Reflection on Being Xavien’s Mother

A beautiful piece written by a new Family Star parent on how much being a mother and seeing her son in the context of a parent, rather than a teacher, has affected her interactions with others. Two years ago, at age thirty-nine, I gave birth to my first child Xavien.  While thirty-nine is not that old, my age qualified mine as a geriatric pregnancy and though the nine months of gestation went well, spending thirty-nine years not as a mother did nothing to prepare me for how much my world was about to transform. The one benefit younger mothers have (among others, I imagine) is they might have spent two decades being selfish, self-consumed, and able to fill their free time with their own agenda, not four.

I don't regret that I waited to create a family until now.  I am a woman, a teacher, a daughter, a friend, a sister, and a wife.  With Xavien’s birth, I also became a mother.  It has taken me a while to figure out how to be a mother wholeheartedly.

I believe you can learn much about yourself from your children if you just pay attention.

While I wasn’t really ready for this task, I now welcome the lessons my son is teaching me. It took me a long year to recognize how beautiful it is to surrender to his encapsulating curiosity and to enjoy watching which books he selects to read before plopping his weight into my lap.  He is influencing me to slow down, to smile, to appreciate the curls in his hair that change with the weather, his fatigued, cranky body, and his contemplative stare as he processes what others are doing before attempting to master the task himself.

I have learned a lot from my son.  He has unknowingly turned into my guardian angel.  His existence has made me drive more carefully, and to turn off news stories about kids who have been injured or worse.  This love is painful and intimidating and I just want to do my best to keep him from substantial physical and emotional pain.  (For the record however, I do believe he needs to experience some adversity to be a better citizen on this planet.)  Motherhood is an honor, and I am learning slowly and humbly how to rise to this experience as a member of the privilege worldwide club of mothers.

One important lesson I learned about myself came when my son became a student in a Family Star Montessori classroom late this summer.  In my fourteen years of being a classroom teacher, I have never had a child of my own be a student in someone else’s classroom.  I have never had to trust that someone else is teaching, encouraging, and holding my child accountable on a daily basis.  I have never even truly had the ability to empathize with other parents who had entrusted me with their children throughout the years.

Last month Xavien’s school sent out an email about an evacuation because of a near-by explosion.  While everyone handled this potential emergency calmly and all kids were evacuated safely, I realized for the first time how terrifying it could be for a mother or father to know that something out of our control can happen in a school building and that it’s the teachers’ responsibility to think clearly and calmly to ensure their child’s welfare.

Thanks to my son, I am improving as a classroom teacher.  I have been more open to calling parents before it’s too late for their student to recover academically, and I am trying harder to email parents more respectfully and more often.  On Back-to-School night, I realized my newest identity had trumped others, as I was more sympathetic and attentive checking in with parents throughout the evening.

I have surrendered.  I am officially a member of this worldwide club of mothers, and with that privilege and obligation, I have learned a tremendous amount about myself through the presence and existence of my son.

This I believe.

--Meredith Changeux