Wow – what a way to end a brutal 10 work hour day. Tonight after a day of teaching, an afternoon of coaching, and an evening of parenting teenagers – my other half seemed to be having some philosophical questions as to the purpose, and perhaps futility, of parenting and vented them my way: “What does it matter? They are just going to do whatever they want when they get out on their own. None of this matters – they are who they are.” That was the gist.
My insides kind of imploded as I tried to understand the harsh feelings I was having in reaction to his comments. Don’t get me wrong. I, too, go to this dark place sometimes – wondering about the futility of it all…trying to
train teach teenagers/children how to be responsible, productive citizens. How to teach them to be kind, generous, honest, and humble (and how to write an outline). I want them to learn how to take care of themselves without being selfish and I do my my very best to lead by example. But today I sort of needed a rock to lean on when I got home, and instead, I got a slushie in the face. All day today I stood in the library with high school students telling me that there were no books…that is a post for another day.
Now, I try to raise my students with all the love and patience I give my own children, but, of course, with the added dimension of trying to teach research skills and strategies – and boy do I fall short sometimes.
So – my husband did not say that I am worthless. Not those words. He is not responsible for my reaction to and interpretation of his words. And when I told him what I was hearing…that my whole life has been dedicated to teaching and raising children on the premise that they can be nurtured and molded and he is telling me that it is all for nothing (ie I am worthless)…well…
he felt badly and immediately stopped speaking, gave me a hug, and told me he loved me. He tried with all his might to fill the love bucket he had just accidentally kicked over. he started laughing and went downstairs to bed. Ugh! Gracie!*
All people are the products of nature and nurture. The two are forever entwined. Some personalities clearly reside in nature and some abound with learned behaviors. Some bad and some good. If I did not believe in the effects of nurture I could not teach, nor would I have children. However – I also believe that most
kids people are average – and that is okay. I do not need to raise the valedictorian, or the sport superstar, or the trophy winning whatever. You don’t need to be the next President, you don’t need to make a million dollars, and you don’t need to be famous to live. Have aspirations – but be grounded.
I want my kids to know love, family, and hope. I want them to know joy and have faith. I want them to experience life and not fear it – even the bad parts. I want them to find success – however it is defined. If they do these things then, really, they will be anything but average. As a parent, as a teacher – I can give them these things – show them how to find these things for themselves. Maybe along the way I can teach them to read, write, and make an argument. I have worth. Indeed, I have worth.
*Gracie is the name that I gave my marriage years ago. After having kids and realizing how much work motherhood is and what having a solid marriage requires, I decided to treat my marriage like one of my kids. I try to give it just as much attention as the other kids demand. It is easy to loose your spouse in the family, put date nights off, and fail to connect as you push through raising those little cherubs. By giving it a name – Gracie – it helps me to remember to treat my marriage with patience and love. Tonight, Gracie is in a time out!
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***Update: My husband totally redeemed himself the next morning. As I explained to him the day ahead included attending a softball game to watch my students play I followed it up with “I know, I know I could just say no”. To which he replied as he made the bed, without missing a beat, and with nothing but compassion, love, and understanding in his voice, “no you can’t, that’s why you are a such a great teacher”. What I heard: What you do matters.