My mother was a teacher by profession, but began as a teacher to my siblings and I at home, and a Sunday School teacher too, long before she got an "official paid" teaching job. She read to us, taught us about the Bible, and how to cook, clean, and iron (which used to be a frequent and necessary task back in the day!). She is a writer and encouraged us to write. I think I'm the only one who writes on a regular basis, but we all "get it." She wanted us to express ourselves appropriately and often told us if we didn't have anything nice to say, then don't say anything at all. I'm not sure I learned that lesson quite as well as some of the other lessons.... She was my biggest cheerleader (and she really did have a lot of actual cheerleading experience), encouraging me when I was down, studying with me for tests, and celebrating with me when I succeeded. Mom also had high expectations for my behavior and my grades. She taught me how to paint without making a mess (and I'd better not make a mess!) which serves me well today. About the only thing she didn't teach me was how to fix the farm machinery. Those lessons, taught by Dad, seemed to be lost on her, although she could, and did, drive the tractor just fine.
She was also a nurse to us - and still is if we let her. She tended to my scraped knees and bloody nose events. She came in the middle of the night bearing cough syrup when I was coughing, because I was probably keeping everyone awake. She always has a pack of tissues in her purse and a few band-aids too - just in case. I find myself stocking my purse in the same fashion. She came and sat with me when I had a baby or knee surgery, trying to be as helpful as possible. She took my sister to Colorado one summer and lived in a travel trailer because the Colorado air was good for her asthma. Mom is the caregiver even now when we really need to be taking care of her.
She went back to college and got her Master's Degree and began her teaching career after we kids were in school. Then she made a difference to a whole new generation of kids - acting as their librarian, history teacher, and yes - cheerleading sponsor!
It is often the teacher that students (and even parents) turn to when they need help and not just about school assignments. Teachers think of their students as their own "kids." How many times in recent years have we seen teachers lay down their lives to try to save their students from a rampage? What we don't see are the many hours of planning and grading they do to ensure every student has the best learning experience possible. We don't notice that they spend their summers taking classes or attending workshops to stay abreast on new developments in education. We don't know that in their Walmart cart are some supplies that will be used at school, paid for from their own money. We don't see them unable to sleep at night because of the pain or frustration being felt by one of their students. Maybe we see a tear at graduation, or a big smile when students do well, but we probably don't realize that those moments are forever etched on that teacher's heart.
Nurses are also some pretty important people in our lives and play a big role in caring for us when we are at our most vulnerable. My soon to be daughter-in-law is studying to be a nurse as I write this. Her compassion for others and willingness to help probably came from her mother who is also a nurse. Shortly after she and my son began dating, she had her first opportunity to gain nursing experience when on their band trip to the Pinstripe Bowl in New York City, almost the entire trombone section got the flu. She tended to as many of them as she could until she too succumbed to the virus. My son called wanting to know what he should do to help her. So I gave him the best mom's medical advice I could over the phone. It's our moms we call first because they were our first teacher and our first experience with the medical side of life. Moms fix us when we are broken or make sure that someone does! As the old cough syrup commercial once noted, it's important to listen to "Dr. Mom."
It is the nurse we often speak to first at the doctor's office after we check in. They are the first line of defense when something is wrong, and might even know the patient better than the doctor does. It is the nurse that checks on us when we are alone in the hospital wondering how everything will turn out. Sometimes checking those vitals in the middle of the night may seem intrusive, but they are still a connection that we appreciate because it lets us know someone is there for us. Nurses take care of us when we can't - doing those jobs for us that we would never ask someone else to do - and never thinking twice about it. Moms do that too. As much as we love our dads, unless it's something in their realm of expertise, we almost always call Mom first when we have a question or news to share. And this weekend, telephones will probably be busier than usual since it is documented that more calls are made on Mother's Day than on any other day of the year!
I must acknowledge that there are a lot of great male teachers and nurses out there, but when you think of the traits and skills of those two professions and add them together, they equal what we believe to be true about mothers. Moms teach us what they know so we can get along better in the world. They take care of us when we can't and never hesitate to offer to help however they can. As our apron strings are loosened, we depend less on our mom's in part because of what they have taught us, but also because they know we need to leave then nest in order to thrive. No matter where we "fly off to" we will always need their caring touch and reassurance that we're doing the right thing. Thank a teacher. Thank a nurse. Love and thank your mom too. Appreciate them all this week, and every week, because it's the best gift you can give them!