I have spent the better part of my adult life teaching; I have taught in elementary schools and now as a Mom and a home school mother, I am still teaching. Everyday and every moment, if I am purposeful, is a teaching moment, a chance to train, a chance to give wings. I enjoy teaching and I always have.
I can say most of my teaching in my own home has been fruitful and I have loved to see the result of my teaching. Some obvious, some not as much. Most of their learning made my mothering easier in some way and it was always an exciting time. I loved teaching my children to sleep through the night, to walk, to use their words or sign language. I loved the fruit of teaching my children to buckle their own seatbelts, to use good table manners, to pick up their own toys, and to tie their own shoes. I loved the end result of toilet training, blowing noses, using utensils, drinking from a cup, swimming, and walking through the grocery store. I have enjoyed my children learing to ride their own bikes, shower by themselves, make their beds, and brush their own teeth. I have recently taught my boys to clean their own bathroom, do their own laundry and am currently walking them through the basics of cooking. I have taught them all to clean the litter box, the little messes from June Bug in the back yard, vacuum, do the dishes, and swiffer. I love watching them dust their own rooms, change their own sheets on their beds, do their hair, and get a snack. So much of what I have taught them has allowed us more time to enjoy other things and I love the confidence and independence they are gaining with each new skill learned.
My last child will start Kindergarten in the fall. I will get to teach the basic concepts of math all over again, the lifecycles of a butterfly, and patterning. I have discovered though as I approach yet another "last" in my children's young lives, there will be one thing I dread teaching for the last time. I am not ready to teach Caley how to read.
I know that may seem so very strange, but let me explain. Since my Logan, now 12, was a newborn, I have read to my babies. Every night. Without exception. We have always had a bedtime routine of bath, bottle, books, bed. Obviously, as they got older only the bottle changed. We have always done this. I loved the smell of a small baby or antsy toddler on my lap pointing to pictures, talking about the colors, or quietly sucking a thumb or finger just listening. Quick kisses while turning pages or lingering chubby fingers pointing to pictures are what I can picture in my head. Sitting on beds with all four or on the floor with just one. There has always been someone in need of a bedtime story in this house. As the years have gone by, my readers have become more independent. Chapter books are much more common and beginning last year with Lillie Grace, the quiet time in individual beds is the norm. The only sound this past year upstairs at bedtime has been my voice or Patrick's reading to Caley, sometimes both girls, but rarely all four. There are moments still that they will all gather for an oldie but goodie like Dogger, any of the Punchinello books, or The Big Hungry Bear. As Kindergarten approaches though, I can see one of my "lasts" in sight.
Last night, my three older ones had retreated, clean, to their beds and were all engrossed in their reading. Logan is reading Carry a Big Stick, Cole, Old Yeller, and Lillie has started a puppy series, Goldie. As I was picking out a book from the shelf to go snuggle with my K, she emerged from her room, wet curly hair and toothpaste remains on her chin, and one of her new school books in hand. "Mommy, will you teach me to read really quick?"
"I want to read in my bed like Lillie all by myself."
I pictured snuggling with a wet hair little girl, singing read aloud books with two year old boys, smelling the sweet smell of clean babies after a hard day of play, jammies, and Are You My Mother? I am not ready to say goodbye to Dogger, Goodnight Moon, The Cat in the Hat, Angelina Ballerina, or Goldilocks. In one sweet moment, tickled at her confidence in herself....or in me...I was sad. I longed for my sweet chubby one year olds, the sound of a new diaper under clean jammies, and the smell of baby soap in wet hair. My job requires that I be out of a job one day. But it didn't have to be that day.
"Not yet, baby girl, not yet."