“Taking Care of Me” Means
Many Different Things to Barbara Carlson
Book clubs, piano lessons and yoga—just part of how Barbara Carlson is taking care of herself now that she’s almost an empty nester.
Based on Carlson’s years as the mother of three boys and on her experience as a parent educator, Taking Care of Me was published in 1998 to help parents understand how nurturing themselves made them better able to nurture their children. Today the co-author of this thoughtful guide has survived her own sons’ adolescence and is starting to do exactly what her book advocates: get to know herself.
First step: a new awareness of herself as a professional.
“Now I have the time and the energy to teach more, to guide others to the importance of self-care,” Carlson explains. Her new freedom is matched by the demand for more specialized parenting help. At Kaiser Permanente,, where Carlson has worked since 1988, few general parenting courses are offered today. Instead, the northern California medical center serves families with significant medical, mental and behavioral health needs. Carlson, now the Behavioral Health Coordinator, handles parenting courses on such topics as ADHD and divorce as well as programs on anger management, depression, couples communication and insomnia.
“Our focus has changed,” she notes. “Today—just as in my book—the emphasis is on taking care of yourself and on learning coping skills.”
Off the job, Carlson is also exploring who she is and where she’s going at mid-life. She’s making the transition from “mother-manager” to “consultant,” delighting in the adult-to-adult conversations with her college student sons but sometimes shedding a tear at the loss of her boys’ childhood.
“It’s not always as easy to let go as you think it will be,” she confides.