I’m a mom to 107 youngsters, only one of which I carried in my belly for 9 months and gave birth to.
I have a beautiful 3-year-old daughter, Kenzie, an amazing 9-year-old stepdaughter, Aubrey, and 105 12-year-old students who I consider “mine.”
I spend more time with my students than their parents do, just as my daughters’ teachers do with them. It’s a natural thing given the design of work weeks and school days; there aren’t enough hours in which that time can be evened out.
Here is where the Mom and Teacher Mom guilt kicks in: I love each and every one of my students; once I have them sit at a desk in my classroom, they’re forever one of my kids. Still, they’re not kids who I take home. (And I’d be lying if I said there weren’t cases where I wish I could).
In the area in which I teach, oftentimes my students (as young as they may be) find themselves being caregivers for younger siblings, nieces, nephews and neighbors after school hours.
It’s a sad reality, but many of their parents or guardians are forced to work various shifts and jobs to make ends meet. Even with those sacrifices, they struggle.
Many came from other countries in search of better schools, opportunities, and safer environments for their children. Some have stayed behind, sending their sons or daughters to the U.S. to live with extended family members, because despite splitting up the family unit, they believe their son or daughter will benefit in the long run.
I’ve known teachers from earlier on in my career who fault parents for their lack of involvement or being difficult to get ahold of (phones out of service, etc). Here’s the thing: I teach in a school where most of my students are economically disadvantaged. And guess what folks? BEING POOR IS NOT A CRIME.
Here’s where my maternal heart bleeds: I want to be a Momma for all.
107, but there’s only one of me and so many hours in a day.
I run a club at school, and it only lasts for 45 minutes, once a week. Even some of the more challenging students I have truly embrace and enjoy spending that extra time with me each week.
“Miss, can we please stay until 4:30? What’s another 15 minutes?”
I see their point. How can I begrudge them another 15 minutes of ensured safety, under my care in our school? How could I send them out to the less than savory streets where, although I truly believe most people are good, there are enough bad who would most definitely prey on or use children for their own twisted agendas.
Those 15 minutes, though… that pushes me getting my daughter back by 15 minutes, my stepdaughter another 20 after that. Then I go home to clean and make dinner and prep for a whole new day of trying to be enough for everyone. Oh yeah, I have a husband who deserves attention too.
I wouldn’t change my career for the world. It’s hard work, but when I reach kids who come into my room with a “bad reputation” from other teachers, I’m excited to see them dispel that image.
I’ve always believed the saying that: the children who need the most love will ask for it in the most unloving ways.
So I make sure to get to know each and every one. I have tissues and Band-Aids on hand. I’m a listening ear. I’m only a hug away. I’ll calm them after an incident their young brains can’t combat without the initial tears, anger or both.
I’m. A. Mom. (And a Teacher Mom).
At the end of the day, I take both responsibilities seriously, deep to the core of my being and heart.
Still, sometimes it’s hard to convince myself that my own children need me more than my students do.
Some have amazing home lives, and others, by no fault of their own, and perhaps not even by the fault of their parents or guardians, don’t have the sense of security my own children do.
It takes a village, right? I certainly think so.
Dear parents of my bright, wonderful kiddos, thank YOU for trusting me to be a part of yours.