I sent this e-mail to my co-worker yesterday, despite the fact that neither her, nor I, have any biological children of our own: "Happy Mother's Day - for the love you pour out daily and for being the only picture of "real motherhood" some of "our" kids will ever see."
Today, I received a text message from a sweet friend and neighbor, which read in part: "Happy Mother's Day! You are a mother to more children than of any of us combined." My heart swelled.
I'm the surrogate mom. That's pretty much the long and short of it. I may not tuck them in at night but I do just about everything before and after. I'm, "Eat your breakfast," and "Do your homework..." I am the bearer of hugs, the giver of snacks, the reader of stories, the disciplinary....
I'm also results driven. I love the process...but I love results too. Teaching and parenting, well, they are both processes. I'm also highly critical of myself. You can see where this is heading, eh?
In my pouring out I empty myself of every tool and prayer and every possible strategy that I know will produce the results I desire but the truth is...it isn't (and it will never be) always enough.
I was reminded of it today when I was handed the referral. It read, "O called J a b*tch and a n***er during after school sports on Thursday." I was hoping upon all hope that the accusation was untrue because we have come so far...but deep down...I knew it was accurate... and my heart sank.
I went to PE to get the kids and I called O to the front of the line and said, "We need to talk." In his rhetorical "about what?" I already sensed the admission of guilt. I was barely able to utter, "Thursday..." before he began his defense but I stopped it before it could begin. We walked as a class back to the room and the kids engaged in AR and I pulled O aside - I'm still keeping my commitment to try and meet all of the needs.
This time there was no defense...no excuses. It was the one victory I took hold of - we've discussed (multiple times) the weight of dishonesty on top of transgressions and something about those conversations rooted themselves in his heart. Inspite of it all, as the surrogate, I felt like a failure. And in that moment I realized that this is a lie that mothers throughout all time and history have bought into - that we are not, have not, cannot, ever be: enough. That somehow we drop the ball despite being the bearer of hugs, the giver of snacks, the reader of stories, the disciplinary....and.so.much.more. They are not perfect and neither are we, in this messy (albeit beautiful) journey called life.
So here...for all of you who are standing in the gap as teachers, loving children who were, in my humble opinion, perfectly chosen to be in your care...hold firmly to your duty to live as a surrogate and embrace the messy.
Happy Mother's Day.