As a middle-schooler, knowing that I would eventually go to the same high school where my mother was a teacher terrified me. As a teacher there, she personally knew all my teachers and they knew me. She could easily find out about my grades, whether I was paying attention in class, whether I was doing my homework or not. Everything. And while all these things worried me endlessly, when I got there, and as I got older, I realized being a teacher’s daughter had its benefits. Of all the things teachers and mothers show and teach us, having two in one taught me:
Being a good student isn’t as hard as it seems
Obviously, my mother values education (I mean, she’s been a teacher for 20 something years, right?) so I could always, always count on her to push me academically. Seriously, there probably wasn’t a day in high school my mom didn’t try to pass along her study tips or ask me about my homework/tests/projects. And it definitely didn’t help that she was friends with all my teachers. Every day I was reminded:
“They’re human too.”
“A teacher doesn’t want to read an essay you didn’t even try to write well.”
“Get a TUTOR.”
“Just go talk to them and see if there’s anything you can do.”
As frustrating as this knowing advice could be at times, she was 100% right. Now, in college, going to office hours, writing essays that I myself would actually enjoy reading, and remembering that my teachers are only humans trying their best has seriously improved my academic career. Teachers notice your effort, they appreciate being appreciated, they appreciate learning with intention and my mom helped me to see all of that.
Teachers deserve a freaking break
My mom would come home from work every day, completely exhausted, carrying folders and folders of her student’s tests and homework and she still somehow managed to get us to dance/track/football/baseball practices, make dinner, run errands and make sure the house was at least somewhat clean. Some nights, there just wasn’t enough time to get through all of that work. So when my teachers confess to not having finished grading, running a little behind or not quite being done with my essay, I just remember how grateful I was to have my mom sacrifice her time for me, so I let it go. Sometimes teachers are needed in more pressing areas of their lives and that homework just can’t get graded on time. It’s okay. It’s just five points. Breathe.
Education is powerful
Over the years, I’ve been able to watch my mom change her student’s lives. She’s been a mentor, a friend, encouraged and advocated for so many young adults all because she was their teacher. My mother showed me how much education can transform life, opportunity and careers years from now. Ultimately I realized how privileged I am to have received the education I did. And again how lucky I am to continue to receive higher levels of education and to have the ability to choose my own path, gain and share knowledge, and create change. Her goals to start schools for girls overseas and to play an active role in the spread of education inspire me and remind me daily that education is an active tool for change and progress in the world.
Perseverance is everything.
My mother spent countless nights up late, trying to finish big projects, attending meetings and conferences, trying to scrape together a lesson for a sub last minute because one of us kids had gotten sick and had to stay home, and yet she never once gave up. She continued teaching and working in education for years because it was what she loved to do. At times it was hard; it didn’t pay enough, and she always had to bring work home, but she loved it, she was passionate about it. She taught me that if you love something if you care deeply about something, you don’t just give it up.
In reality, all moms are teachers in their own little ways. The things that they teach us, the support and advice that they give us, can truly change our lives for the better, forever.