I didn’t like my daughter’s first preschool teacher. At all. But, in time I learned that my dislike had to do with my own struggle to let go of control and find my new normal.
Becoming a mom made me aware of this whole scary world I previously knew nothing about. The moment I held Henley in my arms, I opened my heart up to the deepest love and fear I’d ever known. My heart felt outside my body (it still does). To quelch that fear, I rarely left her side in the first ten weeks. That closeness, gave me the control I needed. I left for one tearful journey to Target. My go-to happy spot wasn’t the respite I hoped it would be. Instead, I spent the time reminding myself my mom (aka Nana) is capable and loving.
So, that’s where I was at when I began my transition back to work and Henley’s first day of school. Complicating the transition for us, was this swirling thought, “Her teachers are nice, but how could they possibly love her like me?” The answer is they couldn’t, which scared me.
As if fear wasn’t enough, I missed her and everything new while at work. The school’s daily report card frustrated me in it’s lack of details and the transactional nature of its delivery. I went from a firsthand account of her day to a report card the size of my hand. Even though things were eating at me I kept it to myself.
Until the assistant teacher scolded me for feeding her too much milk. I lost it and shot off an intense email to the preschool director. The next day I stayed home with Henley in tears. I didn’t know how to balance my role at work and my role as mommy. (Forget about my roles as wife, friend, and so on.)
Luckily, I’m married to a guy that reminds me to have perspective. With his encouragement, I sifted through my feelings, what was logical and what wasn’t.
I learned my frustrations had more to do with me than her teachers. I had work to do to not dislike my child’s teacher.
Communication: It wasn’t enough to know she was happy, I wanted to know what made her happy. So, I shared that with my child’s teacher. Not only did she start sharing those stories with me but she shared her own. In learning more about her as a person, I built a relationship. I hadn’t worked to care about her while asking her to care about the most precious piece of me.
Openness: Each time a teacher mentioned anything nearing advice, I balked. It felt impossible that anyone could understand or love my daughter more than me. True, but it didn’t make their advice or observations wrong. They were trying to be my eyes and ears. I just wasn’t open to it.
Trust: In the beginning, I coaxed myself to work by saying things like “Her teacher doesn’t want to lose her job so she’ll take care of Hen.” That’s logical, I guess. Then one day, upon seeing her teachers, my daughter lit up. I realized I was jealous. It was hard to see a new space in her heart for someone other than family. It was hard to realize that I wanted to be a working mom, which meant letting that space form. Mostly, it was hard to trust someone else with that space.
Following my daughter’s lead, I opened a space in my heart for her teachers and began to trust. That trust let me establish a new normal at home and work. I couldn’t do it without them and I’m grateful to the lessons they taught me and her. They both light up when Henley drops in to say hi. My logical brain believed they would care for her because they had to but the reality is they wanted to.
If you’re struggling to like your child’s teacher: Reflect on your role in the relationship and communicate with the teacher. Of course, read your child. If your child doesn’t like the teacher maybe something’s up, but if they do maybe the problem is you.
Love, a mom that’s been there