I’ve been trying to slow down our school time this past few weeks, so it doesn’t feel so much like I’m trying to cram everything into our days and the boys have more time for free play. I am not so good with patience, taking things slow, or leaving things undone. Just as finishing what you start may be an act of discipline, so can the act of putting something down that ought to be left alone for a time. Isn’t that even what our trees are doing as they lay down their leaves for a season?
We’ve been propping the back door open so that the borders between inside and outside are obscured, and the kids float between to two spaces freely. The back porch is our classroom, and our neighbors are welcomed into lesson times. These homeschool kids are totally socialized, don’t be mistaken!
The rhythm of our weeks are punctuated by Boy Scouts, library trips, small group meeting and church, and so on. It doesn’t seem like too much on paper, but as each week goes by I feel so busy and I wonder how some people manage multiple athletic practices, music lessons and homework, birthday parties and science projects.
We’ve opted out of most of these things by choosing the lifestyle we have, and by saying “no” to most invitations (not from a place meanness or disinterest, mind you- just desiring to protect our family’s time together). I will not submit myself to that spinning gerbil wheel of activities! Once you get on, it’s so hard to get off without hurting yourself.
I want to live this one life slowly, intentionally, with eyes fixed on the purposes my Father reveals to me. If my schedules are too full, saying “yes” to everyone but the One who matters most, I’m sure to regret that later. It’s funny to me though, how I can still so easily fill up a calendar with activities even after trying so hard to clear the slate.
The biggest challenge I face is nothing external: it’s the pressure I put on myself to finish the tasks I have penciled into my calendar. I feel like a failure if they don’t get done, and then I sometimes offload that shame to the kids. That’s a painful fact to admit, but there it is. Lord, help me!
I’m sure that Seth will be just fine if we have to push off two math lessons to next week, and finish reading the chapter in our history book whenever we get around to it. Still, I’m addicted to the satisfaction of marking off that line with my yellow highlighter for the sake of calling it “done”. As much as I want our version of school to offer freedom to the kids, I so easily fall into habits that turn those lesson plans into the iron bars of a cage that traps us all!
It’s crazy to me that we are only one week from November. With the holidays approaching, I know I should get serious about letting go of expectations. Additionally, our family is facing the toughest holiday season we have yet, as Eric’s dad has been battling cancer for a year and a half and seems to be nearing the end of his fight now. In expectation of what’s to come, I want to go easy on all of us. Slowing down doesn’t feel natural, but it should be, and this fall I need to embrace it all the more.