So, we cap off Teacher Appreciation Week with Mother’s Day. It’s beautiful isn’t it, spending a week in gratitude to the ones who have shaped us? It’s the perfect moment to introduce my three faithful readers to the some of the women who are both mothers and teachers, women who have shaped my own journey.
The Compass: I live in the gray area, always questioning and justifying, but there is a steadfast teacher mom in my life who has always inspired me with the unfaltering way she moves through the world guided by her strong moral character. We graduated together, taught next door to each other for several years, and navigated the trials of becoming mothers together. She was my work wife, and we learned how to grow a community of writers and readers together. Although life has taken us in different directions, she remains the no-nonsense to my excessive nonsense. She is the person I’d choose to be stuck with in a crowded conference hall or on a lengthy road trip. Her voice,her truth has guided me back to center in some of the toughest moments of my life. She is my compass.
The Trailblazer: I’ve been blessed with so many teacher mom role models in my life that when I met this one in college, I didn’t understand right away how much I needed this colorfully-dressed, tote-carrying woman in my life. In fact, I wasn’t quite sure that I left much of an impression on her as an undergraduate in her methods courses because we rarely talked one-on-one. Luckily, I had the opportunity to connect with her again as a member of the IUS writing project. She has shown me how to build a classroom library, how to travel, how to grow in my profession, how to love this life I’m living. Strangely, despite her incredible professional persona, her biggest impact has been on my personal life. She may not even know this, but she has shown me how to be a mom who works, how to cheer for other people, how to retire into a life worth living. She has shoes worth walking in and a book in every bag. She has blazed trails and served as a guide for other teacher moms who dare to follow her path.
The Spirit: It’s not every day that you get to come face-to-face with a wiser version of yourself, but I’m blessed to do that at least once per week. A retired secondary teacher and former coach, I can always see of the threads of this teacher mom’s life that have woven their way into my own. Full disclosure: my kindred spirit can be a real pain in the tail to people who cross her, but then again, so can I. We aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but here’s what’s incredible about her: she is the most relentless woman I’ve ever met. She shows up for her family without fail. She earned her doctorate while still managing to iron her husband’s laundry every week, raise her granddaughter, and keep her flower beds flourishing. I’ve seen her recover through two major surgeries and a car wreck with more determination than anyone has the right to have. She won’t be a victim, refuses to feel helpless in whatever situation she finds herself in. I’m blessed to have inherited my grandmother’s strength of spirit.
The Sun: As can be expected, I’m capping off my list of teacher moms with the teacher who actually is my mom. I spent a lot of time thinking about whether the metaphor of the sun was right for this brilliant first grade teacher, and, well, I think so. The sun gives forth what is needed for life to flourish, holds steadfast as it warms and nurtures the world. That’s Mom. The sun doesn’t provide demands, doesn’t tell you what to do, but rather illuminates your surroundings so that you can decide for yourself. That’s Mom. She is the essential element; I’m not sure that I do a good job of showing her that anymore. On my own journey as a teacher and a mother, I am grateful of my compass, my trailblazer, and my spirit, but without my sun, the whole journey ceases hold the same joy. She lights the way. To quote F. Scott Fitzgerald, “I love her, and that’s the beginning and end of everything.”