I took a deep breath and plunged into the sea of people. I weaved through the room holding tightly to Mia’s little hand while Sofia clutched the tail of my coat. It was wall to wall bodies in a bitty cafeteria with students filling all the tables to overflowing and parents clogging all the pathways to anywhere. Excitement filled the air as giddy little girls squealed and squeezed each other and boys cloaked their excitement in nonchalant, casual smiles.
It’s already starting again; the wild, whirlwind of a new school year. The wake up early, stumble down stairs, brew coffee, make lunches, get everyone ready and off to school, dash has begun! My little Sofia has stepped into the jungle of kindergarten! She was so brave in the face of this colossal milestone. I watched her sit confidently in her seat while some of the little faces around her, moist with tears, struggled to let go of their parents. Others looked around anxiously for a sense of belonging in their great, big new world. I honestly can’t remember my first day of kindergarten. I have no idea if I was insecure or excited. Did I have a little “fray-nd” waiting for me or was I lonely? I had no big sister or brother to venture out before me, paving and smoothing the sometimes emotional path to school. I was the big sis.
My sweet Mia seemed like such a mature and grown-up kid; unfazed by her first day of 3rd grade. She was entirely in her element again, walking the halls of academia: her second home and old friend. That girl LOVES to learn! She’s a classic "Type A” personality, over-achiever and teacher’s pet. And I swear, that someday she’ll be nostalgically writing (like her mama, and a long line of mamas before her because Mia loves to write). I can imagine her writing about the smell of her school, from the bathrooms to the library and the warm pages of paper fresh off the copier, the sound of the bell, the morning pledge and the thrill she experienced at the start of each day as she anticipated each new adventure. My Mia: the learner.
All these things are so familiar…only this year things feel different and they look a bit different too. We’re embarking on a new adventure with our son: the adventure of homeschooling. If I could do a cheer to represent the way I feel about this, it might sound like a very limp and hollow “woop-woop”. I’m not one of those moms who have always yearned to homeschool. I grew up in the 80’s when home school kids had the unfortunate reputation of being socially awkward. I never imagined that I’d homeschool, homeschooling sort of chose us. Life turned a corner and homeschooling felt like the best, most loving approach for our son who struggles in school and could use a little extra attention and support right now.
As I inch closer, towards the scary new frontier of homeschooling, I can’t help but want to glean all that I can from the seasoned internet moms out there. They already know what to expect because they've conquered it before (multiple times) and they're confidently dispensing advice. But with each “joy filled” homeschooling article or blog that I read, I feel a cynicism and frustration building inside me. The bounce in their step and the seemingly singular focus on child-rearing…it feels too squeaky clean. Where are the honest emotions?? I’m left wondering if there’s anyone out there like me. Are there any homeschool moms who aren’t bubbling over with joy at the thought of homeschooling? Are there any ladies out there who never fathomed they’d be doing this, but now they are? Does any homeschool mama write about her lack of joy? I guess I do…
I’m clearly petrified of the road ahead. My precious boy is not at all like his sister, Mia, who loves to learn and also relishes the thought of extra homework. Christian…well, he sort of loathes school (to put it gently). He’s a brilliant, sweet-hearted kid who would be contented and likely thankful, to never be forced to learn another complicated concept for the rest of his life. Seriously, If I’ve ever needed God’s strength it’s now! I know that I sound borderline, grotesquely dramatic, but I am so desperately aware of the weightiness of this task. Thankfully, in this near breakdown moment, the hideously cheesy chorus, “Jesus, take the wheel!” has just begun playing on my mental sound track and I’m swiftly carried to peaks of lightness and absurdity as I imagine this song being the perfect backdrop for a slightly irreverent but not overly disrespectful SNL (Saturday Night Live) sketch.
Is it weird that in this soul-searching season of life, I have found solace and comfort in the words of Dori (the cartoon fish from the movie "Finding Nemo")?? The phrase, "Just keep swimming", is actually a pretty powerful and momentum building thought. Dori's words remind me that all I have to do is place one foot in front of the other (over and over)...and that's it! As I reduce this major life challenge down to steps, little forward movements, I begin to feel like I can breath again.
21 "This I recall to my mind,
Therefore I have hope.
22 The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease,
For His compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness."
Lamentations 3:21-23 (NASB)
Writer and fellow traveler on the road of life.