During both of my pregnancies, my thoughts about the future have always included a plan for carving out time for myself. I just think it's that important. When I was pregnant with Giovanna, I checked out the local La Leche League meetings, joined a Chapel Hill meet up, and started going to park days with my friends to get a feel for what socialization feels like within the scope of kiddo friendly time. I ended up working half time throughout Gigi's first few years which provided a comfortable balance between being present for Gigi at home, and growing myself as a professional.
This time around, I made the decision not to work after Orion was born, and so I was challenged to think of something that would be a meaningful use of time, and help me maintain ties to the world outside of my home. And so I pulled a bit of a crazy. I signed up to be a volunteer coach for the Girls On The Run program at our local elementary school, and I am coming up on my 3rd week of coaching. I am sooo thankful for our two moms who have made it possible for me to do this in the afternoons!
Girls On The Run is a 12-week after school program for 8-12 year old girls, and although we work towards preparing the girls to run a 5K at the end of the 12 weeks, there is a very important educational component to the program. We meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays after school, and along with warm ups and work outs, the other coaches and I teach one topic each day that is focused on empowering the girls to live intentional, positive and happy lives. For example, one of last week's topics was positive vs. negative self-talk, and in the future we will be covering topics such as media messages, living with gratitude, bullying, expressing emotions in a healthy way, body image, etc. As a volunteer coach, I have been impressed with how well-greased this machine is - each of us coaches bring something unique to the group, but the curriculum is well established and extremely easy to follow. So far, I have been nothing but happy with the great group of girls we work with, and the challenge of engaging them in conversations that may give them the power to live intentionally through the challenging years they will face in Middle School.
And although I hope the girls benefit from this program, I am certain that I am the one getting the most out of this volunteer opportunity. Even on days when I am exhausted, the act of tucking Gigi in for her nap, tanking up the baby and putting him down, and then taking off to coach and mentor these girls feels like I am moonlighting as a superhero.
And I sure love that feeling.