Years ago I worked with Lois, an elementary school principal who was sending her first child, Kathy, off to kindergarten. It was a difficult time of separation for her– not for Kathy but for her mom.
Lois knew the teacher, Mrs. Smith, quite well having worked with her for years, but handing over her little girl to Mrs. Smith was much harder than she had anticipated. As she walked her daughter to the classroom, Lois ceased to be a professional educator and became very simply a mom along with all the other nervous moms and dads there that first day of school– a day marking the end of early childhood and the start of something new that would dominate most of Kathy’s waking hours for the next 13 years.
Kathy was not just a child anymore; she was now a student.
Both Lois and her daughter survived the day. They greeted each other with hugs after school, and Lois eagerly listened to the stories of all the exciting things that had happened during her daughter’s first day of school.
Later that night as Lois tucked her daughter into bed, she was enjoying the warmth of that special bonding time and was about to get teary and sentimental when Kathy, her precious little daughter, looked up from her pillow and said, “Mommy I really love…” Oh, here it comes Lois thought just anticipating the affirmation of all her mothering love being reciprocated.
Then her sweet daughter, looking up so beatifically with a voice of honey and adoration finished her sentence saying, “Mommy I really love… Mrs. Smith.” Daggers of jealousy loomed. Lois tells me that it is possible she momentarily contemplated sending the beloved Mrs. Smith to meet her maker. How had it happened? How, in one day, had Mommy been usurped by a Kindergarten teacher?