Last week I reflected a bit on what I learned in my first year of homeschooling. You can read it here if you missed it.
As I sit here this afternoon, surrounded by books and folders and planners and notebooks, I’m getting a bit giddy as I anticipate our first official day tomorrow.
I was always one to get a bit giddy about the first day of school when I was a teacher. You know, the freshly sharpened pencils, the neat and tidy room ready for grubby paws of children, the clearly labeled bins and baskets, new names written across folders and desks, the overall feeling of excitement that came with the anticipation of a new year.
But then, I became a mom. And the first day of school didn’t have the same meaning as it once did. I had since moved to a position outside of the classroom and didn’t have the same kind of prep that I once did. And the anticipation shifted from one of excitement in the later years of working to one that left me in tears when I left home for the day. Because the first day of school meant I had to leave my kids behind.
I was fortunate to have a husband working part-time and staying home with the kids. That had it’s own set of sacrifices for both of us, but it was a decision that “made sense.” Teaching made more money and had better benefits so I worked.
Don’t get me wrong. I was focused on my job. I had to leave home at home and came to work ready to work. The tears were left in the car. I wiped my eyes every morning and put on my happy face and my working head and left my mama heart behind the steering wheel. I had to. It was my job and I had to do it.
Which I hated. I hated having to make that choice every day.
This is my third year after leaving public education. The third time I don’t have to make the choice between a “working” job and being home with my children. And it’s my second year homeschooling.
And so the anticipation is back. The feeling of excitement that we are beginning a new year of learning together.
I have my lists of goals for this year. My kids will be setting goals as well.
And I could write about them. About some of the learning goals or the chore goals or the behavior goals. The goals I have of doing more family service projects together or the goals of praying more for other families together or finally doing more art and science projects (Micah cheers in the background).
But my number one goal this year isn’t about learning, really.
It isn’t about the cute pile of books on my table and the new curriculum.
It isn’t about the writing notebooks.
It isn’t about the never-ending ideas swimming in my brain.
My number one goal?
Is these guys.
My school-age kids and my two littles (shenanigans and all).
My goal this year is to enjoy them.
What? Don’t you already enjoy your kids?
Oh yes, yes I do, thank you. But this year for some reason feels different. My focus is different. And while yes, I feel more planned and prepared and yes I feel more organized and yes I have better goals, I’m also increasingly aware of how thankful I am to be here.
To be home. To spend time with them every day where we’re not running to school and I’m not leaving in tears each morning. I am thankful that I listened to the call of God on my life to leave my job and be home. I’m thankful that despite our difficult circumstances in the “natural” of this life, that God put motherhood and homeschool so heavy on my heart. I am thankful each and every day that we are in this together. Not just this year of “homeschool” and learning, but this life. That I am blessed to wake up every day knowing that we get the day together. All day. Every day. What a gift!
So while we have educational and life goals, my goal is focusing on them. Not just focusing on the activities and the learning. But on them. And being thankful for the mess they create and my increased desire for more caffeine and the constant barrage of questions and wonderings and the little hands and hearts that need cuddles and hugs all day long. To be thankful for the constantly stained shirts and stained floors and fingerprinted walls because my heart has been stained and fingerprinted with love for them.
My goal is to be more present. More aware of their needs. More aware of the need to just stop when they need my attention and look into their eyes and listen. To quiet the roaring sea of my own wonderings and goals and listen to their hearts.
Will I fail? Um, yes, I know I will. But this. This is more important to me than the activities and standards and goals and curriculum. I’ll share those things throughout the year on this blog for anyone who cares to see what it looks like for our little family because it will be fun. I’m super excited for it.
But know that it’s all second. It’s all second to them.