I had high hopes for blogging this summer. Well, not that high. I guess it would be more accurate to say I had a few things that I had hoped to write about in the sunny months behind us. A steady stream of things distracted me and so here we are in August, and those things I meant to write are still just things I meant to write.
Here’s the quick list of my thoughts that I wanted to write about this summer.
Homeschool Wrap up
It’s a good discipline to reflect on that last school year- what worked, what didn’t, where are we headed, what should we change. One year ago, I wrote this post in gearing up for the coming homeschool year. That post still rings true for me; in particular, the unique nature of each year, and the need to be generous with the grace I dish out to myself and my kids.
Last year was good for us in so many ways. We found a better rhythm than we have in years past. We weathered the ups and downs of homeschooling with a toddler (boo!). I scaled back how much we do and sought to really do everything every day. And it was more manageable, more successful, and more familiar to my kids. I liked that a lot and will try to continue making the conscious choice to do a few important things extremely well.
There was a bittersweet aspect to last year and to finding a better rhythm– I said no a lot. No to playdates. No to field trip invitations. No to outings and lunch dates and being available all the time. It wasn’t a constant no all the time, but it was more than my normal. I was teaching classes on two days, wrangling a toddler, and trying to keep a steady pace at home. I didn’t feel like I had a lot of margin for more. It was a healthy no for me (I tend to be a ‘yes’ girl all the way) but the saying no also left me a bit isolated, and my little extroverts felt the no’s even more than me. So that’s something I’m thinking about as we slide into next year.
One thing I said yes to was a friend’s idea to do school together. For four weeks, we met most days and did the regular stuff together. It wasn’t fancy (like projects and art and excitement), just the everyday shared with other people. It reaffirmed to me that anything done with people you love can be special just by nature of being together, and that is true of yardwork and grocery shopping and spelling lists. Our experiment was a huge success and helped us finish the year strong. If you’re interested in reading more about it my friend, Kameron, blogged about the journey over here.
The street where you live
I heard an interesting distinction about literary fiction as a story that is told in a way where the setting is actually a character. This intrigued me.
I thought about it a lot as I walked our neighborhood in the evenings, a ritual I started last fall and kept up until the summer heat won. As I went down the same streets, climbed the same hills, waved to the same folks sitting on their porches, I thought about how this little neighborhood is shaping me and my family. And I thought about what kind of character it was in our story.
My kids are so grounded here, with roots that run deep into their little South Omaha street and intertwine with the lives of others planted here. They are growing up in a neighborhood that is both diverse and traditional, with houses that are over a century old but a brand new school and park sitting in the heart of it. It’s aging but changing to meet the needs of the new generation.
This leads me to think a lot about my own nomadic upbringing. I’m a bit astounded that I could feel so grounded and have such deep roots in a family that moved so often. But I guess I was like a potted plant, roots deep into the soil of my family, and my constant was not a zip code but a set of solid relationships. The older I get, the more grateful I am for that.
Parenting Myths: Don’t be the rock
Several weeks ago, I was about to leave the house for the day when my husband called the kids into the kitchen to pray for me. Reluctantly, I told them about my day ahead, about my hopes and worries, about what I would be up to and hope to achieve. “Who wants to pray for mom?” Garrett asked.
“I do!” yelled the two-year old.
So they went around and each prayed, and there was something sacred about that moment. The kids being old enough to hear and respond. The unique nature of what they each prayed for. Then I kissed them all and left.
I thought about them as I was gone. I thought about why I try not to cry too much in front of my kids. I thought about the idea of “being strong” for little people, of modelling faith, of what might happen if they see me fail. In those roaming thoughts, it occurred to me that my own honesty could be such a gift to them.
Look, kids- mom is afraid of this thing but she’s doing it anyways.
Look, kids- mom made a big mess of this and she’s still loved.
Look, kids- mom can apologize and repent and be humbled.
Look, kids- mom can tell others about her failure, and her people come around her and sit with her in that.
When my kids look back at my example, I want them to be encouraged by my faith amidst the hard, not by some mirage of complete competence and perfection. The perfection of others is rarely empowering. I want my kids to look back and think, “My mom was kind of a mess, but she trusted Jesus and He showed up big for her.”
I can stop wasting my energy trying to be their rock. Instead, I can be honest about my own frailty and the daily opportunity to “steady my heart on the ground of Your goodness.” (Audrey Assad lyrics– Did I mention I saw her in concert and she’s incredible? Both true.)
This lesson was very freeing.
And at the end of the day, when I returned from my time away and had faced into some hard things, my kids rejoiced so sincerely with me because I had let them see what was at stake. Sweet memories, indeed.
Well, those are the things I wanted to say. A bit shorter, but perhaps that’s the best way, to get to the heart of it and let it free.
Hope your summer was all you hoped, and that your fall will be even more.