Sunday, August 10, 2014

No One Special

"You must be crazy."

"I could never do that."

"How do you teach the hard stuff?"

"That's a lot for you; you much be a pretty special mom."

"Mine are learning Russian at their school."

"Our school is teaching them to design their own program language and invent a website."

"Mine are in the Honors Program with all AP classes."

      If ever I felt unqualified to start our 11th year of homeschooling, it is now. Back to School time.  Everyone in a pre-school excitement.  Pulling school lists at Walmart.  Picking out new lunchboxes and backpacks.  New clothes.  Finding out who teachers are.  Open houses and orientations. New schedules posted and matching classes with friends.  Inevitably I run into one friend or another  in Walmart and lately the conversations always turn to the first day of school.  Most know we homeschool but as the years tick on, more frequently the question from well meaning school choosing friends is, "Are you still going to homeschool?"  In my brain I hear, "Are you subjecting yourself to the crazy yet again?"  The self doubt not audible to them, the conversation continues and ends up with the excitement of all that is piled in their carts wheeling away.

    This will officially be the first year I am dragging my feet since starting Kindergarten with Logan.  What seemed overwhelming with him 10 years ago has creeped back into my brain as we step off on our 11th year of "crazy."  I will have a 10th grader, a 7th/8th grader (that's another whole blog and issue all together), a 5th grader, and a 3rd grader.  As brown boxes began arriving at my door step last week~I told you I was dragging my feet~I could feel the weight of the new school year almost as if with each delivery, the boxes were being stored on my shoulders.  I couldn't even bring myself to open the one that arrived on Saturday...our biggest by far.  Even with the kids excitement, I used the excuse of wanting to save them all until Monday.  I couldn't bear the thought of the sight of Chemistry, Algebra 2, cursive workbooks, Physical Science, and fractions staring back at me.  Not now.  Not with two days left of summer.  

   Our summer has been wonderful; busy, but wonderful.  Logan and Cole played baseball all summer and we got to travel with Logan and spend quality time with just him.  We made great friends with his new baseball family and strengthened old ones with Cole's.  We enjoyed the pool, friends, bowling, lazy mornings, late evenings, and play dates.  We had so much fun with VBS this year, camping, and sometimes just doing nothing.  I got lazy with my to do list and figured out suppers on a whim.  We ate pizza by the pool and Sunset Slush on warm summer nights.  I was Mom.  I had time to play games, make homemade cookies, pick up friends, and have sleepovers.  Homemade pizzas and homemade ice cream.  I try new recipes and new restaurants.  Sure I had to clean, laundry~always~, cook and plan meals, but that's it.  I wasn't grading papers or doing lesson plans.  I wasn't editing a book report or fussing over missed assignments.  No tests were given, no deadlines for papers, and no mandatory reading.  I corrected grammar but only half-heartedly and never with a pen.  I can do Mom.  I enjoy Mom.  I know how to do Mom.  It makes me happy.  It's my comfort zone.

    Starting the school year means I am no longer just Mom.  I'm back to being Teacher.  I make assignments and check them.  I introduce and enforce.  I test, I quiz, I check.  I answer questions.  I point out mistakes.  I assist, tutor, explain.  I at times become the bad guy and I don't want to be the bad guy.  I cry over long days, I sigh with relief when long division is mastered, I smile at a good test grade.  I hide in my closet for quiet, I stop answering phones, I get frustrated, I get tired.  My days are long.  My days are fast.  I don't have enough time to squeeze it all in.  I make slice n bake cookies and frozen pizzas.  Trips to the pool are a memory and we start the busy~ness of our school year.  I am thankful to have the freedom to homeschool and I truly feel this is what God has called us to do...again this year...and that may change one year.  It won't be this year.  So.  I press on.  I will choose to dwell on what is good and in the knowledge that what He has called me to do, He will see me through.  But see. I'm no one special.  I have doubts about teaching the "hard stuff."  I do, at times, think I am crazy.  But I am in the trenches like every other back to school mom.  

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Rearview Mirror Faith

I watched him walk away in my rearview mirror.  Hot tears were streaming down my cheeks as I pulled away.  I was finding myself at a point where I was no longer in control of every little thing in my son's life.  I found I was more of a spectator, a prayer warrior, in the life of this young man walking away from my car.  But I wasn't liking that in this moment.  I wanted everything to be in a neat box.  My neat box.    

How did we get to this point?  Why does it just seem like yesterday he was 18 months old playing with a pumpkin on my sidewalk?

Everything in me knew I had to pull away and everything in me wanted to go back and get him. He was starting his second day of baseball conditioning with the local high school.  Knowing no one.  He had been nervous pulling up and that made me more.  As I pulled out of the parking lot of Battery Creek High School suddenly the music seemed so loud and my desperation seemed to overcome me.  I turned off the music and instead of turning right I pulled the steering wheel quickly left to head to the back side of the field hoping on one hand to see a quick peek of him and on the other hand praying no one would see me.  As I drove slowly past the field, the chain link fence was covered with a green tarp and even in the small tear in center field, without my glasses and the players congregated in the dug out, they all looked the same to me.  I had no choice but to drive home.  

The tears flowed freely again.  In the silence, the only sound was my sobs.  

God.  I need you to be with him.  You know.  You see him and I can't.  Please.  Please be right there with him.  Like you were last year.  Like you were when he needed a friend moving to Beaufort.  Like when you drew him close when his Daddy deployed.  He needs you.  I need you to be with him.  I need you.

Slowly, my silent heart prayer became audible. Talking out loud I poured out my heart as the sobs came.  It felt good to share my doubts and I knew He was listening.

I guess I blinked.  Everyone warned me.  But I must have blinked. 

The time, that seemed to have moved so quickly, in that moment in the parking lot really hadn't been moving that quickly at all.  But it was as if, snapshots over the past few months made me realize that he was a young man right before my eyes.  

I first noticed it a few weeks back.  It wasn't until trading seats stopped on the side of the road one day did I really take  notice.  My Logan was no longer a boy.  He was a man.  And my heart skipped a beat.  

We occasionally stop before the entrance to our neighborhood to switch seats and let him finish the short, uneventful drive home.  He has been driving the golf cart around the neighborhood for years, the jeep on the deer lease for even longer, and G-Paw's jeep on a dirt track last year.  I figured, a quick half a mile in our neighborhood is the easiest of all by far.  We had been talking quite a bit about the safety and laws of driving.  He's been figuring out mirrors and pedals and his mother's comfort zone.  I remember one conversation as I was driving one day.

"What's the rearview mirror for?  Seems silly."

"Even though you need to keep your eyes forward, it's good to check your rearview mirror every now and then."

Along all of those quick trips, it wasn't until one day I looked over at his hands holding the steering wheel.  They looked just like Patrick's.  They were huge.  Long fingers.  Steady.  Sure.  It wasn't that small hand that used to grab mine.  It wasn't the small hand that would reach out to hand me things.  Or the one that pushed his Hot Wheels along.  Or even the ones that just a year before had built Legos for hours.  He had the hands of the man. And in that moment, I realized he was closer to being a grown man than he was my little boy.  In that moment watching his hands drive home, I missed my little boy.  

I didn't think of those hands again until I watched him walk away in the rearview mirror.  It was that very question about the rearview mirror God brought to mind and that I pondered on that day as I drove home.  

In all of the unknowns of what lies ahead for him, what he heading toward, and the things he will face, God flooded my mind with sweet memories of my first born son.  Precious memories.  Times where it was just the two of us pushing through a long deployment. Then, two. Then, six.  Memories of the three of us at our first homecoming. The six of us at his last.  Memories of trips taken.  Talks had.  Prayers shared.  I was looking behind to God's faithfulness.  God’s rearview mirror.  I was remembering His works of old.  In that moment, He was overwhelming me with His provision, His presence, His love.  God was always telling His people, the Israelites, not to forget.  To remember.  To look back on His faithfulness and be encouraged when the unknown was ahead.  In that suburban, just my Father and I, He spoke to my heart, quieted my sobs, and calmed my anxious thoughts.  He was right there.  I know it. He was so real in that car.  As I drove, I talked and I shared with Him my fears and doubts, and yet, it was as if He kept turning my thoughts to my spiritual rearview mirror, saying, 

Look my child.  Look at my faithfulness.  Remember.  I love him. And I love you. I have loved you with an everlasting love.  And him.  

Holy hindsight.  It was His gift to me that day. I was loved.  He was almost audible, so much so I kept wanting to look over at the seat next to me.  He was so close, I knew He was there.

"...but your own eyes have seen all the great work of the Lord which He did." Deuteronomy 11:7  

I talked.  He listened.  He spoke to my soul.  I listened.  I cried more.  But my heart was calmed.  He calmed me by showing me His rearview mirror.  Showing me where I've been.  Where He brought me.  And Who had been there.  

"When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches, For you have been my help, and in the shadow of Your wings I sing for joy.  My soul clings to You; Your right hand upholds me."
Psalm 63:6-8 

As I pulled into the garage and the door shut,  I sat in silence for what seemed like an eternity.  In quiet.  But my heart was full.  I remembered.  He reminded me.  He was right there.  My days with my growing children may not get easier, they will look different as I move forward with each of them, and I do still have a lot of mothering left.  But I will have my rearview mirror faith.  And I will check it.  I will remember. 

"I don't need to know where I'm going, I just need to know where I've been."
~Mater from Cars