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Somewhere out there is a teacher enjoying her last bits of summer. She’s probably wishing the days were longer—that there was more time left for herself, for her own family—and here I am wishing that same steamy, unscheduled time away.

I’m anxious to meet this mystery woman who will hold my children this year, who will have to learn them—their preferences, their habits, their fears—likes/dislikes, behaviors, bad and good. She’ll have to comfort them, wipe noses, and bandage booboos.

She’ll become so closely acquainted with a stranger’s child—which is kind of funny to think—this person so unknown will soon know my children so well.

I feel bad for her and want to tell her how fortunate she is all at the same time. My babies are real-life angels, after all.

Just break them open and see.

I guess I’m just hoping she’s used these past few months to recharge, to focus on herself, because so much of this next year will be time given away. It’s a job I can barely handle with a caseload of two. How someone chooses an entire classroom is beyond me.

But if there’s one thing I know for sure about our future teacher, it’s that this summer hasn’t been just about her. She may have left the building, but the bond between the children she taught—and the ones coming next—still very much exists, on the clock or not.

I know this to be true because a few angels visited us this summer.

You see, my daughter has autism which makes it incredibly difficult for her to relate to her peers. But her teachers? Never been an issue. They were arguably her best (and only) friends this school year, and when summer began she bawled every day asking for them.

They had no way of knowing this—or maybe they did. After all, they spent a year learning my daughter so well.

They also missed her so much themselves that last week they surprised her with a trip for ice cream.

I thought her heart might stop when she saw them; mine sure did. She ran through that shop and jumped into their arms, literally leaping with joy. The treat wasn’t sugar on a hot summer day, it was seeing two people who changed her life who stopped their busy summer to be with her.

I don’t know many individuals sacrificial enough to love a child beyond their own, but I do now.

These two teachers cradled and comforted my daughter this year, raising her as much as I did. And even when the academics ended, they still considered her theirs.

Are we blessed? Amazingly so.

On the last day of school, one of her teachers said this to me: “It was sometimes hard, but she’s the most rewarding child I’ve ever had.”

The other: “There are some students you never forget. Your daughter is one of those.”

There’s a great return on investment with my girl and it’s love. She exudes it. It bleeds from her. And if you take the time and do the work—the sometimes hard, roll up your sleeves and dive into knowing a person kind of work—she’ll change your life.

What a gift we all get when we see the whole child, not just the missing piece.

So, future teacher, hello. We love you. We hope you know you are our hero.

The only reason I can breathe and begin again as a woman is because for a few hours a day you relieve me as a mother.

You’re doing God’s work, fearless teacher. You’re molding our children. So I’m going to go to sleep and not worry about who you are, or how you’ll be with my babies, because you were chosen for us and I blindly trust you. I’m sorry I place such a heavy responsibility on your shoulders, but I know you’re quite capable of carrying it.

You did rest up this summer, right?

So thank you, and I’m sorry in advance. My kids may not have first-day jitters but I sure do. Every day and every year I worry if the wrong people will steal away a bit of their beautiful spirit.

But today, I don’t need to do that.

You are the right kind of people. You are our person, our teacher.

Our stranger turned superhero.

With you, every child is free to dance without fear.

You may also like:

Dear Teacher, You Are The Bridge

I Didn’t Choose to Have Children With Special Needs, But Their Teachers Did

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

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Stephanie Hanrahan

Stephanie Hanrahan is wife to a sick husband, mother to special needs kiddos, and a woman who often unravels then finds her footing again. Learn how she traded her pretending for a panty liner on Instagram, Facebook, and her blog Tinkles Her Pants, where she leaks nothing but the truth.

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