When the Teacher Learns from the Student

Teaching Class

“Little eyes are always watching.”

These gentle words of wisdom were cast out by the principal at my daughter’s elementary school on Open House night.

A true statement. One I’ve never forgotten. One that has served as a constant reminder to put my best foot forward around my kids. I wanted to show them how to behave, how to treat others and how to reach for their dreams.

That last one, though, was the toughest.

In my twenties, I was a real go-getter. Everything changed at the age of thirty with my first baby. Work promotions and my thriving career took the third row seat in the minivan, trumped by the safety, security and happiness of my kids. It was a different dream, one not nearly that impressive or obvious to my children. Sure, I’d share stories about the “old” me, the one who reached for the brass ring of college and career success. But their day-to-day mom wore sweatpants and would often forego makeup. Not too impressive.

In fact, my adjusted outlook on life never bothered me until my oldest started to look at colleges.

While she prepared for the start of her journey into young adulthood, I was reminded of my own zest for life at her age. Hadn’t I once had loftier goals?

The truth, I finally admitted, was that with age came a fear of trying anything new. Thank God my daughter’s enthusiastic outlook on the future was contagious. In spite of my fears, I figured if she could tromp off to a new place, I could take a few baby-steps toward bigger goals, too. That’s when I started a second career as a writer.

Five years later, I still marvel at how my darling daughters show bravery and courage with every event they undertake. They show me their limitless desire to learn, to step out for a cause they believe in and to take a chance in life. Because of watching them, I’ve raised the bar of my comfort level and taken on tasks previously too daunting to think about.

This week, they’ve wowed me again. One just left on a year-long journey clear across the country. The other called from college two days ago, begging to spend a month in Madagascar to study animal life. Her ‘pro’ argument was, and I quote, “Hear me out. I know you’re thinking Africa is scary but the teacher said they only had one coup in all the years she’s gone.”

Um, isn’t one coup enough for a mother to say no? Actually, no. Because then I’d squash her dream.

They inspire me to embrace rather than fear the new opportunities and successes I’ve encountered along the way in my new career. Especially when it’s darn hard to put yourself out there some days. But my old, tired eyes are always watching them and drawing encouragement from the things they do.

Have your children taught you a lesson lately? 


15 responses to “When the Teacher Learns from the Student

  1. Wow, Sharon, you should be so proud of your girls! Madagascar! I’m sure it was a “little” coup, LOL. Great post and I think we always learn from our kids and I hope they learn from us. PS> stay safe and warm tomorrow 😉

  2. Hi Debbie,
    Lol…yes, a little coup. Nothing to worry about. You stay safe and warm tomorrow, too. Looks like a doozy!

  3. Sharon,
    A great well written article! The best gift you give your children is your blessings and encouragement over the years to reach and explore their goals. As a parent you do have your moments though as they get older and more independent and move on. You will have your memories of when you were more there focus. Life does move forward and there is always new growth and potential for all of us. You and Bill have done your best with your daughters and they know you are both invested in their welfare.


    • You’re right, Pat. Blessings and encouragement are the best gifts to give them.
      It’s nice to live in a time when someone over forty-five doesn’t get a strange look when purusing a new path, too. Times have changed, but in this case I”d say it’s for the better!
      Thanks for sharing!

  4. Great post, Sharon! Don’t forget – your children inspire you because you first inspired them! Good luck with your second career.

  5. hansue@optonline.net

    Dear Sharon,

    another marvelous Musings from the Middle Ages blog. You are truly in love with your daughters and their accomplishments as shown in your various past musings blogs and again in your latest one. I wonder if Nicole and Katie are your inspiration to write these blogs and to become the writer that you are now.

    We were surprised to learn that Katie aspires to spend a month in Madagascar to study animal life. Does her teacher invite her students to come along for a college credit work study program when she goes on those annual trips to Madagascar? It sounds like a fabulous learning and adventure experience if this is done under the guidance of her classroom lecturer. Katie is such an avid photographer and would be able to record and document her Madagascar animal life experiences. What an opportunity.

    Please keep us informed about further developments on the west coast and at U Mass.

    Love, Sue and Hans

  6. You gave me goosebumps. It is an unbelievable feeling when our children inspire us to take chances.

  7. Hi Lauren,
    It sure is. I’m not sure I’ve ever moved anybody to goosebumps and am glad to know the post touched you. We’re lucky to have such special kids.
    Thanks for posting!

  8. Great post! Your girls sound amazing. Since my “kid” is of the four-legged variety, the only thing he’s taught me (or has at least tried very hard to teach me) is that going outside for walks three times a day is ALWAYs fun, weather be damned! I guess Africa is the place to go amongst kids these days. My sixteen year old niece just left for Senegal this week with her church group.She was absolutely beyond excited. I wouldn’t worry about Madagascar. Isn’t that where all those adorable cartoon animals make their movies? 🙂

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