Being a mother has never striked me a fancy. Having had countless students coming in and out of my classrooms, likewise, never made motherhood seem like an alluring lifestyle to me, as I’d been able to feel loved by selfless kiddos and have fun with kind teenagers throughout the years. How could I get home late at night after teaching the whole day and take care of another being instead of taking my long warm shower? In fact that wasn’t a captivating way of life to me at all. Not until maturity led me to the compelling feeling of paying back. After 19 years teaching, by 2016 I’d already gotten a few physycal possessions I’d wished for, my own house, had travelled abroad, enabled myself to enjoy life to the full with family and friends. All that by making a living by charging others in exchange of English lessons. I needed, then, to teach for free, more than that: I set my heart on teaching those who couldn’t afford paying for classes, I needed to feel life where there is little hope. I decided to teach in a crèche in South Africa. And that’s when it all started.
Arriving there all packed up with ideas, a flashdrive with my most effective classroom songs, my ‘games all levels’ booklet, I’d imagined fruitful lessons and gamificated activities. My stick-people characters were all ready to be the stars of the best classes I’d be able to deliver in the Ubuntu project, on which I was enrolled as a volutary teacher. Little did I know I was going there to carry 5 liter-bottles of water from the voluteer house to the project, to be the only water the children would drink that day. Not to mention the absence of a toilet or food, I encountered a 20 to 25 square meters shack, built with metal walls, no flooring, no electric power, nothing whatsoever. After spending 3 days observing the volunteers that were there before me communicate with the children through mimics and body language, I became a mother for the first time ever in my lifetime: trying to negociate meaning with those children, theories and methods became play and interaction, as Vygostky and Pieaget kept hitting my mind like an ear worm one can’t stop singing all day. That night, I spent in the company of their readings, online. After a few days, I was welcomed to crèche by a child who, gazing at me as I’d stepped in, to shout: “Teacher!!! Spoon! Gimme a spoon, please”! Faster than my legs could take me, I waded through the children that sat on the ground, some on their bare bottoms, others with running noses, all packed in that teeny-tiny room, I snatched a spoon and gave him. That was when my second child, Indiza, was born. I knew exactly what I had to do upon my return back home.
Well, you might think: If your new ethos of teaching had blossomed, having a child of your own would impede you to give Indiza all you energy, right? Wrong. Not until I was pregnant did I stop thinking I had to have my own child. At the age of 39, after going through a fortunately smooth process of FIV, I gave birth to my third child. She is called Eloá. She is a 3 year-old bilingual, but that primes for another article!
Masi children’s, Indiza’s and Eloá’s existences are intertwined in how motherhood changed my path as a teacher so meanighfully. Being a mother to Eloá and to the Masi children have certainly given my carreer a bright sparkle, unforseable until then. Now, among loud mornings full of love, living, bonding and, naturally, learning, I feel accomplished teaching my very young learners. I like to say that I didn’t create Indiza, but I found it living in me, like Eloá. I dare to say I doubt that I’d been a mother earlier in life if I hadn’t been a teacher, but I am certain that if I hadn’t had Eloá and the children of Masi, I wouldn’t have had the courage to create my own teaching program. In a nutshell, this is the power of maternity in my carreer: being a mother has shown me that all that I feared losing if I became one (like mountain biking for 60 km every Friday, and my long showers), I’d really lose. Hence, I can always go back to it after Eloá has grown up or after retirement. However, the possibility of looking back at everything I’ve accomplished because I became a mother will never be caught up in the future, hadn’t I done all that I did.
Not only does motherhood mean a turning point in my carreer, it has also taught me that it is life-chaging in a myriad of facets. Regardless if it’s the motherhood of my own offspring, blood of my blood, of those who wish me to hand them a spoon, or of those who jump at me for a big hug in the neat and colorful Indiza every morning, I am a believer anyone can mother what or whoever they strongly believe they can nurture, as long as they do not allow others to feel entitled to decide what they are capable of doing or not. Afterall, one can only give what one has. And here in my heart and soul, there is a plethora of love, professionalism, and care.
Based in Curitibanos - SC, Carolina Dolinski Varaschin has been in the ELT for 25 years. She is a Cambridge certified teacher (CEFR C2, CAE, FCE, CCSE). She also holds the CELTA. She has worked as a teacher in various contexts from Very Young Learners to Exam Preparation. She has created the Indiza Project, a Unique Academic Proposition to which she has designed courses based on life skills and literature for children, as well as courses based on authentic material for teenagers and adults. She currently runs her own school Indiza, where she is a coordinator and teacher trainer. firstname.lastname@example.org @indizaidiomas