by Moira Louw

A few weeks ago, I had the rare opportunity to eat lunch with a former teacher, in her own home. Mrs. Becky Enns (although I know her as Ms. Vandenberg) was my grade 7 teacher, and I still remember her “special guy friend” Jonas coming to visit the class, and the gossip this created in the hallways. She and Jonas are now married and living in a quaint white cottage near her parent’s house. They recently had a beautiful daughter, Gemma.

When I entered the house, I immediately felt welcome. Jonas was holding Gemma in that comfortable way that always astonishes me. He assured me she wouldn’t break. Jonas immediately handed Gemma to me while he left to do something in the back of the house, and Mrs. Enns greeted me as if she always had former students visit her.  

The inside of their home was just as adorable as the outside, with rustic white wood paneling (done by Jonas himself) and a table against the window looking out into the garden, where clothes were drying on the laundry line when we arrived.

Sitting at this table, eating delicious butternut curry soup and warm bread, I got to chat with Mrs. Enns about her new insights into parenthood now that she has a daughter of her own.  

In many ways, being a teacher has prepared her for being a mom.

Mrs. Enns has had the privilege of seeing the range of families’ approaches to parenting. And despite the fact that different families have completely different approaches, she has peace with the fact that there is more than one way to raise happy kids. She takes comfort from this, knowing that even if she and Jonas aren’t perfect parents, Gemma will be alright.

There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to teaching, in the same way that no two babies are exactly the same. She made this point clear when she told us what an easy baby Gemma is to take care of. She says she is pleasantly surprised that Gemma isn’t fussy, knowing that for many moms this isn’t the case.

Unfortunately Gemma was sleeping for most of our visit. It was only during the last fifteen minutes or so that we got to see her again, and that we got to see Mrs. Enns interacting with her baby.

It was obvious that she loved this baby girl; she was cuddling with and smiling at her, holding her little hands, and rocking her back and forth. Gemma’s name even means “precious stone or jewel.” Her parents chose this name because they knew that Gemma would be precious to them.

Mrs. Enns shared that she didn’t really understand this love for a child until she had Gemma. She realizes now how much parents love and care for their children, and although she knew it was true before, she had never experienced it firsthand. As a teacher, she loved her students, but not in the way that a parent loves their child.

She now understands a parent’s need for their child to feel secure and have good friends, knowing it will be important to her once Gemma is in school. She also realizes where a parent’s desire to protect their child comes from. When you love someone as much as she loves Gemma, you are more than willing to fight to shield them against harm.

When I asked Mrs. Enns if she misses being a teacher, she said she misses seeing students grow and “come into themselves” from grade 7 to 8, but that she’s really enjoying being a mom.

“I was ready for a change, ready to transition into something new.”

It was great to see Mrs. Enns settled in so wonderfully into her home and life as a wife and mom, a role she clearly loves. I left knowing that Gemma had a wonderful childhood to come, with parents who clearly adore their precious little gem.