You know that feeling you get at the end of the day when you just aren’t sure you have an ounce of energy left to give? Your children have brushed their teeth, finished their baths, been read to and tucked in nicely, but they still need one more cup of water. They need one more story. They need you to tuck the blankets under their legs. Just as you say goodnight and whisper one last I love you they ask for a tissue. When you finally turn off the lights and close the door you debate watching one episode of your favorite show on Netflix or simply falling into a sleep coma in your bed, and 9 out of 10 times the sleep coma wins. You know exactly what I’m talking about. It’s the end of the day parent burn out. It’s that time of day when we are completely depleted of our energy and our ability to be the best version of ourselves.
I have two children and I experience parent burnout on the regular. I’m not exactly a morning person either, but after my first cup of coffee I’m ready to tackle the day. Coffee helps me cope with the spilled orange juice that somehow landed on the dog during breakfast, the fact that the eight year old can only find one of his shoes when the school bus will be arriving in less than five minutes, and the ability to Google whether crocodiles get married before the bus arrives or the five year old just won’t be able to go on with the day. Now take all of this and multiply the amount of kids by more than double. That’s right, take my two kids and just add in another thirteen to fifteen kids. You have a headache just thinking about it don’t you? I know I do.
After locating that lost shoe, toweling the dog off, and learning that crocodiles don’t believe in wedding ceremonies, I send my two boys off on the school bus to school for the day. Every day they are greeted by these amazing humans who as far as I can tell are always the best versions of themselves. I am going to have to find out what kind of coffee they drink. They are teachers and I trust them with the two people I love the most in this entire world for over six hours, five days a week. Not only do I trust them, but I depend on them to teach my children reading, writing, math, science, art, music, technology, health, and history. I depend on them to enhance any development we have started at home. I depend on them to take these tiny humans and help them learn how to interact well with other tiny humans. I depend on them more than they know.
Last night I sat with my kindergartner to read a book before bed. He asked if he could read it to me instead of me reading it to him. I excitedly agreed. With each word that he read and each page that he turned I couldn’t help but think back to September. As most parents who are faced with sending their baby off for the very first time on the school bus, that first day was met with a mix of emotions. We were excited, but nervous. We felt confident though that he would return that day just as excited as he was when he left us, and he was. I remember feeling like he was so small. I remember worrying that he would get tired and miss us. If he did he certainly never expressed it. Instead he came home every day excited to tell us all about what he had done and learned that day.
In September I sent a little five year old off to school and now he seems so much older to me. He’s confident. He’s reading. He tells me all about his friends in his class. He tells me how much he loves his teacher. I tell him that we love her too because the truth is, we do. How could we not. In less than a year she has taught our five year old how to navigate a great big exciting new world and he’s doing it. He’s doing it well.
Our third grader has grown and learned so much this year that there are times I am convinced he could out do me on any math test. (Sshh he probably could) His teacher does not seem to have that burn out thing I talked about. Whenever I see her, email her, or speak with her she is just as enthusiastic as she was on that very first day. I can say with full confidence that she gets truly excited when she sees children learning. It’s a gift. It really is. When my husband and I went to parent teacher conferences this year she looked at us and told us that our son had written his first journal entry that day. She had not read it yet and was excited to read it aloud in front of us so that we could all “experience his amazing imagination” together. I left that day knowing my son was going to learn and grow more than we had ever imagined possible in a year and he has.
I remember when they were toddlers and I was their only teacher. We experienced the world together. We read and practiced numbers and letters. We played in the yard and I taught them their colors. I did what I could to give them a small foundation into the world of learning they had ahead of them. Their teachers however have taken that small foundation and built upon it in such tremendous ways.
As parents we do our best to love our children. We nurture them, discipline them, and protect them. We carry them until they can walk on their own. We hold their hands until they let go and we hope with all that we have that we are doing our best to prepare them to succeed on their own. There is no question or doubt about what we will do for our children. After all we are their parents. Teachers do all of this and more. They do this year in and year out for every child that comes into their classroom. It takes a special person to love and nurture all these children. We all know teachers don’t go into teaching for the money (don’t even get me started on that.) Teachers go into teaching to move mountains. Their passion and love of learning is something that our children will carry with them for years. I want my boys’ teachers, both past and present, to know that we are forever grateful for the foundations they have poured and the mountains they have moved. They have helped us navigate the waters. They have given my boys a lifetime love of learning and for that we are forever grateful.
"Teachers affect eternity; no one can tell where their influence stops."
Henry Brooks Adams
This piece originally appeared on Jennifer's blog.