Thursday, July 20, 2017

Going, Going...

It's strange to have my little boy--the one that I remember as a tike, full of fists and thumping, Buzz Lightyear and Transformers, then later, Legos and nerf guns, suddenly not be a little boy any more. I wish someone could have told me which day it was going to happen because I would have prepared for it. On the other hand, would it even be possible to prepare for it? It seems as though he has passed through a vaporous wall too thin to see and he now stands on the other side of it--this boy turned man, and I'm supposed to be totally okay with that.

Actually I am okay with that. What is worse than having a child grow up is a child who does NOT grow up. I would not wish to hold him back, to keep him under my wing, my thumb, or the rock that some people think we homeschoolers use to keep our kids hidden away. That doesn't mean I was ready for this year.

People often would ask me along the way, "Are you going to homeschool them all the way through?" Usually this would be uttered with a tone of derision, of disbelief, since what they were really saying was, "You don't think you can do high school too, do you?" I would always say that we were taking it year by year and we would see what happened. They would sigh with relief and say, "Of course, of course." The truth is, I always intended to homeschool both kids through high school because I felt called by God to, and I still do. I just didn't feel like explaining myself.

There was a day this spring when I took my son to the local community college for placement testing. He was nervous, sure he was going to bomb it and not get into credit-level classes. I was sure he would be fine. Then he got his results and was stunned to see that he had done more than fine. I was pretty sure that was going to be the result, after all, he had been my student. I was pretty sure what he was capable of. Then there was the day we sat across from the advisor and he enrolled him in two college classes, all the while talking to him and addressing him like a regular college student (my high school sophomore!) I was just the driver and I happened to be sitting in the room. I felt kind of superfluous, at least until he informed my son of the date tuition payments were due.

Sometimes I wonder how we got him to this point, the one in which he burst through the back door and said, "Mom, can I graduate next year? Because you know, bragging rights FOR LIFE!" 

I know there were so many more days that I felt I had dropped the ball, sold myself short, not set effective goals, or lost my cool than there were days that I felt "successful." So I decided to look back into the thicker parts of this blog. I wanted to find some evidence that the things we have cultivated in him really did help bring him to this point, and I found this post from October 2012. You might like to go back and read the whole thing because it is all about teaching from a place of rest, but this stood out to me.
So, we accomplished a fair amount in lessons this week--science and writing and geography and grammar, etc, but what stands out to me more this week is that we made it to the pet store for some new fish. We also enjoyed a wonderful dinner with friends and a hilarious time on the new patio, enjoying a fire and roasting marshmallows. We did not strive. We worked, but we played, too. We ate all our meals at home in fellowship with each other. We prayed. We marveled at God's ways in the life of Amy Carmichael and those she touched. We pondered the uselessness of war. We butted heads, overcame challenges, tried again. It was a good week. A very good week.
After reading Sarah Mackenzie's Teaching from Rest I found myself longing again for these simple times and praying earnestly for more restful, constructive teaching with the remaining time I have to teach my kids. I have to admit, it was a little easier when they were smaller and mostly did what I said and didn't have so many interests, thoughts, opinions and distractions as they do now. Perhaps what is exhausting to me at this juncture is my own attempts to control (ahem), manage what they do. It is this feeling that maybe I didn't do enough to make them strong, or responsible or appreciative of reading great books. Maybe I didn't disciple them well enough. As they grow, they will slip from my grasp, and I have two choices: I can cling tighter and cause injury to us all, or I can loosen my grip and gradually fall away, onto the Grace that is promised when I am obedient. He promises that it IS sufficient. Maybe it wasn't my job to do all that. Maybe it was my job to just buy the fish and provide a place to light a fire.

I know--a man must leave his father and mother. It's right there in Scripture. My children are not my life, they are given as a joyful calling, and when they are mature, my life will have a new calling. My life is hidden with Christ in God, not in my children, and how sad and wretched I will be if I cling to them and expect them to be more to me than they are able or are meant to be. I have one more year to be an official part of my son's education. I have four to six more years with my daughter, and I feel the weight of her entry into the world of adolescence. My prayer is that I will once again enter into the joy of restful and intentional teaching, even when I feel I have so little to give. That I will land in moments and take them in, enjoying them for the gifts that they are. That I might once again find companions along the way to share thoughts and encouragement with. That my children would find companions who sharpen and strengthen them. That we all cling to the Lord.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

School Year 2016-17: The Wild Ride

How has it happened that we are here in this place? I'm posting a photo of my family with my son who is taller, done with braces, shaving often, driving with a permit, and about to My daughter is interested in everything, rides horses, is about to try out for a play, wants to take French and creative writing and will soon have her very own pet hedgehog. Between trips to drop them off at  youth group activities, sending them on mission trips and to camp, play days with friends, and friends coming here, I am full with all the life that they are living.

But within this year was a unique set of challenges. It was a season of change and growth and weathering storms. At the start of summer 2016 our closest friends who had been very much a part of our life as a family both socially and scholastically ended their marriage. Sadly, it caused us to go our separate ways. School year 2017 felt a little lonelier. My husband was in the thick of earning his MBA, so his stress levels were high. Matt, who had previously only had me as his teacher, suddenly took on a full course load of classes taught by others. His classes were rigorous and, while he handled it all very well, it was a new kind of stress. Wintertime came and both he and Glen caught the flu. Then the three of them caught colds in the spring. Really decent colds--no messing around. Somehow I avoided it all until one day the week before Molly's 12th birthday, I started feeling run down, then developed a fever. It was unlike any fever I'd ever had, peaking at 104 F on the fifth day. That night the fever broke and the following day I had a circle rash on my arm where I had previously had a bite of some kind. I was immediately seen by my doctor and treated for Lyme disease. Basically, I missed the month of May. It was a slow recovery and I had concerns that we would not even be able go on the dive trip we had planned for June. Thankfully, that was not the case.

That dive trip was like a wall of separation for me from the stresses of the past school year. I had been so sad from the estrangement of our friends, tired from holding more than the usual share of the work, stressed, and even ill. I was aching for the getaway to Honduras, and it was all I could have hoped for; blue skies, blue water, the silence and stillness that diving brings is therapy to me that nothing else can match. There are these moments that I just don't have on land, and I can revisit them time and time again in my mind. Here are a couple of examples:


Sharks! (No, I wasn't afraid at all.)

Dive trips also give me the chance to take all the pictures I want of my family--my photo-resistant teenager agrees to a truce while on vacation. 

Now it is time to consider the upcoming school year. We are not participating in any co-op this year for the first time in six years. Molly will be busy with horses and play practice and hedgehog care. Matt will be busy with his first college classes and his final homeschool courses, with the goal of completing high school this year, which would be his Junior year, and I will post more on this very soon. I have just read Teaching From Rest by Sarah Mackenzie and as much as I tend to resist books written expressly for homeschooling mothers, I needed this book so much. I didn't even realize that I was in the middle of the desert dying of thirst until someone came along and offered my heart a clear, cold drink. I will share my thoughts and reflections on this in upcoming posts.