The expectations and planning for each new school year has been a highlight in my career as a HS Mom.
In the beginning, when my oldest was only three years old, I spent years researching philosophies, reading books and anxiously waiting for that date when he would be old enough to formally school! As he grew older, it became a full time obsessive hobby of mine to plan, purchase and schedule and then plan, purchase and schedule some more.
Oh, if I could speak with that anxious Mama today.
But not to be too hard on myself, planning and researching is essential. After all, that is how I discovered Charlotte Mason. Her volumes emanated wisdom and gentleness and I knew immediately that's exactly the lifestyle we needed in our home.
Besides discovering lifestyle philosophies, planning is a lot of fun too! I (We all do!) still love the excitement of receiving a new package in the mail, tearing into the box to smell the fresh pages and hear the crackle of the crisp new books as well as to receive the vintage books stained with history and longevity. And I still can spend late hours in front of my laptop revising the daily planner and visiting all the HS extracurricular sites available in our community with the anticipation of all that we can DO!
But today, as we start our fifth year of HS, the thrill of planning curriculum and my expectations of the year have mellowed and matured. I've come to realize that all this planning is the easy part and losing myself in the details and in the schedule has been an escapism for the harder and most consequential element of Homeschooling and that is my relationship with my children.
Last year, like the year before was steeped in a rigid schedule, conflict was strong amongst siblings as well as betweem me and the kids. If I designed a planner then by Golly we were going to keep it, even if my babes were having a bad day and we didn't finish until three in the afternoon. (The fact of, shape up or there will be no time for play didn't seem to affect their behaviour very much.) And if I bought a math book, then double by Golly we were going to finish it even if we had to work well into the hot month of July. And so, by the end of the school year, I was burnt out and my children disliked school.
Recently, I met up with another CM Mom who like Miss Mason, inspires me with her writings (she's only on instagram and I'm trying to convince her to start her own blog). I turn on instagram in hopes of hearing a bit of her life with her 5 daughters, searching for a bit of exhortation. Her tidbits of sometimes muddy, sleepless and always adorable children bring to life such a gentleness and love of parenting. I'm so hungry for her stories because I know I've lost my own gentle spirit and love of parenting along the way.
I want it back. I want my first love back. I want to remember why I chose to homeschool my children in the first place.
It wasn't because I felt they would achieve so much more academically at home, it wasn't because of concerns that peer influences bring, nor was it because I disagreed with the Public School ideology but simply because I wanted to spend time with my children, I wanted to spend all day just loving them. When Colin, my oldest, was born and first placed in my arms I knew I would never surrender the privilege of being with him to someone else.
I know what I need to do and what I've been doing wrong. I've been focused on the tangibility of Living Ideas and Good Habits while neglecting the atmosphere of gentleness, flexibility, Grace and Mercy. Funny how these were the attributes that so attracted me to Charlotte Mason and yet they've become harder to hold onto with each backmouth, with each sibling fight that seems to drain my soul. I now know that in preparation for the New School Year, for Everyday, I must sustain the Home, nurture Mother Culture® and invite God to change me so that I may not only endure each day, but thrive and project that powerful zing this blog is supposed to be all about!
So in preparation for this year, I come with a humble heart in a day full of prayer and fasting. I'm deciding to plan, purchase and prepare my heart for the sake of Christ and the Work He has in store for my precious children, who I really do love. With as much preparation as it takes to formulate a curriculum, feeding my soul and the atmosphere of my heart with godliness should take just as much time or more.
Our Heavenly Father, Who Art in Heaven, As we start this new year I come before you confessing that I can't do this alone. My brokenness, my misgivngs, my impatience, my intolerance darkens my home atmosphere when faced with the not-so-idyllic realities of raising and teaching children. Please LORD, I pray for added wisdom to discern times between when firmness is required and when gentleness is needed, for flexibility, for added gentleness in place of anger, for focus in the midst of constant distraction. To allow imperfections and unmet schedules for the sake of the children. That I may find rest and reassurance in you Oh Lord. That I may live my life with abundant zing to energize my family with a radiant love rather than despair. And to always remember my first love, which is to foster a trusting and lasting relationship with each and every one of my children. LORD to always have in the forefront of my mind Your Will and Purpose for my children's lives and that is to know You and come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
In your Name We Pray Jesus, Amen.
Today, on our first day of homeschool one child threw a tantrum when asked to make the bed, we didn't complete all the items scheduled for Tuesday and our brand new water heater which had sprang a heavy leak distracted us from our lessons. So we spent part of the late morning cleaning up and when that was done, we lunched out at our favorite Pho restaurant and spent several hours at a local park, riding on wheels and picking blackberries.
We'll just pick up where we left tomorrow. And that's ok, because I really enjoyed my kids today and I think they enjoyed me too!