A Birthday Memoir for My Favorite Teacher

People say that as you get older, birthdays seem to matter less. Today is my mother's 53rd (sorry mom) birthday. Celebrating her birthday celebrates another year that she has been the center of my world. As many of you know, I was home schooled by my mom until fifth grade. The varied reactions that I get when people learn this about me make me realize that homeschooling is often misunderstood. I always think of the scene in Mean Girls when Lindsay Lohan talks about being home schooled (YouTube it!). With that being said, here is a window into my childhood as a "homeschooler".

I sometimes wonder what type of person I would have become without those years of one-on-one time with my mom. We were living on Woodleigh Avenue in Greenfield, Massachusetts in the first house that my parents owned. It was a wonderful home that mom and dad put everything they had into. In those years, she was able to not only homeschool me and my brother, but be a wife, a new mother, a friend, a part-time worker, a daughter, a homemaker, a sister and a neighbor. She managed to bake a loaf of bread from scratch every day in time to pack my dad's lunch before bed. She took us for bike rides and walks to make sure we got exercise and stayed healthy. She taught us manners and good grammar and never let us miss a Sunday mass. She taught us how to eat healthy and clip coupons and be frugal. She taught us how to say prayers and how to write thank you notes.

Now as an adult and a teacher, I look back on the way that she taught us and I admire her creativity and her perspective on the world. She never ran out of ways to introduce us to new things and ignite a fire in us that wanted to learn more. One summer we traveled across the country for "social studies", stopping at famous historical monuments and museums along the way and exploring the geography of the United States. I'll never forget the day I went with my dad to pick up our new white caravan. That van took me across the country at age 7 and then eventually took me to high school when my brother inherited it 10 years later. As part of our ELA curriculum, my mom and my brother and I wrote our own family newspaper that we sent to our family members that lived out of town. I realize that through homeschooling I did not just get an education that prepared me for school, but an education that prepared me for life. She taught me how to be a great speller, write in different styles, memorize multiplication facts, harmonize favorite songs, write a formal letter, bake anything from scratch, change a diaper, plant a garden and make a home.   

My mom taught me how to treat people, care for people and care for myself. She taught me that the most important thing you can hope for in life is to be happy. She taught me how to be happy.

A few summers back, my mom and I were driving to Maine and we stopped in Greenfield to drive down Woodleigh Ave. We pulled over and got out and the woman who now lives there was out front tending to a garden that 15 years ago my mother planted. We told her that we used to live there and she invited us in. Walking through the house was not only walking through my childhood home, but my childhood school. In the corner of the dining room there was a built in china cabinet with a framed quote that had been left by the family that built the home. In cursive it read: "Some woman loved this house." I didn't know until that day that we revisited the house, that the frame had been passed through all of the owners, including my parents. It was the wish of the first owner that people would never forget how much some woman loved that house. I like to believe that the woman who loved that house the most was my mother.  

Happy birthday to my favorite teacher. Thank you for the life you have made for our whole family. I love you with all of my heart! 

1 comment

  1. This is really sweet Sarah. I think many great teachers come from great moms starting them out... but yours sounds extra special ;)

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