The morning is quiet. Outside I can hear the school bus barreling past, picking up the neighborhood kids and driving them across town to varying schools. My kids are just beginning to stir, making their way to the kitchen one by one.
First Ben. He’s my early riser- the one who gets more and more cranky the later he sleeps in. He wanders down the stairs, eyes squinting, wraps his arms around me, and leans in.
“Good morning,” he mumbles with a smile. “What’s for breakfast today?”
“I’m thinking pumpkin pancakes,” I answer.
He does a little cheer as he makes his way to the big brown chair, book in hand. He’s 10 years old and I’ve been hyper aware of how fast the time is going. He says things like, “In 8 years, I’ll be an adult” and “Soon I’ll be learning to drive.”
I’ve been drinking in each moment with him, savoring every hug, appreciating every conversation about books and games and hopes and dreams. I don’t want to miss anything.
I’m in the middle of mixing ingredients for pancakes when the baby stumbles out of her room. I say “baby,” but she’s 7 and probably more mature than I am. She’s my helper and make no mistake, she only got out of bed because she wants to help me make breakfast. She loves to sleep in, but only if she isn’t missing anything. She helps me measure and stir and pours messy puddles of batter onto the griddle, waiting patiently for the right moment to flip them, grinning broadly when she’s successful.
She has a servant’s heart and she proudly serves breakfast, gets drinks and syrup, making sure everyone has what they need.
Ben reads, Grace cooks, Sam sleeps.
Sam is nine. I sneak into his room and quietly kiss his soft, warm cheeks and gently wake him. He groans and mumbles, thrashing under his covers in protest.
“Pancakes are ready,” I whisper.
That’s all it takes. He’s up and wrapping his robe around himself, making his way to the kitchen table by feel with his eyes firmly shut against the morning light. A smile plays at his lips when the steaming pile of pancakes is placed before him.
Sam is deliberate and thoughtful. He does most things with precision, lining things up just so, making sure things are just as he wants them. Don’t mistake this trait for tidiness. It’s just that he likes his mess the way he likes it.
Three years ago, our family took a leap. We decided to start homeschooling our children. The reasons were many and varied and it was something I’d dreamed about since Ben was born. The timing was never right, though.
Finally, in a new place and with the encouragement of a dear friend, we decided to jump in feet first and trust that God would provide the patience, courage, and determination we would need. He continues to come through every day.
While the list of amazing “side effects” of homeschooling grows all the time, I’m most thankful for the time. We have un-rushed time. When the boys were in school and we were juggling homework and extra-curricular activities with my husband being gone A LOT, I remember feeling stressed and rushed and pressured to make every together moment count for something. We purposefully set aside days to make memories.
Now we just live our lives together. Each new day is full of love and memories and new experiences and togetherness. We’ve found a rhythm in our days. We aren’t stressed about getting out the door and finishing this or that.
This homeschooling thing stretches and grows me in the best ways. It’s frustrating and humbling and wonderful all at once. Sure, sometimes I get hung up on my lesson planner and have a few moments of freaking out every now and then. Sometimes I cave to the worry and fear that maybe I’m not doing this right and what if they aren’t learning enough. And I’m always on the lookout for 5 minutes of alone time.
But then I see the excitement in their eyes and the contentment in their souls because they get to live and learn with their favorite people in a home where they are comfortable being who they are. And I realize there’s nowhere else I’d rather be and nothing else I’d rather be doing.