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When Mother and Teacher Collide

#TeacherAppreciationWeek - Earlier this week, social media was peppered with requests to thank teachers who have significantly impacted our lives. How fortuitous for me that Mother's Day occurs so close to Teacher Appreciation Week since my mom is the teacher who has had the most significant impact on my life. Mom was actively involved with our schools, but never as a professional educator. Nevertheless, I've learned more from her than any of my "traditional" teachers. Mom never positioned herself as instructor for my brother and me. She shared what she was learning, took interest in what we were learning, as well as, what we wanted to learn. Our current conversations frequently center on current events, what we're currently reading, and of course, the weather.

Lynae (mom), with my sons J.P. and Trevor

There weren't a lot of rules in our household, we were expected to know the difference between right and wrong, live by the "golden rule", and to always put forth our best effort. Mom has a gift for making others feel like the most important people in the room. She is able to see potential possibilities beyond current situations. Generous to a fault, both of my parents seemed to be at their best when things appeared to be at the worst. Cool under pressure, and always willing to lend a hand.

My mom has reinvented herself several times during my lifetime. From housewife / stay-at-home mom, to retail management, to banking executive, to family farming, mom's skill sets and interests are diverse. Without a college education, mom used determination, diligence, and exemplary people skills to work her way up occupational ladders. I have learned there is nothing that can't be accomplished through hard work. Both of my parents worked service-related occupations. Consequently, it was a certainty that me and my brother would learn the intrinsic value of providing service to others.

Mom taught us the key to financial comfort was more about spending within reason than the size of a paycheck. We grew up comfortable, but not wealthy. We lived in a modest house close to great schools. There was always something to eat, we always had several pets, and every summer we embarked on learning adventures commonly known as family vacations. Our home was always well stocked with reading material. Education was an emphasis in our household, but that emphasis wasn't isolated to school, nor was about doing all of our homework, or getting good grades. Being the great teacher that she is, mom helped us discover that "real" learning can take place any time, and anywhere. Mom was a relevant educator years before the term became popular.

The lessons are too numerous to mention, but after thinking about this the past few days, the most important things I've learned from my favorite teacher (mom) are; how to be a dedicated, supportive parent, the intrinsic warmth of serving others, and to be appreciative for each day. Each day, even the bad ones, provide opportunities to learn and grow. Mom was all about growth mindset even before Carol Dweck published her book.

These days, we learn quite a bit from each other. Mom, when not helping neighbors, or tending to her gardens, is using her iPad to share her learning on Pinterest, while I learn more about living a life well-lived. #WinWin 

Happy Mother's Day, Mom - we love you.

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