The kettle boils and I walk with my tea to the laundry room where I fold a load. The phone rings and although I've made a resolution not to answer after 8:30 a.m., I pick it up anyway. The person on the other end is crying and I'm drawn in and the kids are taking turns riding by me on the Lil Tykes grocery cart. I'm calling to them to quiet down. I cover the phone and blast them through a huge breath, "Shouldn't you be doing your math?" I have a knot in my gut as I'm pulled in two different directions. That nagging, guilty feeling rises upward, suffocating me and I realize this has happened a couple of days in a row... and, I hadn't met with the Lord that morning either--tell-tale signs of that one happening all over the place.
By lunchtime, there are still two kids in pyjamas and one can't find her spelling book. I'm losing my patience and that friend on the phone--well, she's on her way over for more support. I'm bustling around tidying up and promising myself tomorrow will be better.
By evening, I've gotten angry that I have to make dinner early as we have weekly obligations to run to and as I lay my head on my pillow that night, I cry. I turn my face into my pillow and beg God to reveal what went wrong. One thing about a prayer like that is, if we're open, He answers quickly. I quietly weep and He gently shows me where I went astray. Not that spontaneity, as I shared about yesterday was the problem, not that dropping everything for a friend in need was either, but it was the deference from my goals and ground rules that stole my peace and joy.
I've been at this home educating thing long enough to know exactly what my children need, what I need and how to make things flow smoothly in our home. Children love boundaries, they love schedules and routine and they flourish in predictable days. They also love spontaneous moms who are flexible and not so tied to rules and schedules that they can't break them... once in awhile. With this knowledge, I set goals for myself and for them at the beginning of each year. I write up schedules for each of them and ask my husband, a couple close friends and sisters to hold me accountable. But when I don't want to leave the warmth of my bed or have my feet to hit the cold floor early in the morning, when I don't meet with the One who encourages me, speaks to me and sends me lovingly into my day, I might flounder.
When I look back over the years, I can see the mercy of God, despite the odd bad day. My children are all reading, they can quote Scripture and poetry. They're all moving forward in math at a good pace. They have a love for books and being read to. My openness about my day to day struggle to get myself and my children motivated is not to put myself down or to give the impression that every day is a failure. Instead, my desire is to encourage homeschool parents that although we all have less than productive days, our children will learn as we work to correct and change those moments into life lessons, apologies and the catalyst to get "back in the saddle" without delay.
So, what does a great day look like around here? Mommy gets up early, communes with her Creator, realizes she can't do it alone, throws a load of laundry in, cracks some eggs in a pan, hugs each child as they wake, encourages them in their chores, and meets them in the school area to begin on time. Ah, the good life! Every one of us loves a day that begins as such. Even when Oliver doesn't want to read another page, when Molly wants to finish her art instead of begin history, when Emily would rather wrestle with Oliver, when Meghan is dying to FaceTime a friend, I can rally them and bring them back into focus quickly because we began well. Children really do want to be smart, they want to succeed and they are often happy to please when they understand what it's all for in the first place. I can offer them a good education when I'm prepared and I have begun well myself.
If you nod your head with me that you also have moments (or full days) when things just don't go the way you'd planned, might I be the inspiration to keep you diligent? Let's stay focused and teach them well in 2014!