Sunday, May 8, 2016

     
                                                         Stella Chang, now a New York Fashion Designer

     I have spent several hours going through leather-bound scrapbooks of my 40-year teaching career. Unfortunately, there will be no room to store them in our new home, so I must weed through each tome and decide what photos, letters, cards, notes to keep. I decided I can take one volume. Throwing photos in the trash feels like I’m throwing away my first-born. Every photo is a precious memory of some of the thousands of students who have touched my life and convinced me that teaching was, indeed, my calling. I miss them to this day, so many years later, and on this, Mother’s Day, I feel a maternal tug at my heart remembering all the fun and frolic of my classroom.

     Some of them have married, some have children of their own, a few are ill, some are struggling, but they are all part of my journey, and I feel a motherly kinship to so many. The beauty of Facebook for me is to watch many of their lives unfold. 

     I forgot about the few troubled kids who I took under my wing. I wonder where they are today. I forgot about the beautiful letters parents and students wrote to me thanking me for doing what I loved. I didn’t realize that the best part of my teaching wasn’t my academic skills, but the person I am. I am still the zany, silly, passionate, sensitive “folle” who couldn’t wait to get into my cozy classroom each morning. I no longer have an official classroom, but I have found classroom substitutes in my retirement where I can spread the silly and infect the feckless.

     On this Mother’s Day, I wish all the best to all my students who are now moms. I thank my own mother who blessed me with her energy, her vivacious outgoing personality, her flair for fashion and decor and her unstoppable determination. She wasn’t a nurturing mom, but she did give me the tools to be one myself, and I shared those qualities with my students. I have not been the model mother by any means, but I have done my best, and that’s all us moms can do. Life’s crap doesn’t stop just because we are moms. It interrupts the 2 a.m. nursing, the Lacrosse Tournament, the Girl Scout outing—it never stops. What we have to learn as moms is how to juggle, how to fall apart privately and stand tall in our resilience. Everyday is Mother’s Day, and we should pat ourselves on the back, not criticize ourselves for not being perfect.