So…I love these blogs that my students are doing. They are wonderful and amazing. They disclosed great information that provided me some wonderful insight into who they are as people – their hopes, goals, challenges, aspirations, and worries. Some made me laugh, some were simply hearwarming, and others made me sad. Of all emotions, sad is my least favorite…although then I remember the power of opposites. If we didn’t have sad, how could I recognize happy?
After class today, I had a student come up and ask to talk with me. We went to my office. She then told me how good it felt. How good it felt to open up. She told me that she wrote things on her blog that she had never told people before….and that she’s really excited for me to read it. She continued on…’not even my mom knows some of the stuff…and in a way I’m so excited for you to read it…because I trust you. As much as I trust her…in some ways more.’
Really? Wow. That is a serious complement….and it got me thinking (shocking I know). I am a teacher AND like their mother.
Ick. I don’t want to be their mother…oh wait…maybe by the very nature of the profession, I am.
This weekend we spent some time with friends. My friend went through a divorce last year. I did a couple of years ago. Her former husband is now dating someone, she is too. The former husband’s significant other sent her pictures of the children nestled in watching movies. She nearly went bananas. “They have a mother….it’s me.” Keep in mind, that she doesn’t feel this way about her own significant other…he’s a ‘great father’ to my children. Uh-oh….there are problems with your argument my friend….but that’s for another time 😉
So…then we had a great conversation about how I ‘deal’ with this idea. I told her that I really don’t struggle…what will continue below may make some of you uncomfortable or upset…but just hear me out and please recognize that it is my own perception. It’s not right or wrong…for me or anyone else, just how I view the world.
Here it comes.
I am about to say something very bold.
My children do not belong to me.
Sure, I gave birth to them. I nursed them. I felt them move inside of me. They will always be mine. But…they do not belong to me. They belong to the world. I will forever be one of their first memories-no one can take that away. But they are not mine.
I want to teach them (uh-oh…I’m already noticing the parallelism between teaching and mothering).
About social justice.
There are so many things I want to teach them. I want to teach them those things so they can make a difference in the world…so their light and soul can be a beacon for others who feel lost in the storm of life.
It’s the same thing I want for my students. To teach them about…
Kindness. So they understand that our lives and our experiences are our own perception. That even if you disagree….kindness may be all someone needs in that moment.
Fairness. So they know that life isn’t always fair. In grades or in careers.
Social Justice. So they advocate for those who don’t have a voice; or those who don’t know the ‘right’ words to use.
Equality. So they know we all struggle…with something.
Empathy. So they can recognize those struggles and not judge; but instead offer a hand, a hug, a helping smile.
Forgiveness. So they know we all mess up. Every day.
Calmness. So that when they disagree, they don’t berate the person. They can stay calm in the face of disagreement…and learn (maybe even appreciate) another viewpoint.
We all have many mothers. Teachers, childcare providers, Pastors, grandmothers, friends, sitters, and neighbors. My children will come across many people in their lives who mother them.
Let’s get real….their teachers spend more time with them than I do. They get 8 awake hours; I get 4. After they leave my home…they will continue to be mothered by…well…I guess the world.
They will come across people like their mother. Someone who believes in all of those things above. They will come across people not like their mother. And, to be very honest. I’m thankful for that as well. While I would never want my children (or students) in harm’s way…I do know that meeting people who don’t hold the above values is valuable for my children. It shows them a continuum of behaviors. So, even if my children are exposed to another ‘mother’ that I don’t agree with…well, it provides a different viewpoint.
My children belong to the world. It’s why I cry every year on the first day of school. Yes, I still do. I remember when my oldest went to Kindergarten. I had to pull over at a nearby gas station because I coudn’t see the road…yes, I was crying that hard. AND….when I pulled over – there were six other moms in the same boat. We thought about just giving up and finding a bar…but then remembered we were grown ups…ugh. When my youngest went I cried for two days.
Why? Because I recognize that they are a year closer. A year closer ‘officially’ belonging to the world. In the same way, because I feel this way about motherhood…I also have solace in the idea of the ‘leaving.’ Because I hope that in their first year of college they have a Professor kind of like me.
One that recognizes that teaching and motherhood go hand in hand. I look at my classroom full of 18 year olds and I see amazing potential. I see beatiful faces, and eyes that are filled with possibility. I see their mothers and fathers, looking out the window as they drive away and officially give their children to the world. I hope that my children have a teacher who recognizes what a true gift it is…the gift of someone else’s children to mother, to care for, to teach.
The definition of mother is complex…but here are the phrases most often found…
A Woman in Authority
Tenderness & Affection
To Give Rise To
To Care For or Protect
Lastly, To Give Birth To
I get to have my children near me for 18 or so years….the world gets them for another 60-70. My time with them is minimal; but they will forever be in my heart.
I get to have these students for 2, sometimes 3 semesters. The world gets them for another 60-70. My time with them is minimal; but not much makes me more content with my job than to catch up wtih them and find that so many of them are doing wonderful things. They are shining their beacon…and hopefully a little bit of what I taught them makes that beacon just a bit brighter.