Living, as I have, a life largely free of the verisimilitude of ills that exist in this world, it is an interesting and humbling experience to work in a job that puts me in contact with such a breadth of life experiences. Any teacher will be able to rattle off a list of personal tragedies and harrowing life experiences they have encountered in their time. It is a simple truth that for every statistic one reads or hears about in terms of tragedy, abuse or ill-chance, one will encounter more of those personal contexts the more people one interacts with.
It is certainly humbling to consider that these depths of experience have been a part of the life journeys of the children, as young as they are, that I teach, have taught, or know.
With Mother’s Day a focus of late I had cause to stop and consider what this may mean for any given person. Any class of 25 or so children represents 25 or so different sets of life experiences. Some wonderful, supportive and affirming, some tinged with tragedy, some darkened by abuse, illness or some other force. The sum life experiences of any class runs the gamut. From refugees who have seen family members killed or worse, to kids who live with loving parents that support and affirm them. There are children who have lived through terror and darkness the likes of which I cannot fathom, and kids who have never had the unlucky chance of encountering such things. Kids whose lives have been irrevocably transformed by illness, death, abuse or tragedy. Kids who arrive in the class from stable homes, from abusive homes, from never knowing one or other of their parents. I can only imagine how confronting and emotionally draining encountering such experiences is for nurses, welfare agents and so on.
Any class (or more correctly - group of people) may represent such a wide breadth of tragic or varied life experience. As much as the tragedy sticks most easily in our minds it is as equally important to consider those positive experiences. The notes tucked hidden in lunch boxes, hugs given, reading listened to, work marvelled at, art on fridge doors, the love and nurturing, the education and gentle admonition.
Mothers Day (and all such days) can mean many things, and can draw upon and tap into a range of life experiences, from the negative to the positive. For all the variability, for all the differences, for all the adversities, if you have family or friends that love, support and affirm you, you are, as the old saying goes, wealthy.