted to be a college professor. I’m a journalist turned children’s writer, but I would love to teach literature at a college level.

  6. Pingback: It Can Happen Here | Bike, Banjo & Baby

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