I wanted to let you know that I was standing right in your shoes seven years ago. My daughters were 9, 6 and 3. I felt guilt for the time I didn't spend with the 3yo, frustration with the 6yo because she simply *would not* learn how to read, and exhaustion trying to keep up with the 9yo who was extremely curious about the world and wanted to read everything before I could preread it.
It was a tough time. People told me, "These years pass so quickly. They don't stay small forever. Enjoy it while you can."
I thought, "I *know* these years pass quickly, but I need to get through *today*." I even felt guilty that I wasn't enjoying their younger years more!
Fast-forward seven years. I have three children who are almost 16, 13 and 10. They are independent, intelligent, and fun. I did some things right, and many things wrong (including yelling and the manipulative mama guilt trip). I cried out to the Lord, and many times felt like I couldn't pray. I learned to put little islands of calm into each day-- a promise that we would definitely read a chapter from a favorite book (with no narration), a trip to the park after violin lesson every week, a day in which we did no chores but the necessary. I learned to evaluate what went well and what needed tweaking—without a self-inflicted, judgmental guilt-trip/pity-party combo—at the end/beginning of each term, and to adjust to the reality of our immediate situation, appreciating idealistic scenarios, but understanding that sometimes they just aren’t practical.
It's a lot to think about. At one point in those elementary years (I think it was the year my youngest began Year 0), I confessed to a friend that I just *could not* do this. She laughingly said, "You know we're crazy, right?" Then she suggested that I stop grabbing guilt out of the universe and go easier on myself.
I want to suggest that you stop grabbing guilt out of the universe and go easy on yourself.
I try hard not to vent at my kids when I get frustrated or overwhelmed, but when it happens, I humbly ask their forgiveness. And move on. They know their mom is not perfect. Sometimes it takes a day or two for me to climb down from my 'mad' enough to talk to them about it, but the Lord doesn't let me rest until I have made reparation. Then He wants me to move on as well. God doesn't want us dwelling on our sinful parts. Go forth and sin no more, right? Forgetting those things that are behind, we press for the mark of the high calling in Christ Jesus. He paid for those sins. They are as far away as the East is from the West.
One time we were visiting in the home of friends who also homeschool. Her oldest son had been having some behavior issues, and the evening had been rather bumpy as a result. I will never forget the prayer she prayed as we sat down to dinner. "Lord, please redeem this evening."
He redeems our efforts. He knows our frame, that we are dust. He knows we need Him in order for anything good to grow.
I *so* feel your pain. I have been there many times. As the girls get more independent and less in need of constant supervision, puberty, teenage hormones and college preparations come into the mix. But God is faithful. He has done so much with my girls. They are fascinating and funny and smart. They certainly have their flaws, but I am amazed at what the Lord has wrought. My oldest is getting through college testing with flying colors (we've done living books all the way through-- ha!), and my younger two are blossoming and revealing their potential in spite of my mistakes. They are His kids, too. :)
Blessings, sweet mother! Rest assured that "no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should, and after all, you are just one woman-- a person, not superhuman after all." Keep your eyes on your Maker, abide in Him, and He will give you the desires of your heart.
Saturday, August 14, 2010
I sent the following note to a dear, sweet mother of two primary students and one toddler child who expressed frustration and sorrow for her struggling efforts the other day. Then I realized I know other moms with kids in the early elementary and toddler/preschool years that might like to hear about our journey, so here it is: