I believe parenting and teaching are the two hardest jobs in the world. And when you happen to do both, the hardness is compounded. Because you want so much for your kids. All of them.

I want to see my physician daughter, who has spent the past 17 of her 35 years learning each cell in the human body and how cancer attacks it, and then learning every conceivable way to excise and eradicate that cancer — I want to see her accepted as the exceptional surgeon she is, accomplished and pedigreed and equal to any male physician she meets in the OR or on the interview trail. I’m ready to see her heal her patients of the most pernicious of cancers while shattering glass ceilings in the most prestigious of institutions. She’s in an uphill battle, but she is a capable and tireless fighter. She’s got this.

And I want to see my second born — my hard-headed, hard-loving daughter with a work ethic and people skills that absolutely can’t be taught — I want her to keep embracing her destiny and side-stepping the naysayers. She has worked her way from sandwich maker to grocery teller to medical receptionist to dental office manager. College is not for everyone and she proves every day that a sharp mind, heaping helping of initiative, and an open heart are the key ingredients for a successful life, not some framed piece of paper from a university. I want her to know how proud of her I am, and I want the world to know how amazing and brilliant she is.

I want my eldest second-grade twin — the one with amber hair and almond eyes who wants to play quarterback, but is built like a D-lineman; who worries about his intelligence because of a score on some blasted gifted criteria test, but reads chapter books and spouts Titanic facts like a documentary — I want him to understand that he is smart and tender and tough and totally and always enough. (Oh, and that defense wins championships.) I want him to know he has a heartbreaking smile, an intuitive kindness, and a sarcastic wit that cannot be bought, but sure can win folks over. And I want him to know there’s nothing he can’t accomplish if he sets his heart and mind to it.

And I want my youngest twin, the one who worries about who he is and what he loves because society is so eager to judge him for it – I want him to know that he is fearfully and wonderfully made according to God’s pattern.  And by golly, the pattern God cut for him is on a bright, bold, beautiful cloth. This kid loves long, curly hair, turquoise sequins, sassy mermaids, and ballet, tap, and jazz. And all those things are not, nor have ever, been wrong. And if anybody says otherwise, then they are the ones who are wrong. He shines in every way possible – mind, body, soul, AND clothing. His future is as bright as the sequins and glitter he embraces. And Satan, if you have anything to say about it by loading the mouths of minions with ridicule– STEP ASIDE. We don’t need you or your lies in our lives.

And I want the 165 students I teach to likewise be loved and appreciated for who they are and the potential they hold. All of them, of course, but especially my marginalized students – the ones who have so few supporters in their corners. And there are so many of them – marginalized students and corners they’re crammed into. So many who are judged and bullied and ostracized and hated even, all because they look different or think differently or sing different tunes than everyone else. To these children I say – you be you. And I will love you and accept you and celebrate you and stand with you and fight for you. You have an advocate in me. Because red, yellow, black, white or rainbow-colored, you are all precious in my sight. And in God’s.

What I ultimately want for all my children is to accept and see, not reject and judge. God has granted all of us gifts and all of us grace — and we need to use and embrace our gifts and model and share His grace. It’s that simple.

And that hard.