Saturday, September 28, 2013

The Playground

Yesterday, while my oldest two were at karate class, I took my youngest to the playground next door.  The days was a perfect mix of sunshine and comfortable temperatures.  The mamas and little ones were out in droves- and some of the daddies were on duty too.  It's such a treat to spend some one-on-one time with my youngest. After all, she came along when there were already two children in the family.  When  she was just a babe, on Thursday nights Josh would take the oldest two to church and I would stay home with Petite, snuggling, nursing, watching a mama-movie and soaking up the uninterrupted time together.  I love when our schedule allows time with just one of my kiddos.

I look around the playground and see all these young mamas, many with babies and most with toddlers. Some of the children are older, siblings of the young, but most are preschoolers like my own, if not younger.

There is a strange sigh inside of me as I admire all these adorable children and I watch their mamas.  I feel so young, just like them.  Subconsciously, I think they are my age. After all, I'm in my twenties still, right? I quickly forget I'm halfway between 30 and 40.  I don't believe age matters, I believe you're as old as you feel.  But I watch these mamas and realize that I am slowly graduating from their season of life.  My baby is four now. She'll join the ranks of her brother and sister before I know it, taking classes at the YMCA next door instead of playing at the playground. My arms no longer hold a baby on my hip while pushing a swing at the same time.

It hits me again that this season of young ones goes as quickly as they say it does.  The years of diapers and nighttime feedings are so fleeting.  The chubby cheeks and gurgles last but a moment.  The days of being there to catch them from falling off the swing set come and go before you know it. Soon, they are making new friends and chasing each other and mom is but a watchful eye seated on the bench.

We go to pick up the oldest ones and catch the last few minutes of their class.  Everyone has a piece of a pool noodle and is chasing each other, stopping at the command of their Renshei.  These 8-12 year olds are flushed and full of laughter.  Whatever Renshei is teaching them, it's fun.  It's unleashed the child that is still in them all.

And I know that these days will pass, too.  If they pursue the different belt levels, their training will become even more disciplined, more mature.  The push-ups will come near to perfection.  Their kicks will meet their mark.  Those smiles will turn to mouths set in serious concentration as they get ready to snap a board in half.

I'm thankful we walk this road one day at a time, one season at time.  I'm thankful for the reminders- they come out of nowhere- to just enjoy this moment, this day.  Because the diapers will be gone. The stuffed animals will no longer be cherished.  The Legos will collect dust.  The cell phone bill will have new lines added to it.  The playground will be just a place we drive by.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

The Drive

There's so much the Lord teaches me as I do the thing he's called me to do: staying home with my children and homeschooling them.  Every day, every week, every year is a journey from one place to another.  The ride is different when there's been a nursing infant coming along with us, and then a toddler, and now a preschooler with two elementary age children.    There is sometimes a long, unwinding stretch of road we travel that is uneventful, daily, but progressive.  These times typically come in winter, when it's too cold to venture too far. We hunker down by the fire and see few people but ourselves.

We've had the stretches that are like a roller coaster.  Ups and downs constantly, unpredictably,  some of us screaming in excitement, some of us holding on for dear life.  The season when we were preparing to move, selling our home, every day was an up or down.  Good news or no news.  Our first year in our new home was the same.  Good days or terrible days that came out of nowhere.  Fear. Crying.  Just wanting to get off the ride.

Rocky patches of roads.  Huge pot holes we could fall in and get lost in.  Math.  Loneliness.  Discouragement.  Just not liking anything about life at the moment.

The scenic overlooks are my favorite.  When we pull off to the side, stop and pause and just enjoy the view.  That rare view that gives us a glimpse into what the Lord is doing, what he has in store for us if we keep going.  Enjoying and delighting in what our children are becoming instead of driving defensively through the days of raising and training them.  Looking in their eyes and seeing the little people in there and realizing they are so much like us.  Holding hands with my husband and remembering "I love this man. I like this man. I love our life together. I love the children we've made together."  Snuggling up all together and just being together with nothing to do and nowhere to go and just enjoying it.

Every day is a winding road, the song says.  And it's true because I never know where we'll go next.

Today we homeschool. I expect we'll be on this path for a while.

But tomorrow we may be led to add something or take something away.

Yesterday, the kids joined a karate class.  Families do this all the time. The kids take classes, join a sports team, leave the nest. Early.  Three, maybe four years old.  But this is new for us.  We haven't done a lot of classes or sports.  Brown-Eyed Girl did dance for two years but since we've moved, we've been going solo, it seems.  Putting most of our energy into home, school, work.  I blame myself, the one who desperately needs routine and feels overwhelmed with too many times to keep.  But it was time for a bend in the road.  It's time for stops along the way of our day.

The Lord has been teaching me that I take the wheel too much.  I'm in the driver's seat most of the day, taking responsibility for the education of my children, the care of their bodies, minds, spirits.  I care for the house, the meals, the pets.  I'm serious about what I do.  I don't take it lightly. But there are just some places I can't go.  I start to get heavy eyes, an achy back.  I need to let someone else take the wheel.

I can't navigate the road of teaching my son to be a man on my own.

I can't be the PE teacher, the art teacher, the music instructor, the foreign language teacher, the coach.  I need to stop trying to take all those turns at it and let someone else take my kids in that direction.

I'm not the mom who easily does that.  I've taken full responsibility for them. They're mine, no one else's.  I get the message from the homeschooling community I'm part of that it's my business to raise them, not the school's or the coach's or the church's.  Yes, I've seen the village and I don't like what I see.  I don't want it raising my kids.  Yes, yes, yes, I agree!  I'm at the wheel, I'm driving endlessly, I've gone through the dark nights, the hills and valleys, the long desert stretches, the scenic routes, and the right-straight-ahead not-much-to-see interstate. 

But I have to make some rest stops now.  Let someone else serve my family and maybe find that we've been given a feast!  Maybe it will just be McDonalds, but it will be a chance for me to sit and watch and trust.  It means I can take my hands off the wheel for just a little while and even if we don't go anywhere, I rest.  Maybe we'll go someplace exciting that I could never take us.

The Lord has reminded me that I have a husband to help navigate and also to drive us through areas where I have night vision (math, science experiments, raising a man).  I have friends who will pray travelling mercies with me, for me, and for my children.  There are wonderful teachers, coaches, instructors who actually do have my children's best interest at heart.  No, they won't love them as much as I do! They never could, but they'll make sure they buckle their seat belts and obey the rules of the road and help them see the wonderful sights along the way, the ones I'd miss because I'm always looking straight ahead, keeping my eyes on where we're going.

That white-knuckle grip of mine must let go.  And I have a feeling we'll still get to where we're supposed to be going.  And enjoy the journey even more.