I was feeling particularly frustrated one recent afternoon, which is saying a lot since the hours from 3-7 pm usually resemble one of Hell’s inner circles around here. I was preparing dinner, helping my 2nd grader with fractions (reaching the very limits of my math skills), playing referee to a toddler and a preschooler who weren’t getting along, the phone was ringing nonstop…. you get the idea. I was stressed and tired and I’d had enough. Suddenly I had the urge to scream at the top of my lungs, “Figure it out yourselves! I AM NOT YOUR CASE MANAGER!”
I am a social worker by training. I attended what was then the top ranked graduate school of social work in the country and learned all of the values, ethics, theory, best practices, and approaches that would guide me in what I thought then would be a long-term professional career as a social worker. After a one-year internship, I served as: Outreach Worker (aka homeless shelter van driver). Outreach Case Manager (aka making sure those driven in the van had somewhere to sleep that night). Grant Writer (aka helping make sure we can all keep our jobs for another year). Program Evaluator (aka making sure we are doing what we are getting paid to do). Grants Manager (aka making sure everyone is doing what they’re getting paid to do). Counselor (hopefully no explanation necessary here). And I’m sure I’m forgetting a few. Let’s just say I was well rounded.
After deciding to stay home with my two little boys and my then newborn daughter, I really expected to hang up my social worker hat, at least for a while. What I didn’t understand was that I was stepping into a new role: Mom as Case Manager.
I didn’t realize that the social work mantras that had been drilled into my head during my training would also apply to mother hood.
* Don’t do for your clients what they can do for themselves (no enabling, empowering instead).
* Meet people where they are, on their own terms (have reasonable expectations given where they are developmentally).
* Your job is to move your clients toward self-sufficiency (and hopefully out of your house).
* Always maintain appropriate boundaries (I’m your mom, not your friend).
* Listen more than you talk.
* Use confrontation when necessary.
These are some of the skills that I use daily.I am sometimes conflicted about not having a professional career, but never ungrateful for the training I received which helps me be a better mom. Unfortunately, unlike all my other roles, Mom the Case Manager doesn’t get vacation days.
Thank you to today’s guest blogger my3littlebirds. She writes about parenting from the perspective of a social worker turned stay at home mom. Her blog is a mix of her reflections on personal parenting experiences, recipes (under her What’s for Dinner? section), and anything else that strikes her fancy on a given day. Stop by and say hi to her!