a_moment-2a_moment

If I’m honest, there are days I wish I weren’t homeschooling. I imagine someone else taking responsibility for my children’s education, relieving me to my own work. I would be able to workout regularly and spontaneously meet friends for morning coffee or Mark for lunch. I could finish my graduate degree or commission more work (and receive a paycheck, too). For hours each day, the house would be clean and quiet. I could do simple tasks like grocery shopping or finishing a home project alone. I could visit my kids at school or hear about their days over an afternoon snack. I could help them with homework, commiserating with them about its tedium and the un/kindness of classmates. Wouldn’t we all enjoy the space from one another and likewise enjoy our time together more?

On these sort of days, I might begin looking at schools again, searching for the perfect alternative, but honestly, we have few. For various reasons that I won’t flesh out right here, my husband and I still don’t feel that public school is the right choice for our kids, for their minds or their persons. Not right now anyway. I’m not offended by public schools or by parents who choose this option. We all are trying to do what’s best for our families, and I always hope we are all willing to give one another grace in this process of child-rearing. On the other hand, Mark and I cannot afford private schooling, even the part-time hybrid programs gaining more popularity. So at the very least, our choice to homeschool has become the default. That’s one perspective anyway, and if I choose to meditate and perceive my life from that place, the thinking that our life is the result of a default, I will grow resentful of this choice. Of my life. Of my family. And if I’m not aware, there are days like earlier this week that these feelings creep in to settle over me like a fog.

Lately, I’ve been reading Henri Nouwen’s The Return of the Prodigal Son–a timely and rich read, in which he writes, “Resentment and gratitude cannot coexist, since resentment blocks the perception and experience of life as a gift. My resentment tells me that I don’t receive what I deserve. It always manifests itself in envy.” Bam. These words disperse the resentful fog like sunlight. My life. My children. These messy, loud, sometimes unproductive days are a gift. The issue is not whether to homeschool or not, the issue is the entitlement in my own heart, the lie living beneath my daydreams that better is somewhere else. In the face of hard days, I want to see this particular choice and all of the limitations/costs with it as a gift, and that only comes through thanksgiving.

I notice the kids piled together on a couch, observing and playing with a bug on the window. The house is a mess. Their feet are bare. Olive is in pajamas. We have a million other things to accomplish in the day, but I put them aside for the moment to breathe, to give thanks for each of them and for the freedom of choice.

 

22 replies
  1. georgia
    georgia says:

    this is so beautiful. just… uhhhhhhh! can’t even put words to what this stirred in me. but i love it. i am so glad you shared that quote from the book you are reading. it is the crux of how i have chosen or prayed for God to help me see the loss of my baby last december. i know full well that if i can not see even what i went through as a gift. i so get this… that they can not exist together. to allow any resentment would leave no room for gratitude. and as i often felt gratitude for what God did in me, through me, with me in my loss… and gratitude for the gift of my beautiful daughter, i was not willing to let it go. and i then knew there was just no room for resentment. i would not have been able to articulate it quite so eloquently as Nouwen did. but i still so got this. and get it now still. that aside, i love what you wrote. it sheds so much more light on the title of your blog and the explanation you’ve given for it in the past {on your FAQ page??}. though i do not yet homeschool, i chose to be a stay-at-home-mom to my toddler, and with one car, i totally understand the feeling of being cloistered away… perhaps the reason i was so drawn to your blog. i love your honesty and vulnerability in this post. i think what you do is so honorable and such a lofty thing to aspire to. when i look at a mom like you, i think WOW… i think “that is the person/mom i aspire to be.” love the moment on the couch captured here. your photos are always exquisitely simple and pull me in. {p.s…. definitely gonna borrow that quote!}

    Reply
    • Bethany
      Bethany says:

      Bless you, Georgia. Thank you for sharing your heart and your own struggles here. One step and day at a time, right? Anytime I begin to be overwhelmed by the future or by what I have to do, I try to remember “do not worry about tomorrow. it has enough worries of its own.” The Lord has so much grace for us in this process, and over and over I realize, I need him more. Blessings to you in your own journey.

      Reply
  2. Janice Armstrong
    Janice Armstrong says:

    I found your blog of recent and have loved sharing your journey from across the ocean! It’s funny I have felt l little of this although in nearly an opposite situation…my 2 older girls are at school. Homeschooling is virtually unheard of here in Ireland, in some ways I envy the choice. My girls are immersed in a pace and pressure of learning that didn’t exist when I was little. They are worked hard in school and come home to a lot of homework. They are only little…8 and 6. No time to bake, to explore, to play freely until all the ‘jobs’ are done on week days. Too much, too hard. But I too have to be thankful. Look for opportunities and ways to keep the homework and structured extras to a minimum, protect them from the machine that is education.
    Sorry…rant over!!
    Love your honesty sister and your ability to see truth in the midst of the ordinary struggles of life.
    Janice

    Reply
    • Bethany
      Bethany says:

      It’s always good for me to hear the other side, the part where nothing is perfect and we all have to learn to be thankful and celebrate the life we have. Thank you for sharing, Janice, and for reminding me to be thankful for all the play and time my children have to be children. Thanks for connecting and sharing.

      Reply
  3. Patti
    Patti says:

    Exactly what is going on in my head and heart right this minute. It happens to me every February, when I am forced to start thinking about what comes next for us. I get very despondent and, yes, the word default always seems appropriate. And the classical UM school (that is a ridiculous 45 minute drive from our house) starts to seem positively salvific. Then that starts to seem so extravagant compared to the (free) public school 3 minutes down the street…

    Then I realize my biggest kid will turn 9 in two months, and that is halfway to 18. Then the sun finally comes out and it gets slightly less noisy inside. And we finally got a piano and I am finding moments here and there to learn a simple Bach minuet, and I hear the kids humming it while they play (instead of doing math probably). Everything really is fine.

    So, yes to solidarity. And to hope.

    Reply
    • Bethany
      Bethany says:

      Yes. And to hope. The other day I told the kids we’d be changing up some things about our routine next year, although both of the boys thought that meant I was sending them to public school. When I clarified, Burke admitted, “I thought you might say we had to go to public school. My blood ran cold.” Mark and I are still laughing about it.

      We really must get together soon, maybe this summer. The kids and I could drive down to meet you all.

      Reply
  4. Becca
    Becca says:

    Wow. So eloquently written. How true it is that resentment so quickly robs us of gratitude! Thanks for sharing this!!

    Reply
    • Bethany
      Bethany says:

      You’re welcome, and thank you for the encouragement. It’s funny how many times I can hear this lesson in various places in my life. Sigh. Always learning. xx

      Reply
  5. Lucy
    Lucy says:

    This is so beautifully written, Bethany. For the record, Nate was homeschooled and he has such amazing memories. Plus, their family is the closest family I have ever met. Keep pressing on, friend! xoxo

    Reply
    • Bethany
      Bethany says:

      Thank you so much, Lucy. I wish I could pop over for some tea to hear more about Nate’s experiences. This really boosted my heart today. xo

      Reply
    • Bethany
      Bethany says:

      Yes. Well said. I suppose the harder days are when passion wanes and the work still needs to be finished. Either way, I’m learning so much in the process. Thank you for sharing, Kate.

      Reply
  6. Erika Morrison
    Erika Morrison says:

    babe, i have similar lamentations when it comes to homeschooling – i love it and i don’t. and like you, for various values and reasons, we don’t have any other options. that is to say: i’m hanging on with you in solidarity, my sister. solidarity.

    then i witness a bug on the window experience and i know i can make it too.

    love.

    Reply
    • Bethany
      Bethany says:

      Solidarity. You have no idea how grateful I am for it, Erika. One summer we’ll talk about it in Vermont, while our kids swing from vines like barbarians. ;) xx

      Reply
  7. Kristin Kleinkort
    Kristin Kleinkort says:

    Such a beautiful reminder to always choose gratitude for the present moment and His abundant goodness in it. Thanks for sharing Bethany!

    Reply
  8. Kristen
    Kristen says:

    As someone who lives very near to you, I know what these words mean to confess and breakthrough. Thank you for getting there. That entitlement tempts us all, and the reality is we don’t deserve the things that this spirit whispers to us at all. The only choice is to be thankful. Beautifully written as always.

    Reply
  9. Kaylan
    Kaylan says:

    Beautiful reflections Bethany. I’m still in that phase of wondering what life will be like if I decide to homeschool and if I’m willing to give of myself so selflessly as you do. It’s a difficult thing. I admire you all the more for sharing your heart.

    Reply
    • Bethany
      Bethany says:

      Thank you, Kaylan. I really do want to be honest about this process, not to whine or complain, but to let people know, I’m learning. I often hear, “I could never do that,” and the truth is, I sometimes feel that exact way. I need the Lord every day, whether I like it or not. He’s using this process to educate my children, but also to teach me more about himself. He does this in different ways for all of us. You’ll know what’s right for you and Finley when the time is right. <3

      Reply

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