Last week was the big back to school week around here. Every time I checked facebook I saw adorable photos of children in Catholic school uniforms (and some without) smiling and marking the milestone. As a homeschooling mom, I felt just a tad bit jealous. Not that taking a cute back to school shot is a reason to send your child to school (it isn’t)…but I thought about all these moms with less kids on their hands, moments of quiet as babies and toddlers took afternoon naps, time to do food shopping with just the baby or toddler, and I felt just a little bit jealous. I was drinking my morning coffee is chaos, as three children asked me questions at once and two more children cried and threw things and disrupted big kids trying their best to learn. As I reheated my cup of coffee for the second time (which is gross), I felt the pressure of another school year, and the pressure of responsibility for my childrens’ education. I felt the pressure of a job unfinished, a job newly begun.
It isn’t as though teaching elementary school children is complicated — it isn’t. But it certainly wears on your patience. It requires discipline, consistency, and passion. I felt in short supply of all three last week and it was only the beginning of September.
And then on Friday as I was doing the dishes after lunch, I looked out the kitchen window and saw this.And I was reminded of why I homeschool. My heart suddenly felt very grateful that on a beautiful, crisp fall day, my children were learning like this. And all the doubts and jealousy suddenly departed. God, my Father, handed me a special grace, a confirmation of my vocation as a homeschooling mother of 5 young children. The grass in my own backyard is actually pretty great, and I had a front row seat to its beauty.
In today’s digital world, it is so easy to think that the grass of our friends and family members and acquaintances is greener. But it isn’t. That cute kid in the Catholic school uniform — his mom was filling out a lot of forms last week. And she was signing up for lots of things at school that she thinks are a huge waste of time. Life is full of tradeoffs. And we all have to discern and then make hard choices. And after we have made those choices, we can’t spend time wishing we had the best of someone else’s world.
I know you all know this, but it is easy to forgot. And I’ll forget it again too. Come February, I will start thinking and praying about sending my children to school. I may even call around and crunch tuition numbers and spend hours talking to my husband about it. So yeah, it’s complicated. And with a decade of parenting under my belt, I know that the moment I start to think I’ve got it all figured out, God will throw me a curveball. But on Friday he threw me a sweet fastball. And I nailed it. And I even have a photo to remember how it felt.