Mom, the counselor


By Daris Howard | Special to The PREVIEW

Anna couldn’t believe what she was hearing. “Mom, you aren’t seriously thinking about becoming the high school counselor, are you?”

Anna’s mom nodded. “Look, Anna, I’ll still be home when you get out of school. But you and all your brothers and sisters are now school-age. I’ve stayed home all these years taking care of all of you while you were preschoolers. I feel I can work now. Besides, we can use the money.”

“That’s not the problem I’m concerned about,” Anna said. “I see the kids who go visit with the counselor, and, frankly, they aren’t the best. They are the druggies and gang members. It could be dangerous for you.”

“I appreciate your concern,” Anna’s mom said. “But before you were ever born, being a counselor is what I went to school for. I have always wanted to do that, and I feel I can take care of myself.”

Anna knew she couldn’t change her mom’s mind, so she determined she would do her best to watch out for her mother. A few weeks before school started in the fall, Anna’s mom got a bunch of supplies and went to set up her office. Anna went with her, more out of curiosity than to help. When they got to the office, it looked like what Anna expected it would look like. She had never been in it before, not wanting to be around the kind of kids that were there. 

As they worked, Anna was shocked at how her mother transformed it. She was making it into less of an office and more like home. Anna’s dad showed up with a load of soft chairs and couches that Anna’s mother had purchased at a secondhand store. There were tables and chairs that made Anna think of their dining room at home. Anna thought that maybe her mother’s years raising children had gotten too deep in psych. Finally, Anna asked.

“Mom, are you trying to make this look like home?”

Anna’s mother smiled. “No. I am trying to make it look like a home.”

“Why?” Anna asked.

“Maybe when you aren’t in class, you should visit me and see.”

Anna was seeing a side of her mother she had never known before. She did plan to visit, partly to understand what her mother had in mind, and partly because she wanted to help protect her.

When the first day of school came, Anna’s first chance to visit her mother was at lunchtime. She was sure the office would be empty. Anna ate quickly and hurried to the counselor’s office. To her surprise, it was packed. And those who were there were the kind of kids Anna called “losers” when her mother wasn’t around. Some were playing games, and some were eating. As Anna looked closer, she saw that they were eating food that her mother had made the night before. Anna thought her mother was making it for their own family.

Anna had lots of questions that night, but her mother said, “Just keep coming for a while, and I think the answers will come on their own.”

Anna started eating her meals in her mother’s office, and Anna’s friends joined her. Anna realized her mother was feeding those who didn’t have enough at home to make lunch and had no money to buy one. She soon understood that her mother had made the office like a home because many of those young people didn’t have a real home. Her mother became like a mother to many of those kids who didn’t have a parent who cared. Not only would those students never harm Anna’s mother, but they also loved her and would give their lives to protect her.

One December evening, Anna’s mother asked, “Now that you’ve been joining me for a few months, have all your questions been answered?” Anna nodded. Her mother then asked her what she had learned.

Anna thought a minute, then answered. “I’ve learned that those kids are no different than I am, and I would likely be no different than they are if I had their lives. They are good kids with few opportunities who are forced into how they are to survive.”

Anna’s mother smiled. “That’s what I hoped you would learn.”

Anna smiled. “I also learned something else. I learned I am grateful for a kind, caring mother.”

Views expressed do not necessarily represent those of The SUN.