Dear Teachers

Dear Teachers of my children this year –

We are about to embark on a new school year. Today you will meet my two middle children. They will be with their dad and their hair will probably be crazy and they will be full of their usual giddy excitement bridled by their shyness at meeting new teachers. You will be pulling your hair out with the craziness that comes along with the fun “meet the teacher” day. You will have johnny’s mom who wants special treatment for this and Maya’s dad who wants to talk your ear off about his amazing genius daughter and a long line full of everyone else who wants to share their darling little angel’s life story with you in the one hour allotted for this fun event.

And I hope you see my children. Notice them unpacking their school supplies, notice their excitement, notice that I am not there. Notice that they are with their dad who is out of his element on meet the teacher day but who is doing a damn good job of holding things together.


Because what you don’t see and don’t know is that I am not there because I am here. Because I have been here for almost 4 weeks. Here is Milwaukee, the PICU, keeping their baby sister alive. I have not been there – there is home, school supply shopping, first day of school outfit shopping, hair-brushing, girl-talking about what this new year will hold.

My heart aches for my other babies. I should be THERE. I should be HERE.

Tomorrow morning they will come to school and pile into their desks and be all hopped up on sugar and excitement like the other 20-some kids in your classroom. But they did not get “have a great day!” kisses and hugs from their mommy. They did not have their mommy taking 392 pictures of their outfits and walking them to the bus stop. They will be desperate for you to be kind to them, they will need your approval and love on this first day like they never have before.

There will be many days these first few months where homework will be missing/incomplete/totally forgotten about. I am the mom who is forever late with field trip slips, ignores the PTA fundraisers,  frustrates you endlessly because you have to hound me for stuff that should have been turned in weeks ago. i know all of this because it has been thusly since my first baby entered school six years ago. But this year will be different.

our family has been through a lot this past month. Scratch that. our family has been through crap that no family should have to endure over this past month. Ben and I, we’ve tried to shield the girls from the worst of it. Maybe in that place in their hearts where kids know way more than they should they have an inkling of just how very close we came to losing their sister. But for the most part, they’ve weathered this storm with their usual stoic attitudes. Their little shoulders carry far more weight than you can imagine. Please be gentle with them.

See cause they didn’t get me tucking them into bed early the night before school starts and praying over them like I usually do. we didn’t lay out their outfits complete with accessories and shoes at the foot of their bed like we normally do. i won’t be there to try to make them a good healthy breakfast and make their lunches and tuck little notes into it like I usually do.

So I need you to be understanding of all of this. I need to know that they are in good hands this year, when they are with you for more hours than they are with me during the school year. I need you to know that Kaylen is stubborn and she will give you a run for your money but that kid is one of the strongest kids I know. She has had to push, pull, shove, and elbow her way into getting attention in this family and she has learned how to do so many things on her own. And I still cannot believe that my baby budget is in first grade and will be with you ALL DAY. She’s been my constant companion for the last 6 years and I am going to miss her. Please appreciate her crazy little sense of humor and please foster her love of reading and please please please keep her busy enough that she won’t be plotting how to draw inappropriate things on the whiteboard when your back is turned because I know how her crazy little mind works. She’s a good kid, you just have to figure out how to harness her craziness. She’s adorable and she will love you fiercely once you’ve earned her trust. she just lost her first tooth and her arm is all bruised up from an excited big puppy incident and she is SO SO SO excited to be a big first grader.

I need you to know that Karissa lives in her own little world. it’s a happy little world most of the time. It’s full of cute puppies and fluffy kitties and other random stuff that i don’t always catch because her teeth spacer makes her even more unintelligible than she is normally. she will try your patience because you will have to repeat yourself 3 or 5 or 20 times because she was busy gathering clouds and admiring the puppies in her world when you were giving instructions on how to do homework.  She will lose homework, or forget homework, or forget what homework even means sometimes.  I try very hard to stay on top of these things with her but I am often overwhelmed myself by trying to keep her head down here in this world. She is a beautiful little girl though who will melt your heart when she tells you she loves you. which she will. she loves everyone.  there’s not a mean bone in her body. She gets hurt easily though. Please protect her, as much as as you can, don’t let the mean ones get to her. Let her talk about her feelings and let her color on her homework sheets, and let her still be a little girl even though she is in 4th grade. She will be lost without her big sister there to drag her to the right bus line or remind her they are car riders. Please don’t lose her. Please love her back.

i need all of you big middle school teachers to know that Kealey is….amazing. I have no idea what we did right with that kid, but we did something right.  Her maturity is so far beyond her years. She holds us all together somehow, especially when i’m not there. and sometimes even when I am.  She LOVES school. She soaks up new knowledge like a sponge and she loves to be challenged with new ideas and concepts.  she loves to laugh and oh you should hear her when she gets that head-thrown-back deep fit of laughter that ends with the giggles. She needs her friends. A lot of them are on a different team from her and even though she is scared to death of being at that big school with so many kids, she told me she feels like she is on the team she is supposed to be on.  Please help her encourage these new friendships.  Please keep your eye on her. Please notice her struggling to run from one end of the school to the other and help her get to the right class on time.

I need all of you at Kendall’s school to know how absolutely amazing this girl is. I know so many of you know that. This will be her third year there. And I hope she makes it there for at least a few weeks. The thought of school is what is getting her up and out of bed, getting her to work harder and be stronger and be excited.  I need you all to know that she LOVES you, and misses you and will be back as soon as we can get her strong enough to be there.

These are my babies, dear teachers. I love them fiercely and I miss them when i’m not with them and I am entrusting them to your care and I hope you know how very precious they all are.

I hope you have a good last day of “freedom”. I will be praying for you as we go through this year. you have huge jobs and so much responsibility on your shoulders and you are underpaid and underthanked but at least by me – you are NEVER underappreciated.

Thank you for everything you do~


Mrs. Atkinson

momma bear to the most special K’s in the whole wide world.

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  1. You don’t know me … But my sister (Jennifer Hunter) comments on your posts, so I check on and pray for your daughters often. I am a teacher and a mom, I personally hope you email this to your girls’ teachers tonight. We don’t always have time to check their “folders” before school starts. Some children need a little extra love now and then and some do everyday! I hope your girls have a wonderful first day and I’m glad your littlest one is doing better… Hopefully you will all be together soon!!!

  2. God bless your sweet girls! They are SO lucky to have a Mommy like you! My prayers are with all of you daily!

  3. Your post was dead on..and I send all my warm snugglies and prayers to those cute girls for a blessed beginning and I know they will feel your presence in spirit because.. you are part of them. It is impossible to impart properly to others and even teachers sometimes the background behind our little munchkins sliding into their seat on the first day when their reality is unique to their peers… these other parents so wrapped up in which hair bow looks perfect don’t have a clue the precious gift it is just to wave them off at the bus stop.

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