By: Amanda Winsor
As I prepare myself and my family for a new school year, I find myself thinking back to this time last year. My oldest began grade primary last September, at the age of four. I was at the beginning of a leave of absence from teaching and was feeling a bit like a fish out of water filling the role of “Anxious/Proud Mommy” on the first day of school, as opposed to “Anxious/Excited Teacher”.
I’ll never forget my son’s first day of school. As we stood at the bus stop waiting with him for the yellow school bus to arrive to collect him, my small son, my deep thinker, my introvert, my pride and joy, suddenly turned to me and said:
“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 school for the first time. He was 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 I remember 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 September, on his first ever day of school, 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 coming week many of you will stand at bus-stops, holding small hands, comforting small hearts. Many of you will have to peel little arms from around your neck and allow a teacher you have never met before, to lead your child into an unfamiliar room, full of children they have never seen. Maybe some of you will experience a different kind of pain mixed with pride as your confident, smiling child runs towards their friends on the playground, calling “Bye, Mom!” over their shoulder on their first day of school. Maybe some of you will send the last of your babies off and then spent the first of what will seem like very long, very quiet days alone in a house that used to be noisy and busy. Maybe some of you, like me this time last year, will question your value as a mother now that your child will be loved by someone else for most of their waking hours. Maybe some of you will even drive 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 you will hug 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 happy to tell you that my son’s primary teacher loved him and understood that he has value. I want you to know that she found a hundred little ways to communicate those things to him over the course of his first school year. And my son responded to her love for him and the other children in his class, and as soon as he knew he was loved, he was able to thrive in an environment that once struck fear into his four year old heart. So, Mama, know this: As the new school year begins and as we move into this next season of motherhood, that a Teacher who loves you more than you can fathom is waiting to guide you along this new path. And know that, with a little time and a lot of love, you too will thrive.
Amanda Winsor is a recovering control-freak on a mission to let it all go wrong. Happily married to Jason for a decade, she is a middle-school teacher returning to work after an unpaid leave of absence following the birth of her third child in four years. Amanda manages her chronic sleep-deprivation with caffeine, chocolate, and an amazing playlist. She strives to walk by faith and not sight, and has recently learned how to ask for help. Amanda enjoys crafts (as long as there is no glitter involved), baking (as long as there are no sprinkles involved), and being outdoors (as long as there is no mud involved). She is rich in many beautiful friendships with godly women and never ceases to be amazed and encouraged by the way Colossians 3:12-14 (MSG) works within the sisterhood. She looks forward to having more time for reading, writing, and color-coding.