a note to your spring self (on the last day of spring!)

In the Fall it is so very easy to be excited as a homeschool mom.  We are ready for more structure or rhythm to our days after the low key days of summer.  Isn’t it funny that we long for summer but then, when we have had our fill, we long for the opposite?  We long to get back to our Morning Time, to time around candles at the table, reading, cozy inside as the weather cools down.  It is a time of beginning again. We have ordered our new books and other tools for learning. We are ready to dive in and use them.  We have blissfully forgotten the tears over math, the whining and the hard daily work of teaching habits.

 

In the spring, we have not forgotten.  We are right in the middle of all of it.  We are having to help our children focus on their handwriting when all they want to do is play and go outside.  This is extra hard when honestly, that is all we want to do too! We all have spring fever.

 

Here is a note to your spring self.  I am writing to myself here as well.

 

You have done such a good job this year.  No, you probably have not done everything you set out to do.  Your to do list or reading list was longer than what anyone could do in five years.  So, give yourself grace. But, you have walked out what you felt called to as a mama.  You have showed up every day. You have answered questions, given out hugs, fed your crew and you have been present with your children.  There is nothing, absolutely nothing more important than the time you give and the gift of yourself.

 

You can change up your rhythm a bit.  Really, you can.

 

You can go spread a blanket on the grass and read outside.  Then, soon your children will be exploring sticks and whatever else they find.  You can count that as school. If you need to for your sanity, you can have them count the sticks or add them, there, now you can really count that as math.  There is no shame in that either.

 

There might be those days that you end up not having any official school at all.  Gasp! It’s a crazy thought right? But, we know, as wild and free mamas that education is a lifestyle, and our children are really learning all the time, whether they know it or not or whether we call it school or not.  Sometimes we need to take a day off to play with our children. As Mamas we need to remember the art of having fun instead of always trying to accomplish. Go explore a new place with your children, whether it be a new hike or a new part of your city.  That adventure of seeing and experiencing new may be just what you need to keep going or to finish your year.

 

Maybe you just need a good belly laugh.  Go tickle your children and have them tickle you.  Have your children make up jokes and tell you. Their silly jokes or even the not so silly ones may cause you to relax, which is exactly what you needed. Don’t we all just need to relax?

 

Find something that you really enjoy, a new something or an old something.  Decide to do that now or as a special summer something. This something can be something only for you.  Sometimes we need that. A special thing to look forward to. An act of love to ourselves. As an example,  I am thinking about finding a Zumba class, simply because I remember enjoying that years ago. Also, because I  love to dance.

 

Spring Mama, you are doing fine.  Allow yourself to look out the window at the beauty outside or at the beauty sitting around your very table.  You are doing a great job dear one. Love, another spring mama.

 

a permission slip for you

As I sat reading, a thought began to form in my brain.  It was actually a grand realization.  I love it when an idea seems to grab you and it won’t let you go.  Slowly, the thought came into words.   I don’t have to have an answer.  I really don’t.  I don’t always have to have an answer to give people or even myself.  I do not have to know everything.  Gosh, when did I begin to think that I had to?!

That is so freeing because normally I feel like I need to have an answer.   I feel like I need to have an answer to what we are doing in the future or where we are going to live.  I need to have an answer to my whole thought process toward our homeschooling journey or to some other area in life.  I feel like I need to explain myself to everyone.  And I don’t.

 

Recently, I felt like I needed to have a final end date to our homeschool year.  Since my husband has been a teacher for the last six years and I have lived most of my life with the school calendar I think this felt like a given.  But, it doesn’t have to be!  Whoa.  So, I have surrendered a concrete end date to our year.  I have realized since education is a lifestyle it will be more of a flowy thing, with rather blurry ending and starting dates.  We will go on our road trip, which will be one big learning experience.  When we come back, we will continue where we left off, coming inside when its too hot to be outside.  We can follow the natural season and be still to listen to the season that God has us in as well.  We will keep on going and finish the books we have begun and then move on.  Every summer, I want this neat and tidy plan, and it never works that way.   But, we do find ourselves into a rhythm.  So, I won’t know all the answers for this summer, and I don’t have to.  I can have some dreams, hopes, goals and must finish items.  And that is ok too.

 

Sometimes I need to give myself a giant permission slip.  This is what this essay is, a permission slip for you to not have an answer when you think you need to.  You don’t.  Amen.

The wonder of childhood, for parents too

As I am typing this, the sun is setting on this summer day and my children just gave me hugs goodnight.  My husband is tucking them in as I write.  It is a wonder to see gentleness and love in their hugs and voices as they good night.  It is a wonder to see what they learn through us.  Perhaps I will next write, the wonder of being a mother, because it is a wonder to see our children grow,learn and become who they were made to be.

 

I spent the spring of this year questioning.  I was questioning our first homeschool year.  Doesn’t every mother question herself at some point during the journey?  Add to “job title”, teacher, and the questions have doubled.  Are my children getting what they need?  We had counted, started beginning phonics and worked on memorization.  I had check off many boxes that I so like checking off.  But I could feel myself being led to a new way of living and learning, being a mother and a teacher.

 

I have always been a planner.  A planner in the sense  I love writing things, ideas and plans in a clean white space in a journal or planner, but living it all out, that felt more overwhelming than fun.  I am slowly learning through mistakes and exhaustion what I can actually can do during a given time.

 

One of the many reasons why I decided to homeschool was to allow our children to be children as long as they can.  I want to give them ample free time to explore, pretend and build.  I believe they learn such valuable lessons through play.  I adore watching my children lost in play,for that is indeed the wonder of childhood.

 

Here’s the thing, as much as we may TRY, we cannot plan wonder.  Wonder just happens.  It’s the reaction to discovering a frog hopping along the cement or the taste of freshly picked fruit off of the tree.  Wonder often happens outside, in discovery and exploration of nature.  The wonder of childhood is experiencing something for the first time.

 

So, I began searching for more ways to be outside and to bring school outside.  At the same time,the house we’ve been renting was sold, and we again found ourselves looking for a new place to live.

 

We came up empty with options in the town we had just moved to.  But then, a unique opportunity we had considered in the Fall, “wound up” being our only option in our minds.  We could house-sit a house in the country, a half an hour away.  We said yes, although we weren’t fully convinced about it.

 

When I woke up the first day in the country and saw my kids playing outside I knew this was the right place.  My kids eyes were glowing and radiating with joy.  What mama cannot help but rejoice in that?  I began to breathe easier after the business of moving as I sat and stared at nature.  Nature itself is therapy.  My husband, a teacher, joined us during our days, and we all have been able to experience wonder.

The wonder of watching a mama bird feed her young.

The wonder of chicks hatching and Mama hens protecting them under their wings.  The wonder of them growing up.

The wonder of jumping on a trampoline most nights while the sun sets.

The wonder of taking care of dogs and how they want to be your best friend.

The joy of seeing something new or experiencing something for the first time.

The wonder of playing outside until it is too dark to see.

The wonder of having a bonfire and roasting s-mores.

The wonder of having a long driveway to have races on.

To wonder, is to really live, and its not only for children, but for their parents too.