Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Creating Supermen

When I was editing a dissertation awhile back, I learned that self efficacy is defined as: "the belief in one's general capacity to handle tasks." The dissertation discussed the role of school administrators and their feelings of self-efficacy in the face of the local and federal testing mandates. For all two of you that care, most administrators felt an increased sense of self-efficacy when they were empowered to make plans specific to their building's needs, as opposed to "one size fits all" fixes. My thinking is that anybody who would choose to be an administrator to begin with has got to have a healthy sense of self-efficacy.

Now that most of you are yawning, let be attempt to save this sinking ship of a post...(Note to self: avoid posts that begin with the phrase, "When I was editing a dissertation...")

I've always had a healthy sense of self-efficacy. I grew up with good schools, loving parents, excellent health, and few barriers (socio-economic, etc); as a result, I think I can meet most challenges. That's another thing I learned while editing the dissertation (ugh, there I go again!); high self-efficacy causes people to meet their goals more consistently, which causes high self-efficacy. It's a reinforcing loop.

Motherhood has challenged my sense of self-efficacy at times. Like I've discussed in earlier posts, I'm still working on ways to meet the boys' needs---how to set boundaries and provide attention, knowing when to expect independence and when to give support, figuring out how to be present without being a martyr. At times, I have never been more frustrated in my life, and keep in mind that I've taught middle school.

Yet, despite the frustrations, I always wake up the next day knowing that I can do it, that I can take anything and everything thrown at me. I wish I could bottle the choices, words, actions, and prayers of my parents and slip it into Joel's bottle and Owen's macaroni and cheese. They created two kids with strong senses of self-efficacy. I know that I must do the same.

Just last night, I felt like Superwoman. I was making a double portion of Shepherd's Pie (one for us, one from my friend that just had a baby boy.) The meat was browning, the potatoes boiling. Owen was playing with water in the sink while Joel bounced happily in his Jump-A-Roo. It was a house of cards; If Owen decided to spray me with the nozzle or Joel felt the need to scoot around the living room, all could be lost. Yet, miraculously, everything was done, and everybody was happy. I even had time to put lipstick on. Hear me roar!

And again, this morning: Joel was sleeping, and Owen and I went upstairs. Months ago (like, before Joel was born), Owen picked at his wallpaper border during "naptime," ruining the cute airplane themed-nursery we had carefully designed before his birth. (FYI--Joel's "nursery" is a crib in the guest room. Pity the second-born). So, today, I finally finished stripping the remaining wallpaper off the walls. It's tedious work, but as I scraped and sprayed, Owen pretended to be sailing in a makeshift boat (a box). I scraped, we talked, and everybody, once again, was happy.

It's moments like this, where everything falls into place and things follow a gentle, natural rhythm that I know that I am doing the right thing at the right time. I know that I have the capacity, the ability to thrive.

Now, parents who have older kids, tell me: How do I give the boys this most precious and lasting gift?

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