Have you ever had those times in your life when you just can’t keep up? And you’re not even really over-involved in things and activities, it’s just life happening but you’re always feeling about 10 steps behind? Maybe even the words “failure” and “survival-mode” are popping into your head? I’ve really been struggling with this lately…and I wanted to share a little about it.
Something I haven’t talked much about on here is homeschooling our older two for Kindergarten this year. I’ve been meaning to…just hasn’t happened. It’s not a decision we came to lightly. I knew I mostly needed to focus on math and reading and I didn’t have a specific curriculum to go about it…just manipulatives, worksheets, and lots of reading. And I thought, “how hard could this be?” My older two are really fairly easy to teach and are willing to do what I tell them…most of the time. Everyone has their moments 😉 We did pretty good for the first month or so, and then I realized, I can’t do it all. (I know, shocker.)
My youngest daughters doctors appointments have been increasing in frequency lately and most of her doctors are about 25 minutes south of us so on appointment days not much (if any!) school work gets done. Plus, shuffling 4 kids around, trying to engage in a doctors appointment while making sure all the kiddos are 1) with me 2) not doing things they shouldn’t is…taxing to say the least. Some days we have at least 2 doctors appointments. By the end of those days, I’m exhausted. (I’m hoping to post about her and whats going on very soon.)
I’ve always been good at multi-tasking…so I figured homeschooling while doing house things wasn’t going to be a big deal. But, I was wrong about that too. I’m not sure what it is exactly, or why…but I just couldn’t manage it day to day. If I focused completely on planning out school, making sure A&H were busy, learning, and working on things…it seemed the house would fall apart and the babies got away with far too much. If I focused more on the house work and the babies, A&H’s school work fell by the wayside. Enter mom guilt feelings. I know there are many women out there who function just fine with mess and chaos, and I firmly believe that God made them to be able to function in those circumstances. It doesn’t make them better, or me better or anything…we are just not created the same and I think that’s great! Sometimes yes, I need to put the dishes and folding the laundry aside and focus on kids, or homework and rely on the Holy Spirit to give me the energy to do whats important for the moment and help me ignore the mess…but I have tried to be the person who lets it go for longer than an afternoon…and it didn’t work.
Because I was quickly becoming a very edgy, emotional, unjoyful person…no matter what I tried….I was starting to feel trapped. Things I could manage and control started to dwindle and I was feeling like I was treading water but not knowing how long I could go on. For about 2 weeks I felt like a shell of myself. I was on auto-pilot, surviving and feeling like a failure. I took no joy from being with my kids, and that made me sad. I longed for a “break”, but even thinking about needing a break made me feel worse….because when you don’t live near family, you know deep down the relief won’t come. I begged God to do something…what I didn’t even know what that would look like, but something. After pouring my heart out to Nathan one evening, we decided to look into Classical Conversations to see if that would at least help me with the planning and preparation side of their schooling. We asked God to be very clear about what He wanted us to do for A&H’s schooling.
I’ve heard many good things about Classical Conversations, and the group we visited was very welcoming and friendly and those kids are as smart as whips. But I knew this wasn’t for us. There was still quite a bit of prep work involved on my part, and the one day a week that we would go to group, E&J would be in the nursery….with LOTS of other babies and I heard them crying for almost the entire time we were there. I felt this wouldn’t solve our problem. I would still be giving most of my attention to school/A&H (if we wanted to be successful and participate with the CC community) and ignoring E&J/the house. I knew there was no perfect solution, but I needed help of some kind. The day after we visited Classical Conversations, on a whim, I emailed a local Classical school I’ve heard about from our pastor and his family just to see if there was any way we could participate in their program some way some how. I said I knew that it was late in the school year and I absolutely didn’t expect there to be room in the Kindergarten for 2 kids. Even if they could just give us some guidance of how to prepare them for joining in next year, I would very much appreciate it. I prayed that the Lord would keep that door closed if this wasn’t for us and that He would guard my heart and prepare me for whatever He wanted for us. Hours later, I had a voicemail from the women in charge of admissions. She wanted to discuss our situation. I called her back and explained our situation and she told me there happened to be 3 spots available in Kindergarten, 2 in one class, and 1 in another. She would speak to the Headmaster, the kindergarten teachers and get back to me on Monday if they would be willing to take students on at this point in the year…I spoke to her on a Thursday afternoon. We also set up a time to tour the school, even if it didn’t work out this year, we would know everything for next year. The next morning, she called me and said she spoke to everyone and as long as A&H could pass the Kindergarten assessment, they would love to have the kids join in.
I don’t know why, but I wasn’t terribly worried about the assessment. I guess I knew that if they were meant to be in class, then they would do great…but if they didn’t do great then there’s no way I’d want them in a class where they are confused and not doing well. I also knew that if we hadn’t been working on things and they were falling behind because of it, this is the proof I would need to buckle down and work with them.
The head Kindergarten teacher tested them according to where the classes were currently in the year. By God’s grace…they passed…and I heard they both did great. Both need to work on writing letters correctly and identifying money. (Apparently my son said a penny is worth $5.00. Wishful thinking son!!) We toured the school, met with the Headmaster, and they asked the kids to join on Monday. All this happened last week by the way…on Friday. We did some uniform and school shopping Saturday and they were ready to go Monday morning!
They go to class M,W,F and we do school at home on Tuesdays and Thursdays. It’s all planned out and prepped for me as well. This is our 5th day at FCA, 3rd day for A&H in a classroom setting and I’m telling you, I already feel a huge weight lifted from me.
I am still struggling with my feelings of failure. I couldn’t hack it alone. Some ladies can and I couldn’t. Some people can handle chaos with grace and patience, and I can’t seem to do it. My heart was suffering….and I’m sure the rest of my family was too. But in spite of my struggling, there are so many ways I’ve seen the Lord work in the past couple of weeks. He has helped me see that sometimes one of the ways He helps us see our vast need for Him is by putting us through some TOUGH stuff. I know I’m no good at homeschooling my kids without help…at least not when I also have two 15 month olds running around. But if my life was just comfy and easy all the time…why would I cry out for His help? If I’m not being brought to the end of myself, I wouldn’t need to look to Him.
I’m currently doing the Missional Motherhood study through Lifeway (I’m behind at the moment…I’m claiming getting used to a new routine as my excuse!) but the other morning we read 2 Corinthians 1:1-11 where Paul talks about experiencing hardship but also experiencing the comfort Christ brings through suffering and hardship and pain. He also says that he hopes the Church is in turn comforted because of his comfort in spite of his hardship. I’m telling you…the Lord knew I needed to read that. I know my hardship and struggles might not seem big to some, and compared to the problems this world faces, my problems are minuet. But, what I’m facing brings me to the end of myself, which is exactly what He wants. If I’m suffering but can help myself, I get the glory. I’m so thankful that’s not how it works. Friends, I still struggle. A&H going to school 3 days a week won’t make our lives perfect. I will still be impatient with them, they will still disobey, I might still try to do it all and we will still have to turn to Jesus daily. But I’m also here to tell you in spite of my recent feelings of failure and survival…He is good and He has brought me comfort. It’s true, I can’t do it all. But He can and He has done it all….and it is finished. To God be the glory.
I don’t know how long the Lord will have us involved at FCA, but I know this is where He wants our kids for right now. We are grateful He lead us to a school that preaches the Gospel and allows us to take an active role in their education.
God is doing other things in our lives too…and hopefully I will get to document that soon. But for now I’ll leave you with pictures of our sweet Kindergarteners…and for the first time this week I saw their graduating class year. I’ll admit, it choked me up a bit. Seems so far, but I know it is not. Here they are…Kindergarten at FCA, class of 2029 <3 (Love kids in uniforms! Also, we chose to have them in separate classes. So far, it is working out wonderfully!)
If you are feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, or like you’re just surviving or even failing…you are not alone friend. We might not be able to “do it all” or even keep up with the day to day things…but Jesus wants to bring you, and me His comfort in spite of it. We can’t do it all…but He can do immeasurably more than we can possibly imagine.
Press on and Happy Friday!