Thursday, October 22, 2009

Lessons in Humility

After med school and college, I spent ten years practicing medicine, and (if I can say this without sounding cocky) I was pretty good at it.  I knew how to manage most of the problems that came my way and I knew how to get help for the stuff I couldn’t handle.  Most of the time, I felt very qualified.

When I quit working as a family doctor and became a homeschooling mom, I still felt pretty competent.  We have a pretty laid-back educational style here so I wasn’t over my head very often with schooling, and I’m pretty comfortable with basic cooking and cleaning.

However, for the last couple of months, Wild Man and I have been going to the local Senior Nutrition Center to help pack meals for Meals on Wheels and serve meals to clients who come to the Center for lunch.  The work isn’t hard – packaging food into individualized containers, packing containers into bags, cleaning up.  Nonetheless, it has been something of a humbling experience!  For example, it’s really hard to know about how many servings of applesauce or salad are in one large container.  This week, I filled the 32 containers for Meals on Wheels with what I thought was a good amount and then we served 50 meals but we had a bunch of applesauce left over.  The director for the Center is much better than I am at figuring out about how much to serve and I often have to ask her if I’m giving the correct amount.

As we were working this week, I realized that, while it was an enjoyable experience, it was a little stressful because I was still learning new skills at age 42.  I was used to being very competent at my job and at my work at home so this was a new feeling.  Honestly, I think it’s a good feeling to experience sometimes.  It reminds me how my kids feel every time they try something new and also reminds me to take their feelings seriously.

I’m looking forward to getting more comfortable at my role at the Nutrition Center.  We only go once a week (when I don’t have a migraine) so it will take a little while.  Wild Man and I are still learning all the people who are there.  Generally, there are only 12-14 clients who eat at the Center, although they do have about 50 come for the monthly birthday party, like they did this week.  (Wild Man loved it because they played Bingo after lunch and let him play along.)

Tomorrow afternoon, we are going up north to Fort Wilderness to work this weekend on Project Serve.  We are taking Mr. Math Tutor’s teen/young adult group and our family and will be working with the staff while there is a retreat going on.  I’ll be in the kitchen, Rosie Girl will be in the stables, Mr. Math Tutor will be on dish crew, and Wild Man gets to just hang out.  I’m really looking forward to it, but I expect there will be some of the same uncomfortable kinds of feelings.  Of course, the Fort staff do everything they can to make it easy for us and our family is quite comfortable at Fort.  Nonetheless, it won’t be like cooking at home.

What do you think?  Do these feelings show up when you are in a new situation?  Do they get severe or are you able to brush them off?  How about your kids?


ccc said...

I've gotten used to always learning new stuff. Of course, I was just finishing college when I was 32 years old. I've found that when I stop learning new stuff, I get bored. That tends to happen when I've been in a new position for about two years. That time's coming up again in January. I guess it's time to move on to something new.

Catherine said...

I can see that in our personalities. I enjoy learning new facts and even new skills, but they are usually things like knitting that I do on my own. I don't like to change my job responsibilities like you do. Adding OB ultrasound to my practice several years ago was quite stressful, although it was a very good move. I didn't really think about how different people approach this. Thanks for bringing this up.