It was Friday morning and my classroom was empty. The students had just left with the teacher who helps them exchange their library books for the week. A few minutes after my students in Grade 1 and 2 left the class, in walked in another student. He was a few minutes late and had his usual huge smile on his face. He’s 6 years old and in Grade 1. He’s absolutely adorable and has a huge heart. His smile is infectious and always lights up my day. So, with the two of us alone in our class, I said, “Good morning, Joe! Your parents must feel so fortunate to have such an amazing son who is always so happy!” (Joe is not his real name.) Joe’s smile became even bigger! And, then, away he went to the library with his book to be exchanged in his hand.
After school, I happened to be talking with Joe’s mom. She was dropping off some school notices which she felt she was late in returning to school. She was berating herself a little bit, saying that she was having a hard time getting things together. As a mom of 3, it is not easy to keep on top of all the things we need to do as moms. I felt for her and just simply said that it was okay and that it was important that she just be kind to herself. I went on to say that we are all just doing our best and that she is doing a wonderful job.
Hoping to make her feel a bit better, I shared the interaction I had with her son that morning. His face. His smile. His attitude. His joy. It was clear how loved he was and that exuded in his personality and interaction with our world. She appreciated the story, however, she focused on the fact that her child was a couple of minutes late for school that day. I reminded her that she was doing a wonderful job with her children and that was why Joe was so well-adjusted and happy. His love for learning and his constant joy were both evidence of her level of care and love he felt daily. I went on to encourage her to focus on the things that were most important, and that being a couple of minutes late for school was not really one of those things. It was not a big deal and not something to berate ourselves about. Not even a little.
It saddens me that we continue to have unrealistic expectations of ourselves. It saddens me that we are not kinder to ourselves, seeing all the wonderful things we are doing. Instead, we seem to focus on the negative and things that don’t really matter in the grand scheme of things.
It is my hope that we each focus on the things that matter the most. Love. Care. Compassion. Understanding. Forgiveness (of ourselves and others). Empathy. It is my hope that we each start to demonstrate the same care to ourselves that we demonstrate to others. I know how difficult this is. It is a journey. Perhaps, it may be a never-ending journey, but one I hope we all venture into.