Mothers Don't Always Know Best

May 1, 2019

 

Now before you start throwing curses my way for writing this on Mothers Day, give me the benefit of the doubt. 

 

I will speak from my 30 years of being my momma's daughter and I say it with certainty that she doesn't always know best. And I dare go further and say that it's true for ALL mothers too.  

My mom became a mother when she was 23. I cannot even imagine being a mom when I was 23.

I honestly still can't imagine being a mom right now. However, 10 years of being a teacher has given me such a deep insight on what motherhood entails; what it allows you to experience and how much it can change you. I have had the privilege of handling many students and getting to see them grow. Watching my students, listening to their stories, nagging them with countless repetitive reminders for them to turn in their work, "punishing" them in order to teach them a lesson, feeling their pain when they handle defeat and being just as ecstatic as they are when they achieve victory. I have been able to witness the highs and the lows and I have been repeatedly surprised with how invested I am in these kids. As their teacher, I felt that I had the responsibility to be able to push them so they may experience breakthroughs at such a young age. I want them to surpass their limits, their insecurities and even their expectations by giving them experiences that I wish I had at that age. I also want them to have the same activities where I had my first breakthroughs. I wanted to shelter them from all the traumas it took me years to address. I wanted them to have better and become better because of it. I would like to think that my investment in my students will make a difference in their lives.

 

I had such a blast witnessing my students' raw talents surface within the walls of the classroom. My head would spin getting so excited with the many possibilities all that talent can take them when they grow up. This is probably why I ache when I hear stories that upon graduation, they become bitter and jaded by life outside of school. Suddenly, their hard work and aspirations seem like two islands with an ocean in between. I see their eyes become wistful with disappointment and hear their voice crack with the anger of the unfair curveballs life suddenly threw their way despite putting in the hours of hard work at school.

 

A few years ago, I remember one particular encounter with one of my promising students. I had to hold in my tears until we parted since I tried to keep a brave face in front of him as I listened to how his big college plan unfurled because of an unexpected financial setback in his family. Afterwards, I found myself feeling angry and helpless, disbelieving how life can be so cruel to this kid. To this day, I remember that moment, seeing the light gone from this once-bright-eyed boy. That pain at that particular moment, made me realize more than ever just how deeply teaching has forged a mother in me. As I experienced that storm of emotions within, mourning that bright-eyed boy and wanting so hard to do something to restore him, I had an epiphany. I suddenly realized how deeply our mothers feel whenever they see us passing the many stages of our life. Enjoying our huge ball of potential when we were wide-eyed and curious about everything and how proud she was of us when we wished so fearlessly when we were young. How terrified mom must have been when we started having our failed marks in our report card, because even though she put in hours to review with us, in the end she can't take the exam for us.

I realized just how much she hurt when she heard people reject us- and that surge of superhuman strength in her being, as she was trying so hard to figure out how she can reverse the damage and make life's situations turn around by some miracle. The frustration she surely felt when she realized she didn't know how to start and the defeat she had to battle when she had to accept that she simply did not know how.

 

My mom didn't always have the answers when I was shy growing up, so she found different summer activities and workshops so I can learn from people who knew what to do. I remember grudgingly dragging myself to these workshops in speech and drama when I was young, feeling that I was tortured by having to attend those activities. Many years later, looking back after having majored in Theatre in my undergrad, I realize more how these little decisions she made before made such a profound effect on me. She was shaping such a huge part of my life without her knowledge. When I asked her now why she did it then, all she said was because when she was young, she hoped she would have experienced attending workshops like those as well. When I had changed direction in my plans (and I did many times) she fought her cluelessness and frustration by asking me for answers so we may talk about it. She went as far as to look for people who can help her understand. When I dream big dreams she didn't know how to teach me to attain, she looked for other teachers so that we may learn how to forge the path to get where I wanted to go.

 

I am thankful she didn't restrict me to be only the things she already understood or felt was safe. She was just as lost as me at times but that taught me that it was okay. Because if mom didn't know the answer, we will find it together. If I was so protective and emotional of my student's growth, I can only imagine how mothers must feel each and every waking moment of their life.

 

Speaking with parents and hearing their different stories, I am more and more sure of just how much they worry about this. Some even go as far as hunt for every opportunity where they can give their kid an advantage in order to live comfortably in the world. Moms would give up a new bag she can surely afford, because your education is more important, making it a no-brainer to forego luxuries just to give her kid something she didn't have before, but wish she did. If I felt it, and if I did it even without being biologically linked to my students, I can only imagine how it will be if I really was the one to give life to them. In a way, I suppose I did. The essence of teaching after all, is to breathe life into your students. But some days, I also did not know how to. I spend countless hours stressing over my learning plans to figure out how I can get them to listen, get them interested and pray that it works. It's difficult to be a font of positivity and wisdom when I myself is experiencing some growing pains. But everyday, God knows I try. I show up and deliver...and so do our moms. She surely must have beat herself up many times, trying to come up with something brilliant to get you the best possible advantage even though she had no idea where she will find the time and resources to do so. Researching schools, monitoring your work and progress, speaking with your teachers to know if she still knows who you are growing up to become. And above all, praying hard to God that when she can't be there, He continues to watch over you.

 

I've realized that being a mom means humbling yourself to a lifetime of not knowing. It's learning to have faith and trying your hardest and trusting that it will all work out for the best. She knows there are many things she doesn't know, but by God, she will know as she goes along. Moms don't always know best because she is also learning with us as we change, as we build new dreams, as we get back up when we experience disappointments. Our moms can't know best because she is so immersed living with us, being present and keeping her eyes firmly on the prize: that her child overcome life and emerge triumphant. Because of all her uncertainties, one thing she does best is to root for us at every turn, at every age, with every breath she takes. Mothers don't always know best but they will try the hardest...to love you, provide for you, criticize you, even at times punish you- to make you become your best. 

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