Life is busy.
No, it’s more than that—it’s hectic.
I can easily find myself exhausted from trying to balance running a business with being daddy to my rambunctious kids and a husband to my amazing wife—not to mention finding time to write.
Still, we are all given 24 hours each day—168 hours each week—8,760 hours each year to spend, invest, or squander.
Now I realize we are all in different places and at different stages of our lives, but at times its easy for me to look at certain people’s lives and think, “They spend their 24 better than most.”
My mom is a brilliant individual, capable of taking on most any challenge and bringing to it innovation and fervor. She’s the kind of lady who roles up her sleeves and gets the job done, regardless of what that job happens to be.
She teaches High School Special Education—perhaps the most undervalued or at least under-thanked job in the entire education system of our nation. From preschool helpers on up to doctorate level professors, there is no one’s work more overlooked by everyone not directly involved (and sometimes when they are directly involved) in raising a special needs child, than a special ed teacher. Their charges are undervalued members of society; therefore, those set to preparing them to function in that society are undervalued as well.
Little known and little noticed is the love, patience, and organization required by my mom and others like her in preparing the challenged members or our youth for an unforgiving society focused above all else on speed and convenience.
Daily, my mom rolls up her sleeves to teach and reinforce concepts like, ‘basic math and reading,” “the value of money,” and “how to read and follow a recipe” to students who forgot all but a sliver of the knowledge from the day before. She crafts individualized learning plans for every student in her care so that they might have the best chance at grasping the concepts. I would challenge any AP teacher to not only write 15 or 20 lesson plans a day, but then also teach all of those classes in a time schedule of three or four classes overlapping at any given time. The term, “mutually exclusive” begins coming to mind in the scheduling of things.
My mom will never be thanked as the “inspiring teacher” during the valedictorian’s speech or remembered fondly in the acknowledgment section of a doctorate research study, but I can say without reservation that her job is the most strenuous, involved, and downright hardest position in the entire education system.
It is an investment of hours, an investment of moments. It is an investment of tears, love, and self.
But, don’t pity her.
That’s not the point here at all.
I’ve never heard my mom complain about her “lot in life.” She is more than capable and could excel at whatever she liked. But, to hear the joy in her voice when she tells of how one of her kids “got it,” got the concept, made the connection, found the next step along their path, you would know, hers is also an investment in smiles and laughter.
Patrick Rothfuss is a fantasy author like me. He is the author of The King Killer Chronicles which if you haven’t read you should click over on the link and pick them up because they are fantastic.
Rothfuss started something amazing as soon as the nickels and dimes started clinking in from his writing career. He started Worldbuilders, a charity that he has teamed with Heifer International to help end hunger and poverty across the globe.
Gathering together everything from autographed copies of books from big name authors like Brandon Sanderson, Scott Lynch, Martha Wells, Tad Williams, and Jim Butcher just to name a few, to book critiques by agents and editors alike to signed or custom art, and many, many other things, Rothfuss raises money which in turn goes to buy ongoing benefits for the third world.
To date, he has raised in excess of a million dollars since starting in 2008. Rothfuss went so far as to nearly bankrupt himself in the early days of Worldbuilders by offering to match every dollar raised. Incredible.
Investing 24 hours in more than just themselves, their own desires, comforts, and convenience—that’s my mom and Patrick Rothfuss.
I hope I get to meet Rothfuss in person one day so that I can thank him and tell him what an inspiration he is to me.
And if you happen to meet my mom, you just might want to offer her the same, “Thank you.”
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Ryan J. Doughan