Tag Archives: mom

Her Gifts

My mom says not to write about her. She says it’s not professional. But today, I can’t help it.

See, Tuesday was my birthday. And if I’m going to celebrate anyone now, it’s going to be her. 39 years ago Tuesday, I came zooming into the world.

Mom’s water broke at home. She finished weeding the garden, folded the laundry and tidied the house before she allowed my father to drive her to hospital.

There she waited. No pain, just waiting. She was a new principal, and since maternity leave didn’t exist, and since she has never been one to let on-task time slide by, she began working on fall timetables. She had long since sent my dad and big sister home. A wee bit after 2:00 am, mom felt a bit of a cramp and out I came.

Zoom.

She buzzed the nurse.

Mom tried to convince the nurse not to bother calling the doctor.  When he did arrive, a little after 7:00am, smelling of booze and cigarettes, mom had him sign her release papers.

My dad nearly fainted when he arrived for visiting hours an hour later.

We arrived at my Nana’s house for supper that same day, promptly at 5:00 p.m. My mom says it was the only day supper was late at my Nana’s house.

And that’s my mom, always doing things her way!

~ The second female director in the Province of Saskatchewan.

~The four day school week, her baby.

They called her The Dragon Lady, School Division shit kicking – really, it’s on her business card! They also called her Grandma, and Lynne, and friend, and mentor. The Lady with the Birkenstocks, and most importantly, they also called her The Keeper of the Buffalo.

My sister and I grew up surrounded by my parents’ students and other teachers who valued our parents, and we felt the fame of their successes, often, long before we were allowed to feel our own. It’s been a long journey coming to treasure my mom’s gifts.

But I do. She is an amazing woman.

People often begin by saying, “I have to ask you…” and I know.

 “Yes.” I say. “She’s my mom.” But what most people don’t know though is that while they’ve learned a great many teaching treasures from mom, I’ve also learned parenting gifts as well.

Maybe they’re the same, but for me, the mom gifts, oh, they sure resonate.

When I was a in my early twenties my mom was busy helping grow a dynamic students-first school division while, at the same time, she was with me for three long years, both here and at Mayo Clinic, never allowing me to struggle alone. One hell of a tough dame, my mom.

I’m a mom now, and I can’t imagine how she felt living that journey alongside her daughter. I simply cannot image her wealth of courage.

But I’m so thankful for it.

Anyone who’s ever met her feels it.

Now, I am a teacher, like both my parents. And like my parents modeled, I’m busy taking summer classes.

Yesterday, I was sitting in class at University, talking with my Inclusive Ed cohort about how best to meet student needs. It was one of those beautiful moments; we were spread out over the entire room, facing each other, reflecting. The course had come to an end, and we had not found many answers, and though we knew we wouldn’t find many, we had hoped.

A pre-service teacher, the only one in our group, commented that she felt a little discouraged. How would she be able to meet the needs of the kids in her room, without the needed supports, without this team?

 A woman, a teacher from the NWT shared that years ago, while working in the eastern part of the province, she had felt the same. Her school moved from a regular school to a Community school and it wasn’t that the staff liked each other much, it was that the needs of the kids and the vision of the division brought them tightly together. She said that the turning point for staff and the community came at a local meeting when the director stated, “Listen it’s not like families are keeping their best kids at home, they are sending you the best they have, so teach the best you have.”

No need to ask, that Director was my mom.

Today, I’m celebrating my mom and all the beautiful gifts that continue to resonate.

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When I Pause

A week ago I attended a silent retreat. The weekend marked 10 years of winter-silent-retreating. The first few years I brought my camera, my book, my sketchbook, my journal and, sometimes, my lap-top.  Today, these 48 hours of silence have become some of the best connected moments of my year, the connections becoming sacred spaces. Today, I listen.

“We can’t experience sacred in isolation. It is always an experience of connecting. It doesn’t have to be another person. It can be a connection with an idea, a feeling, an object, a tradition. The connection moves us outside ourselves into something greater. … We learn that we are larger than we thought.” Margaret Wheatley.

I’m always amazed at what I hear when I pause. 

The other day I forgot my phone at school. I live 37 km away from where I teach. As usual, I was in a rush so I didn’t return for my phone. The next day the kids teased me asking how I’d survived without my trusty appendage. “Fine,” and I meant it. I seek silence. Silence is a comfortable and welcomed- uncomfortableness, a beautiful connectedness. 

I remember an Education professor remarking about the need for a 20 second pause after asking for student feedback. I also remember another professor offering the beauty of silent reflection. In those silent spaces came the ideas to question the need to recap, allowing learning to simmer, allowing time for student reflection and offering plenty of opportunity for students to lead.

At the retreat a week ago I walked some. I hiked up into the Qu’Appelle Valley. I lay on my back and watched the sky roll by… I savoured the scent of sage, rolling it between my hands and on my cheek, and I wondered trails, wind pants squeaking. At night, I watched the lights across the valley twinkle and fade. And I thought about my mom. I’ve been wondering for a long time. I have my Nana’s hands, Wiens Women hands, hands that say I’m strong and bright and beautiful (my mom’s maiden name). I thought about my mom.

My senior Creative Writing students are busy sharing story slams. Our topic this week – Parent Traps. (Big in-take of breath) I thought about my mom and I thought about my daughter whose eyes are deep brown like my mom’s. Every women on my grandmother’s side has suffered from a form of dementia.

I’m irrationally crazy about kids with social/emotional and behavioural needs; I’ve always been excited by Alternative Education. Lately though, I’ve been thinking about advanced ELA. I am so excited about planning and teaching these enriched courses that my toenails tingle.  

My mom was a gifted consultant for the province long before she became a Director of Education.  She’s retired now. Though we chat everyday about my daughter and my students, I’ve never asked her about her work with gifted kids. After years of working to find our mom-daughter teaching-and-learning love language, mostly between us there remains silence. The hessitation is mine. Every woman. I have my Nana’s hands. So does mom. Every woman.  

In early October last year my Dad was rushed to emergency. My students had asked if I had been scared. “No, there’s nothing left unsaid.”

“There are many ways to sit and listen for the differences. Lately, I’ve been listening for what surprises me.” Margaret Wheatley.

some words

are so difficult

and i am more

 home

here

among

aspen, willow and wind

“I experience sacred as a feeling. It’s how I feel when I am open to life. Or am opened by life... I know I belong here. I don’t think about it, I simply feel it. Without any work on my part, my heart opens and my sense of ‘me’ expands. I’m no longer locked inside a small self. I don’t feel alone or isolated. I feel here. I feel welcomed.”
Margaret Wheatley.

(Big in-take of breath)

My turn…

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