Ohio Family Story: What Counts as Family Engagement?

Picture of baby sleeping with knitted hat on and swaddled in pink blanket.

By the time I got pregnant at 31, I was so excited to have a baby. A little girl to love and teach and learn from. I had a few pregnancy and birth complications, and a tough time nursing for several months. After 3, 6, and 9 months, I did wonder if I would ever heal, but as my body and soul healed, I began to more fully understand the deep bond between mother and daughter. I began to understand just how passionately a caregiver can love a child. Nobody else can love and teach my baby like I can. But someday, she will call other adults her teachers. Other women and mothers, men and fathers. Those who teach in schools will come into her life and love her, teach her, test her, assign values to her answers, and she will associate those values with how good she is as a person. That’s just how we’ve designed our system – so many numbers; and I will keep telling her in different ways spoken and unspoken that her life is so much more than just those tests and numbers. And maybe she will get the message.

Until then, we make each day count in a different way. We count the birds in the trees. We count how many ripe berries we can pick off the bushes daddy planted, and how many fat pea-pods we can grab off the withering vines. We count the inches of rain, piling up day after day. The number of diapers, loads of laundry, and minutes of crying before blissful quiet at bedtime. We’re engaged before anyone starts counting our presence in a building. To have others listen to our story and work together with us to help our baby achieve goals is a no brainer. I hope my daughter’s schools are welcoming and help my husband and I understand how we can contribute. I hope they listen and learn about us as a family. Someday, I will miss a school meeting for her because of work, or skip an event, or forget to sign a paper sent home, and in my head I won’t be less of a mother. After all, look how much I’ve already done. Look at what counts.

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