I’ve been struggling this year with homeschooling. We’re about six weeks into school, and the pleasure and joy that I usually have from pouring into my kids each day is like some foggy mirage off in the distance. I keep grasping for that spark that I’m longing for, but it dissipates as soon as my fingers touch it.
I wake up each morning feeling overwhelmed by the impending day. I go to bed each night questioning whether this is what I am supposed to be doing. I trudge through our day, consciously forcing myself to get through the next lesson. I dread correcting assignments.
For a few weeks now, I have been praying fervently for discernment about what is going on. I am doing no service to my kids if I am not filled with joy as I school them. I would even go as far to say that I’m doing them a disservice if I am homeschooling out of obligation. Not just to them, but to me.
As I was spending time reading my Bible and writing in my journal this morning, I felt like it suddenly became clear to me: I am mourning the loss of flexibility. I have become a slave to a schedule.
And I don’t like it one bit.
You see, up until this year, I purposefully did not commit to daily obligations during the week if at all possible. We would pretty much always start school by 7:00 am and would be done by 11:00 am, or noon at the latest. But if we wanted to take extra time on a science experiment, or play a fun game in the morning, or even watch a movie together on a rainy day, we had the flexibility to do that. We could just push school back a bit. No problem. This is what I loved about homeschooling. Time with my kids, focused on the things that to me are more important: praying together, connecting with each other, deepening our relationships.
But this year is different.
Our oldest is taking math at a local college three mornings a week. Our other four take classes on Tuesday mornings. And even though that is another commitment, it is a blessing as well. It’s the one morning a week I can spend uninterrupted on my blog or have coffee with a friend or even go to the eye doctor or Costco all by myself. It’s kinda vital.
Thursdays is our weekly meet up with our homeschool group at a local park. Again, kind of important since it’s the one time a week when my kids get to hang out with their friends.
So five days a week, I am committed to being somewhere.
No lazy mornings.
No rainy day movies.
No sick days.
No extended science experiments.
No real prayer time together in the mornings.
So I am mourning the loss of flexibility.
How did it happen that suddenly I am beyond the days of art projects and simple worksheets and reading on the couch with my kids?
Why didn’t I realize how blessed I was to enjoy flexibility with my kids when I had it?
Now I feel like I am on the other side of flexibility and have moved into a world of schedules and commitments and requirements and expectations.
Gone are the handprint paintings on the fridge. The craft supplies are tucked away in the cupboard. The macaroni necklaces are retired. And I’m left looking at my kids, grieving the time that is gone. Mostly lamenting over the fact that I didn’t realize it was coming to an end until it had already vanished.
Now, I know it’s not over. My youngest is just seven. There’s still time. But my oldest is quickly approaching high school, when a whole new realm of obligations will take hold. Before I know it, he’ll be asking me for the car keys, and will race out the front door without planting a kiss on my cheek.
Time. Is. Flying.
And here I am, grasping at fleeting moments, praying that I can cling to just a few vibrant memories with my kids before they fly through my fingers.
Of course, I’m excited about the future for my kids. I look forward to what the next phase of life has to offer. But I wish I would have known I was entering the next phase. Maybe I would have taken a few more deep breaths, inhaling the beautiful scent that parenting young ones is.
So if you’re still in the trenches of parenting little ones, soak it in friends. As stressful and exhausting and slowwwww as it seems at times, enjoy it before you are where I am, mourning that you’ve crossed over into a new phase without realizing it.
Every giggle, every laugh, every scraped knee and cry out for mommy, enjoy it all. Don’t be fooled into thinking that you should just trudge through as quickly as you can, rushing to get out of this difficult phase. Because each phase offers goodness. Each phase offers an opportunity to connect with your kids in a different way than the phase before. Savor the phase.
As hard as this loss of flexibility is for me, I am going to do my very best to relish these moments in the car (of which there are many. MANY), these meaningful conversations with my kids, these new challenges that come with teens and pre-teens…before I am in the next phase.
Because I don’t want to miss the transition next time.