It’s that time again.
My husband claims that in the retail industry, “Back to School” is a season. One of the six holiday seasons, to be more specific. Right up there with Christmas, Easter, and Valentine’s Day.
One of my favorite lines from the movie “You’ve Got Mail” is when Tom Hanks is emailing Meg Ryan that he would like to send her “a bouquet of sharpened pencils” if he knew her name and address.
What is it about this season of school supplies and new clothes that gets us so giddy and excited? It does me, at least. That taste of approaching autumn in the air, the hint of yellow in some of the leaves, the feeling that the last days of summer are slipping away. There’s just something about cracking open a brand new book or notepad…something about a freshly sharpened pencil. It’s not just the getting of new stuff. It’s not just admiring the pile of colorful crayons and workbooks without creases and clothes with the tags on them. The whole process oozes newness and something fresh.
And then it hit me. “Back to School” is a homeschooling mom’s New Year. A time to start over. To put those long days of last year behind me, with their mistakes and blunders. The days I didn’t feel well and was snappy and grouchy with the kids. The days when I lost sight of my goals and ideals and didn’t press in…didn’t try as hard as I should have. The getting behind, the giving up, the days I gave in to despair. Every homeschooling mom has these moments. For some of us it can be more like weeks or months…or maybe even the whole year.
The start of a new school year offers us hope. Those new books, the revised schedule, the organized shelves of binders and supplies. Our hearts sing as we survey our setup, however simple or makeshift, and we think to ourselves “this is it! This is the year that we pull it together and make a real go of this lifestyle of learning at home!”
And you know what? It just might be. So don’t give up, don’t give in. Treat this time as though it were your “New Year”…make some resolutions! What will you resolve for this year?
Some of my resolutions are:
I resolve above all to love my children, and to pour myself out for them each day as unselfishly as I possibly can. To remember how fleeting and fragile our days are, and that soon these sweet ones will be gone from my nurture and care.
I noticed a great deal of wavering and uncertainty on my part over the last couple years. A loosening of my grip on those core ideals and values that have shaped our family. A gradual sliding down the proverbial slippery slope. Lots of excuses, and lots of dark days plagued with guilt, fear, and sadness. Some of that was physical and unavoidable…having a baby will do that to you. Having five in eight years will really do that to you. Yet I know that there were times when I was listening to lies, despairing when I could have been filled with joy and peace. Sometimes all it takes is the lighting of a candle or putting on some happy, life-giving music. Utilizing wisdom in planning, getting adequate rest, and being watchful over our health in what we eat and how we move about. These are tools that support and enable our ideals. Above all, to retain that tight grip on all of my convictions about life, faith, love, and beauty.
I can’t pass on to my children what I don’t possess. Quite honestly, if I’m not willing to wake up earlier in the morning so that I can spend some time with God and hear him speak to me through his Word…speak back to him in heartfelt prayer…then really, I am wasting my time. My words of encouragement and discipleship will be hollow and hypocritical. Y’all know what I’m talking about. Enough said. I resolve to make it happen.
I passed up so many opportunities in past years to engage in the creative process with my children. To make, to build, to cook. We did more last Spring than we’ve ever done before, and are determined to forge ahead with fulfilling the cultural mandate here within our home. I must get past the cringing over the messes, and the total lack of craftsmanship on the part of my children…and just let them go for it. Get our hands dirty, have some fun, and cReAtE!!
My oldest is in fourth grade this year. A transitional grade, to be sure. Moving toward more independent work, longer lessons, more formality and structure. And yet I long to maintain that relaxed atmosphere of natural learning…the hands-on, the free discussions, the light-hearted spirit of our pursuit of knowledge. A tightrope lies before me this year…keep the learning exciting and engaging, while pressing each one “farther up and further in”…can we dig a little deeper? Remember a little more? Make a few more connections? Explore and expound and express…MORE?
My answer to all of this is…YES!
“I am, I can, I ought, I will…” (children’s motto, House of Education, Ambleside)
Got any resolutions of your own?