One Very Bad Morning

By: Emma Johnston

Normally I like mornings. I like getting up early and getting myself ready, waking my children up with kisses and annoying wake up songs and big bowls of oatmeal. I like their early morning cuddles and the way they drag all their bedding to the living room on those particularly dark or sleepy mornings. I like hearing about their dreams and their plans for the day. Mornings are a good time in our house…normally.
But sometimes, for some unknown and completely unidentifiable reason – our mornings take a turn for the worst. Sometimes one of us just wakes up grumpy or emotional or straight up mad at the world. And on the very rarest of occasions it seems that every single one of us, from the youngest to the oldest member of our family, we all wake up just a little crankier than we can handle. And on these rare, but disastrous mornings when the regular sibling rivalry morphs into full on fist fights, and the usual dawdling transforms into adamant defiance, it is on these mornings that I throw in the towel, scrap all my plans, and we all play hooky. Normally, when the tears start flowing and chaos erupts I simply put us all back into our pajamas, pull out the ol’ Disney movies and call it a ‘mental health day’.
However, this week, when my sweet, adorable, innocent children were abducted by aliens and replaced by fiends, and when this normally easy going and generally happy momma, had stepped on one too many pieces of Lego and broken up one too many fights to keep her cool, I realized with an overwhelming sense of dismay – that today, of all days, we couldn’t simply ‘call in’. The kids had things at school they needed to be at (and wanted to be at). I had meetings all day long. There were errands that had to be run and places we all had to be. And as I stood in my entrance way, my children and myself all sobbing with tears and snot running down our faces and as I looked around at the wreckage that was once my kitchen – I was filled with a sense of formidable dread. There was no escaping the reality of this day.
So, I did my best. I took a deep breath, I hugged my children, I handed out Kleenex, I tried to smile as I loaded three crying kids into my minivan and we went off to school. I pulled into the elementary school parking lot 30 minutes late. No one was wearing matching socks, no one had brushed their teeth that morning, and I’m pretty sure I hadn’t packed a single vegetable in any of their lunches – but we were there.
And as I walked each of my kids to their classrooms, all of us still crying, and I knocked on the classroom doors, I felt ashamed. Ashamed that I couldn’t hide my feelings better (at all), ashamed that I’m not always the calm, collected and organized person I want to be. Ashamed that my humanity was standing in the elementary school hallway a blubbering mess of a mom who just wanted to go home and eat popcorn with her kids on the couch. Not a shining moment for me…
But it was what happened next that I want to focus on. Because, when I knocked on those classroom doors I was greeted by the most incredible people – my children’s teachers. Teachers who took one look at us, this bedraggled mess of a family, and they wrapped their arms around my babies, and myself. They assured me that everything would be okay and, smiling down on my kids they ushered them into the classroom. There was no condemnation. No, ‘get yourself together woman and get to school on time’ lectures (a sermon I’d already preached to myself multiple times that morning). There was nothing negative in their demeanor, their words or their behavior. Everything about these teachers emulated a genuine love for their students and some much-needed compassion for this parent.
And as I peeked in the classroom windows as I left the school, I saw happy kids. My happy kids. They were surrounded by their friends and encouraged by teachers who clearly cared about the little humans that were under their protection that day.
I know it isn’t just these teachers who care. I know for a fact that our schools are full, brimming with teachers who watch over our kids and genuinely invest in who they are. I know that these teachers care for our kids when they’ve had wonderful mornings full of cuddles and warm breakfasts and big smiles, but they also watch over them on those lousy days, when their little worlds are tumbling down.
I am so thankful for those teachers who guard our children when we aren’t there. Who smile at them when they feel sad, and take their hands when they need it. I’m so thankful that they don’t condemn us parents when we aren’t the shining stars we all try to be, and I am so thankful that my kids get to learn in an environment where people care.
My heart broke a little saying goodbye to my kids that morning – but leaving my kids for a few hours in the hands of other adults who genuinely care, well, it’s not such a bad thing. In fact, looking at the teachers I know, it’s actually pretty amazing.

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