Abby’s kindergarten teacher told me today that she was a gimme. She knows my boys well, and she knows what we’ve been through- and as she sat with me after school in the too-tiny chairs, our knees up around our chins, and talked about Abby, she looked at me and said “You’re doing such a good job. She’s amazing, the boys are great – I see a lot of kids come through here. You know what’s different about yours? They’re happy. Your kids are happy.” I fought back the stinging in my suddenly tearing eyes.

This teacher has known us since Jeffrey started kindergarten and Abby was a newborn- right when my marriage dissolved and the world fell apart. She’s known us through it all, and her compliments meant the world to me. If I had to chose something for my children to be, happy would be right at the top of the list. I don’t care if they’re at the top of their classes, or if they win the spelling bee, or if they score in the 95% for such and such standardized test. Bean can’t read yet, but he can do algebra in his head and is his teacher’s best helper. Jeffrey is a passable student, but he always gets voted friendliest, and the award on his wall from last year says “Kindest Boy” in gold. These tendernesses in my children might be my greatest source of joy for them- and marker of my success (if such hubris is possible) as a mother: they are happy.

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