This is what my life looks like right now:
I have a baby - he's a seven months old, super sweet happy kiddo. He loves his siblings - like truly, genuinely enjoys all of their attention no matter how loud or rough they might be with him. He loves to be held. Usually by me. Almost all of the time. Especially if he's sleeping.
I have a four year old. He can now count to two hundred (by ones and by tens) and to a thousand by hundreds, he's learning to count by twos and fives. He has basic addition (and some not-so basic addition!) down pat and he's a solid pre-reader but we are STILL working on potty training. We go a week or two without an accident and then he'll wet the bed or pee his pants or poop on the floor and regress. It's embarrassing, frustrating and it feels totally out of my control.
Josiah is finishing up 2nd grade at home... more about that later.
I have a girl going into middle school, a girl finishing middle school next year and a girl who is going into high school.
Life right now is crazy.
I saw a video today on Facebook that called having a baby a "beautiful crisis" and I'd have to agree. Having teenagers AND a baby has been a beautiful, crazy thing. It has felt a lot like too much for me to handle.
But the other day I texted this to my sister: "In the end it's never about what we think we can handle but about watching God provide the grace." I'm certain I needed to hear that every bit as much as she did.
I am looking forward to getting to the other side of this season just for the sake of perspective. Right now it just feels hard.
It feels hard and it feels like nobody cares. Nobody cares that I'm making a choice that is harder for me because I believe that it's better for Josiah and, at the end of the day, better for our entire family. It feels like nobody is interested in what we did together today. It feels like the fact that I spent every single minute of my day with my kids is just expected, just a given. I discussed imaginary worlds with my 4 year old and argued about spelling homework while trying to sneak in a shower while the baby is happy enough to sit in his bouncer? Just about every mom has days like this but I'm the only mom in this family - and it feels lonely.
I read in "Gifts from the Sea" that mothers often feel like they are pouring their lives out for their family, willingly and gladly, but that it often feels like they pour their lives out and it is going down the drain. That is exactly what it feels like. Until I take a step back.
When I think about the shift in Josiah's attitude and in our relationship I realize that it is worth it. When I notice how much calmer Josiah is now, it's worth it. When we are able to talk about what he's thinking and how he is feeling and how his body is responding to stress or excitement or distractions - I realize that it's so very worth it. The other day Josiah described what sound to me like heart palpitations - he said he used to get them all the time but now it only happens once in awhile. That is a reminder that this is worth everything I might be giving up to homeschool.
I'm still struggling to find my rhythm, to discover what works for us in our homeschooling. We have good days and not so good days. Some days I'm too focused on my check list and not focused enough on my child. Some days I'm so focused on Josiah that Eli gets a little bit overlooked. Some days I'm so frustrated that I'm ready to drop them both off at the school down the road. Some days are amazing. We're talking and learning. Josiah is getting to be curious and Eli is right in there telling us how he already learned about this in his past life and was discussing it with NoNoggin just the other day. Some days I remember to take the long view. I remember that what I wanted most out of this was time with Josiah. I'm getting that in spades now so what am I going to do with that? If I'm going to spend all day stressed out and screaming at him then I might as well send him back to public school. I'm not doing much good on those days.
My aim for this season is that our days will work like a drip on a rock and that drop by drop it will wear Josiah's rough edges a little smoother. It takes time and gentle repetition but eventually millimeter by millimeter I'll see change. I want Josiah to see himself as a smart kid who is caring and who can set an example for others instead of one of the kids who is always getting into trouble. We're working on impulse control and conflict resolution. We're working on being curious at the right times and in the right places (check out line at Target would be a great example of a not so great time to be curious with our hands) and all the academic work is the arena in which that other work is being done.
Before I end this post I want to mention how Kaite is doing because I've written about my concerns about how she is doing in school and while it terrifies me to say it she is about to head to Middle School in a few months! She is an A/B honor roll student and has made strong strides towards doing better at school.
Daniel has been a strong advocate of not freaking out and letting her grow at her own pace, and it turns out it looks like he was right. Stepping back and saying "I'm here for you whenever you need me" has been really helpful for her and seems to have worked. She's had to learn from mistakes and work harder at keeping herself organized instead of relying on me to do it for her, but she has grown so much more than I could have hoped.