Change. It’s inevitable.
We make our plans, the machinery is in gear, working great – and suddenly, somebody throws a wrench in it all and it grinds to a halt, forcing a change of direction.
On this journey called “Motherhood”, if there’s anything I’ve learned it’s this: Anytime you think you’ve got it all figured out, and you feel like you’re rockin’ and rollin’ and could write a book about how to “do it right”, life will throw a million wrenches into the mechanics of your life and you find yourself having to repair, restore, and find new ways to make it all work again!
For instance, a few years ago, after being a full-time stay-at-home-mom for about a decade, I went back to working full-time in my career. It was rewarding to get paid well again, to get up every morning and dress in nice business attire and send my kids off to school while I went about my own business for the day. I was rockin’ the “Working Mommy” thing – having it all! Well, it seemed I had it all.
But I soon realized I was not equipped to juggle it all. I was missing out on way too much of my boys’ lives. My job was demanding, and required a lot of travel, and early morning and late night meetings. I didn’t get to take my kids to school, pick them up from school, attend their events, cook their meals, or even get to know their teachers and friends. I felt totally like “Mom Without a Clue” – my worst nightmare.
Instead, my husband, who owns his own business, had more time and freedom so he soon became the “go to guy” for our boys…and I admit, this was like a slap in my face. Going from being the woman who had suffered two horrible HG pregnancies, nursed her babies, and essentially been their world for all those years – to suddenly becoming somewhat of a stranger in their lives….well, it was depressing me to no end. No matter how successful I felt in my career, I felt like a failure as a mother.
Thankfully, the Lord provided a way for me to leave my job and come home again. I soon got involved in a home-based business and found a way to pursue some of my passions, while getting to be “homeroom mom” and “being there” for all the important events of their lives again. I was on my way to having it all – a different version of it – or so I thought.
Enter, a few wrenches. My husband and I felt led to homeschool our boys. Now THIS was something entirely out of my comfort zone, but I soon found several “Mom Mentors” who have been absolutely indispensable in guiding us through this whole new world.
Homeschooling is absolutely wonderful in many ways. The most beautiful things about it are that your family is the priority and that you can design a curriculum for each child to meet their specific needs. I absolutely abhor having to turn my kids over to the school system and let them dictate our daily schedules and what my children should be learning every day. I believe that my husband and I know our children best, and we can best determine both what they should learn and the pace at which they should be learning it.
I love that we get to determine our own school schedule. If one child is an early riser, I get him started early. If the other needs extra sleep, he can start a little later. We can finish school in 2 or 3 hours some days, or we can drag it out all day long if we need breaks or have appointments in the middle of the day. It’s so nice to get things down during the weekday, like well check-ups, dentists appointments, field trips, etc… when most other kids are in school and the lines and waits are low.
And we can choose our own curriculum according to our children’s needs. If one loves science and technology, while the other is artistic and linguistic, I can tailor their curricula to meet those desires. We can meet with other homeschoolers for nature study, swim team, and other fun and educational activities and field trips whenever we want. And, I can give them a world-view in our studies that aligns with our Christian beliefs.
I absolutely adore that my family can pick up and go on vacation anywhere, anytime – and school just goes along with us. The family time we’ve enjoyed these past two years has been balm for our souls, and has strengthened our relationships with one another. I have absolutely no doubt about that, and I have treasured this time together, and really getting to know and appreciate both of my children – all of their little quirks, their individuality, and their needs. I wouldn’t trade one moment of these past couple of years for anything.
And yet, here we are – at another crossroads. Another wrench thrown into the machinery, so to speak.
This school year is ending, and things are changing. I’m finding myself feeling restless, and not able to meet all the expectations we have for our children and their schooling. It’s been really, REALLY tough being both “mom” and “teacher”. I’ve been feeling like I just can’t meet the expectations I’ve set for what it means to be a “success” for either of these roles.
My oldest son is a teenager now. Next year is his last year of middle school, and we’ve always said that the option to send them back to school is open for discussion and consideration every year. Well, this past year he has grown into a responsible young man who has exhibited wisdom and maturity, in most instances, well beyond his years. And he is expressing his desire to go back to school, to be among his buddies more, to get to try out for the school sports teams, and to just experience what it’s like to be a “school kid” again.
At first, when we began discussing this, I admit that I had a minor panic attack. I’ll be honest here, I hate so many things about the school system! I hate that some kids are mean, some teachers and administrators are uncaring, and the curriculum isn’t designed with my specific child’s needs and desires in mind. “Common Core” (while I understand the intentions and agree with the need for standards, in theory) has made a mess of things. (As of this writing, Tennessee has just voted to do away with “Common Core” – so it will probably be an even bigger mess for a while, until we figure out what is going on.) I can’t stand that I lose control over our family’s schedule. And the thought that I can’t protect and guard him from a lot of the evils of life that he will be exposed to, and even possibly experience, is overwhelming.
And yet, I know he’s ready to face it. These past couple of years, we’ve not only been able to teach him math, science, and history, but we’ve also been able to teach him about life the best way possible – by essentially carrying him around with us and letting him watch us live it out, day by day.
He has observed how we manage a household on a daily basis. He’s more aware of how hard we work to earn our living, and how we budget for the things we need and enjoy. He understands that sometimes we have to say “no” to the things we want because there are things we need. He has observed the long hours we put in at our jobs, housekeeping, yard work, grocery shopping, cooking, and cleaning – everything that it takes to keep the machinery of our lives going. He has participated and watched us as we schedule our calendars to do things we want to do, things we have to do, and things we feel called to do – how important it is to find balance in our lives.
He has watched a mom and dad live out a marriage of give and take, each one of us striving to give more than we take from each other. He’s watched me struggle daily to do the things I’m not good at – like teaching, time management, and self-sacrifice – and yet find a way to do them (maybe not well, but do them). He’s watched his father – a godly, servant-hearted man – almost always put his desires on the back-burner so that he can be fully present in the lives of his sons, and serve me in ways that make me constantly aware of the fact that I am “blessed among women”.
He’s learned how to be both a friend, an encourager, and a caretaker to others through his relationship with his younger brother. He’s learned that he’s not the center of the universe, and yet also how to stand up for himself when needed. These two argue like crazy, just like any other siblings, for sure – and yet, these past two years the amount of time they’ve been forced to spend together has solidified their love for one another. I have faith that their bond of brotherhood will only continue to strengthen over time now – a prayer I’ve had for them since before they were even born. And, I know this experience will serve him well in his friendships and relationships throughout his life.
And don’t get me wrong -I know there are reasons he’s looking forward to getting away from us so he can spread his wings and fly, too! I know he’s looking forward to teachers who are forced to show a little more patience because they aren’t his parents and can’t just send him to his room anytime he isn’t paying attention. I know he’s looking forward to not having to put up with a little brother who canNOT be quiet at any time during the day, no matter how much you need peace and quiet to study. I know he’s looking forward to getting to do more “teenager-ish” things with his friends, goofing off with them during breaks and after school. I know he’s looking forward to all of the options and opportunities that he believes public school will offer him.
And yet, I know it’s all a big risk, too. CONTROL – that’s a hard thing to give up as a parent – and now that I’ve been a “parent-teacher”, I’m finding it even harder.
Wrenches can be thrown in anywhere, anytime…and as a parent, I just hope that I can remain as close to him now as we have been these past couple of years. I hope that I’ll remain intuitive enough about his life, which is sure to become a bit more “private” to him now that he is entering this phase of life.
I admit, I look forward to being “just mom” again. I look forward to being there as his full-time encourager and cheerleader, offering guidance and hope – not always having to “judge and grade” his work. It’s kind of tough to balance that – making sure your child knows that you love him and support him unconditionally, and yet have to grade him on his work and chastise him a little bit to make sure he gets it all done, and done correctly. I struggle with that, endlessly – whether homeschooling or not.
And yet, as much I look forward to fading back from that duality of roles for him, I find myself hoping he’ll still want me as “his teacher”. I hope he’ll come to me for help and guidance with school work. I hope he’ll ask for my opinions as he makes decisions, both big and small. I guess in many ways I hope to remain his teacher – especially when it comes to “life” and, especially, as he matures in his life in Christ.
But, most of all, I hope he’ll know that his “performance” is never a condition of my love and acceptance. This is how God love us – unconditionally. And yet, He has a purpose for us, and hopes, and He desires for us to turn to Him for guidance.
The twists and turns of life are inevitable. The decisions that face us as parents are confusing at times, and sometimes I know I feel ill-equipped – not knowing whether to scratch my watch or wind my head!
But, I’ve learned over the years that if I go into each day of this journey with my hands open to what God has to give us, instead of clenching tightly onto the desires I have for myself and my children, He will fill them with more than we could have ever imagined ourselves.
So, my son and I enter this new phase with our hands wide open – releasing our own plans, preconceived notions, and fears, hoping the homeschool experience he’s had these past couple of years have taught him more than just the scholarly basics, and asking God to fill our lives with the strength, wisdom, and ability to handle whatever wrenches are thrown our way on this next big adventure.
I’m learning that it’s not necessarily a “monkey wrench” thrown into my mothering plans. As long as we’re seeking GOD’s plan for each of us, starting each day in prayer with an open heart and open hands to HIS will, and not comparing what WE’RE doing as a family to what EVERYBODY ELSE is doing – then there is true peace in this Motherhood deal after all.
“Better one handful with tranquility than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind.” – Ecclesiastes 4:6