Friends, I have a dinner solution! When it’s 5:30 PM on a rainy day in April and you haven’t the foggiest idea what to make for dinner, the answer….is (NOT five this time, Ashtanga pals) SWEET POTATO! Go home and preheat your oven to 375 F. Wash one sweet potato for each member of your family. Use a knife to make x-shaped cuts into the sweet potatoes so the steam can escape. Bake your sweet potato at 375 for 45 minutes. While it’s baking prepare condiments in bowls. Serve each person one baked sweet potato dotted with butter or olive oil, and have them customize their spud with condiments. (Mine were fresh green beans, homemade salsa, black bean hummus and avocado). If you have young ones, I have heard that bacon bits make everybody happy! Et voilà—dinner! You’re welcome.
And now, a plea….
“You’re not a mom, so you don’t really get it.”
“But you get to give them back at the end of the day!”
“Clearly you don’t have kids of your own.”
“Teaching isn’t the same thing as parenting you know.”
I know. I fully acknowledge that teaching is not the same thing as parenting. It doesn’t even come close.
Yet….in my eleven-years of teaching children eight hours per day (not even mentioning the extra hours for grading, calling and emailing parents, prep work, clubs, school concerts) I have, in addition to teaching the curriculum:
-Held a sobbing boy whose father had died the day before. He was at school so the rest of the family could organize the funeral.
-Carried a ten-year-old with a sprained ankle from the yard to the school.
-Explained long division to countless frustrated little souls, using base ten blocks, markers, white boards and whatever bits of humour would help.
-Put on band-aids, mopped up vomit, calmed the scared.
-Cut up birthday cake, cheered the victorious hockey team, laughed in delight at my students’ accomplishments.
-Silently handed tissues to the girl who didn’t get the lead role in the musical
-Physically separated fighting children, and yes, even had a chair thrown at me.
-Consoled a boy in a red leather jacket whose friends said he couldn’t dance by watching him do the best moonwalk I’ve ever seen.
-Spent the evening after graduation sobbing (at home, so my students wouldn’t have to see me ugly-cry about their awesome milestone).
Doing all of this is hard. Way harder than teaching grammar or writing report cards.
For all these reasons, no matter how much I disagree with parents of my students, I hardly ever say so. Why? Because if my job is hard, Parents, yours is harder. You are trying to see through a think layer of love to do your best, in a bruised and busy world , to raise decent and accomplished human beings. You are doing so while working full-time, running a house, and trying to keep up with current events and basics like tax returns.
BUT I have a small request. I will continue to try not to question your choices. Please, in return, would you refrain from the casually cruel comments mentioned above?
Some are childless by choice. And some of us are childless because of the many twists and turns of life. I take full responsibility for all the of the choices, both good and bad, that have brought me to this place in my life, where I am, as you say, “not a mom”.
I stlll hope I do get to have a partner and a family. I hope I get to mother a child of my own. OR help parent the children of my partner. OR adopt. It doesn’t really matter how it happens. In the meantime, friends who are parents, please “tread softly, for you tread on my dreams.”