As children head back to school, I am transported back to room 106 and the kindest and most influential teacher I ever experienced. It was the late 80s when a handwritten postcard came addressed to me. It was from my third-grade teacher, Mrs. Bauman. Her cursive writing was impeccable, and her invitation to room 106 was so sweet. She reminded me that we would be having a very exciting year ahead as we explored many new things.
I think of Mrs. Bauman often, especially this time of year. Her kindness has been with me for several decades now, and each time I close my eyes and picture myself back in her room, I feel loved, I feel supported, I feel encouraged, I feel seen.
I remember inviting her to dinner at my house, and she accepted. I was over the moon. I also remember that year that she was going through a divorce. As her students, we didn’t need to know the details, but she allowed us to see her tears once or twice, which made me love her even more. She was real. She was real, just like me.
And as I think of Mrs. Bauman, I think of how my extended family is comprised almost entirely of schoolteachers. Everyone naturally assumed that I would follow suit, but I never saw myself in the classroom. Honestly, most of my life, I never saw myself as a teacher until now.
I’ve come to see that we are all teachers of sorts. Whether we know it or not, others are always watching how we engage, how we respond, how we create our lives. So I’m fairly convinced that our lives are the classroom, and each of us is both student and teacher.
As I step more into my role as a birth educator, I hope to impart just some of the enthusiasm and excitement that Mrs. Bauman gave me in third grade. I can’t tell you anything that I learned that year (I did have a wonderful blue and white striped outfit I loved), but I can tell you how I felt and the power of those positive emotions.
The notion of being welcomed is one of the first things that babies need as they emerge in the outer world. It can be as simple as saying, “Welcome, little one! You arrived at the perfect time. We are so glad that you are here.”
Babies need to know that we see them. It might sound like, “Oh little one, I see you. I see you moving. I see you beginning to notice and explore your world.”
They also need to know that we hear them. “I hear your beautiful voice. I don’t always understand you, but I hear you, little one.”
And little ones need to know that they are loved. “Little one, you are perfect just as you are. I love you so much.”
Mrs. Bauman taught me much more than any information in a textbook. Room 106 was full of magic. The wisdom she imparted is carried close to my heart and always easily accessible. I think she’s still alive, and I could only hope to be as wonderful a teacher as she was.
I hope the women I work with will feel welcomed, seen, heard, and loved as we honor their evolving journey. So much gracious space to explore.