Today I started the summer list that, over the weekend, I will transfer to the blackboard. I did it more for me than anyone else. Earlier this week I ordered all of the camping and craft books from the library that I know will hold the secrets to hours of busy contentment in my children. Again, more for me than anyone else. You see, each summer they plan 3-4 big projects on which they spend countless hours planning, perfecting and producing. This year its a treehouse, an 8 ft boat and a zip line. But that will change 10 times over the next week or two. The beauty of these projects is that I have nothing to do with them. Nothing!
I remember in the beginning of this journey (still true today) I felt my life to be one confusing contradiction. Homeschooling, for me, is one huge paradox: amazing beauty in walking alongside my daughters through this season of their lives, sharing and investing and loving, juxtaposed against the incisive cutting it has required in my innermost being. In those first years (still true today) my emotions hung in the balance between absolutely loving this gift of homeschooling and the time we had been given together, and battling severe loneliness and frustration. It seemed that not a single person around me understood from where I had come and what had been required to "let go" in making this decision to walk wholly alongside my girls for the duration of their years in our home. Its not that I needed anyone to know that I was this or that before, but rather that I too was in transition, learning a new way and trying to give it 100% of myself. I was scared (still true today) and I felt tangible pangs of loneliness. It seemed few around me had been where I came from (published career in interior design, a closet full of fabulous clothing and shoes and the newest BMW) or seemed to be heading where I was (wherever the Lord was leading, leaving luxury behind). I had made the decision to give "it" all up, but I had not idea how much of a part of me "it" had become. Thats where the incisive cutting came in, which is still occurring today. I had no idea I was being discipled as well. I had played church so well for so long, I had no idea my heart was in disguise.
During my early days of homeschooling, I was learning so much - everything from which curriculum best suited my teaching style to what my teaching style even was. Id never before had to be the librarian, lunch lady, bus driver, guidance counselor and the teacher of all subjects. Not to mention the detention hall monitor, social event coordinator, "crazy parent" liaison and field trip strategist. I had no idea how to teach Shakespeare or Nature Studies and couldnt have named a composer beyond 4 or 5 of the most famous. Art history was somewhere within me but its colors were blurred by the countless fabric names, paint colors, surface options, architectural jargon and AutoCAD details which had defined my creative expressions for years. And I didnt remember math beyond pre-Algebra. But there we were.
Oh, and I was a new transplant to Minnesota. From Texas. You either get that or you dont.
All of it was exciting to me. So much so that I didnt want to freely admit that, in the midst of such a new and wonderful experience, which I knew was straight from the hand of God, that I was spending many nighttime hours crying alone, curled up in my wingback chair staring out my bedroom window at a greenhouse. Our next door neighbor had a few acres and a magnificent greenhouse which always somehow demanded my focus (yes, I see the symbolism there).
I was overwhelmed and feeling very inadequate. I missed my old life. Sometimes I cried because I was simply exhausted. These are all still true today.
But even though I cried more days than not, there was something I never wanted to hear: "I knew it would be too hard for you." I didnt want anyone to know that I missed wearing my Choo's and Blahniks while I truly reveled in the miracle that was this new discipleship moment with my girls. I didnt want to tell anyone (still true today) that I could read and share and walk and cook alongside my girls all day long yet collapse in tears at night in the arms of my chair. I could cry hot tears of thankfulness on the porch before our morning began, realizing that He truly had delivered me/us from a form of slavery then later pour out my heart with Him in deep frustration and weeping when they were tucked in and I was again alone.
The contradiction comes when I realize that ALL of these experiences and emotions were, and are, real. The happiness and deep satisfaction I felt as we painted upside down like Michelangelo was also as deep as my loneliness. Not to mention the cutting away of the layers of my soul which had been so calloused and charmed by the world. My sense of being exactly where God wanted me with my girls was solid, but just as firm was the fact that I wondered almost everyday if I could keep going... and what in the world was I thinking when I signed up for this (???) . The frustration that threatened to overtake me on some occasions was just as deep and true as the abounding joy I felt at other times. I loved this new life, new mothering, new job; I truly loved it. But compared to the life I had been living, it was, and is still today very, very hard.
So this morning, as I drank in the sunshine and my girls worked on handwork while Uncle Toms Cabin rolled on, I reminded myself of what I know now to be truth: my emotions about this homeschool journey ARE contradictory. I both love it and feel suffocated at times by it. I am at the same time excitedly planning for next year, and intensely pining for the upcoming weeks when this schoolyear is complete. Such is my paradox.
I have not been writing much lately, mostly because I needed to think about what it was that I really wanted to say. I know that there are some of you who can apply these same principles to your life, even if yours has nothing to do with homeschooling. Contradictions do not mean that you are not "all in". They simply mean you are all human. As Paul said, "I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but the very thing I hate." The overriding truth of my life is that God has called me to this. And I both love it and resent it at times. But I am in the center of His will and am submitting to exactly what I hear Him asking of me. And I am trusting in His perfect plan whether I feel like it or not. Because forever my feelings will be contradictory, as will my behaviors, but His plan will never contradict. And even in my most frustrated moments, I know that, for this lifeseason, with my precious girls, I am exactly where I need to be.