Mother’s Day – Empathy & Differentiation Through a Different Lens

This weekend I had the pleasure of getting together with a group of ladies that I worked with when I first moved to Florida and began my teaching career. I don’t think there are enough positive words to convey the love and admiration I have for them but to share that these are the people that all taught together at a school that closed down 7 years ago but STILL meet at least twice a year as a group, and some still more regularly. That alone speaks volumes about the connection that we had and still choose to maintain.

As I was leaving our gathering, I was thinking about how much change has happened within our group and how special it is to still maintain those relationships. Just in this evening we were honoring a birth, a death, big professional changes, and big personal changes. Yet, no matter the life circumstance or time that evolves, the love and support never ceases.

Which is why I think Mothers hold such an important part in our hearts. No matter what shape or size they come in – biological mothers, step mothers, mother-in-laws, or women who simply step up to provide a mothering figure – that source of love and support is something that we all need and if we are lucky to have, become better and stronger as a result.

I also couldn’t help but think of one of my students who just lost his mother a little over a week ago and that got me thinking about how many people struggle with this day and many others. The child who no longer has their mother, the mother who has lost their own child, the person who can’t have children but who so desperately wants to become a mother, the list goes on.

What it reinforced for me was that things change and everyone is different, yet we all have the power to help others along.

My students last year may have been pumped about Mother’s Day and encouraging their love and adoration was appropriate with a big project. This year, with my student’s recent situation, I had to approach the day differently.

The same rings true for any academic subject or any emotional life event. What works for one student does not always work for another, or even for that same student from day to day. How one person chooses to handle a life event may be starkly different than another. Neither is wrong, it is just honoring what they need at that time.

In our classrooms and in our lives, we need to remain sensitive, flexible, and empathetic. We may have no idea the struggles or joys that people we just meet or those who we may have known for many years are dealing with daily. But it certainly gets easier as we maintain and embrace long term, loving, and supportive relationships.

As we celebrate this “special” day and as I reflect on how lucky I am to have many supportive and loving “mothers” in my life who have helped me along, I am reminded to remain supportive and loving to kids and adults alike. We may very well be the person who is providing that sense of support and love to someone who needs it at this very moment.

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