My Mother, My Teacher

My Mother, My Teacher

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Thanks Mom

My Mother, My Teacher

No one in the world can take the place of your mother.
Right or wrong, from her viewpoint you are always right.
She may scold you for little things, but never for the big ones.
~Harry Truman

My mother is a teacher, a fabulous teacher. I know this because I’ve observed her in her classroom when she is teaching her students. She is passionate not only about teaching middle school students the German language, but also about her love of the language itself and the German culture. She has tirelessly taught grades six through nine for more than twenty-six years, and she has been my teacher for almost thirty.

Back in kindergarten, when they asked us what we wanted to be when we grew up, I answered that I wanted to be a teacher. I saw how my mom could positively affect her students and colleagues, and how she would come home exhausted at the end of the school day, yet still be exhilarated for the next. Of course, as a precocious kindergartner, these complex thoughts weren’t exactly what I was thinking when I answered the question. But somewhere inside I always knew that my mom loved being a teacher almost as much as she loved being my mom.

But the years passed and I entered college with lofty aspirations of becoming some kind of famous fashion designer. I wanted nothing to do with being a teacher. There was no way I was following in my mother’s footsteps! I wanted to be as different as I could from my mom. I know now that I could have declared my major to be basket weaving and Mom would’ve given me her full support. When becoming a fashion designer did not exactly pan out the way I had planned, Mom gently suggested that I put my talent in art to use by going into art education. Little did I know that this small encouragement would lead me to the profession I would come to cherish. I guess Mom was teaching me then that it was okay to make mistakes, and that she would always be patient while I made the decisions she knew were right for me all along.

Mom’s love and patience sustained me through a difficult marriage and divorce. She opened her heart and home to a bruised and scared daughter and granddaughter and tried her best to nurse us back to sanity. There were times when I am sure she felt emotionally drained, but I have never seen so much strength from one person in so many ways. She kept reassuring me that even though it was hard to see at the moment, God had a plan and a reason for everything.

Her most important lesson, however, was taught recently at breakfast. As I sat down with my nineteen-month-old daughter, I was determined that she would eat more than two spoonfuls of cereal. Of course, my daughter had other ideas. My mom realized the impending battle of wills that was about to occur, and her years of experience with a stubborn daughter, namely me, kicked in. Her sage advice was to let my daughter eat when she was ready! Well, to a novice this sounded ridiculous. Nevertheless, moments after I had given up, the struggling stopped and my daughter began to feed herself. I sat back, amazed, and again realized (regretfully) that my mother knows more than I do. My mother has been my teacher for almost thirty years. I hope she will continue her “lessons” to me for at least thirty more.

~Jessica Gauthier

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