I had my first child in the middle of my degree course, I guess you could say he was born into youthwork. My second son was almost ready to hatch at my graduation so he’d heard the lectures and been present as my heart rushed and raced towards deadlines and dissertation. They sat in the youthclub, had no need for toys as they had non-stop entertainers during youth meetings and bible studies and heard the latest tunes rather than lullabies. It seemed forever away to consider that one day these little ones would be under my care as a youthworker.
I heard the jokes about how, with my youthworker husband, we were set up to sail through the teenage years, I knew too much about development to believe that. As they grew up they changed to be the advisors on a great Youtube clip or allowing me to play Fortnite for my undefeated title with a Victory Royale! Joined by two younger sisters, a tweenager and a toddler I don’t need to read too many books on growing pains as I live with it at some stage or another.
I love being a mum, most times I love being a youthworker but the balance, the challenges, the trials of knowing too much, ethical dilemmas and theories into practice make for some interesting thinking. As a lecturer, I get to share my experiences, often those based at home, with other youthworkers. So often I have seen that youthwork posts are expected to be filled by a certain young, cool, extrovert stereotype and people have said you can’t be a youthworker all your life. Yet I have seen some amazing third age youthworkers, I see some brilliant young youthworkers, I see experience adding and creating different relationships and inexperience creating innovation and daring within professional boundaries.
As with all things, we are unique, we bring who we are to walk alongside young people. No matter what stage we are at in life I think Donovan’s quote holds they key. So I accept the challenge of being a youthworker mum….. most of the time.