My sister shared a story this week that really tugged at my heartstrings. A friend of hers, who had just had a baby, was headed back to teach her class after maternity leave. Her 2 1/2 year old son was feeling quite at odds with her decision. First he gives up his place as the youngest child and now Mommy has to go back to work. He of course asked her why she had to go. As any mother would, she lovingly explained that she had to go to work to help make money for the family. In his innocence, her son held up a chubby little hand clutching a quarter. I could almost hear his little voice say, "Here Mommy, you can have this. Now you won't have to go back to work." She tried to explain it wasn't enough...to which he replied, "But it's all I could find."
Now at this point every mother who has ever had to return to work feels a lump rising in her throat. After I wiped away a tear, I started thinking how often we forget the sacrifice made by teachers. We often see them as some person who only exists from the hours of 8 to 3...or 4 if they stay late. We usually only think of them when our child is having trouble, or when we think they aren't doing enough to teach our child. We forget that while they are teaching our precious child, plus about 25 others, they are away from their own.
Yes, I realize many mothers make the sacrifice of having to return to work after their child is born, but teachers face another challenge as well. After being with the children of others all day long, they return to their own homes and deal with their own. Of course, teachers' children are normal children. They have good days and bad. They sometimes get sick in the middle of the night. They have homework that someone has to help them with and even at times get into mischief that requires correction. They tell their parents about projects the night before they are due. They sometimes make poor grades....but mostly, they want time with the most important person they know - Mom. Mom, otherwise known as Mrs. Teacher during the daylight hours, does her best to find energy and words to share with their own children. Then, after she puts them into bed, she prepares for another day of teaching the children of others.
This past week, when my own child was being less than stellar, I went to visit one of her teachers. This woman is a wonderful teacher...who is also a wonderful mother. She found the patience to help me guide my progeny into the way she should go. The thing is, I know she was probably wishing more than anything that she could just be home holding her own baby instead grading papers, meeting with a parent, attending endless meetings filled with more paperwork, planning new ways to reteach the same material to students who simply didn't pay attention the first time, and making copies in preparation for the next day. I know, because when I asked about her baby, her eyes sparkled with that look only a mom can get. I asked myself, "Have I forgotten that sacrifice these wonderful people have made to help guide my child?" Too often, I'm afraid the answer is yes.
So for all the teachers out there...and those who serve others everyday...I salute you. My prayer for you is that each day you have those moments when someone realizes your sacrifice and says thank you. I pray that your energy will be renewed so that when you walk through the door to your own family, you still feel like "playing". I pray that for your children, there will be people like yourself who share themselves to make the world a better place. I wish I could offer more than those prayers and this blog, but "it's all I could find."