It’s hard to find a mom as dedicated to keeping kids safe than Amy Garrison. We are inspired by her professional and personal work within the Huntsville community, and so appreciative she’s in the trenches doing it! But how does she manage to do all that and have time to enjoy her family? We asked Amy to share her parenting experiences with us.
I am currently working and volunteering for organizations devoted to keeping children safe. I work at the National Children’s Advocacy Center’s Training Center. Each day I see the impact that NCAC has on the lives of children and families in Madison County, but also the professional leadership and training to the field of child abuse prevention all over the world. The NCAC is a treasure and Madison County is lucky to have such a dynamic and respected multidisciplinary team (law enforcement, district attorneys, forensic interviewers, mental health professionals, victim advocates) that help children and their families during a very difficult time. The Training Department provides training and technical assistance to child abuse professionals all over the world. NCAC has trained over 32,000 professionals in every US state and 129 countries.
I also volunteer with Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America – Huntsville and as an appointee for the newly formed Huntsville City Schools Safety Task Force.
My husband and I have two children, ages 3 and 5, that we adore. I have always known that I wanted to be a mother. In my twenties and early thirties I was building my career in Higher Education Administration and working on a Masters and Doctorate. We lived in Washington D.C. where I was the Director of Student Life at Georgetown University Law Center.
Motherhood changed my priorities and shifted my energy. I loved my work at the law school and living in D.C. but our families were here in North Alabama. There is something about four humans and two dogs in 937 sq. feet with no laundry and the tiniest kitchen you’ve ever seen that can really bring the positives of Alabama back into focus.
I’m learning how to be a mom as I go, with the ebb and flow of their developmental stages. As an only child and grandchild, I check my assumptions and approaches with my husband and friends that have siblings. I work with a lot of child development professionals so it is a very supportive environment for parents and I’ve also got an amazing group of friends that I love and help me keep things in perspective.
Her Quest for Balance
I prefer, ‘learning to live with the imbalance’ of life approach. This was something I have learned works best for me and my relationships. I tend to naturally lean toward Type A and while it was great for my organizational skills, it was not helping my interpersonal relationships. I am fortunate to have found a partner that balances me out (keeps the Type A in check) and helps me focus on what is most important in that moment.
I have also learned to pay attention to our schedule, not overschedule us as individuals or a family, and do family check-ins on our schedule. We all have our own interests that we make time for and support each other willingly so we can be whole people. We are also fortunate to have grandparents that love having the kiddos visit so we can have a date night or help when one of us is out of town for work.
I choose to work in an environment that encourages balance, with extra personal hours each month and a family friendly environment. I choose not to read work emails during home time and I keep a mean Outlook and Gmail Calendar system with reminders as well as a weekly chalkboard family calendar.
Her Perfect Rocket City Weekend
A family-friendly dinner at Earth and Stone where the kiddos can run around and make new friends while my husband and I can have a beer and conversation with friends. A long walk on Monte Sano followed by a visit to Lowe Mill, then get a coffee and a treat for the kids.
Funniest Parenting Moment
My son attended the child development center in the basement of a high rise residence hall next to my building at the law school where I worked in D.C.. Each day we commuted 45 minutes together and parked in the deck of one building, then rode two elevators to get him to his classroom. He insisted on carrying my car keys and once dropped them down the elevator shaft. By noon everyone on campus knew what happened because my 20 month old was telling everyone that “mommy dropped her keys down the eleBAYtor”. We have a video of him telling his teacher this version and smiling when she questions if it was mommy or him that dropped the keys. We all got a great laugh and still do when we tell the story.
Amy’s Top Parenting Tip
I have learned to do what is best for my kids emotionally, whether or not that fits some popular parenting model/theory. For my kids it means that I respond to their distress by recognizing their developmental abilities at that age, making them feel safe and loved, then teaching them ways to express their emotions in a developmentally appropriate way. I have found books and blogs that help me discover what type of parenting relationship I want to have with them and how to nurture that. We’re currently working on establishing a Calming Corner in the home.
The Super Power She Wishes She Had
I dream of flying, just for fun and freedom and a new point of view.
Parenting Book Recommendation
Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting by Jon Kabat-Zinn, Myla Kabat-Zinn
They write beautifully about the everyday moments that bring joy in parenting and the growth that can be experienced during all the moments, blissful and challenging. It is a book about personal growth and our most important work of parenting. It acknowledges the energy necessary to be fully present for children. I was an avid reader before my children were born but I have found it difficult to focus on something deep or long after a long day of work and raising two small humans. This is a book I can pick up and re-read a chapter or two.
Name the song you think of when you need to:
- Get your Gameface on:”The Remedy” by Jason Mraz
- Recover from heartbreak: “Let It Be Me” by Ray LaMontagne or “Home” by Michael Bublé
- Energize yourself: The Moana Soundtrack
- Let loose and have fun with your friends: Drive-By Truckers (my husband will be so proud!)
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