There are many labels that identify who I am: black, Christian, woman, daughter, wife, and educator. One label I cherish is mom. Many readers know I was told early in my marriage there would be a 1/2-1% chance that I would have children without infertility treatments. Even with the treatments, my chances only rose to 40-60%. Every single infertility treatment I did failed except the one that resulted in me becoming the mom of identical twin boys. My sons truly are miracles, and I want them to know how much I love them, but love is an action word. I have to do more than say I love them; I have to show it.
With the many obligations I have to help students in Indiana, many times I sacrifice time with my husband and kids. My children spend time with me, but it isn’t quality time. They have sat through school board meetings while I have gathered information for an article I was writing. They completed their homework in a library study room while I met with another person. Recently, they had to spend the night with my parents so I could travel to my alma mater Purdue University so I could be a panelist for a Black Excellence in Scholarship panel. They have been stuck with my colleagues while I ran after school literacy nights. Although I explain why I do what I do, and they say they are fine, I don’t want their memories of me to be my mom was a good teacher and advocate, but an absentee mom.
I have to be intentional, which is why I kept my sons home today and on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day last month. Typically, in Indiana, school is closed on Dr. King’s day and Presidents’ Day, until some school districts like the one my sons attend started using it for inclement weather makeup days. The school district I work in was closed on both days, so I kept my sons home to spend quality time with them.
As educators, many times, we stay up all night preparing lessons and activities for our students, but we don’t put in the same effort for our own flesh and blood. I try to remind myself that I’m a mom first and a teacher second. Yes, teaching is my calling, but being a good mom is more important to me. As much as I believe in my education advocacy work and being a good educator, I don’t want every other child to succeed and be well adjusted and my children fall behind or feel neglected. If you are a parent and an educator, remember the most important children should be your own.