Today we had to take the kids to the doctor’s office to check out Benson’s hand. He had a rough weekend; fell out of a shopping cart on Thursday, fell down a window well on Friday, and then fell down the stairs on Saturday in tandem with Lindy and the baby gate. Ouch. We were trying to avoid a pricey and inconvenient trip to the ER during the weekend, and Benson was doing ok, so we waited till Monday afternoon to see our regular doctor.
The only appointment they had open was during our prime schooling hours. Over the years I’ve learned that I like my schedules. I like the uniformity, predictability and framework they give my life, and my kid’s lives! But sometimes I think it’s more of a curse than a blessing. It can be too rigid.
For instance, because we were going to be on an “outing” during normal schooling hours, I had Gwen bring her math book, Miles bring his book report book, and brought letter books for Lindy I kept meaning to read to her. I wanted to fill our time meaningfully. If we weren’t going to get through all of our scheduled lessons that day, then by dang, we were going to make that time count for something educational!
And it’s times like these I wonder, “Is it enough?” Will one of you more experienced mothers give me some perspective here. Will I always be constantly making myself crazy going in between, “We’re not doing enough”, and “We’re doing too much”. When does that magical balance reveal itself? If it could be sooner rather than later, that’d be great, thanks.
I feel this burden heavily in all aspects of my mothering. But I especially feel it when it comes to homeschooling. I love my schedules and timelines and routines. LOVE them. But I also love the freedom and flexibility that homeschooling brings, and I wish I was more…relaxed about it all. I read blogs and books and follow people on Instagram who proclaim to be more of the “unschooling” methodology. I’m sure that definition is a little different in every home. But they always make it look so dreamy, unrushed and ideal. “Today we painted pictures outside of the beautiful fall foliage for our nature study and then cozied up on the couch to read books together while Mortimer practiced the Cello.” Sounds heavenly! And for me, probably unattainable.
In the mornings especially, I am the drill sergeant. “Wake up! We need to be eating by 8, otherwise we won’t have time for everything! Why don’t you go get dressed while I’m making breakfast to save some time. Did you make your bed and say your prayers already? Get shoes on now! If you don’t get your animal chores done by 9, no learning show!” And then I have to take lots of deep breaths because Miles’s scripture study is taking too long. I want him to feel the spirit, but feel it faster, dang it!!! Ahhh! When will I reach that zen state of being where I keep our schedules in place but can also go with the flow without my eyes twitching?
I don’t know the answer to that question. Maybe I’ll never “figure it out”. But I do know that this whole parenting thing takes a ridiculous amount of faith. Every day I wake up and devote my life to my family. Despite the inevitable frustrations, it fills me with so much joy. But there is no way to know for sure if it will be enough in the end. There’s no way for me to teach them everything they need to know before they are grown. They will grow up and make their own choices, be their own people and chances are I probably won’t have prepared them sufficiently for every event they face from now till they’re 99.
I’m currently reading “The Read Aloud Family” by Sarah Mackenzie. In it she says,
“There are no guarantees. But that doesn’t matter-not really. We aren’t going all-in for our kids because we are promised excellent results. We’re doing it because they mean more to us than anything in the world. When it comes right down to it, we want our children to live out the fullness of God’s vision for their lives, and we’re willing to do just about anything it takes to stack the odds in favor of that happening.”
So I will keep doing my best to stack the odds in their favor. And I will fail, and then I’ll try again- over and over again. I’ll overschedule us, cram read-alouds into every single nook and cranny possible, spend too much on curriculum, over-explain things because I really want what I’m saying to sink in-even as I see their eyes glaze over… And maybe if I’m lucky I’ll learn to let go more and really embrace those days when “nothing of value” (aka math and reading lessons) happens, and we just enjoy our time together without any pressure.
Parenting is about our children obviously. But I think parenting is more about us and our personal development more than anything. I am constantly learning and growing because of my role as a mother, specifically a homeschool mother. And yeah, all that learning and growing is painful. But it’s also beautiful and necessary and transformative. Mackenzie sums it up beautifully.
“All the time and effort it would take to raise her would be worth it-not because it guaranteed good results, but because loving and connecting with her would always be worth my time and effort. Because she was mine. Because she was made by God. Because this was the great task I’d been called to do.”
Alright Wednesday, bring it on!