|Still-Life - Rebekah Drey Haynes|
After months of looking for any sort of employment, I finally got a job watching 1st graders in an after school care program at my old school. I am very thankful to have the job, as it will give me some much needed income while leaving me plenty of time to work on my art projects. The strange thing about the job, is that I really never wanted to work with children again professionally. A few years back, I had a pretty traumatic experience keeping a very troubled young girl. I think I was angry that I wasn't able to get through to her, and ultimately felt like I had failed. This new job is pretty rewarding and I am beginning to see that I am in childcare again for a reason. That reason is learning how to parent myself.
If this seems like a strange idea, well it was to me, until I listened to an NPR interview with Fiona Apple a few months ago. In the interview, she mentioned that she had been reading parenting books lately in order to learn techniques to parent herself. At first this sounded a little crazy, but it quickly began to resonate with me. Fiona Apple is someone with self acknowledged emotional and mental struggles, and I am someone who shares that distinction. I don't know the details of Apple's personal struggles and won't pretend that we are twinsies or anything, but all people, especially women, dealing with emotional and mental problems in our society are bound to share some experiences.
After this interview, I began to see that what Fiona Apple had said in the interview made a lot of sense and applied to my own situation. As a child/teenager, I was a typical first-born daughter who always had my shit together. I got good grades,led clubs, worked a job and had an active, if very clean, social life. This continued into my freshmen year of college, but sometime after that, things started falling apart. Coincidentally, this is the same time I last worked in child care. My depression and anxiety issues became more and more pronounced and the go-getter, multi-tasker faded away. I became someone who rarely went to class and would ignore calls from my friends. Thankfully, I eventually took action and with the help of my family and modern medicine, I am a lot closer to healthy.
That old me never returned. I don't completely mourn her loss; we all change and we can't go back to what we were. However, I need to get back to a place where I can be truly accountable to myself and others. As an artist who is trying to sell work on my own, I am going to have to get back into the game. This is where the self-parenting is needed. While Fiona Apple is reading parenting guides to get some help, I am learning lessons from my 1st graders. I observe the way I coach and steer them and am slowly starting to let that voice guide me.I am constantly amazed at the ways in which God/The Universe gives us exactly what we need, even if we don't know we need it.
What do you think of this idea of self-parenting. I am sure not everyone needs it, but I think most of us take something from this idea. What would we change about the way we treat ourselves if we were saw ourselves as children? What expectations would we raise or forget altogether?