raised me right

We took 30-45 minutes this evening to clean the schoolroom for tomorrow. It’s one of those things that no one really feels like doing on a Sunday evening, but come Monday morning we’ll be so glad we did. At least I will.

Kids don’t find quite as much direct pleasure in such things, or if they do they don’t recognize it. Their enjoyment comes more indirectly, when they find a freshly vacuumed spot on the floor and with their kid instincts know this is the perfect place to play with Legos. I hope I can teach my kids not at all to be shocked by the connection and ongoing nature of work and play.

My mom used to say, “If we all take five minutes…”, and that was about as far as she’d get in her sentence before we started in with the groans. It’s honestly nothing but simple math. If there were five kids working (the sixth didn’t count because he was only a baby and the seventh wasn’t born yet), then in five minutes we could quickly get 25 minutes worth of work done.

She tried, that’s for sure. I sometimes wonder what the heck I was doing with my life with so much work at home to be done. From 7th-12th grade I was at basketball games, riding my bike, on walks with friends or at their houses. In high school there were times I didn’t want to go to school. I hadn’t finished a larger assignment, or NSYNC was going to be interviewed on the Disney channel during PE, or I truly don’t know why I didn’t. If I asked mom if I could stay home and clean the house instead, she’d let me.

This would often frustrate my friends. There was no way their moms would ever just let them stay home from school. My mom wasn’t like the other moms, as each of them were in their own way different, but I loved her more for letting me stay home. The office needed a parent’s note in order to excuse a student’s absence. Mom wrote the same note every time. It was as if mom had somehow understood, without me ever having to explain it.

that one time

The kids and I started our Native People’s Study this morning. This 4-week study is a download I purchased from Jodi Mockabee’s blog. She is another homeschool mom whose Instagram account is one that I check in on every once in a while. I appreciated how she had all the study resources listed in one place, so I was able to order the books I needed to be ready to go.

Two of the kids came down with fevers during the night, so I didn’t know if I should start or not. It wouldn’t look like I’d imagined–all kids feeling bright and energetic. You might scoff to hear me say that so much, to reference how something didn’t go how I’d imagined. I only bring it up, if only for my own reminder, that it doesn’t always matter what we think, imagine, or dream. Reality comes with its own surprises, ones that don’t need the say or spark of imagination. One child slept on the school room guest bed, while the others worked on math and reading. I lit a fire.

We began reading The Birchbark House, which is the first read aloud we’ve started this year, and have done in a while. Read alouds are a big deal in the homeschool world, and I can understand why. Who doesn’t love the thought of school being wrapped up in stories on cozy afternoons? I agree that reading aloud with your kids is simultaneously a bonding and educational experience, but for me it often takes an unavailable mental energy. Boo hoo, I know. We read a lot more in our earliest years, though for reasons I cannot exactly put my finger on, the read alouds have fizzled out over the past year or two. Why won’t some desires, some dreams, leave us alone?

I’m busy, I’m tired, I’m uninspired, you name it. All three of those things would exactly be it, and all that to say, it’s been what it’s been, and what it’s been has been something I’m still thankful for. I’m not going to kick myself over all the books we never read, but neither am I going to give up on the books that we have left to read. So much of homeschooling is simply living out your days. I wanted them to be part of a family, to be intimately acquainted with what it meant to take out the garbage and rake the leaves.

When Friday comes, I’m glad it’s Friday. Not because the week was bad, but because we’ve got other things to do, like clean our rooms and catch up on laundry. The washing machine hums and the dryer works. When it’s my turn to host, I buy the food for Sunday dinner, sigh at another meal needing cooked, and then look forward to the fellowship, which is always good.

When Monday comes I’m always so glad it’s Monday, because I love every day I get to spend with these children. I’m sorry I don’t have a secret homeschool mom confession to offer here. It’s just the worn out, honest to goodness, truth that I can’t always explain. It’s a happy worn, like the one rabbit story. I couldn’t tell of a better way to be young and grow old.

the perfect comes

I just about fell out of my chair one time when I read the words from 1 Corinthians 13. Normally you think of that as the love chapter. Love is patient, love is kind. I was so completely happy that I had to tell my husband about it, after all these years of tripping over non-perfect.

perfect:

  1. having all the required or desirable elements, qualities, or characteristics; as good as it is possible to be.
  2. absolute; complete

People use the word “perfect” a lot, particularly when talking about all we’re not. “He’s definitely not perfect, but”…”Our marriage isn’t perfect”…”I’m not perfect either” …”Nobody’s perfect”…I say it too, but sometimes I get so annoyed with that word. Like, duh, this is a sinful world.

As in, why are we even comparing anything to perfect, as if perfect were a standard we could actually reach or even come remotely close to reaching? Even with Jesus we still aren’t perfect, having to live in mortal bodies in a fallen world as sinful people. Perfect is gone, and it ain’t coming back.

Or is it?

“Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be restrained; where there is knowledge, it will be dismissed. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial passes away (1 Corinthians 13:8-10).”

I don’t completely get or understand what that means, but it says right there, “when the perfect comes”, as if “perfect” coming is a sure and certain thing. What a difference this makes, that perfect is not some vain and throw-away vocabulary word. Hope is not lost. Perfect is something we’re waiting for.

There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment (1 John 4:18). It (love) bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things (1 Corinthians 13:7). In perfect love it’s not about me anymore!

~~~

“In this way, love has been perfected among us, so that we may have confidence on the day of judgment; for in this world we are just like Him.”
~1 John 4:17~

fall break

Come somewhere in October it seems we need a break from school, though it isn’t so much the kids who need it as much as me who does. It’s like I burn through my capacity for being diligent and steadfast, and am ready to just go back to who it is I really am, to put the baby down for a nap, to be free from the fear that somehow, somewhere, I am neglecting somebody’s needs.

The kids are currently watching Tangled. For my husband’s birthday last month he beat me to buying his birthday present and signed up for a one month trial of Netflix. He and the kids had their special showtimes together, but after a month, he decided Netflix was not the way to go. He cancelled Netflix and signed up instead for Disney Plus to watch The Mandalorian.

This week has felt more scattered than usual. We took the extended weekend to visit my parents and siblings, which put us starting school on Tuesday after returning from a lovely trip. This is the advantage of having routines, they are something on which we can rely and fall back on. We had a normal school day on Tuesday then. This school year continues to go well.

Two of the kids had dentist appointments Wednesday morning. After this past August, where after three occurrences, I’d officially cemented my reputation with the local dentist as the person who only brings her kids in when they need a school form or some painful and halfway decayed teeth pulled, I scheduled two kids to have a regular checkup and cleaning.

I put on some nicer clothes for the appointment, held my head high, and decided just to face the initial shame and discomfort from the last time I was there. “You’re back!”, the dentist said, when he saw me sitting in the corner of a cleaning room. “I’m back!”, I said, and settled more comfortably into my chair. I like this dentist, who seems like a normal, everyday person.

We had a playdate this morning, so that was part of our break. The mom and I get along well, and so do the kids. We envisioned getting together for holiday activities, pecan and pumpkin pies for one month, and cookie baking for another. From the comfort of our tea and cozy chairs, we could see the surest loveliness of children gathering around the island counter.

The world continues to spin on. After a milder summer, and beautiful weather here through most of September, the air has taken a noticeable turn towards the windy and cold. Pretty soon we’ll turn the heat on. These are the days when home feels necessary, when you’re thankful for things like ovens, stoves, and hot water heaters, Disney Plus, and stable times.

and that’s okay

Today’s cross country meet was as close the middle of nowhere that I’ve been in a while. Each runner was only allowed two spectators, which meant that instead of all of us, it was me and my mother-in-law this time. She’s come with us for every meet so far, and was glad to come along again for this one. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed these fall adventures we’ve had together.

With my kids getting older, I’m in a season of blindly going by stereotypes. We’ve heard about the terrible twos. For me it ended up being more like the challenging times of three and four, which is when I felt like I’d entered completely uncharted territory when it came to parenting. I knew babies enough, but after three I didn’t know what I was supposed to do anymore.

Once we’d parked and found our way to the course, we moved a little closer to our high school’s canopy. I saw my son and the other boys by the tent, and told my mother-in-law I’d be right back. I walked up to the tent, told my son that our missing cat had come back that morning, and then said, “Good luck boys!” They aren’t ones to say much back. Another time I’d gone up to them to learn their names so I would know who I was cheering for.

They told me their names then walked away. They’re absolutely nowhere near as curious about me as I am about them. I think I get it–it’s because they’re with their friends and I’m a mom. My biggest issue with teens so far has probably been dealing with my own insecurities. I asked my son one time if I embarrassed him. He looked at me like he was slightly puzzled, like he wondered where I’d even have gotten such a weird idea, and said no.

This team has been a fun one to watch. Since cross country was the only sport allowed for the fall, one of the senior boys, who’d always played fall soccer, decided to go out for cross country this year. He’s ended up winning every race so far, including one time he was neck and neck with another runner until the very last seconds of the final stretch, where he finally won and set a course record. Today, for the first time ever, he finished third.

They all had slower times today, and there was a lot more throwing up from the boys on other teams than I’d seen at any of the meets prior. I feel sick every single time the race starts. It doesn’t seem to matter if my mind is telling me all the right things, I still feel nervous and do not even begin to feel the slightest bit better until my son has crossed the finish line upright. I do not feel completely better until every last child has finished the race.

There usually isn’t room for him to ride back with us, and he’s happy if not happier riding back to school on the bus with the team. We hadn’t made plans for after the meet, when there would have been room for him to ride home with us. I thought about going over there to see if he wanted to come with us this time, and thus bypass the whole waiting around in the parking lot ting. I knew what his answer would be, so I didn’t think about it long.