The Whole Person

Dear One,

You are right–I am a good advocate for my daughter. You are right–we won an award for “Whole Child Distinguished School.” You are right–everyone wants a schedule change.

Did we win an award for taking away personal days? For asking teachers to cover classes during the sub shortage? For being advocates day in, day out, for those who don’t have the voices to advocate for themselves? For asking for empathy?

But when someone sends a cry for help, you don’t need to tell me the rules of the school. I know how school works. I never really left–high school graduation, college, straight into teaching. This is not the second-year Teach-for-America, nothing-could-ever-be-wrong Teacher Next Door.

This is me. This is my daughter. This is a teacher who knew the real struggles. Because I told her. This is a teacher who literally slammed the door on her the next day.

Who will have her in class for the next two years.

The teacher of a class whose entire PURPOSE is to support the Whole Child! A class where a teacher forces her ever-fragile, too-afraid-to-join-a-club children to LEAVE and LOCKS THE DOOR.

I love your little motto in your signature line. I love that I can’t say anything else about this. I love that no one ever really listens when someone asks for help, even when the solution is so simple that it’s literally a click of a button.

Because you, just like me? Mother of many, stressed by them all? You’re not a whole person. You’re as cracked as all of us, a partial person, empty instead of empathic, cold instead of warm, lost instead of focused.

I am a partial person, too. If only your part could see my part, maybe we could be a whole person. And maybe we could raise whole children.

And maybe we could understand each other. But instead, I have to leave my part here. Broken sentences, shattered trust, and only a tiny piece of a human being.

Levels of Love

Dear Fabian,

I am not the right mother for you. I know you need a mother. I know you need a mother who doesn’t scream in your face. I know you need a mother who doesn’t take the weight of the world that she carries on her shoulders and tries to make you carry it on your shoulders. I know you need a mother who wouldn’t leave your father for someone else and forget you.

I will never forget you.

What you did and what you said and the picture you sent?

All of them were cruel. They cut me as you threatened to cut yourself. They cut me to my soul because you were exposing my soul. You were exposing my anger. You were exposing how much I hate myself for who I am not.

But let me tell you who I am.

I am the person who stood in that hallway and listened to your story. I am the person who couldn’t turn another cheek. I am the person who said, “Am I going to let him live in a homeless shelter, or am I going to take him into my home?”

Could I predict a pandemic? Could I predict how ANGRY I would become at every moment you would test me, at every moment that I would accuse you of being ungrateful?

If one of my three daughters did the things you did, would I enter their rooms screaming, as I did to you too many times to count, and accuse them of ingratitude?

No, I would not.

No, I would not.

It’s because I stood in that hallway. It’s because I asked Fernando, the native Spanish speaker, to translate every word, to make sure that I understood every word. So I could listen to your story.

And your story is so complex. So traumatic. And it involves a mother who abandoned you and a cousin who stole your money and a journey across three borders and extreme poverty and everything in between and since.

And I can’t understand it. I can’t understand your desire to drive my daughter’s car to the ends of the earth and to lie about it.

But I do remember being a teenager. Hands behind the wheel, taking that Volkswagen east on I-76 till there were no cops and no excuses and one hundred miles an hour under my vibrating steering wheel.

I remember being you.

And do I want to admit how much I am you, broken and driving for an answer?

What you did, what you said, what you sent?

It broke me down to the core of my soul.

It exposed me down to the core of my soul.

And this is why I hate you. This is why I am Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally.

Stop saying all the things that make me love you because I hate you.

Por supuesto, no te odio. Te amo más que puedes entender.

And that is why I write this on a Saturday night. Because I will never stop loving you. I will never tell you to leave my house. I will sit with my husband on my bed on a Thursday after work and listen to his argument: “I know I was frustrated. I know I yelled. But remember when you called me? Remember when you said, ‘There’s this kid in my class who needs a home? And I said yes, we’re going to give him a home. And no matter how mad you are right now, you have to stick to your promise.’?”

One day, you will find this level of love. You will have a person in your life who puts you first over anything. And gets angry and screams at his foster son for hurting his wife (God forbid someone hurt his wife) and two days later, has forgiven you.

Can you imagine? Can you imagine that level of love?

I am trying, Fabian. I am trying to have that level of love.

Until I find it, just know:

I love you.

I am trying to mother you to the best of my ability.

And that road? That endless road that I want to pump the pedal to one hundred miles per hour on?

It’s our road.

And we will drive it.


Tu Segunda Mamá