So I sent them off. It was great! I was free! I had time to spare! And this feeling lasted a good while. And then, inexplicably in the late fall, I started missing them. At first I chalked it up to "transition." But as the year has gone on, I am finding that the feelings are not going away. I miss them. As much as I wanted them gone this time last year, I want them home now.
Crazy, I know.
Make up your mind, I know.
"Waffle" should be your middle name, I know.
Don't I know my own heart? Aren't I equipped to make adult decisions for my children without constantly rethinking everything?
None of these feelings gelled with the whole "devote more time to writing and speaking" idea. I had freed myself up to do more, and yet more did not happen. Actually, a strange thing occurred. Less happened. Last spring I was convinced that I needed to take things off my plate because of all that was happening. I signed with an agent who assured me he could get my writing launched. I made a new cd that looked and sounded better to send out to people who were interested in me coming to speak. I really thought that I was poised to see big changes. I couldn't have anything weighing me down. Not only that, but I had had enough flabbergasted people ask me how I do it that I started doubting how I did it. And so, I did what I thought was smart. I freed myself up, I made myself ready to embrace all that was surely going to come my way.
My kids started school. I sat at home, rubbing my hands together in anticipation of all that was getting ready to happen. And then, nothing happened. Nothing at all. Not one thing. Getting the picture? No bookings-- not even any inquiries for speaking. My agent called and said that he was mystified by the response to my proposal. He had felt certain that I would have multiple offers roll in right away. But nothing. Nada.
And so, I had a conversation with God. I told Him that I had really thought I was doing the right thing. I was serving Him by writing and speaking. I was freeing myself up to be more available to Him. My heart had been in the right place, so why was He not opening the doors I had felt certain He would open? And I told Him that if I had gone the wrong way... if He really wanted me to surrender this ministry thing and just homeschool the kids, I would do it willingly. Because what I want most is to please Him. To honor Him with my choices. To never go my own way and to always trust Him. No book contract or speaking engagement was worth doing without His blessing on it.
And in the silence after I told Him all that, I heard this verse. My grace is sufficient for you. For my power is made perfect in your weakness. He proceeded to show me how my striving and working was all in my own strength. My putting the kids in school so I could be free to write more and speak more was all about my ideas and my agenda. It had very little to do with His plans for us: to do what He had called me to-- to balance writing and speaking with homeschooling. Yeah, that thing that totally didn't make sense and everyone kept asking me how I did. Yeah, that. That life of the past. That daily incremental, do-the-next-thing walk He had called me to. That was where it was at. He was perfecting me through my weaknesses, showing Himself strong. He was making it happen. It just wasn't always clear back then how it would happen. But when it did supernaturally come together, I always knew it was Him, not me. Oh no, not me by the longest shot. But this life, this new tapping-my-toe-waiting-for-the-opportunities-to-begin life was all about me. Me with a cleared schedule. Me calling the shots. Me in control. Exactly where I like to be. And exactly where God simply can't do what He wants through me.
And so, last Friday I took my five year old out of school. He had a teacher who was not bringing out a love of learning for him. Instead he was begging not to go, falling apart when he got home, and I was getting notes home about how he was "disorganized and irresponsible." I am not kidding. He's five, people!Please understand, I am not bashing this teacher. She is doing the best she can. At the beginning of the year, she told us (the parents) that she is under a tremendous amount of pressure to take this group of kindergartners who are at a variety of levels and get them to a certain place by year end. A place, I will tell you, I don't think any kindergartner should be required to be. A place I especially don't think little boys should be required to be. And yet, the state says so, and if the teachers don't produce, then their jobs are on the line. So, I know what she must feel. But I don't have to like it or go along with it. Not when homeschooling is still an option for our family.
What this time in school has taught me is that the grass is not greener on the school side of the fence. This morning as I rose at 6:30 to prepare a dessert project my son had to have at school this morning, all I could think of is, I never had to do this kind of stuff when they were homeschooling!
My son in just a few days' time has gone from sullen and angry and weepy to the happy, sunny little boy we used to enjoy. I am so glad to have him back! As for the rest of the children, I do want to teach them to finish what they start. And so I plan to keep them in school-- and decide what to do for next year. This school is a good school. But it is still a state-supported, government-run school. In the end, I have too much homeschooler in me to embrace some of their ideas. And it is as simple as that. In the end I am discovering what I guess I knew all along. That in my chest beats the heart of a homeschooler.
I have some kids who are doing well at school-- and some that desperately want to come home. I, on the other hand, struggle with having an "all or nothing" nothing mentality. Either we are a homeschool family or we are not. God is teaching me that that may not necessarily be what He has in mind. He is an individual Heavenly Father, and I am learning to be an individual mom with Him as my role model. I am thankful He did not create us as "one size fits all" humans. And I am learning that with my children one size definitely does not fit all-- much as I try to squeeze them into my ideals and my agendas. It never works.
So, that is where I have been this week. (All over the place, as usual...) Adapting to the new pace of having a kindergartner in my midst. Adjusting my rather relaxed life to including a regimen of some sort of academics for him each day. I am enjoying it, though. And what's more, he is enjoying it. We took the long way home this year. But we still got here. And that is what matters.
DISCLAIMER: This is not a post condemning those of you who choose other methods of education... It is merely me reflecting something I feel in my heart. I am not one of those people who thinks that everyone should homeschool. I just know that, for us, homeschooling has been a family-defining endeavor. Though no one has commented about feeling condemned by my comments about government schools yet, I did want to head it off at the pass!