I remember my high school graduation. The song my senior class sang. The note I tried to hit and didn’t quite make. The hat I threw that almost knocked me unconscious on the way back down. The speech I gave…last because I’m a “W.” Which also meant I was at the front of my recessional. Unfortunately, no one followed me off the stage and I ended up marching down a very long aisle by myself. I tried to smile enough to make it look like I did the right thing and it was the rest of the class marching down the wrong aisle on the other side of the auditorium.
I knew that night that school wasn’t really over for me. I was already studying so I could earn another paper certificate that said I knew something. Four more years to go. But I was ready for the next challenge because if I had learned nothing else over the prior twelve years, it was what hard work looked like.
Because I was born lazy. Really lazy.
I didn’t like chores. I didn’t like school. I didn’t like to work. Or anything that looked, smelled, or sounded like work.
I didn’t like to exercise. I didn’t like to do math. I didn’t like to clean my room or even make my bed.
So God gave me two very critical character building influences in my life that really boil down into one: Homeschool. And my mother.
And that’s what this story is really about.
My mother was a stay at home mom as long as we were home. But she worked. Yes, goodness knows, she worked.
My mom raised kids, taught us school, ran an Awana club, ran a homeschool group, cooked, cleaned, paid bills, and taught us and a lot of other girls so many other things…sewing, painting, decorating, driving, and so much more.
I must have made her a little bit crazy because I was not a fan of work. I didn’t like to sweat. I didn’t see any point in doing the same type of math problems day after day, page after page. I didn’t really think I needed to know what happened on this planet 5,000 years ago or even 500 years ago. I didn’t see any point in running around an empty track. And I hated, hated, hated practicing piano.
If I got a lecture about racing through assignments, cutting corners, and being sloppy, I got 1,000. How I hated that lecture.
And I was only one of five kids.
So…here’s the thing: Day after day, my mom trained me and my siblings. She taught us to study, to do chores, to practice music, to memorize Scripture. She taught us to work. Yes, goodness knows, she taught us to work.
After years of persistence by my mother, I made it to graduation. But she had two more kids to go. Five more years of homeschool.
Two more kids who didn’t like doing the same math problems day after day, page after page. Who didn’t really think they needed to know what happened on this planet 5,000 years ago and who hated, hated, hated practicing piano.
When my brother—the youngest—graduated, Mom had been a mother for 26 years and had been homeschooling about 23. She deserved a break.
So here’s the other thing: After all that, my mom went to work.
She started teaching kindergarten, but she didn’t stay with the half day of letters and sounds long. She was turned into a high school science teacher. Physical Science. Biology. Physics. Microbiology. Life Science. Chemistry. Biochemistry. It varied from year to year, curriculum to curriculum. Just when she got something down, it would change.
Over the next twelve years, my mom worked as hard as the US President. She studied. She taught. She wrote tests. She designed PowerPoints. She helped kids prepare science projects and hosted science fairs. She drove back and forth to school on her days off to turn eggs in incubators. She took pictures of birds and flowers that she could use for future presentations. She built robots. She cleaned up roadkill so she could use animal skeletons for future classes. Yep, true story.
Now things were different. She wasn’t the principal. She wasn’t the parent. But some things were the same: she was generally dealing with lazy students who didn’t give a rip about the pictures of flowers and birds.
So, it was a good thing that she is a hard worker. It was years of long days, short nights, and super short summers. Years of commitment. Years of pouring her energy into lazy kids who didn’t want to learn science…and a few who did.
She got paid. But let’s just say, she didn’t do it for the paycheck. That would have been insanity. Okay, it was insanity.
But that’s my mom. Did I mention she is a hard worker? Insanely hard.
And after years of teaching and training, she has made an impact. If on no one else, on me. I no longer think it’s futile to do pages of math problems or study history of the world or practice music. I no longer race through projects and cut corners. Some of that comes from time and maturity, but most of that maturity came from godly influences. Like my mom.
This week marks my mom’s last “last day” of school. She is retiring from her job as a full time teacher. I couldn’t be more excited for her. Or more proud. She has invested so much more than science in so many lives. They may not all appreciate it now, but they have all learned something.
And I know this: if they passed one of her classes, they worked hard. It was far more than robots, hatching eggs, and handling animal skeletons. It was hard work.
Pages of problem solving.
No racing through projects; no cutting corners.
And today, I’m as proud of my mom on her last day as she possibly could have been of me on mine.
Thanks, Mom. Job well done. Now, enjoy a long, long summer!