Everything does not have to be perfect: Reflections of an Occupational Therapist career mom
As a working mom of two children, I find it easier than ever to become overwhelmed with simply managing the day-to- day responsibilities of career, kids, life. I think we all feel like that from time to time regardless of whether or not children or a career are present. It is in this state that we tend to lose sight of the moments that really matter. On my most recent vacation, I was given the freedom to be present with my children. To play with them, listen to them, participate in their favorite activities, and most of all enjoy them. Since returning home, I have tried to continue to be more consciously present—make time to put away the cell phone and computer, turn off the TV, stop thinking about the next work responsibility, or the next task on an unrelenting “To-do” list. It should be easy, right? Focus on the thing that is most important in that moment. But as we know, it is not always that easy.
During this time of more conscious reflection, I have found a new appreciation for my children’s’ individual gifts, humbled by their caring nature, and astounded by their astute observations about the world that seem so well versed for their ages. I am discovering, whether I like it or not, that my children are growing up. It is in these everyday moments, seemingly so easy to miss, where my 4-year- old son without prompting, shares his favorite snack with his best friend while waiting for gymnastics. It is in a moment of contemplating which flowers to choose for my daughter’s 7th birthday party, that she says to me “Mommy, everything does not have to be perfect” that I feel so delighted to be their Mom.
In my working life as an occupational therapist, I try not to underestimate my unique role in supporting not only the children that I see, but also connecting with their families. During our initial meeting and subsequent sessions, I try to encourage authentic conversations with families about day-to- day life and what functional areas they hope to support for their child. What I often discover is that what families really want for their child is to be a valued member of the family and the community, to be more independent in daily life, and to be successful in their endeavors. They want their child to be valued. To be understood. To be delighted in.
As we embark on our therapeutic journey together, I find that I am the most fulfilled when the families I work with share with me their moments of pure joy and delight. Some of my favorite parent examples over the past week include:
A Mother’s newfound freedom to actually play with her child, as she no longer needs to spend all her energy regulating him
A teacher recognizing when their child showed compassion and comfort for another individual at school
A Mother’s honest tears of joy upon witnessing her child’s new enthusiasm for communication (previously non-existent to the outside world)
It is through these stories and experiences with families that I feel grateful to be an occupational therapist and a mother. To take a moment to delight in all our children. On this Mother’s Day, I also want to acknowledge all the moms who have supported their children in not only achieving greatness, but also in appreciating the beauty of these seemingly everyday moments.
Happy Mother’s Day!