The following is from the parent of five graduates of Mt. Baker Head Start, one of the early learning programs managed by Opportunity Council. A version of this testimonial also appears in the August edition of “Hello Neighbor”, a newsletter from the Mount Baker Community Coalition.
I have been crying in the car every Tuesday-Friday morning after drop-off for months… literally, months.
Tears streaming as I think of how thankful I am for this school, and how Lincoln is our last baby to fulfill the best years of his life there.
Saying our final goodbyes to Lincoln’s preschool and the teachers who have nurtured him, and all of our kids, over all these years, was probably the best way to put into perspective how vital it is to feel heard, supported, guided, and have pride in the growth and love that has developed because of that.
It was incredibly difficult to leave the school after graduation was over. We stayed until every last chair had been cleaned up, every decoration taken down, and every hug given.
And here I am crying again.
I have been asked to write a testimony from our family for the school we have held so dear, and every time I start typing the tears just start flowing.
The words are jumbled, and probably will never be enough for others to understand what meaning they truly hold—to everyone except these teachers, especially Ms. Janette and Ms. Miranda.
They know the struggles, the strengths, the obstacles, the trials, and the story.
They were there through it all.
From my little 19-year-old self -naive, lost, lonely, and so, so worried to let go of my firstborn child as he entered into the big kid world. To my now 27-year-old self-confident in parenthood and myself, 5 children deep, experienced, and surrounded by love and support.
Not everyone knows our journey to where we are in life now, and not everyone needs to know. But it was hard. It was a trial and test of strength and willingness to never, ever quit despite the difficult times—mentally, emotionally, and physically.
We still deal with the effects of that journey in life today, and always will.
Our family has a very far from ideal dynamic.
We are not picture perfect, not flawless, but it always has been the best in the world, or at least my world!
Never in my life would I have imagined that I would become the type of mother I am. Carrying the title Big Bailey more so than Mom, I always felt like giving up.
I didn’t though. And I never, ever will.
“Family doesn’t quit on family, and this school didn’t quit on us.”
Family doesn’t quit on family, and this school didn’t quit on us. If anything, they embraced us harder and stronger as we dug our way through the deepest of trenches of parenthood. They are everything that a family is.
It was like being surrounded by a gaggle of mother hens.
Really, it feels like such a dream that I happened to cross paths with each and every woman from this school.
That wisdom and compassion that they brought to the table really made the world of a difference for our family as it grew and faced the challenges of each stage of the past 7 years.
They supported each and every child of mine’s individual needs academically and emotionally. They gave them a home away from home.
A place to be the wild and free to be their messy, booger-eating, fart-filled, giggly, care and worry-free selves.
A safe place to run free, while also keeping our (seriously) advanced children engaged and interested in a school environment. Learning is always fun with these ladies!
They have shown unsurmountable support, the best shoulders to lean on in every aspect: Question that was totally out of the blue? They had the answers, the resources, and the experience.
If it weren’t for these wonderful human beings, I would not have been introduced to the best counseling services for our family.
Our kids may have fallen behind or their talents simply may have been overlooked, and their academic development may have been stunted if they weren’t given the creative ideas to expand and utilize their strengths instead of damper them.
Ms. Janette literally brought her husband’s own tools and household items just so Wesley could have his own “take-apart-box” at school, where he would take apart and put back together any random household item you could think of. He is the best problem solver ever, and full of patience -always looking at the big picture, then getting into the nitty gritty. They truly nurtured that skill in him. They saw him. This is just one of many examples of how they did this for one of our four children who attended Mount Baker Head Start.
They saw each and every child of mine for who they were, where they were, and met them there with arms wide open. They hugged them, love them dearly, and became second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh mamas to our children. (These seven women pictured aren’t even all of the teachers that our family has been so blessed to have as a part of the journey of our children’s lives thus far)
So many women have loved our babies like their very own.
I could literally go on and on about how these women have loved not only our children but our whole entire family.
They are the most inclusive and accepting bunch of people, and truly a blessing to anyone they encounter. I have looked up to them and asked them for their advice, and strength when I had none left.
Saying goodbye feels like the closing of an incredibly long, important, detail-filled chapter of my book that was necessary for my growth as a woman, mother, and human being. As well as the growth of each child of ours.
And it is all thanks to this school and every ounce of their beloved care and attentiveness.
This is nowhere near my final draft of my testimony for this school, but more of a journal entry as I brainstorm exactly how to encompass exactly what this school has meant to our family. I felt it was important for people to know the role these women have been playing in our lives, and how grateful I am for the relationships that have grown from it.
So thank you, Mount Baker Head Start, for loving us, embracing us, guiding us, supporting us, and seeing us through it all until we saw the light at the other side of that long, dark tunnel.
We love you.
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