“But Mommy maybe my new teacher won’t love me like you and Daddy do.”
My heart, already sore, was starting to throb with the unexpected pain of sending my four year old off to primary last week. He is so young, so small, so innocent, and so vulnerable. He looked like a baby standing beside the older kids at his bus-stop in his new clothes, bright, white size-nine sneakers, and Super Mario back-pack, which looked as though it weighed more than he did.
As we stood at the bus stop, waiting for the much-anticipated moment when my oldest baby would go somewhere without one of his parents for the first time, this was the burning worry on my child’s mind: Will I be loved?
Any teacher, or for that matter anyone who works with children on a daily basis, would say that they love their students. I can say with conviction that I love mine. Not because they are easy to be around. Not because they are easy to teach. Not because they offer me love in return. I love them because they are worthy of being loved. Inside each child I teach is untapped, and often unrealized, potential for greatness. Each of them was born to do something incredible. Each of the lives represented in my classroom every year have a purpose. As their teacher I have a unique and awesome opportunity to help them discover what they were put on this earth to do. And I endeavour to do this by loving them in a way that, hopefully, says: “You are worth spending time with. You are worth spending time on. I love you because you have value.”
Last Wednesday, my son was thinking about many different things. I find it incredible that the words he actually spoke in that moment articulated the fear we all have when faced with change, new challenges, and moments of vulnerability: Will I be loved?
This past week many of you, like me, stood at bus-stops, holding small hands, comforting small hearts. Many of you had to peel little arms from around your neck and allow a teacher you had never met before, to lead your child into an unfamiliar room, full of children they had never seen. Maybe some of you felt a different kind of pain mixed with pride as your confident, smiling child ran towards their friends on the playground, calling “Bye, Mom!” over their shoulder on their first day of school. Maybe some of you sent the last of your babies off and then spent the first of what seemed like a very long, very quiet day alone in the house that used to be noisy and busy. Maybe some of you, like me, questioned your value as a mother now that your child would be loved by someone else for most of their waking hours. Maybe some of you even drove many kilometres with a loaded mini-van full of lamps, extra blankets, groceries, twenty-seven pairs of shoes, and four suitcases to help your somehow grown up baby move into her very first dorm room and then hugged your girl goodbye before driving back to a house that may never hold her again, except for Christmas and summer vacations.
Like our children, as school begins, we mothers are often faced with changes and new situations where we have to confront thoughts and feelings we would rather not deal with. As we begin to navigate our way through a new school year alongside our children, there will be moments where we too will be asking the same question that burns in the hearts of our babies, both very young and not-quite-so-young. As we all move forward, and as we continue to evolve into the moms our children need for this new season in life, I want you to know that you have value, just as you are. Like our children, we all have the potential for greatness within us. Like them, we have a purpose. Like them, we are loved.
I am confident that my son’s teacher loves him and understands that he has value. I am also confident that she will do everything she can to communicate those things to him over the course of this school year. I am also confident that my son will sense her love for him and the other children in his class, and when he realizes he is loved, he will thrive in an environment that once struck fear into his four year old heart. And I am equally confident that as I move into this next season of motherhood, that a Teacher who loves me more than I can fathom is waiting to guide me along my new path. And I know that, with time, I too will thrive.