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Fortitude, what it means to me?

Aditi Rao

I have had the good fortune of being in the space of inclusive education/ special needs education for more than a decade. Often I am asked why am I still working in this field? What keeps me going despite the challenges we have? This question always takes me back to one of the most precious memories that I have, when I started my career. It was during one of the training programmes, a mother of 5 year old girl was in tears. When I approached her to find out what happened, she shared that these were tears of joy, as her daughter for the very first time called her ‘mummy’. This was the magical moment for me and I knew that this is something that I want to be doing. Though it can be a challenging and arduous profession, it has always offered me numerous rewards, both professional and personal. And, I am glad to be able to share some of the most important life lessons while working with my wonderful students and their families. One most important lesson that stands out is: ‘FORTITUDE’,  according to dictionary, fortitude means, “mental and emotional strength in facing difficulty, adversity, danger, courageously”.

This is something that is very much needed in times like these. Does this come easily to us as teachers and parents? How do we get fortitude? I’d be lying if I had an easy answer. For me it come from the belief and faith that I have in my work, which is to be able to provide a better life to each and every student that I come across. Fortitude is waking up every day as a teacher, a parent and doing what you got to do to give your kids a better life.

If you’re a parent or a teacher, and you’re doing the best you can, then you already have fortitude. I have come across so many parents who are always looking for something more that they can do for their children. Especially if you are a parent of child with special needs then, you end up worrying even more. My message to all the parents out there-  It is time that we are a little kind on ourselves and get rid on the notion that- “Strong mommies don’t lash out at their kids.  Strong daddies don’t break down in front of their family.  Strong parents don’t lose it. “

Your mental and emotional strength lies in your ability to STAY there, after your fit or break down.  To push away the bad thoughts and take your kids to the park or the beach or just watch their favourite TV show.

Despite all the stress, my work reminds me of why I became a teacher. When I see a student spend hours trying to learn something and then finally succeed, I forget all about the challenges of the profession. My only goal is waking up every day as a mother, as a teacher and do my best to be able to give my students the chance that they deserve- A chance to live their life like any other child, a chance to enjoy life just like us, a chance to explore this world, a chance to be happy and content.