I followed in my mom’s footsteps to college as an English major, we took graduate level courses together as we pursued our Master’s degrees, and finally ended up teaching in the same school.
I had the unique opportunity to work with my mom, not only in the same building, but also in the same classroom. One of the difficulties of teaching inclusion classes with a partner teacher is being able to figure out each other’s personalities. There is a delicate dance in order to feel out each other’s roles.
You can completely bypass that step when your mom is the partner teacher. I used my lessons and she showed me how to best modify them for our current group of students. We played good cop/bad cop when disciplining the class who needed lots of structure and redirection. And just when the kids thought they had us figured out, we switched roles.
The best part was that often times the students had no idea we were even related until well into the semester. I would say something like, “Mrs. Turner, tell them the story about the time Daddy [insert story to illustrate a vocabulary word or concept]” and the kids would look so confused. It was always the special education kids in the room who picked up on the fact that we were related first. They loved that small victory over their classmates.
My mom’s path to education was not a straight one. After working from home (Tupperware, anyone?) and staying home with me and my sister, my mom went back to school when I was in middle school. I remember the old Tandy computer where she typed her papers and the slow, noisy printer with guided holes on the edges of the paper. The computer crashed once (there was no auto-save back then) and the screen filled with black. She screamed in panic and then sobbed.
She wrote, read, studied, made flash cards, and broke out in hives through straight A’s at Danville Community College and only one B at Averett College. If you mention the class “Origins and Structures of the English Language,” she will still give you a grimace in return.
She is a prolific reader, a member of two book clubs, and a devoted user of the library. She keeps a journal about our family happenings just as her mother and grandmother did before her. She also keeps journals and photo albums of each of her five grandchildren.
After retiring from the classroom after 20 years of teaching, she is now the homework taskmaster of the three oldest grandchildren demanding their best as she wields extra SOL practice tests and vocabulary review sheets that she knows will help them succeed.
She is helpful and thoughtful. On the corner of her desk usually rests cards addressed and ready to be mailed to the sick or grieving. She makes her rounds with casseroles to families with new babies or recovering from surgeries.
Her alto line from our pew is one of my favorite sounds, especially when the hymn is “It Is Well with My Soul”.
She rarely hugs other adults. She uses no unnecessary emotion. She does not overuse exclamation points. She is objective; when you get a compliment you better believe that it is sincere. This makes her an excellent and exacting editor for my writing. (Mama, you didn’t get to read this one, so let me know where the mistakes are.)
She is the best travel partner who only needs ¾ cup of Dr. Pepper (required each morning) and two nabs to survive the day.
She makes the best snaps although she will not touch them herself.
She loves musicals and would torture us with “O-K-L-A-H-O-M-A” and “I’m gonna wash that man right out of your hair.” Now she treats us all to a touring Broadway musical each year.
I am who I am because of my parents. The older I get, the more I am actually turning into my mom (just ask my sister). And I couldn’t think of anyone else that I would rather be.
The moral of this story? Our mom is the best.
Happy Mother’s Day, Mama!