We are wrapping up our eleventh year of homeschooling. My eldest, Simon, is 15 – my youngest, Sammy, is 8 months. Then there is 13 year old Audrey, 11 year old Alex, and 3 year old Kyle. It’s a full, busy, spirited, crazy and beautiful family life here these days.
A couple days ago, I sent a lamenting (whining?) text to a dear friend. All she had to do was ask ‘how are things?’ and I fell apart into a homeschool Mom rant of how much we haven’t covered and how overwhelming this whole school year has been and how I’ve lost my motivation, and am so disappointed in myself for all the stuff we aren’t doing. You know – the STUFF. All that beauty us Charlotte Mason-y, Classical-ish Moms are supposed to be serving up feast-style every SINGLE day. Picture Study, Composer Study, Morning Time, Read-alouds, Latin, French, Poetry, Recitation, Hymn Study, Scripture readings and memorization, Solfa, Dancing, Sloyd… my goodness the list goes on and on.
Folk dancing and Plutarch? We’re just collectively trying to get through the day with as few three-year-old melt-downs as possible and with some semblance of a healthy meal on the table at least once. All the lofty family plans I spent countless hours laying out so obsessively while pregnant last Summer? Largely untouched. *Insert irrational, hysterical sobbing*
My dear friend listened with a virtual tenderness and then typed something about her own journey this year that struck a chord and brought almost instant tears to my eyes.
“It’s hard not to get discouraged when things we planned aren’t getting done. But maybe we need to shift our focus to what IS getting done.”
She went on to sweetly list all kinds of achievements she had seen in my kiddos. I have lovely friends.
The crazy thing is, my husband did the EXACT same thing later that night. I was lamenting again about how sad I was that we didn’t read the (oh… 8?) family read aloud novels I’d scheduled for the year (what was I thinking?) or do really ANY of the Morning Time and family plan I’d created this year. He agreed to some disappointment but then began listing all the things we DID do. And all the change and growth he had seen in the kids. And, he reminded me that…you know, we did kind of add a new little person to the family in September…
Well. I guess the Lord is trying to tell me something, eh?
Here’s the thing – after over a decade of home education, I am more humbled than ever in this journey. Part of the reason I’ve been so quiet on this blog is because I’ve been unsure how to approach blogging after a long pause during our adoption process. Then I was just so overwhelmingly busy. Now, it’s a bit of busy but a lot of… questioning if I even have something of value to share? After all these years, I’m more confused, more humbled, more unable to do “all the things” as ever.
At a time when many Moms are out there speaking and preaching what they know – I am just sitting over here in my housecoat wondering how much more there is that I don’t know. Because I’ve been brought to my knees over and over and over again this year and I’m just left in awe of all God is and all I’m not.
Our plans can be very lofty, can’t they?
We homeschool Moms boast of all the plans we’ve made and all the things we will do and yet, we don’t even know what will happen tomorrow. We spend more time searching for the perfect resources than we do seeking the face of the One who knows exactly what our family needs.
But thankfully, even in our perceived failures, God is sovereign. He is more than able to do the work He wants to do, never mind my plans. And I’ve learned, He will and can have those plans tossed right out the window if need be.
Simon developed a huge passion for programming, electronics, mechanics, and Arduino this year, he also went to high school co-op for the first time, participated in a Shakespearean play (!), and made a ton of new friends – none of which was in my plan.
Audrey grew enormously in her ability to care for younger siblings, and decided to research, hatch out, and raise Silkie chicks completely on her own – not in my plan.
Both Simon and Audrey got the unexpected opportunity to be involved in a high school level fine arts class with a talented and passionate teacher – and have grown exponentially in their ability and enjoyment of art. Not in my plan.
Alex became a wonderful big brother, began to write beautifully, learned to love Geocaching, and through Bible Quizzing, realized he has an amazing gift for bible recitation and memorization – not in my plan.
Both Audrey and Alex had the opportunity to be involved in a musical and had the time of their lives – not in my plan.
Kyle became a big brother… dropped his bottle, potty trained, transitioned to a big boy bed, started eating way better, grew leaps and bounds in many areas of habit training, learned several poems by heart, learned counting and the alphabet, and listened to longer and more detailed literature than I ever would have imagined. Most, not in my plan. *wink*
Sammy was born in water, at home, painfully late but so healthy and breathtakingly gorgeous. He is now a pudgy, adorable 8 month old able to crawl, and pull himself to a stand. He giggles at jokes, and recognizes his sibs. I’m also fairly sure he says, ‘Mama’ when he sees me sometimes. All this preciousness, by God’s grace alone and not planned out by me.
Are you catching the theme… SO MUCH BEAUTY.
Very little of it part of my precious ‘plan’…
See – all these not-in-the-plan-things, are what I would say are some of the biggest growth areas this year. The best surprises – the lasting memories and learning opportunities. Things that happened because the kids had natural desires to pursue passions and interests. Things that happened by natural inclination and through the grace of Christ.
Things that happened because there was space for development. Why?
Because I didn’t have the time or energy to push my plan.
And because unplanned lock downs and isolation forced us to be at home.
And because my inability to adhere to my own plan humbled me to pray and surrender.
Ironic, isn’t it?
And when I sit back and take an inventory of all the things we HAVE done this year and all the many ways all myself, my hubs, and the children have changed and grown and developed, it is awe inspiring. Sure, we didn’t do the art studies I planned. Or the Latin lessons. Or all the read-alouds. Or much of anything I’d planned beyond their individual work – but that doesn’t mean tons of learning didn’t take place.
This year, as you reflect on the past months of homeschool –
focus on what DID get done.
Release the things you didn’t do. Just let them go. I will too.
Instead, take out a pen and a notebook and start reflecting on all the positive things that did happen.
The ways the kids grew. The fun and special moments together. The tough times you got through while supporting one another. The milestones achieved. The hard things that were faced. The new experiences embraced. The ways God revealed Himself. The unplanned successes, passions, and learning opportunities.
Maybe some of these things were in your plan – awesome. But maybe your whole plan bombed – it’s okay.
I think you may be as pleasantly surprised as I am to realize – all the ‘didn’t dos’ aren’t really that huge of a deal in the big picture. The journey is so much more than a list of checkmarks. Don’t let the feeling of failing your plan steal your joy and rob you of the grace Christ wants to pour out on Your thirsty heart.
There will always (ALWAYS) be the stuff we didn’t do, won’t do, ought to do but can’t do, and don’t even know we’re supposed to do. There will always be a millions ways to count failures or dropped balls. But we are gaining nothing to focus on what we see as failure. Instead, we can choose to focus on the successes.
The truth about all our plans is that we really don’t have that much control over whether they will or will not come to fruition. I mean, we ought to have a plan, and we can try our best – but almost inevitably, something comes up. We are human, our kids are human. God’s plans are bigger than ours.
Remember, ask yourself: What DID get done? Or maybe, what is GETTING done? if you’re still in the thick of it, like me…
And then receive the truth and give thanks.
Coming up Next:
-My thoughts on early learning in light of Charlotte Mason’s “no school until six” philosophy
-Reviews and thoughts on various Preschool programs and curriculums
Annnnd, just to be ironic – we’ll take a look at the homeschool plans that DID happen this year for homeschooling grade 9, 7, and 6… stay tuned. 🙂