Jill Stahl Tyler: Education Matters: Mother's Day, International Style

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Mother's Day this year started with a hug from my Brazilian "son-for-a-semester." His smile and his arms were wide with joy at being able to greet me in person on this special day. He remembers all of these types of holidays.

The second "Happy Mother's Day" greeting I received was from my Spanish "daughter for a year." She, too, was unabashed in her enthusiasm. This is no surprise. It's how she's approached her year with us. Everything is celebrated and recognized for its unique, literally "once-in-a-lifetime" value.

Sometime around 10 a.m., the college freshman was apparently awake. He let his fingers do the talking, as he texted his love. The rest of his "conversation" dealt with his plans for coming back home for the summer, due to happen on Wednesday. (We can't wait!)

The fourth came during the drive home from today's lacrosse tournament. She'd seen the other two verbal exchanges. She'd watched as all the moms at the games greeted each other with "Happy Mother's Day!"

When her oldest brother sent her a text to remind her that it was Mother's Day, she was so offended. "What? He thought I would forget? And had to text me?" she said aloud. I calmly pointed out that, indeed, she had yet to say those very words. She just gave me one of her special looks. I decided I would take that as her expression of eternal devotion and endless appreciation. (Gratitude for things like driving 90 minutes to a lacrosse tournament, cheering her on through three games, buying her a special muffin, and then completing the 90-minute trip back home? What a concept.)

The final greeting came from the middle child. He was at a friend's house last night, and so I missed him in the morning. First words out of his mouth were a cheerful "Happy Mother's Day, Mom!" followed by a bit of teasing to whichever of his "sisters" was nearest. (He's an equal-opportunity tormentor.)

So, today, I feel especially blessed.

I am a mom to two by the "traditional means." My two sons arrived after nine long months of near constant nausea and general discomfort ... punctuated with several hours of pain — and exquisite and complete joy — at their birth. I look at their curly, unruly blond locks and see myself. I watch their stances and their behaviors, and I recognize my husband.

Our daughter came to us in a longer, more drawn-out and emotional fashion. We all — father, mother and two older brothers — accepted her into our family as a group. We based our decision solely on a couple of photos taken in her native Guatemala, accompanied by a scant 10 lines or so of health information. She was only 18 months old. And we waited, anxiously and cautiously, for a full year before she finally arrived into our home.

Our Brazilian "son for a semester" and our Spanish "daughter for a year" joined with the least fanfare. They are "ours" for only a short time. I had no expectations for this day from them. I do believe I am kind of a special "mom-like" person to them during their time in our country. But, they are not the type to need a lot of "mothering." Any teenager who leaves his or her own home, culture and family, to spend a year living with a family they don't know, taking classes in a language that is not their first, is not the sort to need much traditional "care."

And so, I am especially touched that they felt it was a holiday for them to celebrate with me.

I go to bed one happy mom, five times over.

Jill Stahl Tyler is currently a parent to four, maybe five, depending on the day: one at college, two (or three) at the high school and one at the middle school. She firmly believes in all education, and currently sits on the board for the Brattleboro School Endowment and the Brattleboro Town School Board. Contact her at

jill@globalcow.com.

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