I believe in my sisters. I grew up with three sisters and one brother. (I adore him too but that is another story) As children we played and we fought. We were crazy about each other, jealous of one another and sometimes filled with rage and hatred for one another. My mother would always answer any complaints with a sermon about how lucky we were to have each other, how she had been so lonely as an only child. We laughed at her then but after she died we learned that she had been right. And we have loved and supported each other and grown closer over the past 22 years. So maybe, having these wonderful biological sisters has led me to another group of sisters. I teach in an elementary school, a place where there are very few men. There is a group of women, some close to my age, and many young enough to be my daughters. But I do not think of them as children. I think of them as equals, as colleagues, and as my sisters. We cover for one another. We support each other. One “sister’s sister had breast cancer. We all wore pink scarves, walked for the cure and helped our colleague with her work, as much as possible, when she was out caring for her sister. When my father died and my when my son had to have surgery, they cooked food and cleaned my house and took care of my other son. We get together for coffee, for dinner, to laugh, to dance, to exchange clothing. I cannot imagine working without these sisters who enrich my life so much. Working in an elementary school can be a wonderful experience, but it also involves stress and difficulties that I cannot imagine are present in other professions. I hear that the attrition rate for new teachers is quite high. I understand why people might feel that the job is not worth the aggravation. There are times when we have to silently acknowledge the adversarial nature of our positions vis a vis the administration. We have to fight for what we believe in , in order to continue to teach young children. But ours is a quiet fight. And without the ability to scream and to rage about the injustices and inequities that we see, to each other, we would also have to leave the profession. This unusual sisterhood keeps me from crying and despairing. I have learned so much from these brilliant women, about teaching, about caring, and about living. My sisters, those who share my DNA and those who do not are truly my good fortune.
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