KARA has been a part of my life since 2013 and a part of my children’s lives since 2015. It has been a constant companion through countless adventures and learnings. The amazing individuals that work at KARA have been a family to me. They were there when I got married, there when I announced all of my pregnancies, there when I learned how to change a diaper, there when I found my passion for writing, and there when I tried numerous new parenting skills learned in their classes or by writing my blogs. Saying goodbye to a close-knit group of people who have been with me through so much is never easy.
Before I was ever a parent, my pre-parenthood days with KARA, I was a Data Manager. I sat behind a desk and logged participants and wrote year-end reports for funding purposes. After my husband and I got married (the KARA family thoughtfully threw us a Wedding Shower), we later announced our first pregnancy (to which they then threw us a Baby Shower)! A few months into my pregnancy, a thoughtful KARA manager asked me if I’d ever changed a diaper. I can only imagine what my face looked like as I nervously uttered “no…” She led me upstairs to one of the baby changing tables and let me practice on one of the dolls. She caringly stood by me as I fumbled with the doll here and there, giving me encouraging words and helpful advice. After a while, I had successfully diapered and swaddled my first “baby.” It was a moment I will always be grateful for.
In a similar situation, I helped facilitate a short-handed staff group during their Caring for Families program. I recall sitting in the baby room with a senior facilitator who pointed out each of the objects in the room, detailing which objects were used for each stage of baby development. I took countless notes and even came back to her several times both before and after having my son, asking for more advice on baby toys and furniture. This was how I originally started my mommy collection that has helped my children grow and thrive. This is also how I learned about KARA’s Ages and Stages Questionnaire, and how I could boost my child’s development with specific activities and items.
After I’d had my children, I started attending the parenting programs (when there was room). Through the wise and caring patience of another of KARA’s facilitators, I learned about the importance of reading to my children. Some of my children’s first books were obtained in the Books for Babies program that used to run at KARA-Too. I recall sitting in a circle with many other first-time parents. My son was so young, he couldn’t even sit without support. Yet his eyes followed me as he heard my voice reading stories to him, even smiling once or twice. What a memory to cherish. This particular KARA family member was my continuous inspiration for writing as well, giving me several books to reference and learn from. She also taught me the importance of patience.
Since these early days at KARA, I’ve become quite the parent, spurred on by the advice, instruction, and guidance of these senior mentors. I’ve been renowned in my inner family and friend circles for being one of the most knowledgeable parents and am even bombarded with questions whenever I attend social gatherings. I even started writing my parenting experiences, both in blog form for KARA and in personal novels for my children. All of my parenting accomplishments, my children and their learnings as well, I feel, stem from these humble beginnings. I could not be more thankful.
So even now that I am saying goodbye, it is bittersweet. Yes, I am embarking on the next chapter of my life, and what a busy one it will be – with my third child, my first daughter, my two sons, and my environmental career in full flight. But I feel that I have gained so much knowledge from my 9 years with my KARA family that I would never truly be leaving. I will still see many of my mentors in my parenting actions, hear them in my words, and feel them in my heart.
So my final message to you, should you faithful readers wish to hear it, is to use KARA to your full advantage. The senior mentors that roam the halls there were the voices I heard in my early days as a parent. I could not have been the mom I was and am without them. So attend your classes, ask all of your questions, and listen to the wise words that I still hear when I parent my children.