My mom is amazing. I don’t often tell her this but it’s true. She’s kind of awesome. My mom has been a first grade teacher for more than 27 years. She was actually my own first grade teacher at the private school I attended for grade school and junior high. Tonight we celebrated her as she retires from her teaching career. I was asked to write a tribute, to be shared at the party, not only as her daughter, but as one of her former students. Here’s why I love you mama:
I have had many teachers throughout my life. The older I get, the more I am convinced that I owe several of them an apology letter, Mom included. Of all the teachers that I have had, my mom, Mrs. Cutler, has been the most influential. Mom was the first person to teach me to read and write. She didn’t just teach me to read; she taught me to love reading. Sitting down after dinner together, we discovered the magic of the Secret Garden, the mysteries of the Little Princess and the bravery of Corduroy the little brown bear. I learned the history and promises of the Old Testament and the hope, life, and freedom of the Gospel. Mom taught me to value, cherish and respect good stories and those who have the courage to tell them.
When I was five, Mom showed me how to keep my first journal. It was filled with a short paragraph chronicling the events of each day; each entry was accompanied by a picture rendered in mixed media (usually Popsicle-sticks, cotton balls, glue, and crayon). It was many years later, when I felt I had no voice of my own and no words to speak, that I remembered our first writing projects and was encouraged to try again. I credit mom, more than anyone else, for teaching me so early that words are powerful and when used wisely can heal and encourage the writer, as much as the reader. Mom still has my first journal.
When I was in the 5th grade, in a fit of regrettable enthusiasm, I signed up for the speech contest. In case you couldn’t tell, I absolutely loathe public speaking, which is why I guilted someone else into reading this aloud for me. I still remember the title of my poem was Peanut Butter Sandwich, and I’m sure Mom does as well, since she practiced with me tirelessly. We practiced the piece so much, that I developed an aversion to peanut butter for several years. Mom was not my teacher at this point but was one of the chaperones at the dreaded speech contest. I was sitting in my little metal folding chair, shaking uncontrollably, and watching the other contestants perform. I knew that Mom would most likely not make it to my performance. I walked on shaky legs up to the front and looked out at the sour faced judges. I’m not sure what I thought would happen if I did badly, but I was pretty sure it involved being pushed over a cliff with a copy of Shakespeare’s sonnets chained around my neck. I took a deep breath to calm myself when I saw Mom standing in the back corner, giving me a covert thumbs-up. Her encouraging smile and presence in that room gave me the courage to get through that poem and take home a blue ribbon (I’m still not sure how that part was accomplished).
I have thought of a hundred different ways to close this tribute, so that it would be touching, or clever, or funny…or make people cry. And then I realized none of that matters, when all I really want to say is, I love you mom. We all love you. I know I speak for not just myself, but so many, when I say how very thankful I am to have been taught by you.
Everyone else got to have you as Teacher, but I got to have you as Mom.
I truly love you mom, and I’m looking forward to us driving each other a little more crazy by more time spent together 🙂