My coworker bought me and another coworker a cake as an early Mother's Day present. I'm not a mom, but she declared that I was parenting the teens and kids at our library.
Motherhood and parenthood have been at the forefront of my brain lately. I'm 28, I've reached official middle-class status (though this wealth is slippery and not yet secure), and I'm in a stable partnership with someone I often think would be a magical and loving parent. Throughout my teen and early adulthood years I was vocally uninterested in a future where I procreated. This was mostly to head off weird, sexist, expectations but it was also because I was terrified that I'd be a bad, toxic, parent and could not envision a future where I'd healed enough to parent well. That's changing, I'm changing, what I want is changing, but I know I'm not ready, yet.
This urge to nurture though is a thread pulling me to this work, this community. When I started this job I was wowed by the ethos of love and motherhood that drove my coworkers, almost all of whom are mothers. I quickly discovered the term pedagogical love, a practice of teaching guided by a love for students and an understanding of students' contexts that teaches them to embrace a philosophy of love. This is a nice, accessible, post on it: Pedagogy of Love.
Public library workers often end up acting as teachers, daycare providers, social workers, therapists, etc. And most of my coworkers have never received support or training to do that labor. They handle it with grace, though, because they know how to love and that love extends to each member of their community.
Public library workers often end up acting as teachers, daycare providers, social workers, therapists, etc.
Parenthood is still difficult for me. Love is still difficult. Teenagers (the patrons I work the most with) are still difficult. I still fret when I discover bullying behavior, when I've stumbled on an opportunity to affect a young person's consciousness, when I'm trying to respect their autonomy and simultaneously assure that they are protected.
No one at my job loves perfectly. We are all still caught in a structure full of weird and gross hierarchies and biases. We're all still living in a world that's taught us that one person's abundance is the cause of our scarcity. And, so, we are all still inclined to tear at an Other in hopes that their joy will somehow be ours.
But my coworkers do know and believe that love is abundant and I'm not sure that's a concept I understood before. That we can love despite whatever flawed mind traps we're stuck in. That all it usually takes is someone to listen and offer respect and demand respect in return.
Anyway, happy Mother's Day season. I'm thankful for the parenting and nurturing you folks put out into the world. And thank y'all for teaching me new ways to love and be in community.