"Amidst chaos lies opportunity."
I admire mothers who have it all together. Or who have it together enough to appear, you know, to have it together.
And while there are limited areas of my life where I do have things pretty well together, I will admit that homeschooling isn't one of them. It gets crazy around here.
I was more organized with 2 children and only 1 of school age, but adding children seems to make it harder. I certainly don't feel that God has called me to homeschool and limit my family size to make it happen in an, um, orderly fashion...
ON THE CONTRARY! It began to occur to me that the 'chaos' of a large household is actually a true benefit to a homeschooling family, depending on how it is received.
Well, look with me. With a smaller family, I as a mother, have more time and energy to make plans and execute them smoothly. As more children, and more pregnancies, come along, I am stretched thinner and- let's be real here- formal lessons don't happen with the regularity they would without those pesky morning of puking, or those insane growth spurt days where I nurse a baby so much I hardly have time to go pee.
And did I mention those mornings when the 2 year old wakes up screaming because he's not in his shark pajamas... and he won't calm down... till 10 am???
So what's a responsible homeschooling mama to do?
I'm not sure- hehe- as sometimes I'm definitely not that picture-perfect matron, but I can tell you what I, an average, sometimes wiped out, sometimes cranky pregnant lady with three wild and wooly kids, do on any given day that is so nuts-o I can't even remember what's for lunch, or if there is even anything to fix for lunch.
I sit back, smile really big, and open my eyes to the grace.
While I was calming the 2 year old down, or laying in bad trying not to throw up from ravaging morning sickness, my 8 year-old snuck off to write in his secret journal... or to copy Chinese characters from some packaging material (he's currently obsessed with all things Chinese)... or to build a block tower using every block in the house. And my 5 year old choreographed a dance to the Blue Danube which she can play over and over and over and over on the keyboard... or joined in the block building... or made her own slingshot.
Are these things somehow less educational, less important to their development both academic and human than math pages and grammar excercises? Not to me.
Is a day spent playing with siblings (and yes, fighting and making up with siblings) less worthy than a day spent memorizing verb charts or slaving over math facts? And if I think it is less worthy, why?
I remember very clearly the day I took the school books off the high shelf and put them down on the shelf with all the, well, normal books. And something happened. Learning became somehow more normal... more real to us. Interestingly, my kids choose their 'school' books as often as they choose their other books, but it ceases to be a point of contention if today that poetry anthology doesn't get opened. Am I worried that my children won't learn 'what they need to know' because I don't direct their choices like I did in the days of yore: those everyone-has-quiet-time, snacks-at-3 (and ONLY at 3!), march-to-my-drummer days?
No. I see to much evidence that, for me at least, for my children at least, learning happens ALL the time. I can't stop it, hold it back, even if I want to. And as sick as I get of homemade catapults crowding my yard, endless keyboard jam sessions (WHERE ARE THE HEADPHONES YOU GUYS?!!!), art projects that overflow from the 'art table', and requests for math worksheets to be printed at 10 pm (yes, this happens... it seems to be the time of night when the math angel whispers into my children's ears "don't go to sleep... go wake up your mother and ask for math to do for fun...") I wouldn't trade the exuberance, the shouts, the wild adventure, for anything.
My other realization was that I can't schedule every minute of my children's learning and expect to grow self-motivated learners. I need to trust more that their interests will blossom if they have the time to pursue them... and not just on the 2 hour lesson-break planned every Wednesday afternoon!
Some mamas need to be in control. They want to lead. Some mamas let go of all control and give it over to the children. They let the children lead.
But for me, there's Someone else who leads.
And when life hapens- and OH! does it happen- I remind myself Who is in control. Who is the real Educator. Who gives the Light. Who more than me communicates the important stuff directly to these precious souls in my care.
And He will never let me down.