This I Believe

Stefany - Chesapeake, Virginia
Entered on November 9, 2006

Learning from Our Differences

I received a letter in the mail asking me to attend the student, teacher, and parent meet and greet for my daughter’s first year of kindergarten. My daughter and I were very excited. We arrived to the school and found our way to her new classroom. As I walked through the classroom to find a place to sit, I was pushing my son in his stroller and holding on to my daughter’s hand; I could feel all eyes following me. I began to wonder if the other parents were thinking about my age and how young I looked, or what kind of mother I could be at such a young age. As I sat, I held my daughter close to me. My son, like any normal one- year- old began to squirm and wiggle in the stroller. Everyone continued to stare at me, making silent accusations about me being a young parent. I am twenty-three years old think I have a six-year-old daughter named Trinity and a one-year-old son named Toby. Any time this information is revealed, I get a baffled or surprised look. For a long time, I felt very uneasy about the looks people gave me, until I realized that I give the same looks to others, judging them.

I began to look around the room and found myself making my own judgments. The first mother I looked at had to be in her thirties: typical society accepted mother, married, two or three kids, stay -at -home mom and living in a beautiful home. The next mother that I observed looked much older than anyone else in the room. She had to be in her early fifties and I thought to myself, this child must have been a surprise. Beyond other judgments being made age, size, the way we were dressed, social standings, and income brackets we all stood there facing one big equalizer: our children. The teacher gave her presentation and then we began to ask questions. As each of us took our turn, I realized that we had similar concerns. It didn’t matter how old or young, wealthy or not wealthy, big or small, typical or not, we all faced the same problems with our children. Even though we were from different generations and backgrounds, each one of us had a child the same age who was confronting many of the same problems.

As the year came to a close, we approached our final meeting. We all got together to discuss the end of the year party. Our differences helped us contribute to the party in different ways. The younger mom who could remember the fun elementary school atmosphere more clearly, the stay at home mom who always had extra information that we needed and participated in making holidays fun, and the working mom or older mom who shared ideas and taught the others the tricks of the trade.

This story is very close to my heart. My daughter is now in first grade and there is a whole new set of parents with the same wondering eyes. I just remember that I am a great mom and look around not judging but wondering what I can learn from each of them all sharing the great equalizer in the room, our children. This experience has helped me in many aspects of my life. No two tree roots grow the same, but they all share life in a beautiful world standing by each other helping one another grow. I believe that we have to be fair in our judgments no matter how our roots have spread and use our differences to help us grow.