I need to come clean about my front yard. You would not want to be its neighbor. There are huge patches of bare mud. Mud even covers sections of the sidewalk.The lawn that is left needs to be mowed, and it’s really not grass more like a collection of weeds. I’ve got an excuse. I only look at briefly when I get the mail. I haven’t invested in the yard because I have plans for how I want it to look. Now, these plans are few years in the future. There are retaining walls to be built and beds to be made. Why should I throw down seed when I am just going to have to tear it up when I put in the retaining wall? Why should I keep up with it?
My yard is an analogy to many of the lessons we tend to dismiss. We don’t take action on the lawn because it is just going to change anyway. How often do we reject a small tweak in our lesson because next year I redoing this whole unit anyway? Sometimes (often in my life) perfection gets in the way of improvement. Why try to get better because it won’t be as good what I plan to do later?
I challenge you to go ahead and get out your lawn mower and clean up that lesson or project. Get out the seed and create some growth in the yard you have.
In real life, I did get out and mowed the lawn and removed mud from the sidewalk. Now it looks passable, and I haven’t heard my neighbors complain. In work life, I am not going to let the grandiose ideas of improvement stop me from small effective change.
On this Mother’s Day, I could have written a post about a fantastic post about my own mother is or another topic. Instead, I remember a day a few weeks ago and the real power of motherhood.
The night before as I was driving to pick up my daughter, I heard an interview with Sheryl Sandberg about just showing up and her new book Option B. The next day, I reached out to my friend who had recently lost her dad, and we grabbed lunch together. The conversation was great and lively. It was what I needed.
As we were finishing our cookies, I noticed this mom and her two small kids. She was visibly upset and both her children had no shoes or coats (It was a cold spring day). The older boy was crying. I said to my friend, let’s buy the kids some cookies. My wise friend said we need to do more and talk to her. We went out and gave her the cookies and asked what she needed. She stated that she had to get out of where she was living; her dad was on the phone and heading to get her. My friend offered her children blankets to keep warm.
When we walked back in, the owner of the restaurant came out and invited the family in and sent a waitress over to take their order. Another customer came over and gave her some money and her card to help her figure things out. This crying woman felt so safe that she hung up the phone with her dad and began to relax and interact with her children.
I share this story with you dear reader to remind you:
- Motherhood is hard when you have a loving, caring partner. This mom represents many mothers in the US. We need to show up support single mothers. I could not get all that I do with my husband in the picture. Sheryl Sandberg wrote it about last Mother’s Day.
- Be the first person to reach out. Others are watching and looking for others to make the first move. It is time for a mob of kindness.
- The world can be scary, but it is really filled with kind, wonderful people.
- Just show up.
Pick one of my messages above or feel free to share below what you think I am reminding you about with this story.
A couple of moments came up last week that reminded me that as a mom and a teacher I need to do better.
- The housecleaner left a note that she thought the belt broke on the vacuum cleaner and that she hoped my husband could fix it. My husband made a comment over dinner that was sexist, and mom could fix it too. My son and daughter disagreed with him and said only Daddy fixes things.
- At soccer practice, my son at the ball stolen from him and the girl said, “Ha! Ha! you got beat by a girl.” My son was not even bothered by the comment. Knowing him, he was so intently focused on the skills that he didn’t hear her.
The first one did not phase me as much as the second one. I could claim that I am guilty of letting Mike fix things. To solve this one, it was easy. I will share the fixing load with my husband. The vacuum cleaner’s belt was replaced by me with my kids watching.
The second one is a little harder. Do I begin with the bragging or the comment about being a girl? I am starting to reflect on these questions:
- Does my language suggest that certain skills, traits or dispositions belong to one gender over the other?
- Do I reinforce gender roles that my children or students believe or do I challenge their thinking?
What I do know for sure is I want my children and students to be proud of their accomplishments without a gender qualifier.