Z has two different kinds of clothing: outfits for school (because, toddler) and outfits for “special” occasions (e.g. visiting JJ and Pop, attending a party).  On this particular cool morning, I had run out of school outfits and had grabbed a special occasion sweatshirt.  “How did I let it get cold without buying him some new long sleeves?” I mumbled to myself, secretly scolding, “Bad mom!  Bad mom!”  We quickly grabbed the day’s essentials and headed out the door.

When we arrived at school, Z asked for his backpack and walked to his classroom.  His teachers greeted him with a warm welcome and asked me how I was doing.  “One request!” I said.  “Please, please take off his sweatshirt before he eats anything messy today.  It’s his only good one, although it is a little big, and I don’t want to ruin it!”  His teachers smiled, checked the menu, and assured me they would abide.  I thanked them, kissed Z goodbye, and continued on with my day.

Z greeted me with a warm smile and big hug when I picked him that afternoon.  “Baaaackpaaaack!  Baaaackpaaaack!” he cheered.  With noticeably more effort than usual, Z handed me his owl backpack and pointed to his classroom door as to signify, “Let’s go!”  I hurriedly said goodbye to his teacher as we headed to the car.  “Bye, byeeeee!” Z said, grinning from ear to ear, waving excitedly. One of Z’s teachers, stepped outside the classroom and waved to Z, “Bye, bye!  Such a sweet boy!  Have a good evening and we will see you tomorrow!”
I secured Z in his car-seat and started up the engine.  Before leaving the parking lot, I unzipped his backpack to review his daily report and see if he had eaten his snack.  My heart simultaneously swelled and sunk. Two Sweaters: A Story of Love & Generosity In lieu of his daily report, there were two, brand new beautiful sweaters for Z, purchased by one of his teachers.

I could have easily bought sweaters for Z, but I hadn’t – and I didn’t have a good excuse.  I had the time, I had the money, but I just hadn’t done it.  Instead, one of his favorite teachers, Ms. Galloway, had gone shopping during her lunch break and purchased two adorable sweaters for Z that fit him perfectly.

Every day Z wears one of his new sweaters, it is like a big, warm hug from Ms. Galloway.

The love, care, and generosity of every one of Z’s teachers never ceases to amaze me.  They love and learn on him every day like he was their own son.  They applaud him when he learns a new word or reaches a new milestone.  When Z does something he shouldn’t, they redirect rather than simply telling him “no.”  His teachers have taught me so much about being a mom and I am a better parent because of it.

This holiday season, I would like to encourage you to thank those that mean the most to you, whatever their important role in your life may be.  These are the people that help us become who we are and encourage us to be better, each and every day.  They are our sweaters in the cold and give us much to be grateful for.

Maggie Jones - Two Sweaters: A Story of Love & Generosity